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Yankees State of the Union entering April 26: Cole train back on track

I ended last week’s blog hoping that I’d have a better update for everyone next time. After a 5-1 week to improve the Yanks’ record to 10-6, this should be much more fun for everybody involved. The Bombers took 2/3 from the Tigers in Detroit before returning home to sweep the Guardians (still not used to that name) in the Bronx. Let’s discuss.

What else is new: great pitching, ugly offense in Detroit

Despite winning 2/3, the Yankee offense did not have a particularly good series in Detroit. They scored just nine runs across three games, and were shut out for the third time already this season in the series finale. The good news?  Our pitching held the Tigers to eight runs.

Detroit dropped a Josh Donaldson pop-up with the bases loaded & two outs in the first to spot the Yankees a 2-0 lead. Aaron Hicks added a sac fly in the 2nd to make it 3-0. Gerrit Cole unfortunately couldn’t get out of the second, walking five & allowing two across 1.2 IP. Won’t harp on that though, more on him later.

Clarke Schmidt saved the day, relieving Cole & stranding the bases loaded to keep the game at 3-2. On a cold night where the pitchers seemed to have trouble gripping the ball, Schmidt shined. He fanned six across 3.1 scoreless innings.

DJ LeMahieu added an insurance run & the bullpen was immaculate in the 4-2 win.

The lineup actually put up a five spot on Wednesday, with Anthony Rizzo hitting the only homer for either team all series.

Luis Severino turned in another solid outing, scattering seven hits across five innings allowing just one run. While Chad Green allowed a two-run double in the 6th to blow the lead, an IKF RBI single in the 7th put the Yanks ahead for good. They’d go on to win 5-3.

Thursday was a classic “Jordan Montgomery shoves and the offense does not score for him” game. Six innings and one earned for Monty who ended up taking the loss in this one since the Yanks were shut out. Horrific offensive performance, with the lowlight being in the 8th. Bases loaded one out for Rizzo & Stanton and didn’t score. At least they won the series but man, what a sour note to end the road trip on.

Mike King my king

Jameson Taillon was once again dealing, allowing just one run through five. Even better, he didn’t get clipped for a homer the way he did his first two times out. As good as he was, Jamo was not the Yankees’ best pitcher on Friday. That would go to Michael King.

King’s already had two heroic games this season, locking down the Red Sox in extras on Opening Day & cleaning up Aroldis Chapman’s mess to close the series finale against the Blue Jays. But this was one of the most dominant relief outings I’ve seen from a Yankee in a long time.

Three innings, no runs, one hit, eight K’s. He’s turned into a multi-inning weapon for the Yankees that is beyond valuable.

Aaron Judge went deep twice in this game, which was refreshing considering he’d had an underwhelming start to the season prior to that. Judge also showed off his cannon arm with an outfield assist.

Not that I was ever particularly worried, but with Judge’s contract situation and slow start, it was nice to see him carry us like that again. IKF stayed hot with another RBI, Chapman recorded another save, and the Yanks won their first Friday night home game 4-1. Side note: it’s extremely annoying to try and watch the Yankees at a bar when the game’s on Amazon Prime rather than YES.

A Wild Bronx Saturday

I was at the game Saturday and it might have been the craziest regular season affair I’ve ever attended. First of all, Nestor Cortes jr. is a god. 6.1 innings pitched, two runs & eight K’s. Plus this unbelievable defensive play:

How can you not love Nestor?

This was also an entertaining back-and-forth game. Josh Naylor gave Cleveland a 2-0 lead in the 5th. The Yankees stormed back to tie it on yet another IKF RBI & a Higgy sac fly. Donaldson gave the Bombers the lead with his first homer at the Stadium this year. Unfortunately, Green blew another lead, surrendering a two-out, two-run HR to Austin Hedges to make the score 4-3 Guardians. Just when it looked like it was over, the Yankees did indeed have a rally in their bones. Donaldson walk, Tim Locastro pinch run/stolen base, IKF double, Gleyber walkoff single.

Obviously the moment was somewhat soured by the Yankee fans throwing bottles onto the field. I’m already sick of talking about it but here’s my take. There’s no excuse for fans throwing things on the field. You can scream all day, but you don’t cross that line. At the same time, I don’t know what Myles Straw thinks he’s accomplishing scaling the wall to get in fans’ faces. Does it justify what the fans’ did after? No it does not. But painting Straw as some kind of hero instead of just a dude that lost his cool is extremely puzzling to me.

There are drunk idiots in every fan base that do moronic things to ruin it for the rest of us. I don’t condone it, but I’m not gonna apologize for it. Everyone hates us Yankee fans, so they’ll always take any excuse to paint the entire fanbase as a whole in a negative light. It is what it is.

Cole Shoves on Sunday

Sunday’s game was everything we were waiting for. The offense broke out and put up a ten-spot. Rizzo hit his second homer of the week to give us a 2-0 first inning lead. DJ and Locastro later added homers of their own. Speaking of DJ, he’s been so huge in the early going. He’s currently hitting .333 with a .924 OPS. Not only is he hitting for average again, but the power’s back which is even more encouraging. I was honestly very worried about DJ after his disappointing 2021 because I attributed his monster 2019-20 seasons to juiced baseballs. However it seems like the “he was battling an injury for most of the year” theory may actually be the correct one. If he can keep it up, that is a game-changer for the 2022 Yankees.

But the most important thing we saw on Sunday was the return of ace Gerrit Cole. After two not bad but not great outings against Boston & Toronto and the aforementioned disaster in Detroit, the Yankee ace returned to form against Cleveland.

I won’t lie, I wasn’t worried whatsoever after Cole’s first two starts. But him following that up with his worst career outing had me a little uneasy. But even after that one, it showed that his overall stuff was as good as ever.

Cole just needed to fix his fastball command, which he did on Sunday.

It was a very satisfying Sunday overall as the Bombers completed both their first sweep & blowout of the season.

Yankees “to the Sun”

Looking ahead

The Yankees conclude the homestand with three more against Baltimore before traveling to Kansas City to play a weekend series against the Royals. Here are the probable pitchers for the Orioles series:

Tuesday: Luis Severino (102.08 ERA14 SO) vs. Jordan Lyles (113.52 ERA, 12 SO)

Wednesday: Jordan Montgomery (012.51 ERA11 SO) vs. Tyler Wells (012.51 ERA, 11 SO)

Thursday: Jameson Taillon (113.07 ERA13 SO) vs. Jordan Zimmerman (101.20 ERA, 16 SO)

If you want more updates on the Yanks, follow me on Twitter @ncostanzo24. Until next week, let’s go Yanks baby.