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Yankees make statement as they flex their muscles on Red Sox

The Yankees were salty. They’d had a lousy week, dropping a couple of games in godforsaken Boston, losing two out of three to the godawful Reds, losing a game that should have been virtually unloseable to the Red Sox on Friday. It added up to five losses in six games. That is not tolerable in the summer of 2022. That is not acceptable. 

Someone had to pay. 

The Red Sox paid. The Red Sox got snuffed 14-1 on Saturday and then got stuffed 13-2 on Sunday. There was more traffic on the Yankee Stadium base paths than on the Deegan before all three of these sold-out games. The Sox were overwhelmed and overmatched, and then they watched in horror as Chris Sale walked off the mound with a left pinky that was as crooked as the inning run totals the Yanks kept ringing up. 

The Yankees felt bad about Sale — “That just sucks, it really does,” Gerrit Cole said solemnly — but sometimes when there is a public bloodletting there is also collateral damage. Sale was collateral damage. So were the voices of anyone concerned that maybe the Yankees aren’t the equal of their 64-28 record. 

(EDITOR’S NOTE: They are.) 

“It seems we can elevate our game,” Cole said, “when we need to.” 

And that means all of them, 1 to 26. It’s hard to know whose home run was more unfathomable, the one Tim Locastro — freshly recalled after a 37-game stay at Scranton/Wilkes Barre — or Joey Gallo, freshly recalled after a 3 ½-month tour of the baseball wilderness. 

The Yankees celebrate during their win over the Red Sox.
The Yankees celebrate during their win over the Red Sox.
Michelle Farsi/New York Post

It’s hard to conjure a better story in all of baseball — in all of sports, honestly — than Matt Carpenter, who had three more RBIs Sunday, who is hitting .354 with a 1.380 OPS after having one foot out the door of his career in May. 

It’s hard to know where to start when you dissect the Yankees — the rotation, which after Cole’s four-hit, seven-inning, 12-strikout gem is now 34-12 on the season; or the bullpen, which has been superb; or the slugging, which has yielded 157 home runs (most in baseball) or the elite baseball acumen that has led to 63 steals (exactly as many as they had all of last year). 

“It’s a credit to our guys,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “Whenever we’ve been able to find an opening we’ve been able to capitalize on it.” 

The standings provide the best news of all at the All-Star break, and for two very different reasons. They are 13 games up in the East and while we have it on good authority that no lead in July is invulnerable (it passed quietly that after Friday’s loss to Boston, the Yanks were 62-28 — precisely the high-water mark of the ’78 Red Sox), the fact that all four teams beneath them are closely matched means they’ll keep knocking each other off in August and September. So there is little reason to fret about that cushion shrinking much. 

Matt Carpenter rips a two- run double in the fourth inning.
Matt Carpenter rips a two-run double in the fourth inning.
Michelle Farsi/New York Post

But there is also this: The Yankees cannot afford to shift into cruise control because they are still only 4 ½ games better than the Astros for the best record in the American League. That’ll surely require them to remain sharp and concentrated even well after the division is safely tucked away. Because if there is one holy grail for this team before October, it is assuring that Games 6 and 7 of an ALCS matchup with Houston take place at Yankee Stadium and not Minute Maid Park. 

And as if to underline the point, the Yankees will open the second half a day earlier than most of the sport, playing a doubleheader in Houston. 

We could call that a day for which the Yankees had better be ready, but the Yankees have so far proven that if there’s one way to assure that they’ll report to work at their fighting best it’s to imply — even subtly, even silently — that an important game is at hand. 

Gerti Cole pitches on Sunday during the Yankees' win over the Red Sox.
Gerti Cole pitches on Sunday during the Yankees’ win over the Red Sox.
Michelle Farsi/New York Post

“It seems like we can compete with anybody in any kind of game,” Cole said. “That’s a good feeling to have. You have a chance with whatever challenge the game throws at you.” 

Said Carpenter: “We have a lot of tough guys on this team.” 

Up and down the lineup. Up and down the roster. One to 26. The Yankees are 64-28 and you aren’t likely to hear anyone wonder again if they’re as good as their record. Because in truth, remarkably, astonishingly, they may be even better than the record.

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