Monday, April 17, 2017


Eight wins.

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
After that initial 1-4 stumble out of the gate, it's almost like a dream.

What a difference a week, some solid pitching and old familiar faces playing back to form can make.
The baseball season may only have "just started the second quarter of Week 2" in pro football terms, as the New York Times' Tyler Kepner put it yesterday.

But what it's been so far in Yankee terms is a tantalizing glimpse at the potential impact of a team transitioning to its youthful future while its veterans perform like the backs of their old bubblegum cards again.

Photo: New York Post
"Five of their everyday regulars have played eight seasons or more in the majors," Kepner wrote. "So have three of their most important pitchers. And all of these players — Starlin Castro, Aroldis Chapman, Tyler Clippard, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, Chase Headley, Matt Holliday and CC Sabathia — have been thriving."

Separately and together, they have outperformed expectations, leading the team to its best start  since the 1998 team that won 114 regular season games, most ever by a World Series-winning team.

“You’re old, so people don’t really expect a lot out of you,” said Sabathia, who is 2-0 with a 1.47 ERA“But we feel like we still can produce and play at a high level. We’ve got a lot of guys in here that are All-Stars, good players. You take pride in playing well — not for people outside, but just internally, for our team. We’re the leaders of this team and we need to play well."

"The Yankees’ pitchers have been among the best at countering the popular hitting strategy of launching fly balls and working deep counts. Before Sunday they had allowed the fewest fly balls in the American League while leading the majors in strikeout-to-walk rate."

There’s a lot to be excited for here in the future, but I think there’s some good players here right now, too,” said Headley, who reached base in all four plate appearances Sunday. “We don’t look at it as the veterans are carrying the youth. We’re all just trying to do our job.”

"Headley’s .410 average aside, nothing extraordinary is happening, just a bunch of veterans doing their jobs. Castro and Ellsbury were hitting above .300 before Sunday; Gardner and Holliday had on-base percentages above .380; Ellsbury, Gardner and Headley had combined for all of the team’s 12 stolen bases."

"That total led the AL through Saturday, though sustaining that pace seems unlikely. The Yankees were caught twice on Sunday."

“You always know the league’s going to pay attention to what you do, and they’re going to try to combat it,” Manager Joe Girardi said. “But I’ve said all along, if we can get that extra base, let’s get it.”

I wrote before Opening Day  the AL Beast has become a jungle with five tribes of warring cannibals who will always find a way to make a meal of experts' expectations, keep favorites from straying too far from the pack and keep the season interesting for all concerned.  And, as Kepner reports, the first weeks of this season have proved no different.

"The rest of the division is a jumble above the Blue Jays, who have fallen flat after consecutive trips to the AL Championship Series. Toronto is 2-10 with a meager .212 team average. Josh Donaldson is on the disabled list with a calf injury, Jose Bautista has one RBI, and Russell Martin is 3 for 31.The Baltimore Orioles, at 8-3, are doing almost everything right, but their star closer Zach Britton went on the disabled list Sunday with forearm soreness. The Red Sox and the Rays also have top pitchers who are hurt: David Price for Boston, Jake Odorizzi for Tampa Bay. No team seems very likely to run away from the pack."

So as the new week dawns, anything's possible as the Bombers continue their magic carpet ride.

How long and how high it can go, it's still way too early to say.

But I like to dream...

 --Barry Millman
BYB Writer
Twitter: @nyyankeefanfore

American Eagle

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