THE FINISHING KICK – AUGUST 18
By Paul Wales
The Yankees Are Back
If Yankees fans had to use one word to describe this season, that word would be stressful. In a season filled with injuries, positive Covid tests, inconsistent hitting, close games coming down to the last out, blown leads, and gut-wrenching losses, the Yankees are finally back to where they belong.
After being TEN games behind the first place Red Sox at one point this season, the Bronx Bombers have hurdled over them in the standings after a sweep in their double-header on Tuesday. They completed the series sweep on Wednesday to now hold the first Wild Card spot that they’ve been desperately fighting for all season.
The Yankees have flipped the switch since the All Star break, despite injuries to their starting lineup, due to important acquisitions at the trade deadline and role players stepping up. Since the All Star break, the Yanks have the best record in baseball at 23-9, have won 13 of their last 16 games, and are currently riding a 6 game winning streak.
At the trade deadline, the Bronx Zoo welcomed World Series champion and 3-time All Star first baseman, Anthony Rizzo, from the Cubs, and right fielder, Joey Gallo, from the Rangers, who is currently 6th in the league in home runs. Since joining the team, Rizzo has had 8 RBIs in the 8 games he has played as well as being a defensive force at first base. Gallo had a huge go-ahead 3-run homerun against the Mariners to help win that game and keeps finding ways to get on base.
Role players have come up huge as well. Despite his downgraded role on the team since the trade for Rizzo, Luke Voit is currently on a 4 game hitting streak. Has also provided key RBIs to help keep the 6 game winning streak alive. Bronx native Andrew Valezquez was a huge factor in sweeping the Red Sox by providing timely hitting and clutch defensive plays in late-game situations. Brett Gardner and Tyler Wade, who have struggled to find success hitting this year, have also stepped up big at the plate in recent games as well. Pitchers such as Jameson Tallion, Luis Gil and Nestor Cortes have provided much needed stability to the injury-plagued starting rotation.
As a NY fan myself, it is finally fun to watch the Yankees again as we approach the final month and a half of regular season games. Of the 10 teams the Yanks play to end the season, only 3 of these teams currently hold playoff spots as the Yankees are arguably the hottest team in baseball. If the Yankees continue to play like this, and avoid the dreaded injury bug the rest of the season, the Bronx Bombers are looking at an exciting playoff run in the quest for their 28th ring.