Yankees win 14 out of 15 for first time since 1998
The last time that the Yankees enjoyed a run like this, Joe Torre was writing the names of Derek Jeter, Paul O’Neill, Scott Brosius and Bernie Williams into the lineup on a nightly basis, presiding over a powerhouse squad that was destined to bring home the 24th World Series title in franchise history.
It remains to be seen whether the 2018 Yankees can approach the high bar set by their late 1990s predecessors, but they’re earning a place in the conversation. Sonny Gray hurled six effective innings as the Yankees continued their best 15-game stretch in two decades, securing a 5-2 win over the Indians on Saturday at Yankee Stadium.
“You get to throw once every fifth day, and then you see everyone in between your starts is throwing the ball so well,” Gray said. “You want to keep the train going.”
David Robertson locked down his first save of the season as the Yankees won their fifth straight and for the 14th time in 15 games, equaling a stretch compiled by Torre’s club from June 24-July 12, 1998. That roster went on to win 114 regular-season games and 11 more in the postseason, sweeping the Padres in the Fall Classic.
“Forget between the lines; everyone can see the talent that we possess,” manager Aaron Boone said. “I love our room. I love the guys in that room, the way they go about it, the way they show up to play and the way that they compete. That’s the best part for me, is getting to go to work with these guys and watch them do their thing every single night.”
Partnered again with backup catcher Austin Romine, Gray turned in back-to-back quality starts for the first time this season, striking out seven while limiting Cleveland to four hits. Trusting his fastball and working with better tempo than some of his previous starts, Gray held the Indians scoreless until Francisco Lindor homered to right-center in the fifth inning.
“I have a lot of confidence in myself,” Gray said. “I’m a better pitcher than the first four or five starts. It took a little bit of time to get there, but I trust myself and I know how good I am. I knew it wasn’t going to be like that forever.”
In the sixth, Jose Ramirez doubled and scored on an Edwin Encarnacion groundout. It was the second straight outing of six innings and two runs for Gray, who took the loss on Monday at Houston with those numbers. Since April 21, Yankees pitchers have compiled a 2.00 ERA.
“He had that look in his eye,” Boone said. “Even after the game, talking to him, he felt really good about it. He feels like he’s almost to where he’s back. It was really encouraging. I was really proud of him again.”
Indians starter Trevor Bauer did not permit a hit until the fifth, when Gleyber Torres followed a pair of one-out walks with a single. Romine worked an eight-pitch, bases-loaded walk to force home the Yanks’ first run. Lindor committed two errors on the same play, as the shortstop bobbled and threw away a Ronald Torreyes grounder, resulting in two runs.
“I put myself in hot water and made a pitch to get out of it and we didn’t make the play,” Bauer said. “It’s not his fault. It’s not my fault. It’s not any one person’s fault in a loss. It’s a team effort. If I don’t put three guys on base, then it doesn’t matter.”
Brett Gardner lifted a sacrifice fly to complete the damage against Bauer, who was charged with four runs (two earned) on two hits over six innings. Bauer walked three and struck out eight.
New York’s lead swelled to three runs in the seventh. Romine roped a one-out double off Ben Taylor that was pursued by center fielder Bradley Zimmer, who slammed his left shoulder into the wall by the Yanks’ bullpen and left the game. Romine scored on an opposite-field single by Gardner, who entered the day in a 5-for-47 slide.
“I feel pretty good at the plate,” Romine said. “I feel like I’m doing my job. I take catching first; that’s my priority as a backup catcher. It’s what’s got to be first and foremost, but being able to put both together and do my job at the plate, that’s what I’m striving for every day.”
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Romine engaged Bauer in a fierce eight-pitch battle in the fifth inning, setting up the four-run frame. With the bases loaded, Romine chased a high fastball to fall in a 1-2 hole, then battled with two fouls to work a walk that forced in a run.
“That guy’s got real good stuff,” Romine said. “I looked up when I fought him off and he was throwing 97, 98. He was hopped up to get me out there. I was focused on one part of the plate and I tried not to miss that fastball over the plate. He has a good curveball and a good slider. It was just a pure battle for my life there. I was able to zone it in.”
The Yankees have outscored opponents 91-33 over their past 15 games. With a 23-10 record, they are off to their best start since beginning the 2003 season with 24 wins in 33 games.
HE SAID IT
“A couple of starts ago, it was kind of like, ‘Something’s got to give here.’ I think I have a better understanding of what I need to do. There’s constant adjustments being made in this game, and I think sometimes you have to give a little bit. That happened. I feel really good out there right now.” — Gray