After a strong finish to the previous week, the virtual Yankees sat a 10-6 with the Marlins and Blue Jays coming to town. With a roster far more healthy than their real-life counterparts, things are looking good in this other world. Furthermore, the Red Sox aren’t off to the torrid start that they are in real life, meaning that there’s no big hill to climb. Sigh. How did the virtual Yankees do this past week?
Taking care of business
Like the Marlins, in reality, the parallel universe Marlins are a terrible team. The virtual Yankees made easy work of the inferior club, taking both games at Yankee Stadium handily. Game one of the short two-game set was a 7-4 victory, but it wasn’t that close. Up 7-2 to open the ninth, I handed the ball to Luis Cessa in garbage time. Unfortunately, he couldn’t record an out, and Aroldis Chapman was forced to shut the door.
The second game of the quick sweep was a blowout: 9-0. The game was over after just one inning against Miami’s Dan Straily. Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton blasted back-to-back solo home runs, and Neil Walker delivered a two-run dinger a couple of batters later. Didi Gregorius, Aaron Hicks, and Austin Romine would all eventually crush home runs en route to victory, and CC Sabathia cruised. The big lefty threw seven and a third innings of one-run ball. Easy peasy.
Trouble with Toronto
Even though OOTP’s Blue Jays have a healthy Josh Donaldson, they’re not playing nearly as well as the real-life squad. Toronto entered the virtual Bronx with an 8-11 record for a four-game set to close out the week.
In the series opener, old friend Jaime Garcia was terrific. His only blemish was when he surrendered a home run to Gary Sanchez in the seventh. The Yankees’ backstop is on an absolute tear in this world; it was his league-leading ninth home run (and he wasn’t done this series). Garcia otherwise pitched seven clean innings, and the Blue Jays held on to win 6-2. Sonny Gray, who had allowed only one run in his past two starts (15 innings), struggled in the loss (five innings, four runs).
The second game was full of missed opportunities for the Yankees. Marcus Stroman walked eight batters (!) yet only allowed one run in four innings. Jordan Montgomery was decent, but a three-run homer by Josh Donaldson put the Yankees at a 3-0 deficit in the third. Those were the only runs the Yankees’ southpaw allowed in five and two-thirds. As for those missed opportunities I mentioned? The Yankees stranded twelve runners. They would tack on two runs in the 9th, reaching the final score of 6-3, but it was too little too late.
Game three was a good ol’ fashioned pitchers duel between Luis Severino and JA Happ. Severino blanked Toronto over six and two-thirds but exited with a high pitch count due to nine strikeouts and three walks. Happ tossed six frames of one-run ball, the one being (you guessed it) a Gary Sanchez solo blast his tenth of the season. David Robertson bridged the gap from Severino to Aroldis Chapman with the Yankees clinging to a 1-0 lead, but the closer blew it. Kendrys Morales tied the game with a double which sent the game to extras. This time, though, the home faithful went home happy thanks to none other than, of course, Gary Sanchez. His league-leading 11th dinger was a two-run walk-off winner. One parting note from the game: Tyler Austin exited after sliding into third on a triple with a quad injury and was placed on the disabled list. The Yankees summoned Ronald Torreyes back to the majors postgame.
With a chance to split the series, Masahiro Tanaka was given the ball for Sunday’s affair. Unfortunately, he struggled. Tanaka lasted just four innings, allowing three runs on seven hits, including two home runs (Devon Travis and Randal Grichuk). Poor performance aside, Tanaka also had a thumb issue that forced him out of the game (it won’t force him to miss his next start). On the other side, Aaron Sanchez was brilliant. He allowed the Yankees lone run through seven innings of work, and the Blue Jays finished off a series victory. Final score: 4-1. On the injury front, Brett Gardner left the game in the sixth with an undisclosed injury. The diagnosis is still pending, so look for an update next week.
It’s been pretty exciting to see Miguel Andujar rake and Gleyber Torres get promoted yesterday, eh? Well, it’s not time for them in our alternate universe in OOTP land just yet. With Brandon Drury healthy and Tyler Wade holding his own (.344 OBP), there’s not an urgent need at the big league level. Plus, Andujar and Torres have scuffled to start the minor league season. Torres is slashing .200/.329/.267 while Andujar is hitting .194/.271/.274.
Real Universe Yankees: 11-9 (3rd place, 5.5 GB Red Sox)
Parallel Universe Yankees: 13-9 (2nd place, 4.5 GB Rays)
And here’s a snapshot of all things alternate universe Yankees:
The virtual Yankees handled the lowly Marlins without much issue in the first two games of the week. However, Toronto came into the Bronx after that and took three out of four at Yankee Stadium. Aside from Gary Sanchez, the offense couldn’t muster much against the Jays. Sanchez continued his power surge, touching off on his league-leading ninth, tenth, and eleventh home runs. On the injury front, Tyler Austin hit the disabled list with a quad injury, and the Yankees recalled Ronald Torreyes. Brett Gardner hurt himself in the final game of the week, and his diagnosis is still pending.
Photo credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports