Friday, October 20, 2017
The idea that this makes the Yankees what they are – that they’re somehow parlaying this status into motivation to win – is silly. No, this is something instead that’s embedded in them, that for years has motivated them, because so many on the Yankees roster found themselves at a nadir similar to Tanaka’s in May.
For Greg Bird, who missed most of the season with an injury after missing all of the previous season with an injury, it was: Could he stay healthy? He was Wednesday, and he drew first blood on Keuchel, who had entered the game with a career 1.09 ERA against the Yankees, with an RBI single in the third inning.
For Judge, first it was the horror of last season, when in his major league debut he struck out in half his at-bats, and then, after an MVP-type season this year, the clowns that conflated a week’s worth of postseason struggles with an inability to perform in October. It was dumb then, and Judge proved in dumber in the third inning, when he doubled home Brett Gardner to hand the Yankees a 2-0 lead.
For Sanchez, it was down in the minor leagues, where he had stagnated and his prospect luster had dimmed. Scouts never doubted his talent. They did wonder whether he would fulfill it. As his RBI single in the fifth that helped chase Keuchel and his solo home run in the seventh that provided the Yankees’ final run attested: Yes. Yes he would.
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