Monday, August 31, 2015

Yankees weekend news wrap: Domination expected and delivered

Heading into the weekend series at the Atlanta Braves, the New York Yankees had to feel they had three very winnable games coming against a team in complete rebuild mode. That feeling and getting the job done are two different things, but the Yankees’ bats came alive and carried them to a three-game sweep.

The series finale will be highlighted because of the 21-hit, 20-run rampage, but there were other aspects to the series which indicate the Yankees might be poised for a successful finish to the season.

No Teixeira, No A-Rod, no problem?

Mark Teixeira
Photo credit: Keith Allison via Flickr
Of course this is an exaggeration, because they Yankees do need Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez to be healthy and productive over the final month-plus of the season. But, to score 36 runs in three games without them (A-Rod contributed  a two-run pinch-hit single to Sunday's run-fest), albeit against a poor pitching staff, proves to the rest of the club that they can get the job done without them on occasion.

Further, A-Rod coming off the bench and getting on base both times shows he can be productive as a pinch-hitter. While the Yankees are once again giving A-Rod some reps at first base, unless Teixeira is unable to play, I cannot see Rodriguez playing much there even in the lone series against a National League team (the Mets) in September. Worrying about how A-Rod can contribute in a potential World Series game at a National League park is terribly premature in my opinion.

Tanaka, Severino show mettle

Masahiro Tanaka looked uncomfortable from the start of Friday’s game, allowing two runs, but then settled down the rest of the way besides a solo homer to Freddie Freeman in the third inning. After that, Tanaka retired 14 of the final 15 batters he faced. Tanaka sat in the 92-94 mph range with his four-seam fastball and his final pitch reached 95 mph. Tanaka showed some mettle getting past the first inning, especially after the Yankees put up a four-spot in a long top of the second inning.

Severino tossed six scoreless innings, once again working around a few too many walks (four). Severino will have to begin to limit the free passes because eventually they will come back to haunt him, but it has been a pleasure to see him unfazed with runners on base. Besides the walks Severino looks fully acclimated to the big leagues.

Those starts came at a time that the Yankees rotation had hit a bit of a rut, so while the team was starting to generate some offense, getting positive contributions from two of their starters was important.

Bottom of the order sizzles

While I feel the need to once again preface the quality of the opposing pitchers, the bottom of the Yankees' order was exceptional in the weekend series. Chase Headley went 6-for-11 with a home run and seven RBIs, Didi Gregorius had seven hits in 12 at-bats with a homer and eight RBIs and even Stephen Drew got into the action, going 4-for-4 with a home run and four RBIs in the finale. Drew finished Sunday's game with his average above .200 (.201) for the first time ALL SEASON.

The Yankees will need to get Teixeira healthy, A-Rod hitting well again and the rest of the lineup to continue to find ways to contribute with stout starting pitching and lockdown efforts from the bullpen if they want to make a run at the Toronto Blue Jays for the AL East title. It is time to click on all cylinders.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance baseball writer. Besides his work here, Christopher is a featured Yankees writer for His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.