But even behind Stanton and Cole at their best, a healthy and productive Aaron Judge (5 for 11 with a homer and three R.B.I. in the three games in Anaheim) and a lineup turbocharged at the trade deadline, nearly every night comes down to what Manager Aaron Boone described as a “razor-thin” margin.
Seventy-five of the Yankees’ 133 games so far this season have been determined by two or fewer runs (tied for second in the majors with the Mets). The Yankees’ 48-27 record in those contests is the best in the majors.
“It can be taxing, even the winning streak, 13 wins over two weeks, we played a lot of really close games, high-leverage, high-stress games,” outfielder Brett Gardner said. “We’ve got a good, resilient group that’s able to handle adversity really well, and we’ll see how we play this last month.”
Every night is a grind, and with the loss of Britton, and given Aroldis Chapman’s periodic inconsistency, Boone has had to ask others to handle high-leverage situations. In particular, Jonathan Loaisiga, Clay Holmes and Wandy Peralta will continue to be leaned on. But potholes have appeared, too: Without Britton, it was Holmes who surrendered the go-ahead run in the eighth inning that led to Monday’s loss.
“I feel like in a lot of ways, we’re deeper down there,” Boone said. “We still want to get some guys to where we need them to be, but I feel pretty good about the stable of guys we have.”
The final test begins at Yankee Stadium this weekend. The Yankees will start a stretch of 20 games in 20 days. The team will be looking to find an extra gear to push it past the competition, relying somewhat on the mystique of being a team whose 27 World Series championships can make its success feel inevitable to the competition.
Or, as Cole said: “It feels like September. The weather is starting to change around the country. Starting to smell October baseball in the air.”