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Another triple play and another celebration came for the Yankees on Father’s Day, when they escaped a first-and-second jam with no outs in the top of the ninth of a 2-1 game. Aroldis Chapman could do nothing but smile, as he knew he didn’t have his normal stuff to get the job done, but the Yanks still beat the Oakland A’s.
Though it was only a game in June, this one was crucial for the pinstripes. It was the rubber match of a series against the AL West leaders and more of a statement game than anything else.
It proved that the abysmal road trip for the Yanks that began with the Minnesota Twins and Philadelphia Phillies was behind them, and they’re on the come up after winning five of their last six contests, including a series sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays in Buffalo before returning to the Bronx.
And it couldn’t be coming at a better time.
As you look at the AL East on Monday, you’ll see the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays in first and second, respectively, separated only by half a game. New York sits 4.5 games behind the Sox.
Guess who will be playing in Boston at the end of the week, though…
The Kansas City Royals series, which starts Tuesday with Gerrit Cole on the bump, comes first. While they had a very hot start to their season, the Royals have come back down to Earth, though they’re not a squad to take lightly.
However, they are certainly beatable and the Yanks – on their home turf – need to make sure that happens. Because if it does, a slightly smaller gap could be between them and Boston once they make the trip up to Fenway Park on Friday.
That’s when they can make their push and prove to still be contenders for the AL East throne.
What’s helping the Yanks right now is the fact that Gary Sanchez is showing everyone he should be in the All-Star conversation. Yes, I seriously mean that. He’s slashing .237/.340/.480 with 11 homers and 25 RBI this season, but he’s gone 7-for-18 with three homers and six RBI in his last six games. For the entire month of June, he’s hitting .315 with five dingers.
Sanchez is on when you see him focusing on hitting the ball to right-center field. That’s when he’s at his best, and it was a perfect example when his two-RBI double came on a 1-2 count with a fastball on the outside corner. He sat back, waited and shot it where it was pitched to give his team a lead they wouldn't relinquish.
DJ LeMahieu is another Yankee back to his consistent ways at the dish. He had four RBI during the A’s series and has collected a hit in eight of his last nine games.
With Aaron Judge having an All-Star worthy season to go along with Gleyber Torres and Gio Urshela contributing on offense now, the Yanks are buzzing. And their pitching staff, which has done very well considering the record, is also holding up their end of the bargain.
That’s the Yankees team that needs to be on the field this week, and even following the Red Sox series. The Los Angeles Angels are another beatable team, and they’re traveling to New York to face the Yanks before the latest chapter of the Subway Series with the Mets kicks off at Yankee Stadium during the first days of July.
With the All-Star break on the horizon, this Yankees team is playing some hot baseball and have a real chance to make a push for the top of the AL East before the second half begins. After all their struggles throughout the first few months, to be in this situation shows the team has battled through adversity.
It’s time for them to seize their opportunity.