After a 12-4 win over Baltimore today, the Yankees are alone atop the AL East standings. What a week it has been for the Bronx Bombers, taking 2 games in Boston against their best pitchers, and now showing to Baltimore our bats are just as good as theirs. The Yankees, had minimal expectations going into this season in terms of competing for the division crown, but now that they hold the lead in the division after a month of baseball those expectations have changed. Clearly this Yankees squad is a lot better than they were given credit for at the beginning of the season. Most players are playing to their fullest potential, especially the veterans, which has really elevated our team. After back to back series wins against division opponents it's time to take this Yankee team seriously.
When the bats got cold in Boston the pitching staff stepped up big time. Rick Porcello, reigning AL Cy Young award winner, took the mound against Luis Severino, the young stud for the Yankees. Severino out dueled Porcello going 7 innings strong, allowing no runs, 3 hits, 2 walks, and he struck out 6 along the way. Porcello besides for allowing a home run to Aaron Judge was pretty solid, he went 6 2/3 innings, struck out 9, and he only allowed 3 runs, pretty solid start. Unfortunately for the Red Sox, the Yankees pitching staff was lights out, and three runs would be plenty for them as they won the first of a two game series. Game two, Chris Sale, the ace of the Red Sox staff and possibly the best pitcher in all of baseball, faced off against the Yankees ace, Masahiro Tanaka. Well, Sale was nearly untouchable, luckily for the Yankees they were able to scratch together a run off him. That's all the Yankees would need, they added some insurance runs in the 9th, however Tanaka threw a complete game shutout, so he didn't need the insurance. Yankees sweep Boston at Fenway park as the aces of our pitching staff stepped up big time.
Yesterday, the pitching was horrendous, C.C. Sabathia started for us and boy was he awful. He should never be allowed to face a lineup like the Orioles, now that he's a finesse pitcher, he just doesn't matchup well against teams with great lineups unless his stuff is literally perfect that day. Which yesterday, it clearly was not even close to that. Yankees were down huge early, the score was 9-1 entering the 6th inning. After a RBI from Didi Gregorious, who returned to the lineup yesterday for the first time this season, Aaron Judge came up and hit a 2 run blast. His second of the game might I add. Yankees were now down 9-4 with only 9 outs to go. In the top of the 7th Bryan Mitchell allowed two more runs extending the Orioles lead to 11-4, that's when I thought game over. Thank god, I enjoy watching this team as much as I do and didn't switch the channel because what was about to happen was pure insanity. Ellsbury comes up in the bottom of the 7th with bases loaded and puts one over the wall for a Grand Slam to cut the deficit big time, Yankees down 11-8 with 6 more outs to go. Certainly doable. Ellsbury grounded into a fielders choice in the 8th scoring a run and then Starlin Castro did his best Reggie Jackson impression while putting a ball over the wall while falling to his knee. The game was now tied, Yankee stadium sounded like it was about to explode, and all momentum in the series had shifted back to the Bronx Bombers. Matt Holliday capped off the comeback with a three run walkoff home run in the 10th to cap off one of the best comebacks I've ever witnessed. Today, wasn't much of a game, the Yankees decided to just slaughter the Orioles from the get go. Pineda pitched well and the whole team played extremely well as unit. Yankees won 12-4 and took over sole possession of first place in the AL East.
Aaron Judge has been a huge part of the offense racking up 10 homeruns, 20 plus RBI's, and hitting above .300 in the first month of the season. Throw in the huge production from Castro and Headley and you have three MVP candidates if the season ended today. Obviously, guys can't keep this up all year, but with guys like Didi and Sanchez coming back it gives you hope that when one person goes cold another can get hot. Hopefully, that's how this season works out for us, when Judge gets cold maybe Bird will get hot, when Castro begins to cool down maybe Didi will step up, and so on and so forth.
The pitching staff has exceeded all expectations. We knew we had an ace in Tanaka, however the addition of Severino being a productive member of the staff has given us another young ace. Jordan Montgomery continues to look like he can give us solid outings, which is all anyone can ask out of their 5th starter. C.C. and Pineda have both been exceptional, C.C. had his only bad start of the season against the Orioles and Pineda seems to finally have put it all together. As for the bullpen they're the best in all of baseball, so not much to say. This Yankee team is the real deal. I love the energy these guys are playing with, I love the charisma they show in the dugout and on the field, and I think we are watching the beginning of something very special. In the mean time, I'll just continue to kick back and enjoy watching the Yankees play winning baseball.