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Series #42: Athletics vs Yankees - Puk’s First Test

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MLB: Cleveland Indians at New York Yankees Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

After taking the Astros’ butts to school, the A’s will hope to continue their lesson with the Yankees.

The Yankees enter this series having won seven of ten and currently have the best record in all of baseball, despite a bevy of injuries that would absolutely decimate most other MLB teams throughout baseball history. Their overall record is 83-43, which is a ten game lead over the second place Rays, who are clutching at the second Wild Card spot with the A’s right on their heels. Their road record of 34-23 is better than all but one American League teams.

Whenever any team plays the Yankees, there is usually talk about how New York has a certain mystique about them. There is the “Yankee Way,” where New York just simply cares more about winning than the other teams. They have 27 championships and have employed many of the best players throughout the sport’s history, although many of those players and championships occurred before baseball was desegregated. More recently, the Yankees are best known for drafting well, trading shrewdly, and figuring out how to turn AAAA players into stars.

The success of the Yankees can be, in large part, thanks to some rather improbable performances. With Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton relegated to the bench due to injuries this year, someone needed to step up and fill in their sizeable shoes. Sure enough, those players were Gio Urshela and DJ LeMaheiu. Urshela has hit 18 home runs and has 47 extra base hits in a little over 100 games this year, which all adds up to a .951 OPS on the campaign. LeMahieu was always able to slap singles around the field, but he’s discovered his power stroke this year, smacking 21 home runs while batting .339 and leading the team in hits. The sheer number of other role players who are having career years is astounding. From Mike Tauchmann, to Cameron Maybin, to Luke Voit, and Brett Gardner, no team in baseball has quite the lineup depth and bench depth as the Yankees do, and no team has scored more runs.

New York’s pitching is closer to the middle of the pack, but their staff gets more than enough run support for it to be a problem. The starting pitching has gone through a lot of struggles this year, with pitchers like James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, and J.A. Happ all having down years, but this season has witnessed the emergence of Domingo German. With a 3.98 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP, German’s record this year is an astonishing 16-2, and while pitcher wins don’t mean much on their own, it is proof that his team is nearly unbeatable when he is on the hill. The real bread and butter of the Yankees’ pitching staff is the bullpen, led by the likes of Adam Ottavino and Zack Britton, as well as the hard throwing, domestic-violence-doer Aroldis Chapman. This team is very hard to beat late in games. For the A’s to have the best possible chance in this series, the team will have to make noise early in the games.

This is going to be another tough stretch of games, but like with the Astros before them, the A’s have proven again and again that the team can play up to their competition when it counts. Plus, the A’s are getting a shiny new toy in the back end of their bullpen with the callup of AJ Puk, and might as well immediately put him to the test.

Possible Lineup

DJ LeMahieu - 1B

Aaron Judge - RF

Didi Gregorius - SS

Gio Urshela - 3B

Gary Sanchez - C

Brett Gardner - CF

Gleyber Torres - 2B

Mike Ford - DH

Mike Tauchmann - LF

Pitching Matchups

Homer Bailey vs Domingo German

Mike Fiers vs J.A. Happ

Tanner Roark vs Masahiro Tanaka

Game Information

Game #126: Tuesday, August 20th at 7:07

Game #127: Wednesday, August 21st at 7:07

Game #128: Thursday, August 22nd at 6:37

All games will be broadcast on NBCSCA. Games #125-6 will also be broadcast on ESPN for those who are out of market.