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Yankee fans shouldn’t hang their heads

NY Daily News

NY Daily News

Matthew Polek, Sports Editor

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“It’s a rebuilding year.”

Ha. Someone forgot to pass that on to Joe Girardi and his Yankees. Coming in to 2017 there were a lot of questions surrounding the Yankees. No one knew what the “Baby bombers” we’re going to do.

Aaron Judge struggled when he got called up in 2016; Gary Sanchez dominated for his 53 games in 2016, but many were concerned about how he’d perform over a 162 game stretch. Greg Bird didn’t play at all in 2016 with a torn labrum, and when a player misses a whole season, it’s never easy to bounce back.

There were also concerns about the pitching staff. Obviously re-acquiring Aroldis Chapman in the offseason for the bullpen to go along with Delin Betances was huge, but the Yankees’ starters were the problem.

Masahiro Tanaka was brought over from Japan in 2014 and signed a 7 year, 155 million dollar contract with an opt out clause after the 2017 season. His rookie season was the only year he pitched to a sub 3 ERA and he’s always had a problem with keeping the ball in the ballpark.

Luis Severino was taken out of the rotation in 2016 and moved to the bullpen. He finished the year with a 5.83 ERA and people questioned if he’d ever be able to be a top end of the rotation guy.

Simply put, the Yankees were expected to rebuild in 2017. And to say the least, they exceeded those expectations.

The Yankees were 31-20 on June 1st, atop the AL East. This was in big part to the 6’7 rookie, Aaron Judge. Judge had 17 homers and 37 RBIs. The Yankees were feeling good, and the fans were loving it. They were optimistic that the future was now.

The Yankees lost 18 of their last 25 games going into the All-Star break and the fans were slowly starting to worry.

Post All-Star break the Yankees struggled. Aaron Judge redefined the word slumping. He set the MLB record for most games in a row with a strikeout-37 straight.

The Yankees were falling out of the AL East hunt but hung on to the top Wild Card spot. Thanks to a big August by Gary Sanchez and a good September by Judge, the Yankees clinched a playoff berth. Unfortunately the couldn’t catch Boston for the AL East crown.

Let’s remember when the Boston Red Sox acquired Chris Sale prior to the 2017 season, many believed Boston had what it took to win it all, so the fact that the Yankees kept the race close until the season’s final weekend says something big about this team.

The Yankees weren’t supposed to be in the playoffs this year, nevermind hosting the Wild Card game, so anything they accomplished past this was just an incredible feat. Obviously being the New York Yankees, if they can make the playoffs, they’re expected to win it all.

The Yankees’ Luis Severino gave up 3 runs in ⅓ of an inning in the Wild Card game and before the Yanks even got to hit in the postseason many people said their season was done. Thanks to Didi Gregorius, Aaron Judge, and the great Yankee bullpen, those people were wrong, and the Yankees made it to the ALDS where they would face the Cleveland Indians.

After 2 games in Cleveland in a best of 5 series the Yankees were down 2-0. Once again, many people wrote them off, saying that their season was over. The Cleveland Indians won over 100 games and had a 22 game winning streak in the regular season and many believed they were “unbeatable” and would avenge their 2016 World Series loss.

Up 2-0 there was no way the Indians would lose the series to the Yankees. Right? Wrong. The Yankees won both games in New York and then went into Progressive Field for game 5 and beat the Tribe in front of their home fans.

This set up an Astros VS Yankees ALCS. The fact that the Yankees even made it this far was an amazing accomplishment, something to be proud of for a “rebuilding year.”

Once again, the Yankees fell behind 2-0 in the series, and of course, they were written off by many people.

But just like they have all year, they fought back. The Yankees won game 3 at home, cutting their series deficit down to 2 games to 1. In game 4 though, the Astros looked to bounce back.

Houston was up 4-0 after 6 ½ innings and again, people wrote off the Yankees. The Yankees battled back with 2 in the 7th and 4 in the 8th to win the game and even the series.

New York went on to beat Dallas Keuchel in game 5 to take a 3-2 series lead. Going back to Houston one win away from the World Series, Yankees’ fans felt great.

Just like they had all year, the Yanks struggled on the road. They lost games 6 and 7 and their season was over just like that.

“We were able to win Game 5 in Cleveland, and I felt good about us winning one game here,” said Joe Girardi talking about Yankees on the road. “But we just weren’t able to do it. You’ve got to give them credit. They pitched their rear ends off. And the bottom line is they beat us.’’

He’s right. The bottom line is the Houston Astros were the better baseball team and it showed at the end. They had a little more playoff experience than the Yankees and their young talent was more developed. The Yankees and Astros are both built for the long haul and this won’t be the last playoff matchup between the two.

At the end of the day the New York Yankees had an incredible year. Ups and downs, and a lot more success than anyone imagined was possible. The future is bright for the boys in pinstripes, they’ll be back.

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Yankee fans shouldn’t hang their heads