Last week, the parallel universe Yankees began to right the ship. Perhaps I was getting ahead of myself with that headline, but the team had started playing a little better even before my last post. This week, the team confirmed that it’s on the right track, with two strong series against the Astros and the Orioles.
Hosting and sweeping the defending champs
At 35-19, the Astros hold the American League’s best record in this other world we’re following. The Yankees 26-24 record is not impressive, but the good news is that the team has played better over the past two weeks. Virtual Gerrit Cole (1.98 ERA entering the game) was supposed to be a tough opponent in the series opener but was hit hard. Cole allowed three home runs, including a three-run shot by Didi Gregorius in the first inning that set the tone. Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge delivered the other two blasts, forcing Cole to exit after five innings (he allowed seven runs). Meanwhile, the recently resurgent CC Sabathia was excellent. In seven innings, the big lefty allowed just two runs, both on solo dingers by Alex Bregman. It was a nice and easy 9-4 victory when all was said and done.
Game two was a pitchers duel, though not between two hurlers you might expect to have one: Collin McHugh and Jordan Montgomery. The Yankees’ sophomore southpaw came out on top, allowing one run in six frames while McHugh surrendered three in seven and a third. The game was deadlocked at one until the eighth inning when the Bombers broke through. A one-out walk (Brett Gardner) followed by a single (Aaron Judge) put runners on the corners and knocked McHugh out of the game. Chris Devenski entered, and he fanned Giancarlo Stanton for the second out, though Judge stole second in the midst of the at-bat. Gary Sanchez delivered the clutch hit, a two-run single to make it 3-1, which was the final score.
With Luis Severino on the mound, the Yankees were well positioned to complete the sweep. It wouldn’t be easy, though, because Severino did not pitch well. He only allowed one run but had to be pulled with one out in the fifth because of a high pitch count (five walks and eight strikeouts will do that). Fortunately, the bullpen was brilliant. Dellin Betances, Adam Warren, Tommy Kahnle, and Aroldis Chapman shut out Houston over four and two-thirds. Dallas Keuchel pitched well for Houston, but not well enough. Gary Sanchez broke a 1-1 tie in the sixth with his league-leading 21st homer, and Neil Walker tacked on an insurance run with a solo shot in the seventh. Keuchel’s final line: six and two-thirds and three runs allowed. The final score: 3-1 Yankees to complete the sweep.
Three of four in Baltimore
After a pleasantly surprising sweep of Houston, it was time to clean up against the lowly Orioles. The Yankees did just that in game one. The offense smacked around Chris Tillman and the Orioles bullpen to the tune of eight runs, while Sonny Gray toed the slab for the Yankees and pitched well. Gray has been nothing short of excellent in this alternate universe, as he threw six innings of two-run ball. That performance actually brought his ERA up to 2.86.
The second game of the four-game set was a bit closer, but the Yankees came out victorious yet again. In a 5-2 win, Masahiro Tanaka threw seven innings of two-run ball. Gary Sanchez (his 22nd) and Aaron Judge (his 19th) launched solo home runs against Baltimore’s starter David Hess. The win streak continues, now up to seven in a row.
How did game three go? Make it eight straight wins. CC Sabathia delivered his second strong start of the week and his third consecutive positive outing. He allowed three runs in six and a third before handing it to the bullpen. Tommy Kahnle and Aroldis Chapman shut the door for a 4-3 win.
All win streaks must come to an end. We were so close to a sweep of the entire week! Baltimore’s offense exploded in the final game, scoring 14 runs against a combination of Jordan Montgomery and Luis Cessa. Andrew Cashner and the Orioles bullpen held down the Yankees’ bats for a 14-1 win. It was an ugly way to finish the week, but a 6-1 stretch is nothing to complain about.
One roster move to note: after game, Cessa was optioned to Triple-A and Jonathan Holder was recalled. Finally, one thing to look forward to in next week’s post: the amateur draft!
Real Universe Yankees: 37-17 (1st place, 1.0 GB Red Sox…don’t ask how that’s possible)
Parallel Universe Yankees: 32-25 (2nd place, 2.5 GB Rays)
And here’s a snapshot of all things alternate universe Yankees:
It was a big week for the virtual Yankees, who won six of seven. The week began with a sweep of the American League’s best team, the Astros. Next came the Orioles in Baltimore, and the Yankees won three more in a row (upping the club’s overall win streak to eight). That’s where the run of victories came to an end, as the Orioles stomped the Yanks in the final game of the week. Nonetheless, 6-1 is just what the doctor ordered for a club that hasn’t played well for much of the season.
Photo Credit: Andy Marlin / USA TODAY Sports