The hottest team in baseball? Guess who’s back?
They started off on fire and haven’t cooled down yet. The retooled New York Yankees, with some old faces and new faces, have moved out in front of the American League East and after a weekend sweep of the World Champion Cubs in Chicago are playing like the best team in both leagues.
The Yankees are 21-9, best in baseball, after a 10-4 clubbing of the Reds Monday night for their sixth straight win, have scored the most runs in the American League and given up the second fewest. They lead the Orioles by a half game in the division and the favored Boston Red Sox by 4 1/2 games. And that’s with Gary Sanchez just getting back into the lineup over the weekend.
The Bombers are living up to their nickname, thanks to young Aaron Judge, resurgent Brent Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury, recycled Matt Holliday, and underrated Aaron Hicks, who have combined for 35 of the team’s 48 home runs so far in 30 games. Their best all-around player so far is second baseman Starlin Castro, who is hitting .358 even after going 0-for-8 in the 18-inning marathon win over the Cubbies Sunday night, with six dingers and 21 RBIs.
Pitching will tell the story for the Yankees over the dog days of summer. Right now, it is a five-man rotation led by Masahiro Tanaka with a 5-1 record and Michael Pineda with a 3.12 earned run average. The team doesn’t have a starter among the best five ERAs in the league or one under 3.00 for that matter.
For the Yanks it’s all about getting a lead through seven innings so Dellin Bettances can take over in the eighth and Aroldis Chapman tries to regain the mantle as the best closer in the American League. To this point, with the best batting average and most runs in the American League, the Yankees are doing enough at the plate and on the bases to be the surprising front runners.
But the AL East is still the best division in the league, and the Yankees have 19 more games each against the O’s and Red Sox. If they are to prevail, the Bombers will have to keep bombing.