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Yankees' offense erupts amid roster shakeup

@Russ_Dorsey1
June 16, 2019

CHICAGO -- The Yankees have had a very eventful weekend and while they mostly made news for their most recent acquisition and the return of a superstar, on the field the team found a way to split a four-game set with the White Sox. Here are three takeaways from Sunday’s

CHICAGO -- The Yankees have had a very eventful weekend and while they mostly made news for their most recent acquisition and the return of a superstar, on the field the team found a way to split a four-game set with the White Sox.

Here are three takeaways from Sunday’s 10-3 victory in the series finale in Chicago.

Box score

Offense thrives ahead of a major overhaul

The Yankees lineup is going to look drastically different in the next few days with the expected return of Aaron Judge, the planned return of Giancarlo Stanton on Tuesday and the arrival of Edwin Encarnacion. An already potent lineup will therefore soon add the power of 874 career home runs to the mix.

But the offense, which is built on power, manufactured 10 runs on 12 hits with just one run coming via the long ball.

The Yanks’ five-run third inning ignited the team’s second straight offensive onslaught. RBI singles by Brett Gardner, Gio Urshela and Austin Romine gave New York a 5-0 lead on its way to its second big offensive output in as many games.

Nos. 4-5-6 hitters Clint Frazier, Gardner and Urshela combined for five hits with four runs scored and five RBIs in the game.

Frazier became the first roster casualty, as the team optioned him to Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre after the game to create a spot for Encarnacion on the 25-man roster. More moves are likely coming soon.

“It’s a tough pill to swallow. It’s never fun, especially with the way I thought I contributed to the team this year,” Frazier said after the game. “Guess I’m facing reality right now.”

Frazier has played well this season with 11 homers and an .843 OPS in 53 games for the Yankees and has been one of the team’s most consistent bats while Stanton and Judge have been on the shelf.

Gardner, who also figures to lose at-bats in the coming days, understands the situation he and the team find themselves in and has a message for his young teammate.

“That kind of thing can be tough,” Gardner said of Frazier’s demotion. “Sometimes when decisions are made, you don’t always agree with them. You just gotta keep your head down and keep moving forward. He’s a guy that has a ton of talent. He’s gonna play this game for a long time. He’s been a big part of why we’re in first place [in the division] and he’s going to continue to do that.

“We have a lot of talented guys in the room which will do nothing but make our team stronger so you never know what can happen. Nobody probably expected me to play center field 40 out of the first 45 days of the season. You gotta stay ready. Anytime you can add somebody as good as Edwin, he’s a guy who’s going to make us better. We’re looking forward to having him on board. How that affects me isn’t something I’m concerned about right now.”

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has already begun to make moves ahead of the Trade Deadline, which is July 31. Frazier’s demotion could make him a prime candidate to be moved for starting pitching help, especially after free agent Dallas Keuchel signed with the Braves.

When asked about the potential of being dealt, the young Frazier gave a veteran response.

“I’ve been traded once, who knows? I can’t control that. I just gotta play as good as I can to put myself in a good position.”

Pitching delivers after rough beginning

The Yankees four-man rotation needed some deep starts after an underwhelming seven days -- especially after back-to-back disappointing starts from J.A. Happ and CC Sabathia on the front end of the set against the White Sox -- then stepped up in a big way on the back end.

Following an excellent tandem start by Chad Green and Nestor Cortes in Saturday’s win, James Paxton returned to form after a speed bump against the Mets in his previous start, keeping hitters off balance with his fastball and mix of breaking stuff.

The curveball made the difference in the game and while Paxton only threw 12 curveballs he made them count, getting strikes on seven of them with only one being put in play.

“It was a good two-strike pitch for me today. Even before two strikes, I was able to get some swings and misses on it,” Paxton said of his curves. “I was just working on some mechanical stuff this week and executing that and finding my comfortable spot on the mound.”

While it will officially count as one quality start, unofficially the Yankees have had two quality starts in a row as Paxton followed the performance by Green and Cortes Jr. during Saturday’s victory. New York had been without a quality start since June 6.

“Thought he got stronger as the game unfolded, but a big effort by him for us” Yankees manager Boone said. “Today, I thought [there were] a lot of innings where there were a couple of soft contacts extending innings that increased his pitch count to go up, otherwise I think gets really deep in that game.”

Homers for everyone

There’s been a huge spike in homers around the game in 2019 and the Yankees have seen the effects of it firsthand.

Cameron Maybin homered for the second consecutive day during Sunday’s win. The solo home run in the seventh inning pushed the Yankees’ home run streak to 19 games in a row, tying the Astros for the second-longest streak this season (Seattle; 20 games).

New York is now six games shy of breaking the club record of 25 straight games with a home run, set in 1941.

On the flip side of things, the Yankees’ pitching staff has given up its fair share of homers lately as well. With Paxton surrendering a solo shot to José Abreu in the first inning, New York starters have now allowed a home run in 15 consecutive games.

Russell Dorsey is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Chicago. Follow him on Twitter @Russ_Dorsey1.