Things were pretty bleak in Yankeeland last Thursday morning. They had lost 2 straight to the Astros thanks to more offensive no-showing and a leaky bullpen, and had fallen back to 63-61 and 5 games behind the second Wild Card spot. It looked like the final nails were primed to be driven in on this season. Then something happened. A group of position players called a meeting that morning to talk about what they needed to do differently to turn their poor performance around. Not that I really spent a ton of time looking, but I haven’t seen much reported on the specifics of this meeting. Nobody really knows who was there and what was said. Brett Gardner said the players in attendance “cleared the air” and Brian McCann made reference to it when he talked to the media after his big hit yesterday. That’s it.
Interestingly enough, the Yankees are undefeated since that meeting. They went out and won on Thursday afternoon behind a stellar pitching performance from Brandon McCarthy and finished up a sweep of the White Sox yesterday afternoon in dramatic walk-off fashion. They even managed to score 5 or more runs in back-to-back game on Saturday and Sunday, the first time they achieved the feat in 3 weeks.
I’ve been having a bit of fun this last week with the team-wide “blahness” about their poor performance and perceived lack of emotion in response, and I think everybody knows by now that I’m not a big subscriber to the intangible and emotional side of the game when it comes to analysis. But even I have to admit that it’s intriguing to read about a team holding a meeting and then going out and winning 2 of the next 3 games in walk-off fashion. Friday night’s game and yesterday’s game were 2 of the most un-2014 Yankee-like wins of the season. The offense didn’t roll over and die. When it came time for a big hit to keep innings going, the hitters got them. When they had opportunies to win games with a big hit, they got them. It was like watching the bizarro 2014 Yankees.
Now they’re 67-61 and heading to Kansas City for a big makeup game against the Royals. They follow that up with a 3-game series in Detroit. The floundering Tigers are 2.5 games ahead of the Yankees and 1 back of the second Wild Card spot, so there’s ground to be gained there. At 3.5 games back and with a tough AL East-heavy schedule on tap in September, the postseason is still most optimistically described as a longshot for the Yanks. This 4-game winning streak and the meeting that preceded it did little to improve their playoff chances, but it did do a lot to turn around the energy surrounding this team and that’s a refreshing change of pace.
P.S.- McCann was quoted as saying that “Kevin Long had some things to say” when talking about the meeting yesterday. Not sure if that means Long was present at the meeting or if McCann was referring to comments Long made earlier in the week, but if he was there and you’re someone who puts blame on him for the team’s poor hitting, you have to give him a little sliver of props for whatever he said to help turn things around this weekend.