Last night the New York Yankees won another game without hitting a home run. It was an important game because they swept their rival Boston Red Sox, went ahead in the AL East standings, won their eighth series in a row, and Andrew Heaney finally proved to Yankees fans that he could pitch.
After taking the Tuesday doubleheader from the Red Sox, they entered last night’s game with the hope of sweeping the Red Sox for the first time this season. They did that, winning the game 5-2.
Yankees move ahead of the Red Sox
The New York Yankees team that pulled out another nail bitting gutsy win last night is a different team than the one that last faced the Boston Red Sox in mid-July when they were 9 1/2 games out in the AL East. It’s a team that wins games whether they hit home runs or not. It is a team that is no longer riddled with massive injuries and Covid stints.
The New York Yankees matched a season-best six-game winning streak and have now passed both Boston and Oakland for the top spot in the AL wild-card race. They are also now in second place in the AL East, a game ahead of the Boston Red Sox. But the Yankees are not yet satisfied; they are no longer focused on winning a wild card berth; they have their sites on winning the East. But make no mistake about it the first-place Tampa Bay Rays must cooperate by losing more games than the Yankees. The Yankees are 8-2 in their last ten, and the Rays are 7-3.
Good night for Andrew Heaney
Before the trade deadline, the Yankees picked up Andrew Heaney from the Los Angeles Angels. He wasn’t expected to be an ace-type pitcher but a quality middle-of-the-pack guy. Since then, he hasn’t been able to do that, giving up 15 earned runs in his first 3 starts for the Yankees.
But that all changed last night when Heaney pitched seven innings of quality ball, only giving up one run, a homer, walking two, and striking out 4 Red Sox. He had good control, although at times still had trouble finding that put-out pitch. His performance last night gives the Yankees just one more option as the rotation returns to full force.
Chapman still doesn’t have it
Last night the Yankee closer Aroldis Chapman returned to the bullpen after a stint on the IL with a sore elbow. Chapman that was lights out at the beginning of the season, strangely turned into a totally undependable closer that at one point was so bad that manager Boone wouldn’t use him. The Yankees, without a true closer, were hoping that Chapman had turned the page when they let him pitch with a four-run lead in the ninth.
That was not the case; the still tentative Chapman gave up a home run, give up two hits, and walked one, as Boone pulled him in favor of Lucas Luetge, who got his first save in nine years. Going forward, the Yankees hope that Chapman can regain control over his fastball as they will need him in their run for the East and beyond. The home run was his seventh of the season, a career-high.
Andrew Velazquez: A dream realized
The kid from the Bronx is living his dream. Growing up in the Morris Park section of the Bronx, a young boy, Andrew Velazquez, walked by Yankee Stadium, dreaming of someday playing on that storied field as a New York Yankee.
The now 27-year-old Velazquez, after kicking around 3 major league clubs on December 16, 2020, was signed to a minor league contract with the Yankees. Then, on August 9th, without shortstop Gleyber Torres, Velazquez was called up to the big time at Yankee Stadium, and his dream had finally come true. Since then, he has made the most of his family and friends in the stands with some timely hitting and making amazing plays on the field.
Last night with the agility and ease of a housefly, Velazquez slid as the ball got past diving third baseman Rougned Odor, then hurried to his feet and fired a one-hop bullet across the infield, retiring Kevin Plawecki and securing the Yankee win.
“It’s what you dream about,” Velazquez said. “You come here and you want to be a part of something — not only doing good on the field, but earning the respect of the guys in the locker room.”
Last night Velazquez’s dream became even better when the guys awarded him the Yankee MVP of the game belt.