Yankees’ hot start leaving them far from satisfied

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The Yankees arrived at Monday’s off day with the best record in baseball, their blazing hot start putting them in the company of some of the best teams in MLB history through 60 games.

But their best player knows they haven’t done anything yet, which is at the heart of what’s driving the Yankees during their 44-16 start.

“We just got a lot of guys that aren’t satisfied,” Aaron Judge said over the weekend as the Yankees swept the Cubs out of The Bronx. “I think that’s what really sums it up. Guys are going out here, ‘OK we won the first two, let’s finish this out.’

“We have a lot of guys in here that really haven’t done much of anything.”

Within the Yankees clubhouse, there are only four players who have a World Series ring: Anthony Rizzo, Aroldis Chapman, Marwin Gonzalez and Matt Carpenter. Rizzo and Chapman were teammates on the 2016 Cubs. Gonzalez’s Astros beat the Yankees in the 2017 ALCS on the way to a World Series title, which has since been tainted by Houston’s sign-stealing scheme. And Carpenter won his with the Cardinals in 2011, though he was not on their playoff roster.

The Yankees celebrate their 18-4 win over the Cubs.
Corey Sipkin

The rest of the clubhouse is largely filled with players who have been on strong teams that got close but couldn’t climb all the way to the mountaintop in October. Of course, Judge knows that feeling well as a central part of the Yankees teams that lost the 2017 ALCS, 2018 ALDS, 2019 ALCS, 2020 ALDS and 2021 AL wild-card game, despite winning plenty in the regular season during that stretch.

“We’re not satisfied with just winning the division,” Judge said. “We want to go out there and bring a championship back. With that in our mindset each and every single day, that’s kind of pushing us all year.”

The Yankees won’t be able to take a crack at that ultimate goal for a few more months, but they hope they are laying the groundwork for it this summer and appear to be on the right track.

On Sunday, they became only the seventh team since 1940 to win at least 44 of their first 60 games in a season. Five of the other six teams that have done so went on to win the World Series that year, with only the 116-win Mariners falling short in 2001.

“I would say we’re very complete with our wins,” Giancarlo Stanton said. “Some of the teams in the past, if we didn’t hit homers, sometimes we didn’t come out with wins. But we’re finding all different types of ways to beat teams. You give us an extra out, we’re capitalizing on it and just being tough on the opponent. We’re trying to sweep everybody. We’re not going to get everybody, but that’s the mindset.”

Judge
Aaron Judge circles the bases after a home run.
USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees have won or split 17 of their 19 series this year, including sweeping seven of their last 15 series. Their dominant run will be put to the test during their upcoming stretch, with their next 13 games against the Rays, Blue Jays and Astros — the three teams directly behind them in the American League standings.

But aside from the numbers, one of the few Yankees who has been around a World Series-winning team believes they have the intangibles to make it happen.

“This is a really special group of people in this room,” Carpenter said. “Offensively, it’s 9-on-1 every single night. That’s a rare thing. A lot of teams, everybody’s out there taking their at-bats trying to put up their numbers. That’s just not the case here. You can say the same thing from the pitching side. I see Gerrit Cole, Nestor [Cortes], our entire staff living and dying with every pitch that’s being thrown out there.

“It’s just a lot of fun to come to work when you have that many guys all rooting for each other and all pulling for each other. You add that talent that we have in this clubhouse and what you see is a recipe for success. It’s playing out every day.”



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