NEW YORK -- The Yankees have won 17 out of their past 18. That beats the way the Red Sox started the season, which was by going 17-2.The Yankees were 7 1/2 games behind the Red Sox in the American League East a couple of weeks ago, and now, they
NEW YORK -- The Yankees have won 17 out of their past 18. That beats the way the Red Sox started the season, which was by going 17-2.
The Yankees were 7 1/2 games behind the Red Sox in the American League East a couple of weeks ago, and now, they are ahead of them, because they beat the Red Sox again, 9-6, on Wednesday night.
This time, New York not only beat Boston's closer, Craig Kimbrel, it threw him down a mine shaft in the bottom of the eighth inning, when Brett Gardner tripled in two runs and Aaron Judge hit a 453-foot homer to center field.
Twenty years ago, one of the great Yankees teams started 27-9 on its way to winning 114 regular-season games and the World Series. This Yanks team is 26-10 and on one of the greatest runs in franchise history, at any time of the year. If the Yankees are blessed with even reasonable health, they are likely going to win 100 games, and possibly a lot more than that. They are that good. And they can get better.
"Remember something," said Paul O'Neill, who played for the Yankees from 1993-2001 and won five World Series, in the television booth on Wednesday night. "They've been doing what they've been doing against the best teams in baseball. Eventually, they're going to play some scrubs, too."
The Yankees have won the first two games of a three-game series against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. They previously swept the Angels in Anaheim. They took three of four from the Astros in Houston last week. They came home and swept the Indians, finishing off that series on Sunday afternoon with three runs in the eighth and four more in the ninth, the last three coming on a three-run walk-off homer from the 21-year old kid at second base, Gleyber Torres.
On Wednesday night, they got a big opposite-field double from Giancarlo Stanton, who hasn't even warmed up yet. They got a home run from Judge. But Neil Walker was the one who started another comeback win (he did the same Sunday) with a leadoff double in the eighth. Gardner, who came into the game with a batting average under .200, had two doubles, and he may have had a third, if not for a splendid diving play by Mitch Moreland at first. Gardner then brought the Yanks from trailing, 6-5, to leading, 7-6 -- ahead of Judge's home run -- with a triple off Kimbrel in the eighth.
This felt like more than just one loss for the Red Sox, even in May. For the Yankees, it felt like more than just one big win against the team that had dominated the first three weeks of the season -- just not the way the Yanks are dominating now.
The Red Sox are really good. They are only one game behind the Yankees, and they could make that deficit go away Thursday night. Right now, they are just not as good as the Yanks. Neither are the defending World Series-champion Astros. Nobody in baseball is at this time.
And one of the amazing things about what the Yankees are doing -- and will likely continue doing -- is that they have four young guys on the field basically playing for the minimum. Judge is making $622,000. Gary Sanchez, who scorched a bases-loaded sacrifice fly to center, is making about the same. Torres is around $540,000, and Miguel Andujar is making roughly $546,000. It means that Stanton is making more than 10 times what those four young guys are making combined.
In a few years, the Yankees have gone from old, overpaid and dreary to a young, exciting team set up for the present, and the future. Torres didn't look as if he were ready in the spring. Nor did Andujar. Here they are. Here come the Yanks, looking as if they have enough power and talent to push people around the way they were pushing people around 20 years ago.
David Cone was a star of the 1998 Yankees team, going 20-7. He was working on the YES Network, along with O'Neill, on Wednesday night. After Stanton just flicked his bat out against Rick Porcello, who had been terrific for the Red Sox until this start, for a double into the right-field corner to plate two runs, I asked Cone how you pitch to Stanton.
"You pitch him the way Porcello did," Cone said. "But then, you try to miss away, and you don't miss enough and he does what he just did."
I told Cone how close the record of this Yanks team is to the record of his 1998 team.
"Is it time yet to start talking about keeping pace?" Cone said.
The Yankees are beating teams in all ways right now. Sanchez has won them a few games with late home runs, but he hasn't really started to hit yet and still has 29 RBIs. Judge has 27. Stanton has 23, and he hit two home runs in Tuesday's win. Didi Gregorius still leads the team in home runs.
It seemed as if everybody in the batting order did something Wednesday night, and they came from behind and won again.
The Red Sox are still close in the AL East. They're just not close to being what the Yanks are these days. Nobody is. This is the way things used to be in the Bronx, and haven't been for a long time.
Mike Lupica is a columnist for MLB.com.