By Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Analyst and Website Owner) Follow @mlbreports
This season has seen the Yankees face a multitude of injuries to their best players, plus a lot of the key components to the 2012 version of the club are playing elsewhere.
The Bronx Bombers surprising flew out of the gate in April, led by Vernon Wells and Travis Hafner of all people. If it weren’t for New York, Wells would be rusting on the Anaheim bench, and “Pronk” might be looking for work still.
Despite a fast start, the team was counting on Curtis Granderson and Derek Jeter to return after a few weeks into the season, both of them ended up going back on the DL. Jeter is now on his 4th stint on the Disabled List – and is out for the remainder of the regular year.
I will say that while I was ultra choked at Brian Cashman for not bringing in an experienced Catcher like A.J. Pierzynski, or potentially trading for a guy like John Buck, that he did acquire Vernon Wells and brought back Alfonso Soriano.
I wrote an article back when Curtis Granderson was hurt in the preseason, that these should be the 1st and 2nd options for the team (Soriano and Wells. It simply made sense for this year, and even for the 2014 year.
In early July, right before the ALL – Star break, the Yankees were hovering around .500 again, and I send it was time for the team’s Management to become ‘Riverboat Gamblers.’
Alfonso Soriano 2 HR Game August versus the Angels
The reason I was saying this, was for the last season of Mariano Rivera, and possibly for Andy Pettitte. It also was common knowledge that the organization will be taking a step back in 2014, in order to settle under the luxury tax threshold.
This year, it is okay for the team to be near $230 MIL like they are now. I also explained the Pinstripers are set to receive about $50 MIL of Insurance relief for all of their injuries sustained this season.
At the end of July, the club brought back Alfonso Soriano. That was followed by Major League Baseball not deciding to suspend Alex Rodriguez under the JDA, instead of the “Best Interests in Baseball” Clause. This was like Christmas for the Yanks fans.
Not only will this free up some cash to resign Robinson Cano, but it also allowed the belegured 3B to play the rest of the season under appealing the verdict
During a brutal 1st series with A-Rod back in Chicago in early August, the team dropped to 57 – 56 on Aug. 09 via a 4 game sweep to the worst team in the AL at that point.
This was the lowest part of the season for the club. The playoffs looked impossible.
Cue in the Alfonso Soriano tear….
With the year quickly becoming a nightmare, and the club wallowing in a losing slide that had team looking like the might not only miss the playoffs for only the 2nd time since 1994, but maybe not even reach .500 for the 1st time since 1992, a reclaimed Yankee great came to the rescue.
While Soriano had a decent start with the ‘Bronx Bombers’, through his 1st 13 games, (2 HRs and 7 RBI), Before his return, it was month’s since a Right Handed Batter had provided pop in the lineup for the club.
After splitting the 1st 2 games with the Detroit Tigers, the team was now 58 – 57, and 7 Games Back from the 2nd Wild Card Spot.
The New York squad ended up winning that series, aided by a solo HR for #12.
The Angels were next to Yankee Stadium. The club won the 1st game of the series, then it was the Alfonso Soriano ‘Show’ for the last two games of the series.
On Aug.13th, Soriano blasted 2 HRs and drove in 6 RBI, the next night he topped it, with 2 more HRs and 7 RBI. The man tied a franchise record set by Tony Lazzeri in the 30’s by knocking in 13 RBI in just 2 games.
The team won the 3rd game of the series, had won 4 games in a row, after Soriano’s brilliant 2 game set. The team had closed the gap to 5 games behind the 2nd Wild Card Spot.
The Angels avoided a 4 game sweep, dealing the Yankees a 8 – 4 loss, and added to the Rays win on Aug.15, the club was sent back to 6 Games Behind again.
New York headed to Fenway Park for their most influential series of the year. On the Friday night game, Soriano put the game away with a 3 Run HR in the 3rd inning. It was a pivotal game for the team.
Soriano wrapped up a 4 game sequence, where he knocked in 18 RBI, tying Chris Davis earlier this year to start the season, for the best RBI clip over a 4 game span.
The team was also galvanized by the impromptu beaning of Alex Rodriguez on the Sunday night. The Red Sox were holding a big lead, and were poised to bury New York with a commanding lead before this play.
New York rallied for a 9 – 6 win against Boston. Whether the club really likes Rodriguez or not, this game seems to be the turning point for the clubs cohesion on offense.
The Yankees kicked the crap out of the Toronto Blue Jays in a 4 games series, including sweeping a doubleheader on Aug.20th.
The team had pulled to within 3.5 Games, before having the Rays win the 1st 2 games of a series in Tropicana Field to fall back 5.5 Games. Now the Yankees did salvage the 3rd game in Tampa, to bring the deficit back to 4.5 Games on Sunday, Aug.25th.
The Pinstripers lost the 1st game of 3 at Skydome in Toronto. Alfonso Soriano blasted his 3rd 2 – HR game the next night, to give the Yanks their only win of that series. On Aug.28, they fell to 5.5 Games behind the final playoff spot.
Since the club had lost back to back series, New York was battling Division Rival Baltimore on Labor Day weekend. Again, Soriano led the charge in the 1st game of a series, smacking another HR in a 8 – 5 win.
The Yankees then swept the White Sox in a 3 game set, Soriano had RBI’s in each game.
Last weeks 4 game series between Boston and New York was unbelievable. The Yankees climbed back from a 7 – 1 deficit in game #1 of the series. Unfortunately Mariano Rivera blew the Save with only needing one final strike.
The following evening, Soriano blasted yet another HR, to help stake the club to a 8 – 3 lead. Again, the Red Sox would prevail in the game.
The club was facing a 4 game sweep at home versus the AL East leading Red Sox, however the team managed to win the game on a past ball. Ironically, the same feat helped the team just four days later versus the Orioles,
The Yankees headed for Baltimore no worse for the wear, because while they had a tough weekend dealing with the Red Sox, the Rays continued to slide.
The Orioles beat New York this past Monday, to pass them in the standings, and also to throw doubt in all of the Yankees fans. On Tuesday night, Baltimore jumped out to a 4 -1 lead on Tuesday, enter Alfonso Soriano…
The man hit a solo HR in the 7th off Kevin Gausman to make it 4 -2. Mark Reynolds also hit a jack in the inning. In the 8th, Soriano cemented the win with a 2 – run HR, giving the Yankees a lead they would not relinquish.
New York has since won 2 more versus the Orioles, and have climbed within 1 solitary game of Tampa Bay for the final spot.
This weekend presents itself for the club to enforce payback on the Boston Red Sox. The Yankees must try to make up for last week.
Commencing this series, the Yanks have an easier schedule for their last 12 Games, than most of the contenders. They fly to Toronto next week for 3 games, where they are 13 – 3 versus the Canadian club this season.
The Bronx Bombers then host a 6 game homestand, with 3 versus the Rays (in what could make the year for them), followed by 3 games versus the 2012 World Series Champs, the Giants.
The team concludes the year flying to Houston, to play the potential 110 Loss Astros. I firmly believe the Yankees can win 10 of their last 15 games. The most important of those 10 wins, will be how many are versus the Rays.
Tampa has a tougher schedule, they play the Twins at Target Field for 3 this weekend, but then they host a 7 game homestand, where they welcome the Rangers for 4 – and New York for 3.
The Rays finish their last 6 games on the road against Baltimore and Toronto in 3 game series. If I am a betting man, I place cash on NYY right now.
Hopefully the Royals, Indians and Orioles, don’t reel off enough wins to top them.
If the Yankees can torch the Jays for the 3 game series next week, they can gain on one of those 2 Wild Card teams, as the Rangers are only 3 games ahead of New York for the top Wild Card Spot. The key is for New York to survive this weekend.
Simply put, Soriano has shown massive leadership by cracking big hits when the situation has looked bleak.
Soriano has 12 RBI in 12 September Games so far. He is also leading the MLB in HRs and RBI since the ALL – Star Break. The guy also stole 3rd base and scored the Game Winning Run on a SAC FLY recently.
For those who didn’t see it, he also robbed a HR from the Orioles last night.
The Yankees have gone 22 – 12 in their last 34 games played. This has been done without any strong Starts from Hiroki Kuroda and CC Sabathia, and includes several blown Saves and shaky outings from Mariano Rivera.
Phil Hughes has also been a horror show for the team, and especially at Yankee Stadium.
They have also weathered a tattered Bullpen that was once one of their strong suits. The Yankees have come back from the brink of elimination by playing like the “Bronx Bombers.” They have simply outslugged every one in the last month.
Last 3o days Numbers.
Robinson Cano: .381, 45 Hits, 5 HRs and 27 RBI.
Alfonso Soriano: .267, 20 Runs, 10 HRs and 33 RBI.
Eduardo Nunez: .315 and 23 Hits.
Alex Rodriguez: 3 Slash Line of .304/.407/.940 – with 5 HRs and 9 RBI.
Mark Reynolds: 3 Slash Line of .279/.355/.899 – with 4 HRs and 16 RBI in 22 Games (including hitting a HR in his 1st AB vs Boston in their 10 – 3 win on August.16/2013.)
Brett Gardner: .355 OBP and 20 Runs Scored.
Curtis Granderson: 12 XBH and 15 Runs Scored in his last 27 GP.
Whether or not the New York team makes the playoffs down the last few weeks this year, it has been an exciting brand of baseball to watch over the last 5 weeks.
I would love for this team to have a chance to compete in October for Mariano Rivera’s last year.
*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com or their partners.***
Chuck Booth – Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner and author of the Fastest 30 Ballgames: To learn more about my “The Fastest 30 Ballgames Book” and how to purchase it, click here .
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