Boone buoyant as Yankees’ offense carries his trust right way

New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton celebrate after former's home run against the Kansas City Royals, Tuesday, June 11, 2024, in Kansas City.
NYY
Michael Bennington
Wednesday June 12, 2024

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Yankees are showcasing their offensive versatility, skillfully blending power and small-ball tactics to overcome top pitchers.

On Sunday, they relied on two home runs to deal significant damage to the Dodgers’ Tyler Glasnow, who gave up a season-high eight hits and five runs over six innings. The following day, the Yankees utilized a mix of singles and sacrifices to chip away at the Royals’ Seth Lugo, scoring four runs over seven innings and raising his ERA from 2.13 to 2.36. Their 10-1 thrashing of the Royals on Tuesday underscored their ability to adapt their offensive strategy and effectively compete against some of the league’s best pitchers.

The Yankees boasted the highest OPS (.802) against pitchers from teams with a .500 record or better entering Tuesday’s game, significantly outpacing the second-place Orioles (.782). This statistic prompts the question of whether the Yankees have finally built an offense capable of thriving against elite pitching, a crucial factor for postseason success.

Manager Aaron Boone expressed optimism before Tuesday’s victory at Kauffman Stadium, explaining that the team had a strong offense with the potential to be truly exceptional.

“Look, I think we’re a really good offense,” he said. I think we have a chance to be a really, really good and special offense. [But] we’ll see. It’s June. We got a long way to go.”

The Yankees immediately proved their manager right. They homered thrice led by unstoppable Aaron Judge and outscored the Royals by nine RBIs.

New York Yankees’ Alex Verdugo, right, celebrates with New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge (99) after Judge hit a two-run home run against the Kansas City Royals during the seventh inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, June 11, 2024, in Kansas City, Mo.
AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann

But this is just a glimpse of the promise they hold. In recent weeks, their lineup has successfully faced top-tier pitchers such as Logan Webb, Camilo Doval, Jordan Hicks, Dylan Cease, Bryce Miller, and Luis Castillo, demonstrating their ability to compete against the best in the league. However, the Yankees have encountered notable setbacks in series losses to the Orioles and Dodgers, primarily due to struggles against Corbin Burnes and Yoshinobu Yamamoto.

The Yankees juggernaut on a roll

The Yankees’ performance against superior pitching staffs and teams warrants close attention. They aim to differentiate themselves from previous seasons when their offense often excelled against weaker pitching but faltered in the postseason. Last year, the Yankees posted a modest .693 OPS against pitching staffs of average or better teams.

While injuries contributed to their struggles, the lineup’s construction, which relied heavily on right-handed power hitters, also played a significant role. As the season progresses, the Yankees hope to demonstrate that their offseason adjustments have equipped them to consistently compete against the league’s best pitching.

The Yankees’ acquisition of Juan Soto has undoubtedly bolstered their offense, but hitting coach James Rowson also credited the additions of Alex Verdugo and the sparingly used Trent Grisham as left-handed hitters who have helped balance the batting order.

Rowson emphasized that while adding talented players enhances the lineup, the synergy and cohesion within the group are equally important. He described this combination as something special to witness, noting that the team possesses both the talent and the right clubhouse chemistry to succeed.

“When you add these types of bats to your lineup, without a doubt your lineup gets better,” Rowson said. “But I think it’s also: You have to look at the synergy and the way this group kind of galvanizes together, and it’s something special to watch. We have the talent, but we also have the right chemistry in this clubhouse with these guys.”

New York Yankees’ Austin Wells, center, is congratulated after his home run drove in Giancarlo Stanton (27) and New York Yankees’ Gleyber Torres, left, during the fourth inning of the team’s baseball game against the Kansas City Royals, Tuesday, June 11, 2024, in Kansas City, Mo.
AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann

Hitting coach James Rowson expressed particular pride in the way a small-ball lineup, missing Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Anthony Rizzo, managed to rattle Seth Lugo on Monday. The team used a combination of singles and sacrifice bunts to unsettle Lugo, one of the league’s top pitchers this season.

Despite the Yankees hitting the second-most home runs in baseball, Rowson has observed the group’s ability to score runs in various ways. He noted that the players have consistently maintained a good approach at the plate without solely relying on the long ball. Returning as hitting coach this year, Rowson emphasized that while their approach sometimes results in home runs, the team’s primary focus is on creating offense and scoring runs, showcasing their overall offensive prowess.

The Yankees’ strong performance against top-tier pitching has led to a 17-10 record against teams above .500 as of Tuesday. The last time the team hit this well against such opponents was during their most recent championship season in 2009, when they posted a .839 OPS against teams at or above .500.

Manager Aaron Boone believes the team has the potential for a highly effective offense, which has been evident so far. However, he stressed the importance of maintaining consistency throughout the season.

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