Despite a disturbingly bland second half of the season, the stars just may be aligning perfectly for the Yankees as we approach October.
In mid-August, New York Yankees fans were just about ready to give up on the club. The team had just hit rock bottom — an ugly four-game sweep at the hands of the Boston Red Sox at Fenway.
New York had been playing .500 baseball for about two months at that point. Just about every player of any sizable importance to the team had spent time on the disabled list. Things were trending downward, and fast.
Yet as October stands just two days away, the tide has turned in the Bronx. The team is mostly healthy, the only outlier being shortstop Didi Gregorius, who is just days away from returning. The Yankees are rolling, winners of four of their last five and eight of their last 11.
Friday night, they clinched home-field advantage for next week’s Wild Card game against the Oakland A’s with an 11-6 smackdown of the Red Sox. The Yankees hit four home runs for the second straight game, bringing their season total to 264. That matches the major league record set by the 1997 Seattle Mariners, a record New York will surely move past in the final two games.
Aaron Boone has his squad clicking on all cylinders at the perfect time. Catcher Gary Sanchez, who has been been either injured or ineffective virtually all season, has four hits and five RBIs in his last three games. The ever-streaky Giancarlo Stanton hit two homers the Thursday afternoon. And Aaron Judge, who returned last week after missing almost almost two months with a broken bone in his wrist, hit his first homer since July Friday night. The Bronx Bombers are hitting again, and they’re doing it in loud fashion.
Clinching home field against the A’s looks more and more imperative when you look at how the Yankees performed in last year’s playoffs. They were a perfect 6-0 at home, but just 1-6 on the road.
With last year’s experience under their belts, this Yankees squad will be prepared. They’re confident, finally, and that’s a scary thought for Oakland — and anyone else in their path.