Yankees manager Aaron Boone had two answers to the question seeking context for his team’s torrid start.
First the flippant:
“I’d say I’d take it,” Boone said when asked what his response would be if in spring training it would be suggested that his team could have sprinted out to a 48-16 record.
And then the more reasoned:
“If someone would have said that I would have dismissed it and just said I’m not going to play that game,” Boone said prior to a 12-3 win over the Blue Jays Friday night at the Rogers Centre, a blowout blitz that exposed the home side’s weaknesses and accentuated all that is right about the Bronx Bombers these days.
“I understand where we are. I understand we’ve had the start we’re off to and the position we are in … and I’m thrilled about that, obviously.
“But we also understand as a team and as a group that we haven’t done anything.”
Nothing beyond matching the third best start by any major league team in the last 93 years, that is.
Nothing beyond building up a massive 23-10 record against opponents in the American League East, often purported to be the toughest division in baseball.
And nothing beyond a humiliating thrashing of their closest pursuer in the AL East, a Blue Jays team that seems overmatched in so many ways – at least when compared to the ruling class of the AL right now.
Prior to the latest loss to the Yankees – to fall to 3-7 on the season against them – Jays manager Charlie Montoyo refused to attach added meaning to a game against an opponent his group now trails by 11 games.
Every game is important, the manager said, with the Yankees no different than the Orioles who just finished a 2-2 series split at the dome.
Perhaps it was the manager’s precursor to dulling the pain of one of the Jays must humiliating losses of the season.
There is a perception that at some point the Yankees will have to regress and at least suffer through a flat phase, though they’ve shown no signs of it happening. And the way things are going, it’s becoming more difficult to fathom.
They have won eight in a row, are now 15-1 in their past 16 games and find themselves at a ridiculous 32 games over .500 (48-16) … in June.
Besides having the best record in baseball, the Yankees are frighteningly complete in all phases of the game and compiling it over a growing sample size.
From a line-up that can bang – as evidenced by a three-homer, eight-run fifth capped by an Anthony Rizzo grand slam on Friday – to a deep starting rotation and a power-packed bullpen, these Yanks are a juggernaut.
And Boone knows it.
“I feel like we’re of singular mind in that room of what we want to accomplish, what we’re here for,” Boone said. “We want to be champions and that’s what it’s about.”
One game, sure, but Friday’s loss did reveal some of the cracks that have been creeping into the Jays efforts lately.
Let’s just say that the Ross Stripling onto Trent Thornton tandem to start the game for the Jays likely didn’t fire up much fear in the booming Bombers bats.
And in front of a crowd of 44,688 here for the first of three weekend meetings, the Yankees didn’t even need to test the back end of a Jays bullpen that has had its own challenges of late.
The Jays probably got as much as they could have hoped for from starter Stripling, who allowed five hits but just two runs through 3.2 innings. But because his pitch count climbed to 84, Stripling didn’t make it out of the fourth … That set the “stage” for Thornton, who had one of his worst outings as a Jay. The right-hander allowed home runs to Giancarlo Stanton and DJ LeMahieu and didn’t manage an out in the fifth before he was pulled after surrendering five earned runs on five hits. The Yankees weren’t done in the inning, however, capping it off with a 438-foot Rizzo grand slam to right field off of Trevor Richards …. Among the rare bright spots for the Jays – an Alejandro Kirk solo homer in the sixth and three singles from Gabriel Moreno, the latter of which was an infield hit that could be subject to a scoring change … Plenty of time to right the record, but the Jays fell to 11-13 against divisional opponents … With a Joey Gallo homer in the ninth, the Yanks dinged the Jays four times to increase their MLB lead to 105 in the long ball ledger.
AROUND THE BASES
You know that Bo Bichette was in some pain when he wasn’t able to go on Friday. Diagnosed with a contusion in his foot after taking a ball off of his leg on Thursday, Bichette missed his first game of the season … His absence moved versatile infielder Santiago Espinal to short while Cavan Biggio started at second base … Will be worth keeping an eye on the status of third baseman Matt Chapman, who was back in the lineup on Friday but has been diagnosed with inflammation in his wrist. Current plans are for Chapman to “play through” the injury while receiving treatment … The Jays won’t see Gerrit Cole this series after all. With Luis Severino off of the COVID-19 list, he’ll get the start on Sunday … Next up, Alek Manoah (8-1, 1.67 ERA) faces Jameson Taillon (7-1, 2.93) Saturday at 3:07.