Bombers must take ad­van­tage

New York Daily News - - SPORTS -

KANSASCITY — The Yan­kees have played just six in­nings since Sun­day, so there hasn’t ex­actly been a lot go­ing on — other than rain­outs and them be­ing in­stalled by odds-mak­ers as the World Se­ries fa­vorites in May.

But look­ing at the stand­ings, it’s in­cred­i­ble just how close the Bombers (28-12) and Red Sox (29-14) are in the AL East, separated by just half a game.

The Red Sox cur­rently have a run-dif­fer­en­tial of plus-66 (232166), the Yan­kees plus-65 (231166). Both teams have had 17-2 stretches, with Bos­ton gain­ing a 7.5-game lead on the Bombers on April 20 — only to lose it 18 days later.

And it’s en­tirely pos­si­ble that when the sea­son ends, both teams could have over 100 wins — which means one of them would find it­self play­ing in the do-or-die AL wild-card game.

It makes ev­ery game that much more mean­ing­ful, an ex­tra win or loss per­haps be­ing the difference be­tween a guar­an­teed play­off se­ries and sto­ry­lines about whether Luis Sev­erino can re­deem him­self fol­low­ing last year’s wild-card dis­as­ter against Min­nesota, when the re­lief corps and his of­fense needed to bail the 24-yearold ace out.

That be­ing said, the Yan­kees — af­ter go­ing through their earl­y­sea­son AL gaunt­let and dom­i­nat­ing — must also take ad­van­tage of the rest of their so-far rained out road­trip, which fea­tures three games each against Kansas City and Texas, both play­ing sub-.400 ball. Ac­cord­ing to Base­ball Prospec­tus’ pro­jec­tions, the Yan­kees have the third-eas­i­est re­main­ing sched­ule in the ma­jors while the Red Sox are tied for 11th.

“We’ll be fine,” Aaron Boone said when asked about his team hav­ing to deal with a long lay­off due to in­clement weather. “It al­lows us to re­set our bullpen a lit­tle bit, and we’ll just look at it as a good chance to rest some of our guys.”

The for­mula for the Yan­kees — win­ners of 19 of their last 22 — has been a re­lent­less of­fense that has pro­vided con­sis­tent lategame hero­ics, some­times pick­ing up a shaky bullpen or a shaky out­ing from one of its starters not named Sev­erino. Sure, guys have slumped but it hasn’t af­fected the lineup as a whole.

And a steady in­fu­sion of youth cer­tainly hasn’t hurt ei­ther.

Speak­ing of which, Clint Fra­zier fi­nally get­ting his shot in 2018 against one or two Royals lefties should make for an in­trigu­ing week­end. It’s just hard to see how Fra­zier sticks around given the Bombers don’t en­vi­sion him as a cen­ter fielder and they like hav­ing 13 pitch­ers, rather than the stan­dard 12.

Aaron Hicks hasn’t hit con­sis­tently, but Brett Gard­ner — who has per­formed bet­ter of late — plays cen­ter as well, and Fra­zier’s routes in the out­field have of­ten proven to be an adventure of sorts. And it’s not like Aaron Judge or Gian­carlo Stan­ton are go­ing to lose at-bats for any­one.

Of course, it’s good to have the dy­namic Fra­zier per­form­ing well again af­ter his con­cus­sion, pro­vid­ing valu­able out­field depth or turn­ing into a fu­ture trade chip.

The Yan­kees got a spark from

AP

Clint Fra­zier can pro­vide Yan­kees with sup­port in the out­field or be­come a trade chip when pen­nant race heats up.

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