NASCAR: Martin Truex Jr. overcomes early penalty, wins at Richmond

Martin Truex Jr. clinched his spot in the second round of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs with a win at Richmond Raceway.

Joe Gibbs was always known for earning big wins near Virginia as an NFL head coach in Washington. That trend carried over on Saturday night at Richmond Raceway.

Truex, driver of Gibbs’ No. 19 Toyota Camry, led the final 51 laps of the Federated Auto Parts 400 en route to his fourth victory of the Cup Series season and his first since the first race at Darlington in May. Gibbs Toyotas have won each of the first two Cup Series postseason races of 2021 after Denny Hamlin’s No. 11 won at Darlington’s opener last weekend.

Hamlin, winner of the first two stages of the races, finished second while Christopher Bell’s No. 20 allowed Gibbs vehicles to sweep the top three spots. Fellow playoff drivers Chase Elliott and Joey Logano rounded out the top five.

Truex Goes From First to Last to First

Truex began the 31st victory of his Cup Series career on the front row but was quickly forced to the back. NASCAR officials determined that he jumped the start, passing Hamlin (the de facto pole-sitter after Kyle Larson had to start from the back) as the field took the green flag. The No. 19 was forced to serve a pass-through penalty, though he was able to stay on the lead lap. Truex made his way back to the top 10 by lap 70 of 400 and took his first lead of the day nearly 200 laps later.

The Mayetta, NJ native didn’t agree with NASCAR’s judgment but opted to look at the early infraction from an optimistic lens.

“Two laps after I pitted or whatever, I was like, this is ridiculous, but I’m already last now, so there’s nothing I can do except for go forward,” Truex said after the race. “I don’t really understand what you’re supposed to do in that situation. I let the 11 get a nose out in front of me to get the launch first. I wasn’t going to jump him, and then he spun the tires and stopped. What am I supposed to do, stand on the brakes, and crash the field behind me? It’s ridiculous, but yeah, I got over it fairly quickly because that’s what it was, and we had to go forward.”

Truex historically struggled at Richmond prior to commandeering Gibbs’ No. 19 in 2019, earning only three top five finishes in his first 26 visits. Over five starts at JGR, Truex has finished no worse than fifth at the short track and has visited victory lane three times. Truex claimed that there has been no official turning of the corner, believing his Richmond revolution was an endeavor several years in the making.

Nothing really clicked. It wasn’t like one thing we did. It was just kind of a work in progress more than anything,” Truex said. “I’ve always felt good at this racetrack and had some really good runs years ago in other cars with other teams. Honestly, it’s more just great equipment, a great approach to the racetrack…Once we got in Gibbs cars and I guess 2016 is when we really turned the corner on being one of the guys to beat every time we come here.”

In that aforementioned September 2016 event, Truex, then driving the No. 78 Toyota for Furniture Row Racing, united with his future teammate Hamlin to lead 382 of 407 laps but missed out on the win in an overtime finish. Since then, Truex has been the driver to beat at Richmond: over the last 11 events, he has completed all but one lap at the 0.75-mile, D-shaped oval.

“We certainly gave a few away here in the past, and to have three is pretty awesome. Feeling lucky to have great equipment, and always look forward to coming here.”

Buschwhacked

Unlike last week’s postseason carnage at Darlington, playoff drivers mostly stayed out of trouble at Richmond on Saturday. Postseason contenders took up all but one spot in the top ten (Ross Chastain was the lone outlier in 7th) and 13 of the first 15 slots.

Alas, Kurt Busch ran into trouble early on. His No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet was running third when he lost his left-rear tire at lap 40, shortly after a strong pit stop during a competition caution period. Busch was the only driver who failed to finish the race, relegating him to a last-place finish in 37th. He goes into next week’s race at Bristol as the last of the dozen drivers eligible for the second round of the playoffs, trapped in a tie with Alex Bowman.

“Had a damn good car, feeling deflated by how it all went down,” Busch said on Twitter in response to his bad luck at Richmond. “I thought Virginia is for lovers, but not feeling the love right now. On to Bristol baby, and we know what we gotta do…let’s win!”

Bristol is certainly the place for Busch to secure a much-needed win: he was won a career-best six races at The Last Great Coliseum, second-best amongst active drivers behind his brother Kyle (8).

In terms of other playoff struggles, William Byron finished a lap down in 19th, placing him 18 points away from the 12th seed. A late speeding penalty on pit road relegated Michael McDowell’s No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford to 28th. The Daytona 500 champion is undoubtedly stuck in a must-win situation, as he’s 38 points away after the penalty and a wreck at Darlington last week.

The 5 moves to the 12

After matching fourth-place finishes in the first two stages, it was determined that Kyle Larson had earned enough points to clinch a spot in the second round of the postseason. Larson and his No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports team already had a sizable advantage in terms of advancement prospects through a series-best five wins and the regular season championship. He finished the day in sixth.

Up Next

The NASCAR Cup Series moves onto Bristol Motor Speedway next Saturday night for the final race of the first round of the playoffs (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN). Bristol’s famed asphalt will reappear, as the track was covered in dirt for the annual spring event, won by Joey Logano in March. Kevin Harvick won last year’s late summer event on the asphalt, uniting with runner-up Kyle Busch to lead 385 of 500 laps.

For full results, click here

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags 

New York Liberty: Three stars from Saturday’s loss at Dallas

The New York Liberty’s playoff dreams were dealt a major blow in their penultimate road game of the season in Dallas.

Thrilling September matchups between New York and Dallas are no longer limited to the gridiron. These, in fact, bear greater importance on their respective league’s playoff picture.

Alas for the metropolitans, however, another loss built on development has dealt a sizable blow to their postseason aspirations.

The Dallas Wings took advantage of a 21-10 advantage in the fourth quarter, paced by a combined 34 points off the bench from Marina Mabrey and Satou Sabally, to earn a narrow 77-76 victory over the New York Liberty on Saturday night in the Lone Star State. Dallas (13-17) clinched its first WNBA playoff berth since 2018, leaving only one spot up for grabs as the end of the regular season approaches.

The Liberty (11-19) are one of three teams fighting for that eighth and final seed with two games left on their regular season schedule. That pair starts Wednesday against Connecticut (7 p.m. ET, CBSSN) and concludes with a matchup against their fellow fighters from Washington on Friday. New York has lost control of the final seeds through a 1-8 stretch in the post-Olympic slate.

ESM has three stars from the latest defeat…

3rd Star: Sabrina Ionescu

18 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists

In the midst of some brutal defeats, Ionescu is posting Ionescu-esque numbers again. She has reached double figures in scoring in all nine post-Olympic games to date, averaging 14.3 points and 6.0 rebounds and assists in the first nine games back. Head coach Walt Hopkins was quick to point out the silver lining of Ionescu’s return to form, calling her “strides” a major pillar of the long-term picture.

2nd Star: Natasha Howard

16 points, 11 rebounds

Though some turnovers at the worst possible team clouded the metropolitan progress, Howard earned her third double-double in the post-Olympic slate in the midst of defeat. She’s shooting 60 percent of the floor (15-of-25) over her past two contests.

 

1st Star: Betnijah Laney

19 points, 6 assists 

If anyone knows about the proverbial “process” of WNBA success, it’s Laney. The Rutgers alumna endured spent four seasons in professional purgatory before a breakout campaign in the Bradenton bubble netted her last season’s Most Improved Player award. Laney has kept the momentum up in her return to the tri-state area, topping the Liberty in scoring. She took on a verbal role in Saturday’s postgame comments, citing “simple” issues that lead to losses amidst the progress away from the scoreboard.

“We’re not really dwelling on it, but learning from it…We see it, we know it, but we just got to get over the hump of just the little things that have just been holding us back,” Laney said of the losing streak and the hidden silver linings. “Once we really focus in and are able to control those things we’ll be in good shape, we just have to marry that with the progress that we’ve been making…We’ve had progress, so we keep that, going into these games, we just tweak the things that have been holding us back. I think that the progress in the detail that we’ve been making these past few games flow will hopefully show up and give us the results that we want.”

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Vitor Belfort stops Evander Holyfield in boxing match

Vitor Belfort

Tonight in the main event of Triller’s Boxing event, two combat sports went head-to-head. Former heavyweight champion of the world Evander Holyfield (44-10-2) returned as he took on former two-division UFC champion Vitor Belfort (26-14 MMA).

The last time Holyfield stepped into the boxing ring was back in 2011. Holyfield retired after a victory ten years ago and he’s stayed away. However, Mike Tyson came back earlier this year, Holyfield started getting the itch to box again.

He was supposed to box Kevin McBride in August for an exhibition. However, the bout was ultimately cancelled. When Oscar De La Hoya fell out of this matchup with Vitor Belfort, Holyfield offered to step in on short notice.

The last time we saw Vitor Belfort was back in 2018 when he was knocked out by Lyoto Machida. After that fight, he put his gloves in the center of the octagon and retired. However, he’s been lured back into competition in the boxing arena.

Boxing Recap

Round 1

The two men started the boxing match with a touch of the gloves. Holyfield took the enter and started feeling things out with his jab. Belfort was circling around the outside just looking for an opening to explode.

Holyfield pushes forward with a combination. Big shot to the body lands for Belfort and Holyfield looks hurt. Now Belfort is pouring it on Holyfield. An uppercut drops Holyfield and Holyfield isn’t looking good.

Holyfield gets to his feet, but Belfort starts landing bombs and the referee steps in. Vitor Belfort picks up the TKO win in this boxing exhibition.

Vitor Belfort def. Evander Holyfield by TKO – Round 1

Anderson Silva knocks Tito Ortiz out in the first in boxing match

Trill returned tonight with a boxing event that featured legends from the combat sports world. In the co-main event, two of the more decorated UFC champions in history battled it out as Tito Ortiz (21-12-1 MMA) takes on Anderson Silva (34-11, 1 NC).

The two former champions were boxing which was a first for Ortiz. While Silva has experience in this arena, Tito Ortiz was stepping into the boxing ring for the first time in his combat sports career.

The last time we saw Ortiz compete was back in 2019 when he defeated former WWE star Alberto Del Rio in a MMA match. Prior to that, Ortiz knocked out a very old Chuck Liddell in their trilogy fight. Ortiz’s last legit win was his fight before that against Chael Sonnen.

Anderson Silva was last seen just a few months ago when he took on former boxing world champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Silva was a huge underdog but ended up outclassing Chavez Jr and cruising to a decision. Overall, Silva is now 2-1 in professional boxing.

Boxing Recap

Round 1

The boxing matchup started with no touch of the gloves. Silva immediately takes the enter but settles in as Ortiz plots forward. Ortiz gets Silva against the ropes and tries to throw some big hooks, but the shots are not coming fast.

Silva easily evades the shots. Ortiz backs Silva up in the corner and tries to throw bombs, but again, everything is slow. Silva dodges a shot then hits Ortiz with a massive right and Ortiz is hurt. One more shot and Ortiz is out cold. Dominant boxing win for Anderson Silva.

Anderson Silva def. Tito Ortiz by KO – Round 1

NASCAR Xfinity: Noah Gragson holds off Justin Haley to win at Richmond

By Holly Cain

NASCAR Wire Service

Noah Gragson led the final 14 laps – holding off the field on a pair of late race restarts- in Saturday’ Go Bowling 250 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Richmond (Va.) Raceway to earn his second win in as many weeks – celebrating the moment by wrapping himself in an American flag then climbing the front grandstand fence to a cheering crowd.

Gragson, 23, was only three years old when the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks occurred, but the Las Vegas native was clearly moved by the opportunity to acknowledge the powerful day in American history. And important day in his career.

His .381-second win in the No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet over a hard-charging Kaulig Racing’s Justin Haley gives him a two-race winning streak heading into next week’s regular season finale at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, where the 12-driver Playoff field will be set.

“I knew they [Haley] had tires, but the thing that really kept us alive were those two cautions at the end,” said Gragson, who now has four career Xfinity Series wins.

“But today’s not about this team or this win, it’s about everyone who lost their lives 20 years ago. We have a lot of heavy hearts and at least in America we can come together on this day and appreciate all you race fans for coming out.

“It’s an emotional day. It’s a special day. But it’s not about us today.”

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship competitor John Hunter Nemechek finished third with Gragson’s JRM teammate Justin Allgaier rallying from an early race mechanical issue to finish fourth, followed by Stewart-Haas Racing’s Riley Herbst.

Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Daniel Hemric and 18-year-old Ty Gibbs were sixth and seventh. Gibbs led a race best 67 of the 250 laps and won Stage 2.

Brandon Brown, Harrison Burton and Jeb Burton rounded out the top 10.

NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., a four-time winner of this race, finished 14th in his only NASCAR start of the season. He was running among the top-10 but was called for a pit road speeding penalty on a late race pit stop. He still got to celebrate in Victory Lane, however, as one of Gragson’s team owners.

“They race hard there in the middle of the pack, especially around me, but it was fun,” said Earnhardt, who also noted, “Helps me remember some of the things that make me a better broadcaster.”

Earnhardt, the sport’s 15-time Most Popular Driver, is an NBC Sports announcer and moved from pit lane to the announcers booth for the NASCAR Cup Series race later Saturday night at the Richmond three-quarter mile track.

Kaulig Racing’s A.J. Allmendinger and Team Penske’s Austin Cindric were separated by a single-point in the regular season championship entering the race, and Allmendinger extended his points lead to five points with a Stage 1 win and an 18th-place finish. Cindric finished 16th.

Nine drivers have now officially clinched a Playoff position, including Cindric, Allmendinger, Gragson, Allgaier, Haley, Harrison Burton, Daniel Hemric, Myatt Snider, and Harrison Burton.

Herbst currently holds 12th position in the NASCAR Xfinity Series driver standings, the final Playoff transfer position, with a 66-point edge on JR Motorsports’ driver Michael Annett, who had been among the Playoff 12 before missing four races with an injury.

The Xfinity regular season wraps up with next Friday’s Food City 300 (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) on the high-banked Bristol Motor Speedway half-miler.

 

NASCAR Xfinity Series Race – 41st Annual Go Bowling 250

Richmond Raceway

Richmond, Virginia

Saturday, September 11, 2021

  1. (3)  Noah Gragson, Chevrolet, 250.
  2. (4)  Justin Haley, Chevrolet, 250.
  3. (27)  John Hunter Nemechek(i), Toyota, 250.
  4. (5)  Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 250.
  5. (20)  Riley Herbst, Ford, 250.
  6. (12)  Daniel Hemric, Toyota, 250.
  7. (15)  Ty Gibbs #, Toyota, 250.
  8. (17)  Brandon Brown, Chevrolet, 250.
  9. (2)  Harrison Burton, Toyota, 250.
  10. (6)  Jeb Burton, Chevrolet, 250.
  11. (19)  Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 250.
  12. (38)  Sam Mayer #, Chevrolet, 250.
  13. (11)  Ryan Sieg, Ford, 250.
  14. (30)  Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 250.
  15. (32)  Kyle Weatherman, Chevrolet, 250.
  16. (1)  Austin Cindric, Ford, 250.
  17. (34)  Mason Massey, Chevrolet, 250.
  18. (8)  AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 250.
  19. (13)  Alex Labbe, Chevrolet, 250.
  20. (16)  Brandon Jones, Toyota, 250.
  21. (21)  Matt Mills, Chevrolet, 250.
  22. (10)  Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 250.
  23. (14)  Josh Williams, Chevrolet, 250.
  24. (33)  Josh Berry #, Chevrolet, 250.
  25. (9)  Myatt Snider, Chevrolet, 250.
  26. (7)  Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 250.
  27. (28)  Bayley Currey(i), Chevrolet, 250.
  28. (37)  David Starr, Toyota, 249.
  29. (29)  JJ Yeley, Chevrolet, 248.
  30. (26)  Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chevrolet, 248.
  31. (23)  Joe Graf Jr., Chevrolet, 248.
  32. (22)  Patrick Emerling, Chevrolet, 248.
  33. (35)  Spencer Boyd(i), Chevrolet, 248.
  34. (40)  Akinori Ogata(i), Chevrolet, 247.
  35. (25)  Ryan Vargas #, Chevrolet, 246.
  36. (18)  Jade Buford #, Chevrolet, 246.
  37. (24)  Tommy Joe Martins, Chevrolet, Accident, 227.
  38. (36)  Stephen Leicht, Toyota, 220.
  39. (31)  Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, Ignition, 179.
  40. (39)  CJ McLaughlin(i), Chevrolet, Accident, 111.

 

Average Speed of Race Winner:  83.364 mph.

Time of Race:  2 Hrs, 14 Mins, 57 Secs. Margin of Victory:  0.381 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  9 for 58 laps.

Lead Changes:  15 among 8 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   A. Cindric 1-45;A. Allmendinger 46-69;T. Martins 70-74;A. Allmendinger 75-78;T. Gibbs # 79;A. Cindric 80-84;D. Hemric 85-97;T. Gibbs # 98-153;D. Hemric 154-157;N. Gragson 158-165;T. Gibbs # 166-175;H. Burton 176-184;S. Mayer # 185-191;H. Burton 192-225;A. Allmendinger 226-236;N. Gragson 237-250.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Ty Gibbs # 3 times for 67 laps; Austin Cindric 2 times for 50 laps; Harrison Burton 2 times for 43 laps; AJ Allmendinger 3 times for 39 laps; Noah Gragson 2 times for 22 laps; Daniel Hemric 2 times for 17 laps; Sam Mayer # 1 time for 7 laps; Tommy Joe Martins 1 time for 5 laps.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 16,44,22,54,17,20,18,9,90,23

Stage #2 Top Ten: 54,16,20,9,18,22,99,98,39,26

 

–30–

 

 

 

Mets: Noah Syndergaard inching closer to a return

New York Mets, Noah Syndergaard

By now, we know that the New York Mets don’t know if they will have Jacob deGrom back this season. His elbow injury has been well-covered, and while he is already throwing, he may not have enough time to return in 2021.

Noah Syndergaard, on the other hand, does have a chance to pitch for the Mets this season, although he will, most likely, do it as a reliever. He recently had a bout with COVID-19, but is now out of quarantine.

Syndergaard threw a bullpen Friday, and Mets’ manager Luis Rojas remains optimistic that the righty, who hasn’t pitched since 2019, will be able to take the ball before the season expires.

The Mets are optimistic he can pitch in 2021

“No date right now,” Rojas said, per WFAN. “He’s feeling good. He did a really good job…keeping his arm in shape and himself in shape. I talked to him earlier today, he’s pretty optimistic. Let’s see when that is. Even though we lost some time, we feel like he might be able to pitch for us at one point.”

The pitcher himself is itching to go back there.

“The quarantine was the most difficult part. I kind of had to rig up the mattress in my apartment and keep the arm going. I’m just itching to get back on the rehab program and get out there,” he said.

As for deGrom, there are no news: things remain exactly the same as a couple of days ago.

 

“He’s still playing catch,” Rojas said. “I think you guys heard Sandy the other day say it might be through the end of the season…let’s see how he progresses on the distancing. Today was 90 feet. He threw 120 the other day…we’ll see how he goes off the slope and we’ll start talking about dates and what’s gonna happen.”

New York Giants offensive line faces strong challenge to start the season

New York Giants, Andrew Thomas

The New York Giants kick off their season tomorrow afternoon against the Denver Broncos. There is plenty of excitement surrounding the Giants this year as they spent a lot of money to improve the weakpoints of their roster this offseason. However, one weak area of the team went largely untouched. The Giants did not do much to improve their offensive line.

The New York Giants had one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL in 2020. In 2020, according to ESPN, the Giants’ pass-block win rate ranked dead-last in the NFL at 46%. Their run-block win rate ranked 18th at 70%, which is about average or slightly below. Despite this, the team made no major moves to upgrade their offensive line in the 2021 offseason, other than acquiring some quality depth pieces.

As the Giants face off against the Denver Broncos tomorrow, the game will serve as a strong challenge for New York’s offensive line – the unit that might make or break the team’s season.

The Denver Broncos defensive front

Von Miller is back for the Denver Broncos this year after missing the entirety of the 2020 season with an injury. Von Miller is one of the best defensive players in the NFL. Miller is a 3x All-Pro edge rusher that will line up over the Giants’ right tackle and wreak havoc this Sunday.

Opposite of Miller is another quality pass-rusher: Bradley Chubb. The fourth-year player out of NC State has racked up 20.5 career sacks in 34 games, establishing himself as one of the best youn pass-rushers in the league. Chubb will line up over left tackle Andrew Thomas, the Giants’ fourth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. The team has set big expectations for Thomas after he had a rookie season filled with peaks and valleys. Chubb will serve as a formidable opponent for Andrew Thomas to kick off his second season against.

Despite being banged up throughout the year, the Denver Broncos defense still managed to total 42 sacks in 2020. Keeping Daniel Jones upright and out of harm’s way is of the utmost importance this season. Jones is looking to establish himself as a franchise quarterback in 2021, but he will only go as far as his offensive line will take him. The New York Giants offensive line needs to set the tone in Week One with a strong performance against a formidable defense.

New York Giants: Leonard Williams on Azeez Ojulari’s development

The New York Giants have another impact player on defense going into this season, and we’ll soon witness his regular season debut. That player is Azeez Ojulari, who the Giants took in the second round this year – but it appears that Ojulari was severely underdrafted. The Giants were able to get the player at such a low spot because of draft week injury rumors, but after training camp and the preseason, Ojulari looks healthy and ready to play.

And he already has teammates singing his praises, including the Giants’ leading pass rusher Leonard Williams. As the player who led the Giants in sacks during the past season, Williams is someone who will likely share playing time with Ojulari in the pass rush and who will already have experience working hands on with him throughout training camp.

Williams was asked on Friday what he’d seen from Ojulari that showed the rookie can make an instant impact. His answer had to do with confidence.

“Honestly, just his confidence. When he first came in, I could tell he was young, he was still trying to find himself in the defense and on the team and rightfully so. As a young guy, you can’t come in and be above everybody. He knew the position that he had to take, but now he’s really stepped into himself,” Williams told reporters.

Furthermore, he claims that Ojulari is in a position to start making plays rather than just picking up the ropes of the system.

“I think he just got more comfortable with himself – not saying that he wasn’t comfortable before he got here, but just seeing his comfortability level between him and other players, and his ability to just be himself out there on the field and not be like a robot just trying to play a system.”

With first round pick Kadarius Toney having a slow start to his career, most publications have named Ojulari the most impactful rookie for the Giants this season. And his presence in a much needed position, pass rusher, could easily make him a fan favorite if his rookie performances are strong.

We’ll get our first look at Ojulari against the Broncos in week 1, and depending on how the game goes, it may not take long for him to receive recognition for his skillset as the defense faces off against new Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

Star infielder calls the Yankees the ‘streakiest team in baseball’

New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu

From August 14 to August 27, the New York Yankees won 13 straight games and were at the top of the world. No one expected them to keep winning forever, but what came after that was embarrassing: the team lost four consecutive contests, won two, and then dropped its last seven.

A few weeks ago, the Yankees comfortably controlled their own destiny. After Friday’s forgettable loss against the Mets, they are barely holding on to the second Wild Card spot, only half a game ahead of the Toronto Blue Jays and one game ahead of the two AL West hopefuls, the Oakland Athletics and the Seattle Mariners.

Second baseman DJ LeMahieu, who has been a major disappointment for the Yankees this season considering the expectations around him, gave a blunt evaluation of the current state of the franchise.

“We’ve been the streakiest team in the league,” LeMahieu said to WFAN after the loss to their crosstown rivals. “One good game, and the tides can turn in a hurry, like we’ve seen all year. Hopefully quickly.”

The Yankees need to play with a sense of urgency

Not a lot of teams can win 13 games in a row and then lose 11 of 13. Those are your 2021 New York Yankees. Things need to change if they want to qualify, though.

LeMahieu can’t explain what exactly the Yankees need to do to return to their winning ways. According to him, there is not a specific thing, but he knows they have to be better in all areas.

“Not one thing in particular,” LeMahieu said. “Just either been playing really bad or unbelievable, and not a whole lot in between. Before the All-Star break, it didn’t feel like a good team, and coming out of the All-Star break we were a great team. We’re one game away, a few games away to get it going.”

New York Yankees: Who could have predicted this Yankee season? A look at one writer’s predictions

New York Yankees, Clint Frazier

Every year before the season starts, I make my predictions on what the New York Yankees season might look like, who will star, and who will bomb. Last year I bombed out several times but still had a 50% winning percentage. This year’s predictions were made on March 30, 2021, when things looked risky but pretty rosy for the upcoming season.

Most analysts make their predictions and then forget they ever made them unless they are right on, in the category of “I told you so.” I have always published mine, good or bad. I don’t think anyone could have predicted the roller-coast season the New York Yankees have had. So let’s take a look at how I did with only weeks left to the season.

1. Gerrit Cole will not perform as expected!

After winning 20 games in 2019 and 7 in a shortened 2020 season, most would have suggested he would win 20-21 games this season. But, unfortunately, he won’t come close to that—my prediction score A.

2. DJ LeMahieu will be good, but not as good!

At the very beginning of the season, LeMahieu signed a lucrative six-year contract. Although he is a good hitter and defender, no one would have predicted he would drop his average by 100 points in his next year—prediction score B.

3. Clint Frazier will shine in his first full season!

Boy, was I wrong on this one. Frazier has played in only 66 games due to poor play and injuries. Prediction score F.

4. Aaron Judge will have an injury-free season

I predicted he would play in 135 or more games. I nailed this one; as of today, he has played 127 games, and has been the Yankee’s best performer—prediction score A+.

5. Gleyber Torres will lead the Yankees in home runs

This is another one I bombed on; he may end up with the least home runs of the regular lineup. Prediction score F.

6. Domingo German will be the winningest pitcher

This one could have gone either way; with Injuries, we will never know. After returning to the team, he had a roller-coaster season. Prediction score C.

7. Jonathan Loaisiga will be the Yankees’ best reliever

I was on track with this one. He definitely has been our best reliever before going on the IL with Rotator Cuff problems. Prediction score A.

8. Gary Sanchez will prove the Yankees wrong

I predicted the Yankee’s faith in him was for naught. He has hit better and has been somewhat better behind the plate. But also has had far too many bone-headed mistakes a veteran shouldn’t have. Prediction score C.

9. Yankees will win 108 games

After an abysmal start of the season, the Yankees went on to have a 13 game winning streak and also, for 6 weeks, won more games than any other team. But then, as of today, they own a 7 game losing streak. The Yankees will be lucky to fall only 20 games short of my prediction. Prediction score F.

10. The Yankees will win their 28th World Championship

I still can’t answer this, although it looks improbable with the way they are recently playing. If they get to the wild card and win it, it’s baseball; anything can happen. Prediction score withheld. We will retake a look at these predictions after the season is complete.

At the beginning of the season, I thought that Aroldis Chapman would fail as the Yankee closer because of having made so many nail-biting losses at critical times in recent seasons, but I didn’t make that prediction I should have.