St. Petersburg, Fla. – Aaron Judge didn’t want a barbecue or picnic on Monday. After the Yankees completed nine games in a row over eight days and the Rays suffered consecutive losses, the Yankees slugger didn’t particularly want a day off to even think about it.
“We have a bad taste in our mouth,” the judge said on Sunday. “Everyone here is ready to go every single day. I know it’s been a few games in a row, but we have a lot to prove.”
But Monday, Memorial Day, was a scheduled Yankees Off Day and is a traditional day in baseball where a player or team stands. Even after two straight losses to their American League East rival the Rays, the judges know the Yankees stand in a good place. With a record of 33–19 in a quarter of the season, the Yankees have the best record in the AL, a loss behind the Dodgers for the best record in baseball.
The judge has made it clear that this regular season is only one thing: positioning yourself for the playoffs. So far, AL’s lead has been so good.
“We are in first place,” he said. “That’s the only thing I’m going to look at is where we are in the standings. It’s better than finishing second, that’s for sure,” said the judge. Been grinding for months. We’ve had a few injuries over the past few weeks, but that’s not going to change what this team is about and what we can do. ,
Injuries have resulted in the Yankees’ first real test. They will go without Giancarlo Stanton (ankle), Josh Donaldson (shoulder), Eroldis Chapman (Achilles), Jonathan Loisiga (shoulder) and Chad Green (Tommy John surgery) in the first match of Tuesday night’s series against the Angels at the stadium. DJ Lemahieu missed last week with a wrist injury and Aaron Hicks was ruled out of two games with a right hamstring tightness, but both have avoided going on the injured list.
After avoiding injuries all spring and the first month of the regular season, the Yankees have had a bunch over the past week. Nevertheless, he continued to move on, splitting the series with the Rays to improve to 19–10 in the AL East and maintain a 4.5-game lead over them in the division.
His pitching has been excellent. The starters’ combined 2.82 ERA is the best in the AL and their overall ERA of 2.90 is the second best in the league after the Astros. Nestor Cortés’s 1.80 ERA, which is the second best in the big leagues behind Rangers’ Martin Perez’s 1.70, has been a big factor in his success. Yankees pitchers have posted 444 strikeouts in 430.1 innings, the best in the AL and third in the Majors. Gerrit Cole’s team-leading 72 is fifth in the major leagues.
Despite scoring just five runs in the last three games against Ray’s pitching, they are second in the AL for runs scored, behind the Red Sox, and are tied with the Dodgers for most homers (67) in the big leagues.
This is clearly thanks to Judge, who leads the big leagues with 18 homers. They are second in the AL in slugging (.406) behind the Red Sox. His +71 run margin is the best in the AL and second only to the Dodgers +119 in baseball.
They have won 13 comebacks and 15 games by two runs or less. This shows that the judges are headed in the right direction and he is starting to get excited that this could be a “special” team.
“Just go back and look at a lot of the games we’ve won by coming back,” Judge said. “It doesn’t really matter with this team whether we are down early or if we are down late. This team always fights till the last out. In the last innings (Sunday), we had three very good swings off a few balls. It so happened that he caught them all, but this is a ball club with a lot of fighting.
“We’re a team that’s never out of it. I think that’s what really makes this team special.”