You can’t get past any MLB team, but this was a game the Yankees were ever supposed to win – they were playing a bad baseball team making a bad throw, making their debut outside of IL. They sure took care of the business, winning a 14th straight streak against the Royal Family with an 8-2 win at the Old-Timers Day.
The club was down early, as DJ LeMahieu took junior Jonathan Heasley deep into the Yankees’ first game. It was his 10th long ball of the season, as he tied 150 games last year in just his 92nd competition of the season. Aaron Judge kept pressing, singing ahead of Andrew Benentende’s run, and Gleiber Torres doubled his lead by two races to the lead, and although the 5-6-7 hitters were a bit frustrated pursuing this kind of start, the Yankees were still 2-0 up after One.
In a second, well, you’d never guess what happened:
Aaron Judge has 42 home games and that didn’t happen until August. He’s played in 10 games since the All-Star break and hit 9 bombs. There was some talk right before the break about whether Yordan Alvarez, Rafael Devers or Shohei Ohtani would outlast him in the AL MVP race. Those top two teams have been hurt, but for an amazing season like Ohtani, I can’t believe the judge isn’t, once again, the favorite for the award with over a win and a half in 10 games. (As an added bonus, today’s Homer was also a milestone, becoming the 18th Yankees player in history to hit 200 in striped lines.)
The rest of the offense came in the DJ’s second RBI of the day (one song Isiah Kiner-Falefa recorded on the fourth), Andrew Benintende’s sacrifice fly after a two-stroke, IKF’s home run on a loose throw to third in the sixth inning, and a lol hit Matt Carpenter on his land again. All three runs came from a variety of non-dinger courtesy of the Royals’ mistakes to boot. IKF popped up to wrestle Michael Garcia, who didn’t mind the ball only to see it bounce off the heel of his glove.
The next hitter, Jose Trevino, bounced the ball up to third, trying to go around the horn to play a double when White Merryfield couldn’t control the ball in second. Both men were safe, with IKF taking third place ahead of DJs at bat. Similarly, in the sixth, with Izzy trying to steal third, Salvador Pérez knocked out and allowed the seventh inning to enter:
Nestor Cortes’ start was good, if not great. The royals are a tough team to face, because they don’t hit the bat. They don’t hit the ball with any authority, but, as the YES booth might say, they put a lot of pressure on the defense – for all that has worked for them this year.
Curtis booked his start with two clean runs, first and fifth, but left several men in the remaining innings. Only two of those runners came in, but it wasn’t quite as steep as we’ve seen. Perez’s cyst fly to center left deep was a special mistake, a fast ball in the belly that would have been a home run at 16 MLB parks, and Nestor knew it:
The All-Star provided us with another amazing advantage, designing the hyper-aggressive Hunter Dozer for third:
Curtis probably went over five rounds, but with so much progress it’s not a good idea to take him out and save a round or two here and there. He’s already passed his best innings in a season, and even if the bowler is secured by Tuesday, he’s the worst-most number 3 man on the course and will be called up in October. On days like today, it’s best to get it out a little early and save some energy for post-season.
A lot of what’s going on with this club right now revolves around Aaron Judge. He’s gone from baseball’s best player into a must-watch TV that’s simple and laid-back. The Yankees could continue to roll tomorrow with the sweep of the Royals, but I’m honestly more interested in what Judge’s hitting streak would look like. Either way, Zack Greinke will face Jordan Montgomery in the series finale, with the first showing at 1:35 PM ET.