Rays little-known and hard-hitting infielder Taylor Walls, in a moment of brave silliness, suggested about a week ago that the Yankees were “very beatable.” It only proves that Walls has no future in scouting once his ball game days are over.
The Yankees are very beatable in the sense that Secretariat was very beatable.
Or Michael Phelps.
Or Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros.
The Yankees just bludgeon people on a daily basis. Some nights, like Fridays, that doesn’t even seem fair.
The Dodgers were supposed to be the best team in baseball, and right now they’re no better than a good second. The Yankees’ 13-0 victory over the Tigers on a chilly night in the Bronx was the most dominant performance of the season so far.
Yankees ace Gerrit Cole hit two perfect in the seventh inning before Jonathan Schoop lined up a single to center field to stop the story. It was the second night in a row that the Yankees starter threatened the history books, after Jameson Taillon had a perfect game in the eighth the previous night.
The Yankees are a threat to do something special, and they came close to doing it two nights in a row.
This time around, they even had room for some really nice nostalgia, and returning kid Manny Banuelos made his Yankees debut a decade after he was supposed to become the club’s next ace. Banuelos pitched two shutout innings after Cole’s seven.
“We hit, we played D well and Manny came in. It was a good night,” Cole said.
Aaron Judge posted a night of four hits, including his 20th home run, as “MVP” chants rang out at the Judge bobblehead party. But afterwards, when the team won their fourth straight win and eighth win in 10 games, the talk was as much about Banuelos as the team’s two biggest stars.
“I’m so happy man. I achieved my dream,” Banuelos said, bringing tears to even the most hardened journalists’ eyes. “It’s unbelievable… everyone knows they’re a great team. Being part of it is huge.
This team looks so good, their biggest hurdle is the record books, as the league seems like a bit of a challenge lately.
The Angels brought the two supposed best players in the sport here earlier this week and they left the Bronx bruised, battered and swept away. So what was expected of the Tigers, the fashionable pre-season pick that turned out to be toothless?
Surprise star Jose Trevino as well as sudden heroes Matt Carpenter and Anthony Rizzo all joined Judge in the home run brigade. Carpenter has homered four times in his first five games as a Yankee, out of the scrap heap (he’s the third to do so in pinstripes, joining Dave Kingman and Eric Hinske).
The Yankees turned out very different from what we all imagined, and very different indeed from what Walls was suggesting.
Very beating? Barely.
Of course, they are beatable, in the sense that each team loses games here or there. Even the 1998 Yankees, the modern hallmark of baseball perfection, lost 48 games. So technically the team that won 114 games was also beatable.
“I think everyone here knows how good we are,” said Isiah Kiner-Falefa.
They know where they are, and right now it’s on top of the heap. Their 37-15 record is the best of the game.
It also puts them on pace for 114 wins, like that team from 1998.
For those who saw them scrambling to make the playoffs last year, and followed it by mostly watching their competitors spend, it’s still a little hard to believe.
They beefed up the shortstop, added a talented but aging irritant for third, traded mid relievers with the Mets and mostly hoped for the best.
Anyway, apart from the unknown reviews about the rivals, we can now say that this is no accident.
The pen is good, the spin is better, and the judge needs to clean up his trophy case for the next MVP.
Cole finished the night allowing two hits and no walks while striking out nine. Twice he hit the side. The perfectionist was almost perfect.
Cole received heat and criticism as only the extraordinary is expected after signing a record nine-year, $324 million contract. But honestly, it’s a real ace.
And two others throw like that too. Cole himself endorsed Nestor Cortes, who comes from Baltimore, Seattle and every angle to cheat hitter after hitter, for his own material as Cy Young’s frontman.
And it looks like Taillon, the third ace, has finally arrived as a star. After being selected second overall in the 2010 MLB Draft, between Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, Taillon underwent two Tommy John surgeries and an even more serious operation, for testicular cancer. So like Cortes, in a way, he’s also a latecomer.
Greatness seems to come for Fellows when they step out of Pittsburgh. New closer Clay Holmes, who like Cole and Taillon started in Pittsburgh, was nearly perfect.
Which means he has something else in common with Cole.
Lately, in fact, the whole team has seemed pretty much perfect.