Sure, MLB season technically began in April, but I’m just getting around to taking notice. The 162 regular season is too exhaustive for me to jump aboard on Opening Day. Traditionally, the dog days of summer in July and August are when I start tuning into games, and that’s only if the New York Yankees are playing well. Otherwise, it’s difficult for me to feign interest before the World Series.
However, like clockwork, as it’s now August and we’re less than 60 games away from the MLB playoffs, baseball has finally landed on my radar. My interest in the sport is in large part due to the phenomenal baseball being played in my home city of New York. Both the Mets and Yankees are scorching hot right now, sitting atop of their respective divisions. The Mets (57-50) have a one game lead over division rivals and usual favorites, the Washington Nationals. Meanwhile, the Bronx Bombers (60-45) are 5.5 games ahead of the Toronto Blue Jays.
Last night, the Boston Red Sox took the trip south to the Bronx. As I watched the game, I thought, who are these guys? The only player I recognized from the most glorious days of the best rivalry in sports was Big Papi. Everyone else looked like strangers. But the new faces didn’t prevent the series from starting off in traditional Red Sox – Yankees fashion. At the top of the seventh inning, it was anyone’s game. After being down 1-0, the Red Sox took a 3-1 lead behind a Pablo Sandoval homerun. After Yankees pitcher Justin Wilson relieved Masahiro Tanaka, Yankees manager Joe Girardi put the team’s most reliable reliever Dellin Betances in the game to handle the rest. And he did. Betances stranded two base runners to keep the score 3-1. Then, the bottom of the 7th arrived and the Yankees beatdown of the Red Sox commenced.
The NY Yankees at bat lasted over an hour and the team scored 9 runs including two 3-run homers from Brian McCann and Chris Young. The final score was 13-3. Last night’s Yankees explosion seems to be business as usual these days. Check the impressive trends, per ESPN New York:
- Yankees have scored 92 runs in the 1st inning. Most in MLB this season.
- Yankees have scored 90 runs in past 10 games.
- Yankees are 12-5 since All-Star break.
- Yankees have hit 24 HRs in 17 games.
- Yankees have scored in double figures for the 4th time in 7 games.
- Leading after six innings, they are 46-2.
- Leading after seven innings, they are 51-2.
- Leading after eight innings, they are 57-0.
While the Yankees starting pitching could use some improvement (combined 4.01 ERA), especially with news that Michael Pineda will miss the next month due to a right forearm strain, the team’s relievers have been getting the job done, led by Betances’ 1.31 ERA. Also, the the heart of the Yankees lineup — Chris Young, Mark Teixiera, Alex Rodriguez, and Brian McCann — have been pretty potent since All-Star Break. They have a total of 20 HRs, 45 RBIs, and are batting a collective .329. And not too far behind are Chase Headley and Didi Gregarious who have knocked in 14 and 13 RBIs respectively.
Numbers never lie. And the bottomline is the Yankees are one of MLB’s hottest teams right now due to the lethal combo of hot bats and shutdown pitching. When they have the lead late in the game, they’re virtually impossible to comeback on.
The Yankees are surging at the right time, and I’m finally along for the ride into September and hopefully beyond.