A win that didn’t elevate my heart rate? Well I’ll be. The Yankees toppled Cleveland in the Bronx, 8-0. The Bronx Bombers lived up to their name, hitting five homers, while Corey Kluber delivered a gem in his first good start since returning from his shoulder injury.
I long for offensive nights like these. As annoying as the #TooManyHomers discourse could be, I’d much, much rather put up with those arguments than watch the Yankees bats sleepwalk night after night.
Tonight, the Yankees blasted five long balls and scored eight runs. Joey Gallo, who remains red hot, went yard twice. Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton chipped in homers of their own. And last but not least, the big blow came off Brett Gardner’s bat:
That three-run homer turned this one into a rout.
Gardner’s second half, and especially his hot hitting of late, has made it easier to live with Luke Voit having to sit pretty frequently. Entering tonight, Gardy has a 119 wRC+ in the second half of the season and an even better 162 wRC+ since September 6th. Gardner looked toast in the first half of the year, and yet, here he is still kicking at 38 years-old. Just when I thought I was out, he pulls me back in. Every. Single. Season.
Joey Gallo is here. It took some time, but the team’s prized deadline acquisition is finally raking. He hit .130/.291/.325 (74 wRC+) with a 40.4 percent strikeout rate in his first 151 plate appearances in pinstripes, which dates to early this month. Since? .282/.406/.963 in 32 trips to the plate, including homers in five of his last six starts.
I know that’s a super small sample size, but now’s not the time to break down sustainability of hot streaks. The Yankees need everything they can get from Gallo and the rest of the offense, and he’s delivering at the time they need it most.
Corey Kluber looked like his old self again. Things have been a bit shaky for the veteran righty since he returned from the injured list, at least, up until tonight. Kluber delivered six shutout innings against his former team and looked brilliant while doing so.
Just about all of Kluber’s success tonight can be attributed to his command. It was basically impeccable. Check out his pitch plot, and in particular, his cutter location:
He painted the black all night and Cleveland couldn’t do anything against him. There were only two — just two! — hard hit balls of 16 put in play against Kluber. Pretty hard to make hard contact against a pitcher dotting the corners like that.
This start comes on the heels of three not-so-good outings coming off the injured list. Those three starts, now followed by this excellent one, remind me quite a lot of how Kluber’s regular season began back in April: shoddy command and poor results followed by dominance. Maybe, like earlier this year, Kluber had to shake off some rust at the major league level before kicking into gear. If that’s the case, add yet another bona fide postseason starter to the rotation. Of course, the team has to get there first.
The Yankees’ bullpen needed this. Nothing like an 8-0 victory to give a heavily relied upon bullpen a well deserved rest. You probably don’t need the following table to realize just how taxed the relievers are, but for illustrative purposes:
The only two guys without much work this week were Lucas Luetge (who pitched tonight) and Joely Rodriguez (just three pitches yesterday).
The Yankees close out the season with series against Boston, Toronto, and Tampa Bay, and just about all of those games could be pivotal. Would be pretty nice to have a fresh bullpen going into that stretch, wouldn’t it? Some more blowouts against Cleveland and Texas would go a long way toward positioning the Yankees for a strong finish.
- Michael King looks sharp in relief. He threw two scoreless frames and struck out three in this one. King came into tonight’s game with a 3.25 ERA (44.1 IP) as a reliever compared to a 6.52 ERA as a starter (38.2 IP). Considering how many injuries he’s dealt with in the last few seasons, it might be time to stick him there for good.
- Gio Urshela shows some signs of life. With two hits tonight, Urshela has a four-game hitting streak during which he’s 6-for-11. Gio had been awful — and I mean awful — since returning from the IL (.114/.114/.136 in 44 PA) before this recent streak. Hopefully the Urshela we know and love is back.
- Toronto lost and Boston won, so the Yankees are now by themselves in the second Wild Card spot. All three teams are even in the loss column, though Boston has 84 wins, New York 83, and Toronto 82.
Tomorrow, Luis Gil (1-0, 2.88 ERA) takes on Aaron Civale (10-4, 3.76 ERA) in the Bronx at 1:05pm. See you then.