Yankees Are in a Sticky Situation, But Keep Winning

The New York Yankees went to Toronto for a four-game series against the Blue Jays. They took three of the games and now are 26-20 on the season.

The series was more than the wins. It was dramatic and had close, breath-holding games. At the start, all the drama was for all the wrong reasons. Starting with the Yankees’ best player.

Yankees Are in a Sticky Situation, But Keep Winning

Judge Going Judge Things

Aaron Judge is back and playing like his MVP self. Monday’s game saw him hit a home run in his first plate appearance. Then came the debate on whether he was cheating. In the eighth inning, Judge glanced to the first base side, a sign that he was stealing signs. It’s not something the Blue Jays could prove but it looked suspicious enough, especially since he homered on the next pitch.

That gave Judge two home runs in the 6-3 win and plenty to speculate about for the series. The next night, in the same inning, came another home run and a reminder that he can hit the ball deep regardless of where he’s looking. This homer however made a mark literally. Judge hit the ball hard enough to center field that the logo beyond the wall was dented by the hit. It not only was a big blast but a crowd silencer or one that left the fans in awe. Is he cheating? Probably not and besides, he’s still crushing the ball.

Judge ended the series with four home runs. It’s an overstatement to say one player can make all the difference but with him back in the lineup, the Yankees suddenly look like an offensive powerhouse again. Moreover, Judge faced the heat and backlash for his peek but brushed it aside and used it as fuel. As the captain, there are always going to be questions about how he acts, responds, and deals with everything. This was another reminder that he leads by example and lets his play do the talking.

Judge fended off the controversy. Other Yankees weren’t as fortunate.

Then Came the Sticky Stuff

Domingo German has already dealt with a questionable substance moment earlier in the season. It was a game against the Minnesota Twins where he was unhittable and ultimately finished the game allowing only one run in 6.1 innings pitched while tossing 11 strikeouts. He wasn’t suspended but there was plenty of suspicion about the stickiness of his hands.

A few days later, Max Scherzer got caught with the sticky hands. He wasn’t putting anything illegal on his hands but in a league trying to crackdown on doctored baseballs, he had to be suspended. It’s been a theme all season. Pitchers are using the rosin bag for grip which is legal but when there’s too much grip, it looks illegal. So what can pitchers do if they use the bag often? After all, the grip is essential for both the pitcher and the hitter (no batter wants a pitcher with NO control).

Then came Tuesday’s game. German’s hands were sticky, more than the four umpires had seen before according to their report. For a pitcher already under the suspicion of sticky hands earlier in the year, this looked like a recipe for disaster. It was for German, who was using more than rosin.

He was suspended for 10 games and won’t be in the Yankees’ rotation for the next week. To make matters worse, the team loses the roster spot. The rotation is already reeling from injuries and a dropoff in the back end. Now, it will be without German, who was pitching well, allowing only 22 runs in 48 innings pitched with 49 strikeouts. The suspension puts a damper on an otherwise strong series in which the team looked great.

The Yankees are Winning

This was a series the Yankees needed to make a statement in. They swept the Oakland A’s the week before and over the weekend, split the four-game set against the Tampa Bay Rays. The series against the Blue Jays would determine if they could remain in the divisional race and start to make up ground in the standings.

The Yankees not only won three of the four games but won in impressive fashion. They outscored the Blue Jays 17-12 and have scored 39 runs in the last seven games. The lineup was awful in April and looked hapless with Judge. Now, they are surging and starting to look like the team that started last season red hot being led by a great lineup.

The Yankees are suddenly only a few percentage points behind the Blue Jays in the division. They are only 6.5 games behind the Rays. They still have a lot of room to improve but this series was the first time in a long time that the Yankees looked like the team to beat in the American League.

Main Image: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

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