Bronx, NY – Good teams find a way to win ball games during the important stretch of September and the Yankees are doing that. They are getting contributions up and down the lineup and winning in different ways.
Friday night at Yankee Stadium, there was Nestor Cortes Jr. allowing one run on four hits and striking out seven Orioles in 5-⅔ innings. The bullpen did their part until Jonathan Loaisiga threw a game -tying home run to Jorge Mateo with one out in the seventh.
Then Giancarlo Stanton drove in his 14th run over his last 10 games in the 11th inning, and the Yankees got the tight walk-off 4-3 win. It is becoming a great run for Stanton, and the Yankees are moving along in their postseason quest during this 20- game stretch that began Friday night in the Bronx.
“He’s scary when he comes up to the plate,” Cortes Jr. said about Stanton. “Everybody knows it. The whole world knows it. You leave him a cookie, he’s going to do damage.”
And dangerous are the Yankees as they have been winning games that are decided by two runs or fewer 49-27, tops in MLB and down the stretch that can be a key.
Yeah, the Orioles, a team that snapped a 19-game losing streak last week, and 50 games under .500, have nothing to lose and they are capable of being a spoiler. Stanton assured the Yankees, he would not allow that to happen in this first of a three-game series.
Stanton hit his 26th home run of the season, a solo shot to center in the fourth inning and put the Yankees in front 1-0. He has reached safely in 26 of his last 28 games with 10 home runs and 27 RBI.
But the walk-off RBI, the hardest hit in that situation recorded by Statcast (121.1 mph) that scored ghost runner Aaron Judge, adds to the significance of his hot bat in the lineup down this stretch.
“It’s been awesome,” Stanton said. “Helping us win and putting up some good numbers at the same time. It’s huge, but most important is the wins. They all help when you put them together at the end of the season to get ready.”
After the Loaisiga home run the Yankees kept grinding.The lineup and bullpen took over and as manager Aaron Boone said, “No matter how tight the situation, how close the game is, win or lose I know our guys aren’t going to melt.”
He said, the Yankees in close games are at their best. Again, if it isn’t Stanton or Judge, it is another bat in the lineup that is doing the job. This was also the Yankees second straight win after losing four that followed an impressive 13-game winning streak.
Gary Sanchez is beginning to see better at bats and called a good game for Cortez Jr behind the plate. Gleyber Torrres, though hitless in four at bats, returned to the lineup after missing almost a month with a left thumb strain and Aroldis Chapman out of the pen struck out three Orioles’ in the ninth.
“All I hoped for was to leave my team in a good position to win,” Cortes Jr. said.
And of course it was in the hands of Stanton who got the job done. Tampa Bay has that 6-½ game lead in the division. The Yankees, though, still have their eyes on catching them as they led the Red Sox by 1-½ games for the first AL Wild card.
“This is September baseball,” said Judge. The Yankees showed that it was Friday night.
Rich Mancuso: Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso
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