Recap: Stanton and Judge lead Yankees to series win

New York Yankees designated hitter Giancarlo Stanton watches his fifth-inning solo home run during a baseball game against the Oakland Athletics in New York, Sunday, May 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Yankees have four players with 10+ homers

The Yankees followed up a tough stretch against the Astros, Indians, and Red Sox with a weekend series against the middling Oakland Athletics. In game one, Yankees starting pitcher Sonny Gray struggled again early in a 10-6 loss. The Yankees rebounded and fought back to claim the next game in the bottom of the 11th inning 7-6. This team continued its recent successes winning the series in a 6-2 victory in the final game.

Fun Fact: This is the first New York Yankees team with four players with 10+ homeruns by the 40-game mark.

New York Yankees 28–12 1st in the AL East

Oakland Athletics 19-21 3rd in the AL West

Key Takeaways

Resources

The Oakland Athletics and the New York Yankees reside in very different markets. They also differ greatly in payroll. The Yankees opened up the season with a roster worth 166.2 million dollars. On the other hand, the A’s opened the season at a mere 58.1 million dollars. It is clear when examining these rosters that there is large distinction in star power and overall talent. The Yankees boast Giancarlo Stanton, Masahiro Tanaka, Sonny Gray, Aroldis Chapman, David Robertson to go along with bargains Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, and Luis Severino. In contrast, the Athletics sport a roster anchored by Khris Davis, Jonathan LuCroy, Matt Joyce and no viable ace on the staff. It is clear that the Yankees have much more cash and resources at their disposal. The team from New York takes full advantage of the market it plays in as well as the viewership and attention the legendary franchise garners worldwide. The organization has freedoms and a fluid cash flow not experienced by most teams in the MLB. Due to this, no scout would claim on paper, that the Oakland A’s are the better constructed team.

This did not matter in the first of game of the set. Sonny Gray would struggle with dull stuff and command issues once again to get tagged with the loss. The A’s would take this game 10-6 behind 3B Matt Chapman, DH Khris Davis, 2B Jed Lowrie, and LF Matt Joyce who all homered in the contest. In the following game, the match up looked very even between these two team as they played to a 6-6 tie and needed extra innings to see the Yanks through. Luis Severino, Giancarlo Stanton, and the vaunted Yankees bullpen were too much for the A’s to handle in the final game. They could not string together enough hits to establish their offense, falling 6-2.

Despite the differences in payroll and star power, the A’s hung in this series. They are currently two games below 500. and look to be that pesky small market club that no team wants to match up against. It is fascinating to see teams with rosters built to so differently, battle it out on the baseball field.

Back End of the Rotation

Despite recent successes, it is clear that the Yankees have big question marks at the four and five spots in the rotation. Sonny Gray did not build off the success of his previous start and came out against his former team looking flat. I wrote last week about the Austin Romine effect on Sonny Gray. I will be curious to see how this develops through a larger sample size of starts. In this one, he could not rely on any single pitch to get big outs. The part about these struggles that stands out most, is that he does not look to be missing many barrels and currently owns a hideous 1.87 WHIP.

Domingo German, who started the next game, also needs a larger sample size before jumping to conclusions about his ability. In this start, he looked like a completely different pitcher than his previous start. German went 5 innings giving up six hits, six earned runs, walked three and struck out one. He did not attack Athletic hitters and constantly fell behind which forced him into bad counts where he ran into trouble. It is clear that the Yankees will need to address question marks at the back of their rotation in order to compete with the top teams around the league.

Extraordinary Performances

Brett Gardner

The veteran is often forgotten about when discussing the Yankees attack. His value to this team cannot be understated. Gardner’s leadership and veteran presence at the top of the Yankees order has been instrumental to this lineup’s early season success. The 34-year outfielder is as cool as the other side the pillow at the plate and puts together quality at-bat after quality at-bat. Down 5-2 in the 5th, he got the comeback started in the second game of this series with a lead-off walk and would immediately be driven in by Aaron Judge’s 11th blast of the season.

He knows what it takes to thrive in front of the middle of the Yankees order. The savvy veteran’s 5th walk of the series led to his 3rd SB of the season in the 6th inning which saw him in scoring position for Judge once again. Later in the game, he hit an infield single in the 8th inning and then tagged up to get second base with 2 outs on an Aaron Judge fly out. Giancarlo Stanton would strike out to squander this chance. The speedster constantly gives opposing pitchers headaches while they square off with top-tier hitters.

Brett Gardner would also show off his reliability on defense, throwing out the potential winning run on a shallow fly ball to left field in the top of the 9th inning. This game showed the type of impact Gardner has on a team. This impact would be felt again very quickly as Gardner set the table for a 3-run first inning legging out an infield hit in the series finale. He has been nightmare all series long for the A’s as a red-hot Aaron Judge is consistently hitting with a threat on base. Gardner finished the series getting on base 10 times and was a pest throughout.

Luis Severino

In the first two games of this series, Yankees starting pitching was inconsistent. They needed a quality start to right the ship, rest the bullpen, and put the Yankees in position for a series win. Severino gave the team exactly what they needed. He looked to have everything working early with four consecutive strikeouts to end the first and begin the second inning. The velocity on his fastball hovered around 96-97 MPH throughout and had late run that made it difficult to make solid contact on. His go-to pitch topped out at 100 MPH on the 100th pitch of the game. Severino worked quickly in this one and looked like a true ace in stabilizing the pitching staff with a much-needed quality start. He finally got touched up for a run in the 5th and more importantly the A’s ran up his pitch count as he finished with 106 pitches after 6 dominant innings. The final line for the Yankees ace was 6 innings pitched, 5 hits, 1 run, 2 walks and 7 strikeouts in earning the win.

State of the Yanks

The team has to be happy with taking 2 of 3 from the pesky Oakland Athletics after a sloppy game one performance. Boone and the boys righted the ship for two hard-fought victories to keep pace with the Boston Red Sox in the AL East. It was the top of the lineup that steadied the offense in this series as the team continues to show its skillful depth. The team has a day off Monday before hitting the road to face the Washington Nationals, Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers in what should be an interesting trip on the road.