Yankees don’t even need to make their own breaks right now
Aaron Boone, who is now on pace to pass Connie Mack’s all-time record for manager wins in 2051, effused over his 2018 Yankees following this delightfully efficient 5-2 victory over the Indians on Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium, his team’s third game this week that lasted precisely 2 hours and 31 minutes.
“Whether we have to score with you, whether we have to win a low-scoring game, we’re finding ways to win ball games,” the Yankees’ first-year skipper said. “And I think hopefully that’s the sign of a good team.”
Sometimes, the ballgame finds ways to win for you. On Saturday, the Yankees benefited from breakdowns physical, mental and technological. When that happens, to help keep a stretch like this going, you just might start wondering whether this is your year.
In winning their 14th game in 15 tries, their best 15-game run since an identical streak from June 24-July 12 of their record-setting 1998 campaign, the Yankees saw Sonny Gray pick up his first victory in five starts with six strong innings to keep the AL East heat on the Red Sox. The right-hander is doing everything besides buying billboard space on the Cross Bronx Expressway to proclaim his preference for working with catcher Austin Romine — which is fine, except Gray had best not work himself into such a lather over this that he’ll freak out if circumstances pair him back up with the defensively inferior and offensively superior Gary Sanchez.
In any case, when Francisco Lindor ripped a solo homer off Gray in the top of the fifth for the game’s first run, it looked like the right-hander might be headed toward a second straight tough-luck loss. For, to that point, Indians starter Trevor Bauer had retired 12 straight Yankees.
Bauer made it 13 in a row by retiring the predictably struggling Giancarlo Stanton on a foul out to first baseman Yonder Alonso, and then Bauer suddenly lost the plate and his mojo, walking Neil Walker and Miguel Andujar, giving up a single to Gleyber Torres, then walking Romine to force home the Yankees’ tying run.
When Ronald Torreyes hit a hard grounder to the Gold Glover Lindor at shortstop, however, it looked like the Indians would extinguish the threat. Until Lindor, who made an error here Friday night, first bobbled the ball, ensuring everyone would be safe, then made an ill-advised throw to third, where Jose Ramirez wasn’t even looking at him. By the time Cleveland catcher Roberto Perez retrieved the ball, two runs had scored on the double-error, giving the Yankees a stunning, 3-1 edge.
“Very surprising,” Torreyes said through an interpreter of Lindor’s meltdown. “He’s very good out there at shortstop. But that’s baseball. Sometimes things like that happen. It happened to him this time.”
Then, one more unfortunate happening for the visitors: Brett Gardner lofted a fly ball to left field, far enough for Romine to tag and score another insurance run. Torreyes, however, ill-advisedly tagged from second base and dove into third base, where Ramirez’s tag might have gotten him. And if Torreyes had been out before Romine crossed home, that would have negated Romine’s run.
Third-base umpire Tim Timmons called Torreyes safe, and no challenge followed from the Indians.
“We were dying to [challenge],” Francona said. “We talked to the league already. We’re having a tough time getting slow motion [replay]. It’s blurry, so there’s nothing we get that’s definitive. … It’s been kind of ongoing. We’re trying to work through it, because you feel handcuffed a little bit.” The problem has been league-wide, Francona said, not limited to the Indians.
OK, then. The Yankees went up 4-1, and from there, they cruised to a 23-10 record, their best 33-game start since they posted a 24-9 mark in 2003.
“You’ve got to make your own breaks, as well,” Boone said, and sure, the Yankees worked for those fifth-inning walks to set the rest of the rally in motion. Yet when you see stuff like a Lindor double-error or good old-fashioned “technical difficulties,” you have to credit fortune, too, right? The Yankees can feel both great and grateful about how things went Saturday and even better about their upward direction.
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