Imagine that instead of moving to a remote Russian cabin to train for his revenge fight with Ivan Drago, imagine if Rocky Balboa spent a month in a Connecticut spa where he limited his desserts, received regular mani / pedis and enjoyed some really spicy yoga.
That’s pretty much your New York Yankees getting ready for the Houston Astros by facing the Detroit Tigers.
Yes, the rebuilding Tigers (8-21) have plenty of work to do, and to the credit of the Yankees they failed to complete the weekend sweep on Sunday, driving a great performance by Corey Kluber to a 2-0 victory at Yankee Stadium and even retired at 14-14 – their first chance to appreciate such mediocrity since they were at 5-5.
‘Better than being under [.500]That’s for sure, ”Aaron Boone said.
After their first happy off day of 2021 – this was their first win in the off day match in five tries – the Yankees will indeed welcome the Astros to The Bronx for their highly anticipated arrival, their inaugural visit since Rob’s 2020 ruling. Manfred that the ‘Stros illegally stole signs to take their title in 2017, including during their American League Championship Series win over the Yankees. The first game between the late 2010 rivals since Jose Altuve took Aroldis Chapman deep into the 2019 ALCS Game 6, but didn’t take off his shirt to celebrate, created enough conspiracy theories to fill a QAnon brunch event.
The fans think they are having some fun here (although they turned out to be surprisingly tame with Tigers manager AJ Hinch, Houston’s manager at the time), but the Yankees themselves really can’t afford to talk about – or think about – the past. Most curiosity about this series shouldn’t surround the revenge factor. It should be about how well the Yankees, who have become relevant again on the back of mediocre or worse ball clubs, play against a quality operation.
‘I’m sure we all have a memory, so we remember what happened. For us, the most important thing is to play well against them and beat them, ”said Brett Gardner on Sunday. “That’s the ultimate form of trying to get them back. … I’m sure it will be a good match, and they have a good team this year. I’m sure it will be a fun series. “
Dusty Baker’s Astros holds a 15-13 record, putting them one game in the loss column behind the Blue Jays (14-12), who represent the only club to currently have a winning record that the Yankees have played. That’s right, the Rays are half a game behind the Yankees, 14-15. It will be productive for Tuesday night’s Yankees starter Domingo German, who stood up to the Indians’ and Orioles’ weak fouls, to test his gear against the Astros’ imposing line-up. And it will bring value to the Yankees lineup, which has been looking much better lately, although it is fairly quiet on Sundays, to measure its willingness to measure up against future Hall of Famer Zack Greinke.
“We have to play well and not get caught up in all that stuff,” Boone said.
Two items from Sunday’s game stood out that can be applied beyond the poor tigers:
- They won their second game in a row not homering after losing their 11 previous games like that. Of course, that started with Kluber’s dominant performance (eight innings, no runs, two hits, one walk, 10 strikeouts), but the Yankees got what they needed with a simple second inning: Gio Urshela infield single, Aaron Hicks walk, Mike Ford flyout to midfield that moved Urshela to third base, Kyle Higashioka doubled to score Urshela, Brett Gardner sacrificed a fly to score Hicks. Easy.
- Kluber won his second straight start, both times with Higashioka as his catcher, and the veteran then praised his battery buddy for being on “the same page” with him. Could Boone link individual catchers with pitchers beyond just Higashioka and Gerrit Cole? How about Higashioka also with Kluber and Domingo German and Sanchez with Jameson Taillon and Jordan Montogmery?
“I don’t think there is any question about how the fans will react when they enter the stadium here,” Higashioka said of the Astros.
However, given how this season started, the meaningful drama surrounds how the Yankees, not their fans, will react to the arrival of the Astros.