The Yankees are standing at the abyss now and the cliff is unsteady. Another disappointing October exit is looming, which would bring a long winter of unpleasant questions for a team that’s dreamed so big.
Only their bats can save them. With the non-Gerrit Cole section of their pitching staff flailing, the offense, which scored the fourth-most runs in baseball, might be the only way the Yankees can preserve their season.
Save the Yankees, postseason sensation Giancarlo Stanton (how weird would that four-word combination have seemed back in his first pinstriped October?). Keep it up, Aaron Hicks. Get it going, Aaron Judge and Luke Voit. Turn the rest of the series into a slugfest.
Heck, starting Gary Sánchez against the Rays in Game 4 of the AL Division Series Thursday night might even be the right move. Sánchez has regressed, but even with his problems at the plate and behind it, at least he’s proven he can take over a Postseason game with his bat. You haven’t forgotten Sánchez slaying the Red Sox with two homers in Game 2 of the 2018 ALDS, have you?
Offense is the best part of this Yankee team and has been all season, even with their injuries, even with all their streakiness. The first three games of the postseason, the Yankees raked, but the 8-4 loss to Tampa Bay in Game 3 Wednesday was a second straight night in which Stanton was much of their offense.
He belted a two-run homer to become the first Yankee to homer in five consecutive postseason games. He’s homered in all five Yankee playoff games, six in all.
If Stanton homers in Game 4, he’ll match Daniel Murphy’s record of six straight games, which Murphy set with the Mets in 2015. Stanton’s six homers also tied the Yankees mark for most in a single postseason. He shares it with Alex Rodriguez (15 games in 2009) and Bernie Williams (15 games in 1999).
Beyond Stanton, the Yanks have the ingredients to load up the scoreboard, too, even if some of them are struggling in the postseason.
In five playoff games, the Yanks have scored 40 runs. Their 14 homers is an MLB record for a club’s first five playoff games, eclipsing the mark of 12 held by the 2015 Cubs.
Hicks has had a terrific October, putting together smart at-bats and reaching base at least twice in every game in both series. He’s got a 1.029 OPS.
Judge homered in Game 1 of both series, but overall is 3-for-23 (.130) with nine strikeouts. Voit (4-for-18, .222) led MLB with 22 homers, but has yet to hit one in the playoffs. Sánchez is just 1-for-8 with a homer and four strikeouts.
Judge had a late single Wednesday night and Boone opined that might be the swing to get him rolling. “One good at-bat, I think he takes off,” Boone said. “Hopefully, that hit to center is something that can catapult him a little bit.”
He said something similar about Voit, who was part of one of the Yanks’ best chances Wednesday when the score was tied at 1. With the bases loaded and two outs in the third inning, Voit got ahead against Charlie Morton, 3-0. Morton appeared to miss on the next pitch, but it was called a ball. With the count full, Voit grounded out and the threat fizzled.
The Rays’ offense took off afterward and now Tampa Bay has pushed the Yankees to the brink, leading the best-of-five series, two games to one.
The Yankees still have a chance, of course.
But the bats must bash. With Jordan Montgomery (5.11 ERA) starting Game 4 and the rest of the pitching – and those sneaky Yankee pitching machinations – unreliable beyond Cole, their lineup is their best bet to save the season.