The Yankees evened the ALDS Saturday night with a 6-2 win over the Red Sox, looking more like the team who defeated the Athletics in the Wild Card game Wednesday night.
With the series headed back to the Bronx, there is a lot to digest. Here are some major takeaways from the Yankees Game Two victory:
1. Ability to Bounce Back, Experience Showing
Last year’s playoff run was filled with a bunch of first-postseason guys who didn’t necessarily command any expectations. Aaron Judge’s up and down year (mostly up) didn’t necessarily give us insight to how he would perform in the postseason, Luis Severino’s breakout year didn’t guarantee an ace-like playoff presence, and the same could be said for all of the 2017 Baby Bombers.
However, the young Yankees showed immense resilience and fought back after being down 0-2 in both the division and championship series. After losing to the eventual World Series champions, the Yankees once again found themselves with their backs against the wall in the division series. The Red Sox came out firing in Game One, jumping out to an early lead and holding on at the end.
Saturday, the Yankees punched first and didn’t let up. Contrary to last year, the core Yankees have playoff experience this year. Of course, there are 2 rookies in (Miguel Andujar & Gleyber Torres) and 27-year-old Luke Voit, but the moment hasn’t appeared too big for any of them, especially Luke Voit, who doesn’t seem to be phased by much.
Not to mention big bopper Giancarlo Stanton, who’s first postseason appearance was well documented, but he seems to be acclimating just fine, struggling in Game One but registering a hit in each of the first three games this postseason and hitting a home run in the Wild Card that still hasn’t landed.
Brian Cashman has obviously built this team to win baseball games, but he quietly has built an experienced team that is built for the postseason. With veterans like C.C Sabathia, Brett Gardner and David Robertson, midseason additions such as J.A. Happ, Andrew McCutchen, and Zach Britton, the Yankees have a number of guys who have been here before and it paid dividends on Saturday.
2. Gary Sanchez’s Redemption, Judge Inching Closer to Captain Status
Fan-proclaimed Yankee captain Aaron Judge set the tone hitting another first inning home-run. It’s already his third home run of the postseason in as many games, and his second in the first inning.
A captain not only has the respect of the clubhouse but also leads by example. Judge is starting to come into his own, playing with a bit more flare. He seemed to stare at his first inning moonshot a little longer Saturday night, and after the game, was seen blasting Yankees anthem “New York, New York” by the Red Sox clubhouse.
Here’s Aaron Judge walking past the Red Sox clubhouse on his way to the bus. Note the music selection on his boom box pic.twitter.com/0vHGBxRoP3
— Jim Witalka (@jwitalka) October 7, 2018
Add this on to hitting .583 with 3 homers and four RBIs so far this postseason and Judge has check marks in both columns. Many Yankees fans would love for Judge to be officially anointed the captain of the Yankees.
As for Gary Sanchez, his struggles this season have been news all year, but a memorable postseason could erase everyone’s memories of said struggles. Facing David Price and playing in Fenway is the perfect remedy for Gary to start rolling, and he did not disappoint, coming through for the Yankees in Game Two in a big way.
His first at-bat docked a monster solo shot, tacking on to the early lead built by Judge. He wasn’t done there, he added on a huge 479 FT, three-run jack in the seventh to put the game away. Could this multi-home run game be the spark Gary needed to be the big bat the Yankees need for a deep playoff run? We shall see.
3. Yankees Continue to Own David Price, Playoff Tanaka Returns
The relationship between David Price and the Yankees continues to fall in the favor of the Bombers. Coming into the game Saturday, the only Yankee starters who hadn’t gone yard off of David Price were Brett Gardner (not a home run hitter), and Giancarlo Stanton (first year in pinstripes).
Many questions from the media leading up to his start in Game Two were about the historical struggles against the Yanks. They were obviously in his head for his short outing at Fenway, only recording five outs, Price didn’t give the Sox anything they hoped for as they had to go to their untrustworthy pen in the second inning.
This advantage over the Red Sox number two starter could prove crucial for the rest of the series. The Yankees have their ace going at home and Red Sox Game Three starter is still up in the air. If the Yankees were to win on Monday, the Yankees would force a decision out of Alex Cora and his staff: Price for Game Four with the season on the line, or Price in Game Five in the same situation with a potentially more comforting situation at home.
Neither are ideal situations for the Sox, making Game Three pivotal. Masahiro Tanaka might have been a footnote in the Saturday night clash, but his efforts did not go unnoticed by the Yankees and most fans. Tanaka put his stamp on the postseason last year with two signature outings against the Indians and the Astros, and he came through once again in Game Two, giving the Yankees five strong innings of three-hit ball and only surrendering one run against a daunting Boston lineup.
If the Yankees are going to make a run this year in a crowded American league bracket, they are going to need this Tanaka the whole way and if Game Two was any indication, the Yankees are in for another fun October.