After the Yankees won 16 out of 17 games between Apr. 21 and May 9 to go from a 7 1/2-game deficit in the AL East to a one-game lead, I thought they would spend the rest of the season running away in the division. That hasn’t happened, and despite going 26-16 in their next 42 games, the Yankees trailed the Red Sox by a 1/2-game in the division (though the Yankees have played four fewer games) entering this past weekend.
The Yankees have been unable to put the Red Sox away and remove themselves from the possibility of playing another dreaded one-game playoff as a wild-card team. This weekend was a chance for the Yankees to create more separation in the division en route to what should be the team’s first division title in six years.
After’s the 8-1 win in the series opener, CC Sabathia’s ERA improved to 3.02 on the season, for by far the second-best on the team behind Luis Severino. Sabathia could keep pitching to 3.02 this season and the next season and the season after that and for another decade and I would still be nervous every time he starts against a contending team.
It’s not that I don’t trust Sabathia, it’s that he has one way to pitch and that’s with perfect command. His repertoire now induces a lot of weak contact, which is why he has been successful in his reinvention, but his repertoire also leaves him vulnerable to right-handed batters if he isn’t perfect with his location. Thankfully, he’s had his command a lot this season. Sabathia gave up one earned run over seven innings, and thanks to the offense, that was more than enough.
Miguel Andujar continued to try to stay with Gleyber Torres in the two-horse AL Rookie of the Year race with an RBI single in the second and a two-run home run in the fourth. Greg Bird added a pair of home runs on the day Brandon Drury was recalled from Triple-A to give himself some breathing room for the starting first base job, and the Yankees cruised to an easy 8-1 win. It’s always refreshing to be able to relax and get a blowout win. It’s even better when it’s against the Red Sox.
I was at my parents’ house to celebrate my dad’s birthday, and as Sonny Gray took the mound in the first, my dad joked how Sonny Gray’s always referred to as “Sonny Gray” and not just his last name like every other player. The FOX broadcast drove home my dad’s point by calling Gray by his complete name all night.
Before first pitch, my dad, this time not joking, let it be known how much he despises Gray. Gray quickly got the first two outs of the inning and my dad went to the kitchen. When he returned, it was 4-0 Red Sox and he wasn’t surprised at how quickly the game got out of hand with Gray pitching.
Gray got the first two outs on 10 pitches and then it went single, walk, single, grand slam. Gray ended up needing 36 pitches to get out of the inning.
The game was over after the top of the first with Chris Sale pitching for the Red Sox. I figured the Yankees could at best get three runs off Sale, so now trailing by four, the rest of the game was a formality. I felt bad for the Yankees fans in attendance who had paid and wasted their Saturday night sitting in 92-degree heat, which felt way worse with New York City humidity, to essentially watch a 1/2-inning game. Gray gave up two more runs in the second and another pair of singles in the third before he was finally removed from the game.
I thought Aaron Boone should have kept Gray in the game. The game was already out of reach in the first and now it was 6-0 in the third with two on and one out. Why remove Gray from the game and asked the bullpen to get 20 outs on a humid night? Why ruin the bullpen for the next few days because of Gray’s incompetence? Let Gray throw 110 pitches and see how far that could get you and then take him out of the game. He clearly needs to work on things, and the only way to do that is by pitching. The game was already lost, it’s not like the Yankees were going to come back.
Gray threw only 68 pitches in yet another loss. His line: 2.1 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, 1 HR. It was a good thing after the game he finally held himself accountable for his latest egg instead of deferring to his “I had good stuff” line he had in past starts. Here is Gray’s combined line in two starts against Boston this season: 5.1 IP, 14 H, 12 R, 12 ER, 4 BB, 3 K, 1 HR, 20.38 ERA, 3.377 WHIP. If the two teams meet in the postseason, there’s no way Gray can start a game. Then again, there’s no way he can even be on the postseason roster at this point.
Luis Severino started the series finale and that meant a Yankees win. You didn’t have to stay up to hear the awkward Sunday Night Baseball broadcast team. With Severino going, you could go to bed knowing the Yankees would win. And they did.
Severino shut out the Red Sox for 6 2/3 innings, lowering his ERA to 1.98 and improving to 13-2 in what is shaping up to be a Cy Young-winning season. Now that Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole have come down from their unsustainable early-season success, Severino has emerged as the best pitcher in the American League. Actually, he’s the best pitcher in baseball.
Severino didn’t need to be as good as he was thanks to a four-run first, a two-run second and a three-run fourth, but it was good to see the 24-year-old ace making $604,975 this season outpitch David Price, who makes nearly double that per start.
Price got rocked by the Yankees in Boston in April and then backed out of his start in May in New York against them, citing a sore arm from playing video games. The Yankees didn’t even have Gary Sanchez for this game, who hits Price better than anyone anywhere, and they still touched him up for eight runs and five home runs. Three of those five home runs came off the bat of Aaron Hicks in what was the most improbable feat of the season. I have no idea what to make of Hicks as a player and whether or not he’s a first-round bust or serviceable everyday player or a potential All-Star. Maybe I’ll never know. Sunday did nothing other than confuse me more.
The weekend consisted of three blowouts, and we didn’t learn anything we didn’t already know about the best two teams in baseball. We already knew CC Sabathia could shut down the Red Sox and Eduardo Rodriguez is inconsistent. We already knew Sonny Gray sucks and Chris Sale is dominant. We already knew Luis Severino is the best pitcher in baseball and David Price has no chance of every beating these Yankees. We already knew both offenses are powerful and both lineups deep. We already knew the Yankees are slightly better than the Red Sox, and winning two of three, proved it.