They didn’t have the best start to the season. Now Aaron Judge is on the injured list, along with several other key players. But the Yankees are still winning games and things aren’t looking nearly as rough as they were about three weeks ago.
Oh, and they swept the Boston Red Sox in pretty epic fashion. That was huge. Both iconic teams had been struggling coming into those games. (Boston’s pitching and bullpen, woof.) The Yankees followed it up by winning three out of four games against the Kansas City Royals. Have they turned things around?
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Players Stepping Up
Yankees pitcher James Paxton killed it against both teams, dominating the competition and even setting a new record: He was the first Yankees pitcher to rack up over 12 strikes and allow zero runs in back-to-back games. The man has a pretty consistent 97 mph fastball too. This is all good news (and quite a relief) for the Yankees, who need help with their rotation since pitchers like Luis Severino, Dellin Betances, Ben Heller, and Jordan Montgomery are all out with injuries.
It’s too bad that pitchers Chad Green and Adam Ottavino nearly ruined Paxton’s perfect performance on Sunday, following up his six scoreless innings by allowing six runs in the eighth. Good thing New York’s lineup was able to get scrappy and snatch the game back from the jaws of defeat thanks to a single by Austin Romine while Mike Tauchman was on third base. The team has begun to understand that everybody is going to have to step up, particularly in light of all these injuries. Clean-up batter, Clint Frazier explained, “It’s just one of those things. Which guy is going to be the hero tonight, who’s it going to be that steps up?”
Romine might’ve been that guy on Sunday, but Frazier himself hit a homer against the Royals. Frazier is also leading the team with six home runs this season so far. He’s tied with Gary Sanchez, who is likely to return to play this week and send Romine back to the bench. With guys in and out all over the place, it’s truly been a team effort. (Frazier also snapped his bat over his knee when he struck out at the bottom of the ninth with a man on, but hey, you can’t win ’em all.)
Don’t get too excited though. Some sports experts have argued that the Yankees have been lucky with their schedule as of late. Their last five wins out of six games came at the expense of weaker teams, helping them improve to a record of 11-10. With the exception of the Arizona Diamondbacks, they’ve been battling teams with less than a .500 record. But hey, that includes the Red Sox.
Aaron Judge is on the Injured List
So what’s up with The Judge? One of the Yankees’ best and most popular players, 26-year-old slugger and right-fielder Aaron Judge had hoped to avoid injuries after a fractured wrist last season kept him out through 45 games. However, after starting all 20 games so far this season, Judge has a “pretty significant” oblique strain that will land him on the injured list for a couple of weeks, according to manager Aaron Boone. We’re not sure when he’ll be back yet.
Judge said, “There’s no time frame for anything right now. There’s no need for one. We’re just going to go based on how I feel, and we’ll just kind of progress from there.” Judge is the sixth player from the Opening Day lineup to hit the injured list – that makes a total of 13 guys on it for the Yanks, which includes the likes of Giancarlo Stanton, Greg Bird, Gary Sanchez, Troy Tulowitzki, and Miguel Andujar.
Video of the Aaron Judge injury: pic.twitter.com/wczSfR9J9C
— Max Wildstein (@MaxWildstein) April 20, 2019
But the two-time MLB All-Star remains optimistic, particularly about the opportunities that his injury gives other players on the team, saying, “Me out for however long, it’s going to mean other guys get a chance to get some playing time, to show what they’ve got and step up and produce for us at the highest level. It’s the one thing out of all this I’m excited about, guys getting a chance to go out there and perform.”
The Yankees have chosen Thairo Estrada to take his place, the last healthy player on the roster. Until the big sluggers can get healthy, it looks like their current starting lineup will consist of mostly unknowns. Estrada has already proven to have the nerve, getting his first at-bat in the majors during the 10th inning of that Royals game and executing the bunt when Boone called for it.
The Yankees are taking on the Los Angeles Angels tonight and tomorrow if you’re looking to score tickets (we’ve got ‘em). Then they’re off to San Francisco to play three in a row against the Giants and following that up with a trip to the Arizona Diamondbacks. If you’re out west, this is your chance to see the Yankees in action before they return home to the Bronx at the start of May!
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