LADY AT THE BAT: Overdue Bloop Helps Yankees Earn Sweep of Reds

Monday, July 21, 2014

Overdue Bloop Helps Yankees Earn Sweep of Reds

Here’s how the New York Yankees came out of the All-Star break: A three game sweep of the Cincinnati Reds in Yankee Stadium, featuring three quality starts and timely hits throughout the lineup. In the process, they gained 1.0 game on the Toronto Blue Jays and 2.0 on the A.L. East leading Baltimore Orioles. They could not have hoped for a better start to the unofficial second half of the season.

It would be hasty to make too much of a series victory against a team suffering from injuries to some of their key offensive players, but the Reds pitching staff is just fine, ranking 7th overall in the National League. The starters are even better, ranking 4th in the National League, and the Yankees faced two of their best in Alfredo Simon on Saturday and Johnny Cueto on Sunday. Both have sub 2.00 ERAs, and the fact that the Yankees were able to win those games is an encouraging sign.

Certainly the Yankees had some luck in completing the sweep. Brian McCann drove in the game winning run on Sunday afternoon with a bloop single to right field on a 100+ mph fastball from Aroldis Chapman, and acknowledged in his on field interview with Meredith Marakovits on the YES Network, that it was a bit of a lucky hit as the Reds defense simply could not find the ball.

If anyone deserves a little luck, however, it’s McCann, who ran into some bad luck in the first half with a .256 BAbip and had a hard time adjusting to A.L. pitching and defensive shifts. If that trend corrects itself in the 2nd half, the Yankees could finally see the catcher they thought they were signing.

Kelly Johnson and Brian Roberts also picked up their offensive pace, batting .500 (3 for 6) and .333 (4 for 12) respectively in the Reds series. Add in Jacoby Ellsbury’s 4 for 4 game on Sunday and it was a great offensive showing.

The mission for the Yankees is clear: Make the playoffs. Their mediocre first half makes that more difficult than it would ideally have been, so the sweep was much needed. The Yankees need to build some momentum before facing off against the Toronto Blue Jays. With the hard-luck Texas Rangers, and their last place pitching staff coming into Yankee Stadium next, they just might be able to do so.

Aside from a blip by All-Star reliever Dellin Betances, who served up a game tying home run in the top of the 8th inning, there wasn’t much to quibble about on Sunday. The Yankees are still facing an uphill battle to the playoffs but, for three days, they did their part.

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