LADY AT THE BAT: Yankees Win As Judge Dominates Orioles Again

Friday, September 15, 2017

Yankees Win As Judge Dominates Orioles Again

Aaron Judge came up big in Thursday's game with Baltimore with a pair of three run home runs and six RBI. And that was after the Yankees had already scored six runs at the start of the game.

Judge now has 43 home runs and 96 RBIs with sixteen games to play. Can he beat Mark McGwire's rookie record of 49 home runs?

A better question is, can the Yankees parlay this blowout win into a successful home stand, which for all practical purposes, except for a quick three games in Toronto, will last the rest of the season. For the record, Baltimore has three more games this weekend in the Bronx, followed by wild card hopeful Minnesota starting Monday. Then it's off to Toronto for three. The final seven games find  the Yankees hosting  Kansas City (one makeup game) and three each with Tampa Bay and Toronto coming to town.

So here's the deal for the Yankees: It's home cooking down the stretch. But they trail the Red Sox by 3.0 games with no games remaining between the two teams. The Red Sox go on the road starting tonight to play Tampa Bay and Baltimore. Then they finish their inter league schedule at Cincinnati where we could hope the Big Red Machine of Bench, Perez, Foster, Morgan and Rose is reenacted. Boston closes out the season with four games at home with Houston, who may need that series to regain home field advantage from Cleveland. Hope it stays close, but Cleveland may never lose again, given their 22 game winning streak. That streak has to end soon, right?

As for beating McGwire's rookie record the key is probably getting into a team's bullpen early and punishing a reliever either from the back of the bullpen or a September call up who spent the year at AAA. That is what happened on Thursday night. Of course, the Yankees were so far ahead it made little sense to keep Judge in the game for all nine. Judge was lifted for a pinch hitter late in the game. The Yankees were up 6-0 with a big first inning in which Judge singled and scored. Judge's pair of three run shots helped build the lead as the Yankees coasted 13-5.

Masahiro Tanaka went seven innings with two runs allowed, both on solo home runs and finished the night with a 12-11 record and a 4.73 ERA. Is that good enough for him to exercise the opt out clause in his contract? Yes, with the playoff picture still involving the Yankees, it is a bit too early to ponder the question perhaps. But inquiring minds still wonder. I'm guessing this season won't be enough for Tanaka to find a place that will do better than what the Yankees still owe.

Have you noticed Chase Headley is hitting .277 as is Aaron Judge? We all know that is where the comparison ends. But it is good to see Headley getting some quality at bats in this stretch. It is also noted Gary Sanchez is hitting .281 with 85 RBI despite missing about a month early in the season. Didi Gregorius is hitting .290 and I still hold to my prediction Sir Didi will soon be a full season .300 hitter.

Greg Bird was the pinch hitter for Judge late in the game, so it is good to see him in action. Still have to wonder how much playing time Bird gets down the stretch even if he can stay healthy. Wondering too, what are the implications for his future as a Yankee? As with Tanaka, it may be too early with a pennant race in progress, but I can't help thinking about it. 

With the win, the Yankees are 80-66 on the season so another winning season is looming. The Yankees have not finished below .500 since the 1992 season, which is an incredible streak much like the one happening now in Cleveland.  

Fourteen games above .500 can be attributed to playing better ball within the AL East (37-27 overall) and the solid showing in inter league play. The Yankees went 11-27 on the road in the four cities in their division last year and are 16-18 in the same cities this year with the three remaining in Toronto next weekend. As for inter league play, the Yankees have swept the Mets, Cubs and Cardinals in ten total games this season finishing at 15-5 versus teams from the NL. 

As for likely playoff teams, the Yankees finished 11-8 against Boston but were a dismal 2-5 with each of the other division leaders, Cleveland and Houston. The Yankees did not fare well versus teams of the AL West finishing the year with those teams at 14-19. The Yanks are 14-15 versus the AL central with the three games remaining with the Twins and one with the Royals. 

A 90 win season is certainly within reach. Playing mostly at home, all the Yankees need would be a 10-6 finish.

It would be especially nice to see the Red Sox lose some ground on their upcoming road trip.  

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