The Yankees played on Thursday exactly the way you are supposed to against teams that you should beat. They jumped out to an early lead and never looked back, putting it together on both sides of the ball all night. It was exactly the kind of performance they needed after a couple of frustrating games against the Orioles.
New York poured it on early when Aaron Judge picked up an RBI single in the first inning that brought Brett Gardner in to score. Before the inning was over, the Other Aaron doubled with the bases loaded to make it 4-0. The game was never in doubt from there.
It’s probably unfair to say that Gary Sanchez has truly struggled when he is hitting just fine. The real issue is that he hasn’t hit like he did last season when he made a case for winning the Rookie of the Year award in just half of a season. Tonight, Sanchez showed he is still very much that guy. He launched two long home runs for his fifth and sixth of the season.
Some people may note that Judge was moved to third in today’s lineup to protect Sanchez. Whether or not that is the reason for Sanchez getting better pitches to hit will require more evidence, but it was a positive step forward nonetheless. Having a guy who has lit the world on fire with his bat hitting behind you can’t hurt.
Hicks was extraordinary, driving in six runs in the game with three doubles in the game as part of a four-hit night. Matt Holliday chipped in three hits of his own. It was an offensive onslaught for one of the best offenses in the majors.
The Yankees got a very encouraging performance from Sabathia across 6.1 one-run innings. Sabathia struck out seven batters and walked none on a night when his offense provided him more than enough run support. The only damage done against Sabathia was a solo home run off the bat of Kendrys Morales. Chad Green got some mop up time out of the bullpen, and allowed one of the Blue Jays’ two runs.
Beating teams you’re supposed to beat is absolutely crucial if the Yankees want to maintain their lead in the AL East. Kicking off the trip to Toronto was a great way to do just that. Michael Pineda goes tomorrow to try and secure no worse than a series split.