There is no greater crucible in sports than baseball’s 162-game schedule, and the New York Yankees are running roughshod on their opponents this season. Today — and for the past two months — the Yankees have the best record in the game. At 64-30 they have a comfortable twelve-game lead in the American League East and are all but assured of winning the deepest division in baseball and advancing to the playoffs. All season long, they’ve just been better than anyone else.
Anyone else but the Houston Astros.
The Yankees and Astros completed their regular season series last night, with the Astros sweeping a double header in Houston and beating the Yankees for the fifth time in seven games.
Were it not for Aaron Judge and his walk-off heroics that saved two games in New York, the Yankees would have lost all seven contests with the Astros. In fact, those two swings by Judge were the only moments in a week’s worth of games against their arch rivals (sorry, Red Sox) that the Yankees enjoyed a lead. It’s been that bleak. (Judge did his best to rescue his team again on Thursday night, rocking a massive three-run homer to left to cut a five-run lead to two, but it wasn’t quite enough.)
The mightiest offense in baseball was repeatedly humbled by Houston pitching. The Astros threw a combined no-hitter against them in New York and opened the following game with six more hitless innings, and Houston pitchers, both starters and bullpen, were generally in control in all seven games. The Yankees scored 22 runs in seven games, including a disturbing two runs or fewer in four of the seven.
Not surprisingly, acorns are falling on everyone’s heads. Should the Yankees fall into mediocrity and go 36-32 the rest of the way, they’ll still finish with 100 wins and a division crown, but there are those who will tell you that the season is over. That this team cannot beat the Astros.
I understand this point of view because I carry the same scars you do, but regardless of what happened in this year’s seven-game sample, I’m comfortable saying that right now the Yankees of 2022 are better than the versions that watched their seasons end at the hands of the Astros in 2017 and 2019, and that the Astros of 2022 are weaker. If Brian Cashman decides to spend some capital to add Luís Castillo or gut the farm system to land Juan Sóto, the Yankee advantage over the Astros will only widen.
Let me say this again — the Yankees are better than the Astros. If you refuse to believe this because of that 2-5 season record or because of how listless the Yankees looked in so many of those games, I’ll ask if you also believe that the Cincinnati Reds (who handled the Yankees last week) are better than the 64-30 Bronx Bombers.
Yes, the seven games against the Astros were difficult, but sometimes baseball is like that. Everything’s going to be okay.
And now the Orioles are heating up.
(1) I don’t know Hank, Altuve, Bergman and especially Alvarez are a ‘big three’ better than ours, and their pitching looks better too..I’m concerned.
Judge goes Boom! He’s still got a shot at MVP this year?
Ah, an Earl Weaver special.
 Boonie had some nice comments on that yesterday. Paraphrasing, he said it doesn't matter what happens during the season. We're good. They're good. If we meet in October, we'll be ready.
Jeez that was right down the middle. Come-on, Jamie.
Jameson is going to drive me to Jameson.
 Judge and Alvarez are a wash, but the Yankee lineup is better. They lead the Astros in every offensive category that matters, often by significant margins.
Got one back
 Gonna go ahead and retract the first part of that comment.
(8) Even with the Black Hole of the Bronx at the bottom of the lineup IKF & Gallo??
465ft for Judge!
Jesus H. Judge!
Meanwhile the Red Sox just gave up an inside the park grand slam on a ball the CF lost in the lights (evil laughter emoji)
 Hank, I don't think the issue is who is better statistically, but rather who "has your number." Right now the Astros have the mental edge, if that means anything. I think it means a little at least.
At some point the Yankees have to prove they can beat them. It appears that is going to be in a high-stakes, high-pressure series, when every out is crucial. Whatever happens, it will be exciting and ulcer inducing.
Shoot, I had to walk the terrorists and miss Judge’s ruling?
Another touchdown for Toronto to go up 21-3 in Fenway..
 I love schadenfruede (sp?)
Uh oh, a Gallo homer he gets another month
It’s Ron Guidry Night at Fenway Park. Blue Jays up 25-3!
(18) I had the same thought. :(
(19) I had the same thought! :)
Meanwhile in Boston, Evaldi got smoked for 9 runs in 2 and 2 thirds innings. Woo-hoo!
Jays have 4 TDs and a missed extra point
 Oops. I didn't see your comment.
About time to DFA Chapman?
That “Yes” was before the homer. You just can’t pitch this guy in games that matter. It’s a tough thing to demote a pitcher with his résumé, but it has to be done. Maybe he’d go to AAA to try to get right. But right now disasters like this aren’t surprising at all. Not in the least.
What could we get for Gallo-Chapman package? Maybe some middle innings guy.
I don’t love this but there’s a reason NYY had such a gap at the ASB and they can retain all or most of it. The O is there and can be improved via addition by sultry (Gallo):and they need the staff to stand strong (enough)…
 a bag of used balls. Maybe.
A 95-year old man's bag of balls.
Jaysus. Now we lose King. This game is killin' us.
Any word on King? It looked he might’ve just been overcome with illness. Hoping that’s the case.
Looks like King has a fractured elbow according to early reports and could miss the rest of the season. Just devastating.
Yeah losing King is worse than losing the game would have been. Damn.
What do Banterers think about the prospect of picking up Andrew Benintendi?
My take: I'm okay with it, because it's just this season (he has a one-year contract). But for the same reason I wouldn't give up much.
I'd rather go get Dave Robertson from the Cubs.
I think the player out there who could make the greatest difference for this team would be Luís Castillo, but there's a problem with that. There is no clear member of the current starting staff that Boone might choose to demote. After Gerit Cole, the other four guys all seem fairly similar. It seems like we see a great start, then two good starts, then a mediocre one from each of the other four. There is no glaring hole in the rotation, I don't think.
Then there's the bullpen. I don't know who's available out there, but there's suddenly a huge need from a part of the team that was once a great strength. Maybe someone like Domingo Germán becomes a bullpen piece, or J.P. Sears.
Or there's another route Cashman can take. He can ignore pitching altogether and mortgage the future for Juan Sóto. The prospect of the most dynamic player in baseball, a left-hander with power, playing right field alongside Judge in center for the next ten years is possibly too good to pass up. (Of course, that signing might make it impossible to keep Judge.)
Personally, I'd go get Castillo, but pass on Sóto and wait for the Martian in a few years.
Soto is on a one-year contract. And he turned down a gigantic offer from the Nats, so yeah if your namesake wants to stay under the luxury threshold probably not him and Judge. (And I wouldn't trade a pile for him for a short rental, either.)
I dunno, maybe stand pat, unless one of these useful players (Robertson, Castillo, Benintendi) can be got for a lowish price.
They didn’t go for Bryce Harper, I think Soto you can’t let get away. The PERFECT guy to put next to Judge in the lineup
Phew, that could have been a bad inning.
It would be so cool to have Stanton in this line-up instead of Hicks. That would be really scary.
That would be five guys in the line-up over .800 OPS.
Ok, one there.
I thought he was out at second, but yeah probably not clear enough to overturn the call.
Hard to tell if the tag hit his hip before he got his hand in.
Seemed like a surprising challenge there.
10 hits and 3 walks and only 3 runs? Need to convert more of those.
Gerit still looks good, but there goes his W opportunity.
1. Three runs isn’t enough, regardless of who’s pitching and whom you’re playing.
2. The Orioles are a lot better than they used to be.
Shoot, that looked like strike 3.
 I believe the umpiring has been even worse in this series than it has been all year.
Which was very bad.
In yesterday's game, only 68% of the called strikes were actually in the strike zone. That is just astounding. He got almost a third of them wrong!!
 Wow, that is terrible. Where do you get this information?
And that they call a strike?
Is Stanton hurt?
So, hm. Sometimes, good infielders don't make good outfielders.
Who did IKF think was running? Ugh.
The MVP vote will be interesting. I'm of a mind that Shohei Ohtani is not just the MVP but possibly the most valuable player I've ever seen, but there are probably enough writers out there who will look to give it to someone new. But Judge leads the league in WAR right now, and he might end up with sixty home runs. Plus there's still a strong enough bias against guys on losing teams, so Judge has a shot.
WTF is Gleyber doing? JFC!
 This is what's going to happen when you adopt the "aggressive base running" strategy.
I don't like it, but it's really fun when it works, I have to admit.
 Why are you thinking Ohtani is so much more valuable than his WAR says he is? Because he saves a roster spot? (My intuition is the same as yours, but I can't back it up.)
 That was some of the strangest base running I've ever seen. I don't think he was decoying, though. It looked to me like he gave up on going to third and started coasting in to second, but then quickly realized his mistake, so he made another. Just four innings in, but not a game to remember for Gleyber.
 It's nothing statistical, really. It's just that he's doing something no one has ever done before. Sometimes the numbers don't accurately describe what's happening, but here's the one that actually does. This made the rounds a couple weeks ago, so most have probably seen it.
Ohtani owns the highest career slugging percentage with the bases loaded. As a pitcher, he owns the LOWEST career slugging percentage against with the bases loaded. It's simply preposterous.
Tack on runs
Hm, so, the Red Sox look to be at .500 by the end of the afternoon.
Soooo... if the Orioles *do* come back and beat us, Boston drops to last place. Yeah probably not.
I feel like the only real hope is if Chapman pitches!
We are really gonna miss Michael King.
Wow he caught that
6-0 is not Chapman proof.
This is a very odd way to lose the DH.
Yeah good pitching and good hitting too.
And the Orioles are not a bad team! Anymore.
Here's hoping they go 9-3 over their next dozen games and bury the BoSox in the cellar.
Trey Sweeney and Jasson Dominguez were both pulled from their game today.
 Promotions or a Juan Soto deal? Which it only makes sensewith a 10+ year deal (not my money) but might mean no Judge next year.
 I was assuming *some* kind of deal. TBH I think Soto would take more than that. Maybe Castillo?
I wouldn't think they'd deal Dominguez for anything less than Soto. Honestly, it would be hard to argue against that.
Hmmmmm. Nothing's happened.
I thought that wasn't close to enough to land Soto. NJ.com reports that the Reds would want considerably more for Castillo! (And also that the Reds aren't keen on Dominguez.)
Now there are rumors about the Angels looking for boatloads of young talent for one or more of their superstars. It should be an interesting trade deadline!
The Angels are almost on the same level as the Red Sox and Astros for me, but I admit to feeling bad for them and for their fans. Thus far they've completed wasted the career of one of the best players in history (Trout) and seem poised to do the same with the most unique player in history (Ohtani). It's a shame.
(80) That seems almost impossible..can we sign Ohtani next year?
Stanton on the IL with Achilles trouble..?!?!
Judge is incredible, another tater!
Belly to belly. Missed them both, accidentally knocked the interwebs off.
 Consecutive pitches.
Hmm, might be the beginnings of a slugfest.
Oh. One of *those* games.
Mayor's Trophy Game
Monty finally gets runs and gives 'em back.
That was pretty craptacular by JM.
Btw, anyone out there watching the Mets SNY feed and not YES? I really like Cohen/Darling/Hernandez
Hank's musings about getting Castillo keep floating across the back of my mind, for some reason.
What exactly is IKF good at in baseball?
I kinda miss the old days before the Yankees' "aggressive base running" era.
Stanton is on the IL.
Jesus, this season is officially off the rails.
It's off the rails??
Anyway the wheels are coming off this game, that's for sure.
Gumby isn’t long for this game.
 This game is definitely off the rails.
Seven outs for Monty. Not what you want.
Thank you bad baserunning.
Pretty nice of the Mets there.
Earlier Cone was really hyping this game (series), saying what a big deal it is in NYC this year.
Anyone on the ground there to verify?
 Regarding IKF, even though his defense hasn't been as consistent as we'd like, here's something that's surprising to me. Aside from Judge and LeMahieu, there's probably no Yankee I'd prefer to see at the plate when a runner needs to be driven in from third with two outs.
I suppose I would add Rizzo to that list ahead of IKF.
Dammit, just missed.
Really wish Rizzo would've taken that pitch. Oh, well.
Cone is talking about the All-Star game red carpet fashion.
This is not your father's MLB.
I think IKF has a pretty good defensive score on fancy pants advanced metrics. And has had pretty consistently for the past few years. Good range I think?
 No way he should have been swinging.
 I mean, I agree, he should have been taking all the way.
Hey Boat, Lindsey Adler just tweeted that Ron Marinaccio grew up in Tom’s River, New Jersey. Where is that?
It's hard to question a guy like Rizzo, but it just seemed like an obvious take there. When Judge was 3-0 in the previous at bat, I was hoping Walker would groove one and let Judge take a swing, but that's because Judge is the hottest player on the planet right now. Considering Rizzo's 3-0 pitch came after seven straight balls (even though I don't think Walker was trying to throw a strike to Judge), it was a no-brainer.
Toms River is the Jersey Shore area, a few miles south of Asbury Park.
They often have a really good Little League team -- like, representing the Atlantic region, or even the US!
 What he  said.
 I go there anymore.
Oh, Aroldis Chapman. This should work out well.
So now Chapman has earned four more appearances.
 I was gonna tell him it's a town named after me, but you spoiled it. ;>)
The best and cheapest way to fix the bullpen is to fix Chapman. Just imagine.
 I do not have confidence..
 Growing up in Brooklyn, and Italian friend from Bay Ridge told me, 'Never go to the Jersey Shore. It's all the worst of Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst in one place, and the pizza sucks'.
True. But, the Stone Pony!
More 'aggressive base running'.
 But the ocean is way cleaner, if you go down far enough.
I don't mind the aggressive base running, especially since Rizzo appeared to be safe to me.
 Actually, it looks he was out, wasn't he? Did he hit the bag safe, then pull off the bag as he was tagged? If that's the case, that out's on Rizzo, not Boone.
Seems pretty clear at this point it would be better having Gio & Gary rather than Donaldson & IKF..
If Gallo gets a hit off of Diaz I'll eat a serving of natto..
 I don't think I'd go that far -- and was always a huge supporter of Sánchez. I've been happy with Treviño's consistency, both behind the plate and as a hitter. He's never a threat to hit one 450 feet, but he's consistent with what he does.
Donaldson, though, has been a waste. He's far and away my least favorite player on the team, and I can't even get excited when he does something good. That's how conflicted I am. But really, how often has he done anything that's any good? I'd love to see him stationed squarely on the bench and used only as a late-inning pinch hitter for Higashioka on the days he plays. That's it.
 It's my guess that few people reading your comment know how serious your boast is. My wife's family is from Hawaii, and the first time she took me over there, EVERY SINGLE PERSON SHE INTRODUCED ME TO immediately asked, "Has he tried natto?"
This is why Boone is not a good manager. EASILY outfoxed by Buck S there, and he left Gallo (who admittedly stinks) in a terrible position where is was bound to fail. Putrid baseball all around :(
regardless of the matchup I would take IKF over Gallo every time there.
 Hah! Indeed, but I was confident (sadly!)
the only thing i can think of, is with gallo already phased out, boone giving him a chance to completely boost confidence (2 run game tying homer against the mets), and now that he failed, to sort of continue the phase out
 I got it.
Good thing we aren't on Twitter or Facebook.
Someone would say how much they love natto.
Another would say how healthy natto is...etc.
 Oh, are they Japanese-Americans? I know several 3rd and 4th generation Japanese-Hawaiian guys, wasn't aware they brought natto over with them years back!
(And that's a WHOLE other story about the extreme culture shock that Japanese-Hawaiians and Japanese-Brazilians get when the visit over here in the motherland..)
 Good point. One can hope.
 Healthy as all get out! Just got to get over the whole 'looks and smells like vomit' part :)
 Yes, Japanese American. And for the record, I tried it but will not try it again. My wife likes it.
 When I'm in L.A. next time let's hit an Angels game and talk Yankees and Japan stuff, though I'm guessing public transport from LA to Anaheim is poor, at best? (I don't drive)
 It's not worth the effort, IMHO. There are scads of Italian super centenarians who've never tried it.
One learns something new each night on The Banter. I had never heard on natto. Cheers.
 Definitely! That would be great!
Cue: Yackety Sax
 My sister takes the train from Lake Forest to the Big A. Maybe there's a way.
This is my first time watching Diaz. He's making folks look silly up there.
 That's great! Hoping to make a visit next summer
 They had no chance against him. That Gallo AB was just absurd though, big blunder by Boone-y.
i remember watching diaz a couple of years ago when it looked like he had no chance, he looked incredible just now. a nice reminder of giving players some time to breathe (not all, just extremely talented ones). thought it was interesting what the announcers referenced buck showalter saying-- that once diaz went through his rough patches, intense boos, and was one of the most mocked athletes in new york at a point, pressure gets to him way less now.
George is spinning in his grave right now.
lets go yankees!
Always have liked Mad Max Scherzer, wish the Yankees had signed him instead of the Muts. 6 pitches and done in the 1st!
6 pitch inning?
 Yeah, no base runners, but at least we made Max work.
I doubt he could go more than 17 innings at this rate.
 I know I'm beating a dead horse about the lineup, but..can anyone in the bottom half hope to hit against Scherzer??
Hmmm. Well, I say IKF is *more* likely to than Rizzo.
 Heh. There ya go.
Geez, the A's swept the Astros.
Can't predict baseball, Suzyn.
 Hey, is it true that John Sterling is retiring?
I dunno. I mean, he hasn't announced any plans.
He's cut back on road games this year, so (a) that suggests he's feeling a little burn-out, and (b) FAN gets to test drive some potential replacements. (My verdict: none of them is great, but they're all WAAAAAAAY better than national tv guys.)
 It's either him or Biden.
That wasn't so bad, considering...
 Saw on Twitter WFAN reupped to broadcast the Yanks with a new deal.
 Hah! Only one of those two has called ABA games in the 70s, true legend.
Might as well be twenty runs. Scherzer is just that good.
Carpenter's honeymoon is clearly over.
Vogelbach looks like a big pumpkin.
Vogelbach is a big boy.
 The summer Sumo highlights this morning, he'd fit right in.
Weird bat, no knob.
 That's the new thing. Designed to reduce wrist and hand injuries.
So now the bottom half of the lineup is outhitting the top half against Scherzer.
And with fewer plate appearances!
Charlie Hustle! Noice.
 interesting, did not know that.
There's nothing more fatuous than announcing the exit velo of a ball that landed in a player's mitt.
[176-7] Gosh darn dang-nabbit! (Can we not use profanity anymore on the Banter?)
 Geeeht thu fuck outta heah.
Ahtaboy, Rizzo. Taking one for the team.
JAY-sus! You have the guy on the ropes, take a muthafuckin' pitch, for the love of god.
Not sure I’ve ever mentioned this, but I’m not a fan of Donaldson.
 They've got Shake Shack plans tonight, want to finish up early.
 Is it the decline in his batting, or the general air of douchiness?
 Making me hungry. Maybe I'll head over to the Shinjuku branch this afternoon. That location is loaded with eye candy. ;>)
IKF > IPK
Does Buck let Mad Max face the Judge one more time??
 IPA > IPK
Putty in his hands. Fucking Bullocks!
 He dast.
This is why we can't be comfortable against great pitching in the post season. Great pitching almost always beats great hitting in high pressure situations.
I’ve always disliked Donaldson for all the obvious reasons — the douchiness — so I was disappointed when the trade happened. I just didn’t want to root for him. And now he’s been crap. And a douche. It’s a lose-lose.
That Judge at bat. Seems like that might’ve been the game right there.
I don't think I'd want a hyped up Scherzer giving me a high-five, oucheee...
 Yep, I'm going to dive into some more work here now.
Starting to feel like best case scenario is a collision course for another Subway Serious.
2000 version was fun, but that animal Scherzer and DeGrom coming back et al makes the sequel a bit scary.
 We certainly can't ask the bottom half of the order to do any more.
There we go! Gleyber Day comes early this year.
I’ll take that.
Erasing a gem in one swing is always sweet.
That was a ball.
Argghh..I missed a Gleyber tater?!
Now Gleyber with the glove!
Whew. (Pitching to MacNeil -- probably the smart decision, but it worried me.)
This is what we want.
Ok. Judge with the new AB. Let’s go.
It's not what you want.
Oh shite, winning run on third. Good game here but looks like a bad ending coming. Too many RISP left on base for the Yanquis!
Not saying its wrong, but what was the reasoning/strategy for infield in there with one out? Why not play back for the double play?
Grumble. Send O’Neil into the clubhouse to kick some ass.
Really good idea to get all these losses out of the way in July.
I was wondering the same thing, Jazz. When I was a kid it seemed like managers were always walking the bases loaded in those situations, playing the corners in and the middle back. Not anymore.
Looks like we’ve seen the last of Joey Gallo.
As long as they’re ok with his absence in Toronto games…
I think they don't expect Benintendi to miss games at Toronto. It's unclear whether that's because he's said he'd get vaccinated or because they think Toronto will change their rule, but the word is they aren't worried.
Some okay pitching prospects got shipped to KC, but it does look like a good trade for us.
I wonder if Cashman has any other moves in store!
Hey look, it's Andrew Benintendi! The Royals must be in town!
Oh my god, I just noticed.
I thought we'd seen the last of Joey Gallo!
I wonder whether Benentendi will have a designated day of rest tomorrow?
I really like this "Don't Swing at Any Pitches" strategy that Gallo is trying. It didn't work out this time (the plate umpire is really bad), but I think in the long run it's going to improve his value.
 trade for a bag of used balls.
Interesting, so Taillon's strategy of putting a Royal in scoring position every inning, then digging out of the jam, that's actually working pretty well so far.
Tallion is losing it. Time to bring in the bullpen.
What do I know?
Wow really successful outing for Jameson. Not dazzling by any means, but excellent. I really hope we can put up at least a run and put him in line for the W.
 No it really did look like it, with the bouncing pitches, I was worried too.
Ah. So Carpenter is pinch hitting for Gonzales.
Not for Gallo.
Can't DJ pinch hit?
Come on walk off.
Yes, the Judge has ruled. No appeal.
I was jusssst too late tuning in to see the 'sayonara' home run!
When he walked up I said, “Okay, Judge. Let’s put this game out of its misery.” I don’t remember rooting for a player from whom I honestly expected a home run in that situation.
Hank, my dad used to have a spidey sense for Pagliarulo bombs when I was a kid. He probably did it twice (out of ###) but it became family myth. But tie game in the ninth? Hard to expect one there. There were a few AB’s in NYY playoff lore that the eventual result felt preordained- Soriano vs BKK, etc. but rarely expected without nerves out the wazoo.
Was slightly worried about a Judge schneid after Scherzer’s filthy nonsense last night and then a couple more K’s today but the guy is locked in on the long run trend. I am team player (vs owner) in the big picture and the guy is earning every penny and more that he may have turned down before breaking off talks. Good for him.
(Though I’d be sad but not sneeze at a Soto for Judge mind blowing blockbuster).
Last at bat of the game on Thursday: Judge hits a homer.
First at bat of the game on Friday: Judge robs a homer.
New thread, do join us.
Well, this is unexpected.