The Yankees entered this week of our MLB The Show simulation on top of the AL East, but with two series against strong offenses in Kansas City and Boston, with the latter series on the road. It was always going to be a tough pair of matchups given how both opponents have outplayed what the real world expected, but New York fell flat on its face and by Sunday night, led the division by just a game over Toronto and two over the Red Sox.
The first game against Kansas City was the first start for Luis Severino after a brief injury scare, and he showed himself to be in tip-top shape, making one of his best starts of the year. The righty threw six innings with a 7:2 K:BB ratio as the Yankees took a 2-1 loss, but the process for the team’s #2 starter was promising.
The Yankees followed up a strong start with the two worst starts of the year from their two best pitchers, as Masahiro Tanaka and James Paxton combined to throw 5.1 innings while allowing 12 runs in successive outings. Needless to say, the Yankees were knocked around 11-5 in Paxton’s start and 6-4 in Tanaka’s, as the surprisingly productive Royals offense took advantage of Yankee Stadium.
The sweep helped Kansas City keep pace in a crowded AL Central, while the Yankees turned to a series at Fenway Park to try and get back on the horse and hold off Toronto and Boston in their own division race.
The series started well, with New York dunking on a non-Tommy John’d Chris Sale and winning the first game 5-1. DJ LeMahieu, mired in as cold a streak can be, had his first multi-hit game in almost two weeks, as he’s seen his batting average drop more than 40 points over the last month. The rebound helped the Yankees in at least one game, but the slump is still a concern for any digital Yankee fan.
The next two games were the exact type of affair I think baseball fans have taken for granted in the past. The Yankees lost both games, 5-4 and 4-2, but there were no standout performances, error-filled escapades or thrilling walkoff or extra inning heroics. They were both merely average, boilerplate, even boring baseball games.
Not every game is something to write home about, and as a staff we often struggle with this in our recaps. Sometimes there just isn’t an interesting angle or focal point of a game - one team beats the other, but when you watch all 162 games, some of them are bound to blend together. In writing this series I’ve been struck at how much I would have liked to watch a boring 4-2 Red Sox win over the Yankees, simply because we’re getting no real baseball content in its place.
The Yankees hang onto a precarious AL East lead at the end of our week, and will need rebound starts from Tanaka and Paxton, as well as LeMahieu to break out of his slump, if they want to hold off their surprisingly talented rivals as we approach the All Star break.