The New York Yankees were becoming the feel good story of the summer. They traded away their three best players at the trade deadline and proceeded to start the youth movement. Then they forced Alex Rodriguez out of the picture to cement the youth movement. The team said they weren’t giving up on this season and no-one believed them.
Then on August 13th, the day after A-Rod was released, Tyler Austin and Aaron Judge hit back-to-back homers in their first major league at bats. Maybe the Yankees were on to something?
Gary Sanchez preceded to hit .524 with 4 home-runs, 6 RBIs with an 1.790 OPS from August 15-21 on his way to winning player of the week. And he was just getting started, from August 22-28, he hit .522 with 5 home-runs, 9 RBIs with an 1.911 OPS on his way to winning a second player of the week. While he was tearing up the majors, the Yankees were shooting up the standings and actually in playoff contention.
On September 10th, the Yankees had won 7-in-a-row after beating the Rays 5-1. They were amazingly only three games out of first place and only one game out of the wild card. Could the Yankees actually do it? Could they seemingly punt the season in order to boost their farm system to the second rated in all of baseball and still make the playoffs? It was getting harder and harder not to believe.
Then the Dodgers came to town and took two of three – but the Yankees only lost one game of ground in the division and wild card races. They now had their chance – they had a four games series in Boston while trailing Boston by four games in the division.
What happened next sank their season.
Game 1 – Up 5-2 in the 9th inning and Betances blows the save while Hanley Ramirez hits a walk-off home-run for a 7-5 Boston win.
Game 2 – Boston takes a 2-0 lead in the first inning and never looks back. Ramirez hit another home-run and the Red Sox win 7-4.
Game 3 – The Yankees take an early 5-2 lead and they take a 5-4 lead heading into the 7th inning but they fail to hang on as Adam Warren blows a save. Ramirez has three more hits. Red Sox win 6-5.
Game 4 – The Yankees take a 4-0 lead into the 5th inning, but fail to hold on as C.C. Sabathia runs out of gas and Ramirez hits two more home-runs. Red Sox win 5-4.
What has to hurt the most for Yankees’ fans is that the Yankees should have won three of four and still been in the hunt for the playoffs. Instead they Red Sox completed the rare four-game sweep of the Yankees, which happened to be the 200th sweep of the 2016 MLB season.
The Yankees season is now over and Red Sox fans must be pretty happy about that. They are peaking at the perfect time, they now have a three game lead in the division and they played a pivotal role in ending the Yankees youth revival.
Theoretically, the Yankees aren’t out of it. They end the season with three games in Tampa, four games in Toronto, three games at home against Boston and three games at home against Baltimore. That’s a total of 10 games left against teams above them in the standings (and the two teams currently in the wild card) and three games against the last place Rays. But considering the mental damage that this series must have caused to their confidence and the zero days off to finish the season, it isn’t going to happen. Add the fact that they are four games out of the wild card with three teams in front of them, it doesn’t look good.
But the Yankees defied all expectations, they sold at the trade deadline and still made the season interesting. They still have Gary Sanchez, who remains must see TV. They have promising young players and a great farm system. They will be relevant in the near future and for many years to come. Now they should focus on keeping their .500 streak alive. They haven’t finished a season below .500 since 1992.
[Image Credit: Barry Chin via Boston Globe]