Keidel: Yankees' Home Run Streak Is A True Marvel

Jason Keidel
June 26, 2019 - 1:39 pm
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So the Yankees beat the Blue Jays - again - and continue their sleepy stampede through the American League. They are the hottest club in baseball, having won nine of their last ten games, and are just a half-game behind the Twins for the best record in the AL. 

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They win with starters, stars and subs, with spare parts and duct tape. And when you consider that the New York Yankees are the most celebrated team in the history of team sports, there's an eyebrow-arching irony to what they did last night. 

After they clubbed a first-inning bomb in the Bronx, the 2019 Bombers became the first MLB club to hit a homer in 28 straight games. And as if the first bomb weren't enough, the Bombers hit back-to-back bombs while fans were still snaking toward their seats. 

In a most improbable start to a most improbable season, the Yankees (51-28) are moonwalking to the AL East title. New York is six games up on the Rays and seem to be on a collision course with the Dodgers in the World Series, and doing it without the customary names you equate with the long ball. It wasn't Ruth and Gehrig, or Mantle and Maris, or Mattingly and Winfield who set this record. It was done with D.J. LeMahieu, Gio Urshela, Clint Frazier and Luke Voit - a group that hardly summons the ghosts of Murderer's Row. 

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It's all part of a season that should not be happening for the Yankees. Despite their IL often overstuffed with a dozen or more important players, despite no clear ace of the staff, despite Stanton just hitting his first homer of the season, the Bronx Bombers are bombing the rest of baseball. Almost every night there seems to be a conga line of Yanks jogging around the bases, stomping on home plate, then leaping into that odd, elbow bump that has become their personal handshake. 

It's fitting that it happened in the Bronx, where the Yanks have won 30 games, the most home wins in the American League. It's fitting that the Yankees set any record that includes home runs. (Oddly enough, they are fourth in MLB in total HR despite this streak.) But the fact that Giancarlo Stanton, Judge and a host of starters have been on the shelf for chunks of the season and they have still blasted a homer in 28 straight games, make this season a strange tapestry, making you wonder if this is an anomaly or destiny. 

Nothing can derail the pinstriped express. Not Stanton's sprawling chart of injuries. Not losing the pitcher with the most wins in baseball (Domingo German). Not the bulging triage of injured starters. And certainly not another team. 

Luke Voit watches his three run home run against the Baltimore Orioles during the first inning at Yankee Stadium.
USA Today Sports Images

It's just so incongruous when you consider who did this. No doubt the baseball skies have been raining homers at laughable rates. More home runs will be hit this season than any in MLB history, by an absurd margin. But you had to figure the '27 Yankees or any squad from 1949 to 1961, or the 1980s clubs stuffed with high-priced mercenaries, or the '90s teams that didn't have a standout slugger but felt like everyone on the team hit at least ten. (Strangely, the 1941 Yankees are in the top-five all-time for consecutive games with a HR.)

So even with the weird conditions that keep baseballs shooting out of ballparks, the Yankees are a marvel. Tip two caps - one to the players who overachieved to get here, and one to the man who got them here. Maybe MLB has turned into one giant iteration of Coors Field, but any team had a chance to do this, and it was the Yankees who did. And it was Brian Cashman who cooked this stew of stars and subs. 

While the Mets lament their Hot Stove missteps, Cashman and the Yankees keep waving that magic personnel wand. Aside from Gary Sanchez - and even the Yankees' catcher has hit his share of turbulence over the last year - you hardly expected this bunch to bash the baseball at a record pace. If they did, surely it would be Stanton and Judge leading the charge. 

But the bookend outfielders have combined for just seven round-trippers (they hit 65 last year). Instead, LeMahieu, Clint Frazier and Brett Gardner are in the team's top-five, each with double-digit dingers. 

You can try to dismiss the record as an aberration, a freaky year of physical anomalies. The ball is juiced. The bat is juiced. The air is hot. Whatever. You can't dismiss what these bombs have done for the Bombers, a club surging toward full strength, primed to pummel the rest of the sport through September, if not October. If chicks dig the long ball, then the Yankees have to be the hottest boys in the Big Apple, and beyond. 

Twitter: @JasonKeidel