Sunday, July 17, 2022

Yankees Close Historic First Half With An Exclamation Point

Matt Carpenter. @Yankees Twitter.

The Yankees closed the first half on a very positive note, with a 13-2 thumping of the Boston Red Sox on Sunday afternoon at Yankee Stadium to take two out of three in their weekend series, after a 14-1 win on Saturday night.

The Bronx Bombers go into the All-Star break with a record of 64-28, best in Major League Baseball.

The Yankees' 64 victories before the All-Star break are the most in franchise history, passing the 2018 team's 62. It ties the 2018 Houston Astros for the third-most in Major League history before the break, behind the 2018 Boston Red Sox' 68 (yes, that was some season), and the 1969 Baltimore Orioles (65).

The 64-28 record is the fifth-best 92-game start in franchise history, and marks just the sixth time the Yankees have won at least 64 of their first 92 games, trailing only the 1998 Yankees (68-24), 1928 (67-25), 1939 (66-26), and 1927 (66-26). The 1941 Yankees, the year of Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak, also went 64-28 through their first 92 games.

The Yankees hold a massive lead in the American League East, 13 games over the Tampa Bay Rays (51-41), 14 1/2 over the Toronto Blue Jays, one of the bigger disappointment in baseball (50-43), 16 over the Red Sox (48-45), who had got swept in a four-game set at Tampa Bay before losing two of three in New York, and 18 games over the biggest surprise in baseball, the Baltimore Orioles (46-46).

After the Yankees lost Friday night to the Red Sox, 5-4, in 11 innings, on Friday night to open the series, which was their fifth loss in six games, and third loss in a row to Boston, Yankees Manager Aaron Boone said, "I wouldn't use the word crushing, you know, we should have won that game. We had our chances, and just couldn't break through, so it's frustrating, you know, gotta turn the page on this one and get after it tomorrow and try and close out this half the way we're capable of."

On Saturday night, the Yankees certainly took their skipper's words to heart, as they rolled to a 14-1 win. Matt Carpenter led the way with two home runs (three-run shots in the first and fifth innings) and seven RBI, which matched a career-high, which he did twice before, on June 12 against the Cubs, and then while a member of the Cardinals against the Cubs on July 20, 2018. It was just the fourth time a Yankee had at least seven RBI in a game since 2014, with Didi Gregorious the only other Yankee to do it, and his two instances came on April 3, 2018 vs. Tampa Bay and on July 23, 2019 at Minnesota. Carpenter also became just the seventh Major Leaguer to have 30 RBI in his first 13 games with a team.

Aaron Judge also hit two home runs on the night, a solo shot in the fifth and a two-run blast in the sixth inning, to give him 33 home runs on the season, matching Roger Maris' 33 in 1961 for the most home runs by a Yankee in the first half of the season. (Judge did not homer in Sunday's contest). This gave Judge 23 multi-home run games, which is the second-most in Major League history through 660 games, to Ralph Kiner's 25. They are sixth-most in Yankees history, behind Babe Ruth (68), Mickey Mantle (46), Lou Gehrig (43), Joe DiMaggio (35), and Alex Rodriguez (29).

On Sunday, in their 13-2 win (yes, they put up 27 runs in two games), the Yankees came out swinging against Boston ace Chris Sale, making just his second start after being out all season with an injury.

DJ LeMahieu led off with a double, then Aaron Judge was hit by a pitch to give them two runners on with nobody out. Anthony Rizzo then grounded out, and then Gleyber Torres hit a grounder to Rafael Devers and he threw it away when trying to nab LeMahieu at the plate, so he scored to make it 1-0. Matt Carpenter then got an RBI groundout to bring in Judge and make it 2-0.

Aaron Hicks was up next, and he lined one back up the middle, and Sale tried to grab it, but it clipped his hand and wound up breaking his pinkie finger, so that was all for his afternoon.

Torres came in to score on that Hicks hit, and Hirokazu Sawamura got Isiah Kiner-Falefa to ground out to end the threat.

Boston got a couple of those runs back in the third when he hit a two-run shot, his first in the Major Leagues, to make it 3-2 Yankees.

Sawamura started the relay out of the Boston bullpen, and Darwinzon Hernandez, Ryan Brazier and Jake Diekman held the Yankees at bay until the fourth.

LeMahieu and Judge had RBI singles off Diekman to make it 5-2, and the lefty yielded for Ryan Brasier, but the Yankees' rally continued. Carpenter kept up his hot hitting, and got a two-run double, then  Hicks got an RBI single, Kiner-Falefa got an RBI on a sacrifice fly, and Tim Locastro launched a two-run homer to make it an 11-2 Yankees lead, and an eight-run inning. 

Joey Gallo, who has heard nothing but boos lately, capped off the afternoon with a two-run homer, his 11th of the season, to make it 13-2.

Yankees ace Gerrit Cole got the win to improve to 9-2 on the season, as he went seven innings, allowing two runs (both earned) on four hits and no walks, with 12 strikeouts.

When the Yankees return from the break, they are thrown right into the fire with a nine-game road trip against three of the best teams in baseball. They have a doubleheader at the Houston Astros on Thursday (making up games lost from the lockout), then three games with the surprising Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards next weekend (Friday through Sunday) before a pair at Citi Field against the Mets on Tuesday, July 26 and Wednesday, July 27.

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