Game 24: NYY vs. BOS — Gardner, Young, and Nasty Nate

This afternoon’s game was yet another eventful one, though minus any of the major theatrics from last night’s game like fire alarms and major milestones. But like I said yesterday, any Yankees-Red Sox game is always bound to be interesting. And on this chilly May Saturday in Boston, a sell-out crowd of Fenway faithful and sprinkles of pinstriped loyalists packed into the park to watch the old rivalry gear up and face off once again.

It was Nathan Eovaldi to the mound to start today’s game, and Nasty Nate was back in action in his 111 pitches (a season-high for all the Yankee starters) over 6.2 innings. He gave up 7 hits, just 1 walk, and 2 runs, striking out 2 batters. Those runs came as a solo home run in the 4th and as a result of that 2-out walk in the 7th before he handed the ball over to reliever Chris Martin. Martin’s 6 pitches gave up an RBI double before getting out of the inning.

Justin Wilson got 2 outs in the 8th before the game became Dellin Betances’ for the his first save this season. With just 14 pitches, all 4 of Betances’ outs were strikeouts because, well, he’s Betances. I know I nearly brag a lot about the Yankees’ pitching staff, especially their bullpen, but it just continues to impress me (and many others, like the non-Yankee talking heads). There is another team that is deemed to have the best bullpen in the league, but I would definitely argue that the Yankees might give them a run for their money. We’ll have to see when they play each other later in the season.

Now, the only way Nasty Nate and the pitching staff would come out on top with the win (and the subsequent save) was if the Yankees’ offense did something. So they did. In the 3rd, Gregorius singled, took 2nd on a wild pitch, and then scored on Brett Gardner’s double. (Gardner tried stretching it into a triple and got caught at 3rd for the 2nd out of the inning.)

In the 5th, Headley led-off with a double, Petit singled, and Gregorius moved them both into scoring position with a perfect sacrifice bunt. Then it’s Gardner again for the RBIs — both runners scored on his single, and he ended up at 2nd on the throw. And to cap it off in the 9th, Chris Young hit his 6th home run of the season to give the Yankees an insurance run.

Final score: 4-2 Yankees.

I was talking with a fellow baseball fan today about how the Yankees are ridiculously undervalued as a team by some of the talking heads. Now, I’m kind of used to this. Because they don’t look and sound and act like their former dynasty years, no one expects much out of the Yankees. They seem to dismiss basic things like batting averages, home runs, hits, ERA, strike outs, and total wins. Oh, and the fact that the Yankees are in 1st place in the AL East.

But forget all that non-essential stuff. You got guys like Brett Gardner, who was responsible for 3 of the 4 runs the Yankees scored today, and Mark Teixeira, who has 8 home runs so far this season (3rd in AL), and Jacoby Ellsbury, who already has 30 hits this year in the 22 games he’s played and 9 stolen bases (tied for 1st in AL), and Chris Young, who’s slugging percentage is 1.084. (Young, Gardner, and Ellsbury are all batting over .300.) Or guys like Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller, who are both sitting with a 0.00 ERA, and Miller with his 9 saves (tied for 1st in AL) and opposing batters averaging .075 against him. Combine all that individual stuff with the fact that (for the most part) these guys just work together to make baseball click — especially one of the slickest defenses I’ve seen in a long time on the diamond — and you have a team that is defying all expectations.

And it got me thinking about that. People don’t expect much of the Yankees, and they haven’t since the more recent dynasty years (it should be noted they didn’t expect much of them in 2009 either). But that’s okay. The Yankees expect far more out of themselves than anyone else does. They expect a championship. And they expect it every year. And if their players aren’t ending the year with a ring, it’s because they didn’t live up to the expectations. Not those of the talking heads or honestly even their fans. No, they didn’t live up to the expectations they placed on themselves as a team. The Yankees begin each year with the expectation that they will win, and they begin the battle to do so even before any of them set foot in camp for Spring Training.

Throw out whatever expectations you might have for the Yankees, however high or low. I expect them to win, and win big. I expect it every year. Not because I want them to (though believe me, I do), but because I know that’s what they want.

And (without referencing a certain song that’s in my head right now) while you can’t always get what you want, why not this year? That #28 will happen some time. So why not this year? You just never know.

Go Yankees!

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