The Yankees are adamant: This is no fluke.
After a road trip in which they went 5-3 and saw the resurgence of their mercurial, often-disappointing offense, Aaron Judge and Aaron Boone said they saw plenty of signs to indicate that the team has turned a significant corner that potentially could carry them through the rest of the season.
The Yankees averaged 5.75 runs per game during the trip after averaging 3.71 runs in the 60 previous games.
"More and more, the offense is coming to the party and I feel like we’re getting closer to what I hope is that juggernaut that we can be offensively and there’s no question that I feel like they’re gaining a little bit of that confidence as a group," Boone said. "I think they’re starting to gain a little bit of swagger and a little bit of confidence — the old pass the baton, trust the guy behind you, just making it tougher overall on the pitchers as a whole. I think we’ve clearly seen that get a little more consistent. Still feel like there’s room to go."
Judge pointed to recent strong offensive performances by Gio Urshela and Gary Sanchez and said he’s seen an uptick in quality at-bats — what he thinks is the strongest indicator that the upward trend is sustainable.
"I feel like guys were really controlling the zone," Judge said. "What makes this team so good and so dangerous is when guys are really honing in on the zone, we’re not chasing pitches, we’re getting good counts."
Change the balls
Yankees players’ union representative Zack Britton believes that the key to the "sticky stuff" controversy is to change the baseballs to something that doesn’t lend itself to doctoring.
"Since I’ve gotten to the big leagues, there’s always been talk every spring about getting a baseball very similar to what they use in Japan, comes out of the box with a little bit of tack to it, would probably prevent most players from using anything, even the rosin bag, just because it has a good grip already and there’s no need to do anything else," Britton said. "You can police the rule as much as you want. If the baseball is in good condition and you can grip it, there would be no excuse to go to anything else."
Britton allowed that the rule banning the use of foreign substances has been on the books for a century and that MLB had the right to begin enforcing it, but he thinks it could have been done a better way. It’s something he hopes to discuss with MLB in the future.
"I understand that certain things have been taken too far when it comes to the substances, but that being said, it’s still difficult to start policing a specific rule midway through the season," he said. "Those are conversations, we’ll definitely have those with MLB if they’re willing to have those conversations."
Gleyber Torres, who left Thursday’s game with a back injury, was back in the lineup Friday. Boone said Torres already was feeling better later Thursday and told Boone Friday morning that he was good to go . . . The Yankees sat Sanchez for Kyle Higashioka on Friday after a long night behind the plate Thursday. "He got beat up a little bit in last night’s game," Boone said. "With us probably not getting home until 3 in the morning or whatever and a day game [Saturday], having him down one of these games, I just felt this was the one to do it." Sanchez has hit four home runs and driven in seven runs in his last seven games. Since falling to a .174/.302/.339 slash line on May 25, he has a .333/.397/.667 slash line in 17 games . . . Third-base coach Phil Nevin, who had been out since May 9 because of COVID-19, made his return Friday.