Sweep Of Mariners And Yankees At 50 Wins

By Rich Mancuso/ Sports Editor

Two more home runs and in the first inning got the Yankees an early 4-0 lead over the Seattle Mariners.  Really that all the Yankees needed in the Bronx Thursday afternoon amd those runs stood up with a 4-3 win and a sweep of the three-game series.

It was supposed to be a good pitchers duel, James Paxton of the Mariners and Luis Severino of the Yankees, two of the best in the American League. Severino and Paxton said they did not have their best stuff coming after their warm ups in the bullpen and that first inning set the time for the Yankees.

A tone not for the Mariners, who have lost four straight games. They came to the Bronx as a premiere team out of the American League West and left Yankee Stadium 0-3 on this road trip. Still not at the midpoint of the season the Mariners left for Boston trailing first place Houston by 3.5 games.

For the Yankees this is becoming a common theme. Though Severino said he was not at his best, one would say otherwise. His command was there but striking out five was a season low. Still the fastball was there and the pitch count was high, 107 pitches after 5.2 innings.

Add that up, and Severino was behind in the counts. He earned his 11th win (11-2) and joined Cleveland’s Corey Kluber with top wins as a pitcher in the majors.

So after Severino, and after the usual Yankees home run support, this time from Aaron Judge and Miguel Andujar, the other part of this winning formula again was the bullpen.  Yankees relievers threw 3.1 scoreless innings and have a 0.71 ERA in 17 games since June 4th.

“Been terrific,” said manager Aaron Boone about the Yankees pen. “We try and protect each other because more guys have stepped up.  We’re built in a lot of ways behind that great bullpen.”

And that is partly due to the resurgence of Dellin Betances who threw a scoreless eighth inning. The right-hander has tossed 1.0 scoreless inning in each of his last 12 appearances since May 27th.  Before Betances it was David Robertson, and the save again for Aroldis Chapman his 22nd.

“Dong my job and and giving the ball to Chapman,” said Betances with a smile. He struggled for a good part last season down the stretch. He struggled earlier this season but Betances is pitching a lot better than last year and maybe his best stints now as a Yankee out of the pen.

So this Yankees team, now 50-22, joins the Astros and Red Sox as the only teams to reach that many wins with nine games to go before the official mid point of the season of 81 games.

And the Yankees have sent their message. They have beat the teams that has propelled to this remarkable run and now have a two game lead over the Boston Red Sox in the AL East. They took care of the Red Sox, Astros, Indians, put a dent on the surging Angels and also handled the first place Nationals in interleague play.

About this sweep over the Mariners, 46-29, and with momentum when they came to the Bronx, Boone said, “Capped of a very good homestand. That’s a good club over there.”

However there is no doubting the Yankees are the better club, and very little debate at this point about being the best team in baseball. They pitch, hit, lead all of baseball with 122 home runs, and they have that respectable backend of a bullpen.

All of that will lead to wins and the Yankees will take that next step to Tampa and Philadelphia before returning to the Bronx next week. Then, they host those Red Sox for three games and the surprising first place Braves of the NL East for another three-game series.

“When these guys come to the mound everybody is comfortable,” said Andujar about that bullpen. He  became the fifth Yankees rookie to have 10 home runs before the All-Star break. Aaron Judge had 30 at the break last year and the 14 of fellow rookie Gleyber Torres this season is in good company with the great Joe DiMaggio.

To the Yankees these first 50 wins mean something, and that is accomplishment and those in baseball have noticed.  Still, as they say, plenty more baseball to play but from the looks of things this is leading to that special season in the Bronx.

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