The low point came last Monday when the Yankees gave up an absurd 10-run inning to Buffalo against the Toronto Blue Jays. Another loss followed and talk of possibly missing the postseason seemed to be circulating in some circles amidst seemed to be spiraling out of control amidst the calming nature of Aaron Boone, as Luke Voit said they couldn’t do anything right.
A week later all is well for the Yankees, who have a legitimate shot at escaping the eighth spot in the American League which results in a best-of-three series without a home game. The Yankees also possess an outside chance at getting the AL East as they are four games behind the Rays with 13 games left, something they can thank the normally horrendous Red Sox pitching for.
Yes, the Yankees still have their warts, notably the ice-cold bat of Gary Sanchez, who personifies all or nothing with seven of his 15 hits being home runs and 54 other at-bats resulting in strikeouts.
Still as Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge seem to be making progress from their respective injuries by making appearances at the alternate site, the Yankees are not only possibly on the verge of being whole again they are appear to be resembling the team that won 15 of 21 games and not the team who stumbled so often against the Tampa Bay Rays and went 6-15 in a 21-game stretch until Wednesday.
“It’s something that we knew we were capable of,” Clint Frazier said. “It was just a matter of time for it to all come together and for some things to go our way.”
Many things went the Yankees’ way this weekend against the Orioles, who could be considered upstarts after two horrific seasons following their 11-2 win over the Mets Tuesday.
Instead, the games resembled virtually every game between the teams from last season.
There was dominance on the mound with Gerrit Cole’s two-hitter and Masahiro Tanaka’s steadiness. There was Voit playing the role of Gleyber Torres against the Orioles with two homers. There was Saturday, a game many teams lose but the Yankees won it on the first leadoff walk-off sacrifice fly, capping a day in which they committed three errors and did not get a hit with runners in scoring position.
A day later it was more of the same for 7 2/3 innings but then two hits, including a ball that took a funny hop and resulted in a pitcher not covering first base properly.
That set up a no-brainer of a managerial move for Boone when the Orioles brought in left-hander Tanner Scott and that was replacing Brett Gardner (1-for-13 off left-handed pitching) with Torres, who is starting to resemble what the Yankees saw last year since returning from the injured list.
Also ideal was what unfolded in the doubleheader, the Yankees dominated enough on the mound and at the plate that they did not need to use any of their high leverage relievers. They were able to save them for the two close games which happen to lead into an off-day.
So in theory, those pitchers should be available for the significant series against Toronto. It is a series that could decide who winds up in that dreaded best of three against the top seed or one that could make the divisional race even tighter.
Many thought the Yankees had a lengthy winning streak in them. After all, there’s only so much time they could play meh baseball with a run that looked like the famous 3-15 skid at the end of 2000 when the Yankees still wound up winning the third title.
Enough things clicked for the Yankees and perhaps when this unique season ends they can view this weekend as a possible turning point for a team who was the projected AL favorite leading into the 162-game season that never started and leading into the unique 60-game sprint to the finish.
“I feel like we can take a big deep breath as a team,” Voit said Saturday. “Last week, we felt like we couldn’t do anything right. Nothing was going to happen in order for us to win. Now I feel like, any time, any moment, guys are coming with big hits.”
It was less than a week where the Yankees dabbled in the absurd and got a pep talk from general manager Brian Cashman. While Cashman and anyone else can preach positive things, it comes down to the personnel and for five games leading into a series with Toronto, the Yankees are getting it done and trending upward after a few weeks of ugly and occasionally dull performances.