baseball

How the Yankees became MLB’s hottest team

TORONTO – The Yankees lost here Wednesday, snapping an 11-game winning streak. It was a close fight game, as most of the competition between them and the Blue Jays has taken place this season.

In a 2-1 setback in the ninth inning, the Yankees loaded the bases with two outs but when shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa hit a ground ball to third baseman Matt Chapman, his bounce throw was scooped. The first was Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who showed his flexibility by doing splits.

“I was so mad at myself,” Chapman, a three-time Gold Glove winner, said of the throw, “then very excited.”

The Yankees lined up on the field to challenge the play, but eventually they packed the visitors’ clubhouse and headed home. Even with the defeat, he won a three-game set, maintained the best record in baseball (18-7) and gave the Blue Jays their first series loss of the season.

“Winning 11 in a row is no small task,” Yankees third baseman Josh Donaldson said. “It doesn’t matter who you play. It was a really good ball club and we came here and played really well. Losing a run game on the road and we had a chance in the ninth to go ahead, I like our chances. We couldn’t cash it in today but I expect it from us next time.

A month into the season, the Yankees have shown that they are different from the recent Yankees. His pitching was one of his best assets when he went 92-70 in 2021 and fell to Boston in the American League Wild-Card Game, though it is still going strong this season. Their offense is more dynamic, hitting less and hitting the ball harder. His defense has made the most dramatic improvement, by far the worst in Major League Baseball.

In every way, manager Aaron Boone said this week, the 2022 Yankees are better.

“We are a good and versatile offense,” he said. “We run the bases well. There is no question that we are catching the ball well and have the opportunity to be a good defensive team this year. Last year’s pitching was our calling card. Still, I think we have a good pitching staff from top to bottom this year.

During the winning streak, the Yankees demonstrated that they could win in different ways: by scoring a lot of runs, winning close matches with good pitching and fielding, depending on the bulk of the roster. Admittedly, most of the late opponents have lost records and didn’t expect to compete in the postseason – the Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland Guardians and Kansas City Royals – but the games against the Blue Jays always say so.

On Monday, the Yankees beat the Blue Jays in their own game. By Wednesday, Toronto was 10-3 in one-run games, playing and winning more nail bites than anyone else in baseball, and showing that their pitching and fielding were efficient. The Yankees won 3-2 with Jordan Montgomery (two runs in five innings), a solid effort from the bullpen, and second baseman Glaber Torres who endured all their bad times. Career in 2021.

“The swing didn’t really work with my hands and my lower body was going up against it,” said Torres of Swing, who averaged .259 last year, nine home runs and a .697 on-base plus slugging percentage. All career minimums for a full season. “I’m more in control now.”

In Tuesday’s 9-1 win, Yankees opener James Tylon, who was further removed from ankle surgery last October, allowed just one run in six innings. And the Yankees offense was run by outfielder Aaron Judge, who hit his ninth home run of the year. After putting a big bet on her by rejecting a seven-year, $ 213.5-million contract extension before the regular season began, the judges were hitting .293 with a Yankees-leading 1.009 OPS through 24 games.

“It’s just 11 games but we’ve got a lot more work to do,” the judge said of the team’s winning streak, adding that he was happy to be free from injuries so far this season. “There have been a lot of good things.

Although the Yankees’ offense caught up with Blue Jays opener Yusei Kikuchi on Wednesday, he made a comeback against Jordan Romano, who leads baseball with 12 saves. Yankees starter Nestor Cortes Jr. faced shaky command, walking four and walking two in four innings against a powerful Blue Jays team that could welcome injured slugger Teesker Hernandez this weekend.

Still, the Yankees rank fourth in baseball through Wednesday (with a run average of 2.85). When the bullpen was added, the Yankees’ pitching staff (2.60 ERA) trailed only the Los Angeles Dodgers (2.21) at MLB, with five more regular-season months remaining, but that was an improvement on the Yankees, who were already sixth in the ERA (3.74). Season.

The most notable upgrades, however, are in attack and defense. The Yankees traded catcher Jose Trevino and Kiner-Falefa, and re-signed Anthony Rizzo, spending the worst defenders like first baseman Luke Voight and catcher Gary Sಚೆnchez. Kiner-Falefa hit a team-high .295 and Rizzo strikes fewer times with nine home runs.

The Yankees’ catching duo, paired with Kyle Higashioka, are adept at calling games and making pitches. Gold Glove, who won third baseman in 2020, allowed Torres to return to second base after Kiner-Falefa struggled at shortstop last season. Rizzo, a four-time Gold Glove winner, saves his infielders with his scoops and footwork at first base. Donaldson has certainly been handed over and the versatile infielder DJ Lemahi is healthier than last season.

Based on some improved metrics, the Yankees’ defense has jumped into the top 10 this season with three worst in baseball. The tiltdown effects show year-round: good fielding means fewer extra pitches, fewer runs and more wins. The Yankees’ 73 unearned runs allowed last year was the eighth-highest run in baseball, and they are on pace to cut that number in half this season.

Entering this season, the Yankees are expected to compete for the playoffs despite a wide variety of roles, some big-name acquisitions and questions as to whether they have done enough to improve in the off-season. So far, the results have been great.

“My mind has never changed since the first day of spring training,” the judge said. “I know what this team has and what they are capable of. To be honest, I haven’t really read what the experts say about how this team is going to work. We’re going to go out there and do the work and the results will show.

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