Another successful Players Weekend is over, and for the Yankees, it was successful on more than one plane. Sure, sweeping the Orioles was good for their morale and for their stats, but knowing their biggest rival was swept in their own series is the cream cheese icing on the red velvet cupcake. That makes the Yankees just 6 games behind the Red Sox in the AL East. And with 32 games left in the season, things are looking up.
So, for this finale game in Baltimore, the Yankees called on their ace Luis Severino to close out the series and earn his 17th win of the season. He threw 107 pitches into the 6th inning, gave up 4 hits, 2 walks, and 3 runs (2 earned), and struck out 8 batters. But he held them off for most of his outing.
In the 5th, he gave up a lead-off walk that stole 2nd, moved to 3rd on a ground out, and then scored on a sacrifice fly. A big solo home run led-off the 6th, and 2 outs later, it looked like Severino was going to get out of the inning. But the next batter got on base thanks to a throwing error, so that was it for Severino.
Chad Green had his own issues trying to get that final out of the 6th. He gave up a single and a wild pitch moved both runners to scoring position. So when the next batter hit a single, that lead runner scored Severino’s unearned run. But he got out of the inning with a nice strikeout.
After getting the first out of the 7th, Green handed the ball over to Zach Britton. Britton continued to show his comfort pitching at Camden Yards against his former team, sailing his way through 5 outs in just 18 pitches. David Robertson got the nod for the potential save in the 9th and kept the Orioles scoreless to close out the game.
Meanwhile, the Yankees continued to dominate the weekend with selective points of offense through the first half of the game. In the 2nd, Andujar led-off with a single but was tagged out at 2nd on Walker’s grounder. Then Luke Voit hit a solid 2-out, 2-run home run to get the Yankees on the board.
Robinson led-off the 3rd with a single, and 2 outs later, Hicks joined him on the bases with a single. They both then scored on Miguel Anudjar’s double to double their score. And with a new pitcher on the mound in the 6th, the Yankees found one more opportunity to add just one more. With 1 out, Voit hit a single, moved to 2nd on Romine’s walk, made it to 3rd on a fly out, and then scored on a wild pitch.
Final score: 5-3 Yankees, Yankees sweep the weekend series.
Officially, they swept 3-0 due to the originally scheduled games, but because they won the make-up game, they also swept the now-posted games 4-0. Either way, that 4 game chipping away at the Red Sox’s lead certainly helped the Yankees have a bit more hope for not settling for the Wild Card game alone and might have a shot at the Division title.
Next up: The Yankees head back to the Bronx for a week of games — 3 games against the White Sox starting tomorrow night, and a 4-game weekend series against the Tigers. They will head out to the West Coast (and Midwest) for games against the Athletics, the Mariners, and the Twins, before heading back home once again. Like I said earlier, there’s only 32 games left of the season, and the September call-ups are just a week away. This is going to get interesting, folks.
And on a final note, I wanted to highlight some great things about Players Weekend. First, it’s fun to see the oddity of “names” on the back of the Yankee jerseys, and the Yankees certainly had fun choosing which name best represented themselves. But they also got specialized cleats and colorful batting gloves and sweat bands, many of which reflected their heritage (like Gleyber Torres) or history (like Dellin Betances).
CC Sabathia used his specialty cleats to pay tribute to a group of amazing pitchers known as the “Black Aces“, a small group of black ball players that have won at least 20 games in a single season. One of those Black Aces published a book about the history of these great pitchers, including stories of Negro League pitchers that might have done the same had they been allowed to play.
His book only listed 13 players as part of this group including names like Al Downing and Bob Gibson, the last player achieving this feat in 1971. But since then, 3 other pitchers have joined their ranks — David Price, Dontrelle Willis, and Sabathia himself. It’s also interesting to me that only 2 of those players are currently in the Hall of Fame (Gibson and Ferguson Jenkins). It’s also worth noting that tonight’s starter Severino is just 3 wins away from his 20th win in a single season.
Didi Gregorius (“The Knight”) also got in on the fun, despite being out on the DL. He changed up his Twitter victory posts (Friday, Saturday 1, Saturday 2, Sunday) from using his designated emojis for the players to using their chosen nicknames as hashtags. It threw everyone for a loop at first, but now, it was clearly a nice detour from the usual. However, I think I miss the emojis and am looking forward to their return this week.