About Yesterday: Royals 5, Yankees 2
By Mike Whiteman 10/02/2023 On this day in 1949, one of the epic games of baseball history occurred. The Yankees and Red Sox were tied coming into the last game of the season, and in front of 68,055 fans in Yankee Stadium, the Yankees edged the Bosox and took home the American League flag. They also won the World Series over the Brooklyn Dodgers, the first of five straight Fall Classic victories for manager Casey Stengel’s crew. Here's a writeup on the game I wrote for the SABR Book Yankee Stadium 1923-2008: America's First Modern Ballpark: https://sabr.org/gamesproj/game/october-2-1949-yankees-come-out-on-top-in-winner-take-all-contest/ Our esteemed editor Paul added articles on two other great games in The Stadium. Check it out! But wait, there's more... On this day in 1978 was the famed “Bucky Dent Game” as the Yankees and Red Sox once again locked horns in a winner-take-all contest, and the light-hitting shortstop became a permanent part of franchise lore. https://sabr.org/gamesproj/game/october-2-1978-bucky-dents-home-run-spurs-yankees-to-division-title-in-al-east-tiebreaker/
QUICK STATS The Yankees finished their season with an 82-80 record, fourth place in the American League East. Their .506 winning percentage was their lowest in over thirty years. BIG STORY I have to say, while I’ve been in favor of playing to win throughout the last month, and keeping Aaron Judge active, I would have certainly considered sitting Mike King today in light of his injury history, 2023 workload, and the fact that this is a worthless game in the standings for both teams. I suspect that decisions like this are a fine line, as ballplayers are competitors, and while the games have no long term benefits for either team, I bet it isn’t easy to “turn it off”. They may also find it fun to play. King sure seems to enjoy it. I’m not sure he had a lot of fun though yesterday, as he yielded three home runs in four innings of work, and the Royals jumped out to an early 4-0 lead. Jhony Brito took over in the fifth, and Bobby Witt Jr. led off with a triple and was driven in via sacrifice fly and Kansas City was up 5-0. On the offensive side, the Yankees once again struggled, this time at the hands of veteran Zack Greinke, who had come into the game with a 1-15, 5.18 line. In fact, every pitcher the Yankees would face yesterday entered the game with a 5.00+ ERA. New York finally broke through when Isiah Kiner-Falefa singled in DJ LeMahieu and Austin Wells, but that was it for the Yankee scoring. The Yanks go out with a whimper. Royals win, 5-2. PLAYER OF THE GAME Do you think Austin Wells wants this season to end? He had three hits, including two doubles, on the day. In his last eight games, he hit .355 with four home runs and three doubles. That’s serious lefthanded power.
NOTABLE PERFORMANCES In what may be both players’ last games in Pinstripes, Kyle Higashioka and Isiah Kiner-Falefa both started and had hits. Both players are likely footnotes in franchise history, but were hard workers and known to be good teammates. Best wishes to both players! BETTER TO FORGET The lower end of the lineup – Oswaldo Cabrera, Oswald Peraza, Everson Pereira and Estevan Florial - were hitless over a combined thirteen at bats. THEY SAID IT “He’s just been a great manager year in, year out. I’m looking forward to more years with him” – Aaron Judge on Aaron Boone in an interview before the game. MY TAKE A disappointing season is over, and despite the results and frustration, I’m always sad to see the Yankees’ season end. There’s a rhythm that I, like a lot of fans, have during the season that leaves when the season ends. There’s a lot to be done this offseason. Like many, I’ve got plenty of opinions about how to “fix” the Yankees, but for now I’ll just exhale a bit and share them later. Aaron Judge though is ready to get started right away: https://www.mlb.com/news/aaron-judge-ready-with-suggestions-to-improve-yankees Judge has ideas, and wants to talk with Hal Steinbrenner about them. One thing that he’s pretty sure about: he wants Aaron Boone back. I’ve seen differing opinions of the Yanks extending their consecutive seasons of winning records to 31. Personally, I don’t think it’s nothing. Even in the disappointment of this season, they have been better than the team they played more often than not. But it’s not what we expected. We were encouraged to hope for more. We were promised more. I suspect I’ll look at the 2023 season much like I look at the Mattingly seasons of the 1980s – some excitement, some great performances from favorite players, but frustration and disappointment in the end. NEXT UP March 28, 2024 the Yankees take on the Astros in Houston. I suspect we’ll see a Cy Young winner matchup of Gerrit Cole against Justin Verlander. I can't wait!