On Tuesday night (and into Wednesday morning), the Yankees and Twins played what is considered by many to be the game of the year so far. The Yankees trailed 8-2 at one point and trailed 12-11 in the ninth down to their final strike. I fell asleep when the game was 9-5. However, it was not because I gave up on the game. I know this offense is capable of bringing this team back into any game. Part of my tuning out was superstition: there have been multiple occasions this season when I turned off the game with the Yankees losing and woke up to them comeback and win. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
When the game was 8-2, the Twins’ win expectancy was at 96.2 percent. Didi Gregorius himself had a WPA of .855. Aaron Hicks was at .658. Another day it might be DJ LeMahieu who swings the game back in the Yankees’ favor. The next day it could be someone else.
Everyone has had their moments this season. Hicks specifically has come up large a couple of times in the last few weeks. Back on July 6 in Tampa, Hicks hit a solo home run to tie the game with his team down to their final strike. On the season, he has a clutch rating of 1.45 – it is a measure of how well a player has done in high-leverage situations. A mark of 1.0 is considering great and 2.0 is excellent. This is the first time Hicks has been in the green with this stat since way back in 2014.
The Yankees currently lead the majors with 33 come-from-behind victories. Here’s an incredible stat: the Yankees are 2-0 when allowing 12 or more runs this season. The rest of the league? 2-127. This team is also 22-18 (.538) when their opponent scores first, whereas the rest of the league flirts with an average winning percentage around .333 in those games. In terms of pitching: entering Tuesday’s game, the Yankees were in the top five in the majors in ERA when the team is trailing.
What all the numbers above are saying is that when the Yankees fall behind, the pitching typically locks it down, and we all know what the offense can do to get the team right back into it.
This resiliency is a key trait of a championship team – it will surely help come October. Sure, we shouldn’t want the team to fall behind, but if they do we have seen a few incredible comebacks in recent postseasons, namely the entire 2017 ALDS and Game 4 of the 2017 ALCS. This Yankees team just has the extra sprinkling of magic on top of all the talent Cashman and company have accrued.