Yankees put on a power show to dismantle Mets
The noise of Yankees bats kissing baseballs at an empty Yankee Stadium on Sunday night cut through a blanket of serious heat, and if Mets pitchers turned their heads to watch the balls take flight, their necks would have buckled.
Five homers, two by Aaron Judge, reinforced that after more than three months away due to COVID-19 the Yankees are showing signs they can use their muscles to bully the their way to a second straight AL East title.
Is that making too much of a spring training 2.0 power shower? Not when the season that opens Thursday in Washington has 60 games on it. Not every Yankees starter is going to dominate like Jordan Montgomery, who smothered the Mets on a blistering Sunday night at Yankee Stadium. There are going to be games when the Bombers will need to live up to their nickname.
They certainly did Sunday when Gary Sanchez, Luke Voit and Giancarlo Stanton also homered. Judge homered to left in the first inning off Corey Oswalt and Sanchez reached the second deck in left off Oswalt in the fourth. Voit opened the sixth with a blast that nestled in the net over Monument Park in center off Drew Smith, Judge homered to left in the sixth off Smith and Stanton’s homer starting the seventh against former Yankee Chasen Shreve reached the left-field bleachers.
The power show followed Clint Frazier taking the Mets’ Rick Porcello into Citi Field’s upper deck in left on Saturday.
The long-ball act turned Montgomery’s gem into background noise. Pitching like an ace instead of a fourth or fifth starter, Montgomery toyed with a Mets lineup that housed Jeff McNeil, Pete Alonso, Robinson Cano, Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto and J.D. Davis.
In five shutout innings, Montgomery allowed two hits and fanned six. And he wasn’t the headline act.
Sanchez and Stanton hit the ball farther, but Judge crushing two homers had to sooth some nerves in the Yankees universe over the stiff neck that as late as four days ago he said wasn’t 100 percent.
Remember, Judge never played a game in spring training 1.0 due to an injury that was originally diagnosed as a shoulder issue but turned out to be a fractured top right rib. Then the neck problem surfaced.
“I was confident he would be healthy. The time he had away served him well,’’ Aaron Boone said of Judge taking advantage of the shutdown caused by the coronavirus that started on March 12. “It allowed him and the training staff to build a smart build-up schedule for him to be in a position where he is ready for Opening Day.’’
None of the Mets pitchers Sunday night are anywhere near Max Scherzer, the Nationals’ stud right-hander who will be opposed by Gerrit Cole. Still, Scherzer will have to navigate a lineup whose eighth-place hitter, Brett Gardner, swatted a career-high 28 homers last year. Yes, the ball was live, but Gardner will likely hit eighth again.
Sanchez, Stanton and Voit have lethal right-handed power but the Yankees’ lineup only seems completely whole when Judge is healthy and anchoring it. Now, they all appear healthy which wasn’t the case almost every day last season.
“I think they continue to confirm what we were seeing at the start of summer camp when guys were in shape, kind of champing at the bit,’’ Boone said. “I think they have taken all the intrasquad games and all the live reps and treated them as very important things. I think the first chance to play against other teams we have seen a number of good at-bats from guys. It was good to see that again tonight.’’
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