Yankees are now “in control of things”

yankees, gary sanchez

The New York Yankees found themselves down 3-0 in last night’s finale against the Texas Rangers in the fifth inning. It was a must-win game for the Bombers, as the Boston Red Sox annihilated the New York Mets and the Toronto Blue Jays lost to the Tampa Bay Rays.

A Yankees’ loss yesterday would have meant that the Blue Jays kept their second Wild Card spot, but the Bombers won, and surpassed them in the standings.

With crucial contributions from Gleyber Torres, Gary Sanchez, and a wonderful performance by the bullpen, the Yankees turned things around and ended up prevailing 7-3 in the Bronx.

With the game knotted at three in the eight, Torres put the Yankees ahead with an RBI double. New York would score four runs on that frame, and Sanchez would break the game open with a long home run to dead center.

Sanchez also threw out a would-be basestealer late in the game, impacting the game as a replacement.

“When you have an opportunity to impact the game on both sides of the ball and help your team get a victory, it means a lot,” Sánchez said through an interpreter, to MLB.com. “You’re going to feel really good about that.”

The Yankees control their own destiny

Now, the Yankees (86-67), winners of three straight games, moved a half-game ahead of the Blue Jays (85-67) for the second American League Wild Card spot. New York is two games behind the Red Sox (88-65) for the top position.

“We’re in control of things. There’s some comfort in that,” manager Aaron Boone said. “It’s on us. It’s right in front of us.”

The Yankees have nine games remaining: three in Boston, three in Toronto, and three in New York hosting the Rays. It’s a brutal final stretch, but they control their destiny.

“It’s always a challenge when you play three really good teams in Toronto, Boston and Tampa,” Kyle Higashioka said. “We’re up for it. If we’re not up for it, we’re going to be heading home, so we know what’s at stake.”

New York Yankees: 3 Major takeaways from the sweep of the Rangers

corey kluber, new york yankees

Last night the New York Yankees completed a job they urgently needed to do; they swept the Texas Rangers with a game three win of 7-3. The sweeping need was caused by the Yankees slipping out of a wild card berth and only playing teams statistically better than them in the remaining games of the dwindling regular season.

Kluber is still a work in progress

Last night stater Corey Kluber proved he is still a work in progress to return to the form he had before a 3 month IL stint when he pitched the Yankees only no-hitter since David Cone’s perfect game in 1999. Kluber didn’t pitch badly and did keep the Yankees in the game, but with only one more likely start, it appears he is not postseason ready.

He pitched into the fifth inning using 84 pitches. He gave up three earned runs while walking no one and striking out 4 Rangers. But the problem that beset him as he allowed an average of two hits an inning, which could have put the game out of reach for the Yankees. But, somehow, he located some pitches well, keeping out of huge trouble.

In the fifth inning, Hernandez led off by doubling to center. Kiner-Falefa singled, with Hernandez scoring from second. Ibanez lined out to a diving Urshela. Lowe coming up knocked Kluber out of the game. Wandy Peralta came into the game and prevented further damage. In the 7th, 8th, and 9th, Clay Holmes, Chad Green, and Aroldis Chapman kept the Rangers scoreless.

Gleyber Torres rises to the occasion

Gleyber Torres has been oft-criticized for his poor defense and lack of power that allowed him to lead the team in home runs in 2019. In 2020  he hit only three and only seven this season. But last night, he came up big for the Yankees; it wasn’t a homer but a timely double when the game was tied at three. Torres’s double led to a four-run inning that put the Yankees over the top in the eighth inning.

At the bottom of the eighth, Judge popped out. Stanton struck out swinging. Gallo doubled. Torres doubled to score Gallo and the Yankee lead in the game. Urshela singled with Torres safe at home for the Yankee two-run lead. Sanchez homered, driving in two more runs. Gardner walked. LeMahieu grounded out to third. New York Yankees 7 Rangers 3.

Aroldis Chapman looked really good

Aroldis Chapman, who was so good in the first half when the New York Yankees were playing poorly, became shakey at best during the second half when the Yankees finally started to win more games than lose. It was so bad at one point that manager Boone was afraid to insert him into close games.

But more recently, Chapman seems to be making a turn to being more predictable. In his last two outings, he actually seems to have both his confidence and swagger returning. In Monday night’s game with only a one-run lead, Boone sent Chapman to the mound, he struck out two and got his 28th save. He almost gave his signature stare in upon the save. Last night that same swagger was on display in a non save situation. He again struck out two, allowing no runs, no hits, and no walks.

How Knicks’ Immanuel Quickley became an elite free-throw shooter with a fearless mentality

imannuel quickley, new york knicks

New York Knicks guard Immanuel Quickley spent two years with Kentucky before taking his talents to the NBA level. During his first season in the SEC, Quickley averaged 82.8% from the free-throw line, starting off his collegiate career on a high note. However, it wasn’t until his second season with Kentucky when he really advanced with his shooting mechanics and confidence, earning a 92.3% free-throw percentage. He averaged 16.1 points that season, contributing 41.7% shooting from the field and 42.8% shooting from range.

Quickley’s development has been a process, and there’s no bigger factor in his growth and his own mother, Nitrease Quickley.

“I was the free throw shooting coach,’’ Nitrease Quickley told The Post last season.

“It’s been so commonplace that when he misses a free throw, it takes myself a couple of minutes to get myself together,’’ Nitrease said. “He missed that? But the game is going on and I miss the next two minutes. But what I like about him is he doesn’t allow a missed shot to stop him from being the player he is. If he misses a free throw he gets upset a second, and he’ll come back on the line and here we go again.’’

One of Quickley’s biggest mentors and most consistent teachers is his mother, as he was gifted with a family lineage built on the game of basketball and competition. During his rookie season, quickly was a godsend for a team that was unable to maximize the impact of eighth overall pick, Obi Toppin. Quickley contributed 11.4 points over 19.4 minutes per game, and he impressively connected on 89% of his free-throw attempts, getting to the line 2.7 times per game.

Quickley isn’t one to boast about his accomplishments and present an egotistical mentality, but rather remain quiet and build upon his talents.

“He’s having a lot of fun,’’ Nitrease said. “He’s a humble kid but someone who is working hard and fans appreciate that. When you have someone willing to work hard for the team and teammates, you can’t help but gravitate to him.’’

Quickley is the type of player that could win Sixth Man of the Year with a bit more development and consistency at the NBA level, and he already has a significant advantage with a strong support system behind him.

Giants have great opportunity to pummel league-worst Falcons defense, but how?

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

The New York Giants have arguably their easiest game through three weeks against the Atlanta Falcons this upcoming Sunday. While the Giants usually find ways to make more advantageous games difficult for themselves, the Falcons have the worst defense in the league after two regular-season games.

Atlanta has given up a league-high 40 points per game against the Philadelphia Eagles and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which includes eight passing touchdowns against. Last week against Tampa, Tom Brady tossed five touchdowns, including two to tight end Rob Gronkowski and another two to Mike Evans. The Buccaneers’ defense also managed to record two interceptions taken for touchdowns, showcasing an inept Falcons unit that only had so many offensive opportunities because of how quickly the Buccaneers were scoring.

Looking over at the Giants, who manage 29 points against a solid Washington defense, managed to beat themselves in the final moments on an offsides call that would’ve resulted in a missed field goal by Dustin Hopkins. The Giants start off the season 0-2, similar to the Falcons.

However, this game offers the Giants a tremendous opportunity to get their offense in a better spot, getting the ball to big free agent signing Kenny Golladay more frequently and hopefully seeing Saquon Barkley rip off a few big runs. The biggest factor remains quarterback Daniel Jones, who had arguably the best game of his career against Washington.

In the loss, Jones finished with a 68.75% completion rate, 249 passing yards, 95 rushing yards, and two total touchdowns. If it weren’t for a bad holding call on receiver CJ Board and a drop by Darius Slayton, the Giants’ QB would’ve enjoyed his best stat-line to date, including five scores.

The expectation is that Jones will also enjoy the return of Evan Engram, opening up another element on offense with his athletic TE.

Looking over at Atlanta secondary, they have a selection of vulnerable cornerbacks. 2017 draft pick Fabian Moreau has already given up 65 yards and two scores through two weeks as the right boundary CB. The Falcons’ linebacker core is also a liability, with primary starter Deion Jones giving up 119 yards and a score through two weeks.

The Buccaneers targeted the middle of the field against the Falcons, specifically with their tight ends and slot receivers. The Giants will have plenty of opportunities running RPO‘s to give their past catchers good opportunities to pick up yards. Atlanta also ranks toward the bottom of the league in rushing yards allowed with 127.5 per game, which should widen the eyes of Barkley, who is still looking for a game with over 60 rushing yards.

Ultimately, this is a must-win game for the Giants as they prepare to head into a tougher portion of the schedule with the New Orleans Saints, Dallas Cowboys, and Los Angeles Rams coming up consecutively. Picking up some momentum and plastering a bad Atlanta defense would be a good way to get the gears turning.

Rangers Head Coach talks about training camp, line combinations and a Captain

New York Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant had his first press conference on Thursday afternoon.

The New York Rangers began their training camp on Wednesday morning with players reporting for physicals and media day activities.

Day one of camp is uneventful for the team as a whole, with the lone highlight of the head coach’s first official press conference of the season. Gallant sat in front of the New York Media as they questioned him on varying topics.

The Elephant In The Room

Gallant didn’t waste any time when the question of who would be the next captain of the Blueshirts.

“If I was a betting man, I think we’re gonna have a captain on day 1”.

He did acknowledge that having a captain is a priority but wasn’t sure of the exact timing of when the captain would be named.

Gallant is an “old school” coach as was evident when he was talking about systems coach’s use in the National Hockey League. He emphasized the system is not as important as the player’s ability to “buy in” to the schemes the coaching staff put in front of them.

“Let’s be honest: Everybody has their systems, (but) there’s not a big difference in NHL teams. A lot of us do the same things. It’s about executing them and believing.. and getting 23 guys to buy in.” – Vince Mercogliano

Line Combinations

The head coach is looking for a fresh start to of lines, though he hasn’t ruled anything out. He wants to look at placing Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad on the same lines, possibly moving Alexis Lafreniere to the right wing to get him more ice time, and would he dare split up Adam Fox and Ryan Lindgren?

Training camp is a way for the coaching staff to see what works well and what doesn’t. No lines are etched in stone, and Gallant will use at least the first four games to try different line combinations and defensive pairings to judge what works and what ideas need to be trashed.

The plan is to have his 23 roster players and the line combinations set for the end of the preseason.

Thursday morning will be the first practice for the team under their new head coach. It begins in the team’s Tarrytown facility at 10 am.  The players will be divided into three teams plus a squad of goalies and follow this schedule;

Team 1 & 2 Scrimmage…10:00-11:40 AM
Team 3 Goalies on ice…1:00-1:30 PM
Team 3 Practice…1:30-3:15 PM

A new era is beginning in New York with high expectations. Gallant has plenty of work to do in his quest to make this team a tough opponent to play against.