Yankees’ triumph silences this foolish postseason narrative
LOS ANGELES — No trophy for this weekend. Let’s not get silly.
The Yankees do deserve a memento for coming into Dodger Stadium and taking care of business so convincingly, however: Give these guys a shield. A shield against questions about their legitimacy.
By beating future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers, 5-1, here in Chavez Ravine on Sunday night, the Yankees won this Players’ Weekend series, two games to one, and by doing so in an October-esque atmosphere while playing with an October-esque smoothness, they made clear what had been less so: Of course they possess a real chance to win the whole darn thing.
“It’s a good club,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of the Yankees. “It was good to put eyes on them, and I like the way they play the game. They definitely mirror our club. They’ve got a nice mix of youth and veterans, and [Gleyber] Torres didn’t swing the bat terribly well outside the first game, but I like him. I like his at-bats, and obviously [Aaron] Judge homered in three straight games, so it’s a fun team to compete against. They got the best of us this series.”
“Good team. Very good team,” Kershaw echoed. “I think they’re missing [Giancarlo] Stanton and [Luke] Voit [plus others, including Aaron Hicks], and their lineup’s still really, really good. [James] Paxton’s really good. [Domingo] German threw the ball really well today. And then their bullpen is obviously what it is. Very good team, for sure.”
German followed the trail established Friday night by Paxton, giving up one run and five hits over six innings while walking two and striking out five, and you have to feel just a little better now about both guys taking the hill for a postseason start, don’t you?
Even the worst Yankees news of the day, Didi Gregorius departing early with a right shoulder contusion after taking a Kershaw pitch there in the first inning, came with the silver lining of rookie Mike Ford taking Gregorius’ lineup spot and delivering a solo homer off Kershaw plus an RBI double; Gregorius’ X-rays came back negative, making him day to day.
Throw in solo homers by DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Judge, his fourth round-tripper in six games, and the Yankees reinforced the notion that the best way to beat elite pitching is to match power with power and go deep.
Let’s talk about that elite pitching. The Yankees became the fourth team this season to beat the Dodgers in a home series, as Roberts’ crew fell to a still-amazing 52-18 here. The half-glass-empty type can point out that none of the other three successful visitors — the Brewers, Padres and Angels — would qualify for the playoffs if Sunday marked the season’s final day. The half-glass-full crowd can counter that with this knowledge: None of those previous series featured a win over either Kershaw or the NL Cy Young Award candidate Hyun-Jin Ryu. The Yankees beat both of those studs.
“They have a really stout lineup,” Dodgers infielder Max Muncy said.
None of this is to contend that the Yankees magically became the favorites to win it all this weekend. They didn’t. The Astros should hold an edge in the American League thanks to their terrific starting rotation. The Dodgers might possess a better-rounded roster to prevail in a best-of-seven Fall Classic. But let’s stop acting as though a Yankees World Series victory would be on par with the Mets’ miracle from 50 years ago.
They arrived in Southern California as the owners of a four-game losing streak and victims of a three-game sweep at the hands of the A’s up in Oakland. They shook that off immediately and impressively against the industry’s best team.
“They adjusted to us better than we adjusted to them, and that’s the bottom line,” Muncy said. “Hats off to them.”
That, at the least, should buy them some time. A month’s worth of time, specifically, to get ready for what should be a fierce postseason.
A postseason for which they should be viewed as bona fide contenders, not paper tigers. They own the shield to prove it.
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