OAKLAND, Calif. — Shortly after the White Sox’s Tim Anderson stunned the Yankees with a game-winning homer into the Iowa cornfield off Zack Britton to send the Yankees to another stunning loss on Aug. 12, manager Aaron Boone said, “We’ll move on from this one like we have.”
They’ve done better than that.
Since that loss in the Field of Dreams Game, the Yankees have won 11 in a row — their longest streak since 1985.
The run has altered the course of their season. They’ve gone from two games out of the second AL wild-card spot — and four back of the Athletics for the top AL wild-card spot — to 2 ½ games up on Boston for the top wild-card spot, entering Wednesday.
During that stretch, the Yankees have beaten quality opponents, from the first-place White Sox to the NL East-leading Braves in Atlanta.
Next up come the A’s, a team of which Boone was wary prior to the Yankees’ road trip, noting they were in the midst of “a really good year and they’re always tough against us.”
But the Yankees will face the A’s when they’re reeling. They’ve lost four straight and eight of 10, which has hastened the Yankees’ march up the standings.
The Yankees’ pitching has spurred the run with a 2.44 ERA over the 11-game winning streak.
And they are set up for the upcoming series with Jameson Taillon, Gerrit Cole, Nestor Cortes and Jordan Montgomery, as well as a bullpen that is performing well, despite ineffectiveness and injury concerns surrounding Zack Britton and the increasingly worrisome trouble Aroldis Chapman is having with closing out games.
How much have their fortunes changed after winning 11 consecutive games for just the third time in 60 years?
Before the streak, Fangraphs projected the Yankees to have a 42.1 percent chance of making the postseason. That number has since soared to 94.2 percent.
And they haven’t given up on the division, with their odds going from 9.6 percent on Aug. 12 to 29.7 percent entering Wednesday, which they began four games behind the Rays.
The turnaround has been sparked by several factors, from the pitching to the production of their big bats in the middle of the lineup — especially Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge — and the return to form of Luke Voit.
Following the additions of Anthony Rizzo and Joey Gallo at the trade deadline and the Yankees’ newfound willingness to put Stanton in the outfield, the lineup is finally looking as they had hoped it would throughout the season.
In addition to the rotation performing well enough that Luis Gil was skipped even after throwing 15 ²/₃ scoreless innings, their relievers have been consistently effective — even overcoming Chapman’s hiccups.
Chad Green tossed two key scoreless innings in Tuesday’s win in Atlanta, Jonathan Loaisiga has emerged as a reliable threat and the Yankees have also continued to get contributions from surprises, such as left-handers Lucas Luetge and Wandy Peralta, both of whom have finished games Chapman couldn’t in his two most recent save opportunities.
But the Yankees continue to roll.
They improved to 21-12 in one-run games this season with Tuesday’s victory, and Judge said it seemed like “90 percent” of the Yankees’ games are of the one-run variety.
It’s something that could serve them well down the road, but they’ve got more work to do before they get there.
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