Ready for another ride on this pinstriped tilt-a-whirl?
It could provide you with life-changing thrills. It could detach from its bolts and wreak havoc on the entire Yankees universe.
It’s Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton together again, and what choice do you — and the Yankees — have but to give the two high-performance, injury-prone behemoths another shot with the playoffs just around the corner?
The Yankees celebrated Judge’s return to the lineup Wednesday night with a seven-homer, 13-2 thumping of the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium, their seventh straight win that placed them a game and a half ahead of Toronto for second place in the American League East. That none of those homers came from Judge, who went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, or Stanton, who rested after returning Tuesday, underlines the depth and breadth of this explosive lineup. Backup catcher (and former Post guest columnist) Kyle Higashioka went deep three times, for crying out loud.
“We’re at full strength right now, and we’re going into the end of the season clobbering the baseball,” said Clint Frazier, who also homered.
Alas, for better or worse, it feels like a safer gambit betting on the Yankees to win the 2020 World Series than wagering on both Judge and Stanton to make it through the duration of this fakakta season without either picking up a new, sidelining ailment or aggravating an old one.
The Yankees and Judge (strained right calf) and Stanton (strained left hamstring) will do everything within their power to avoid deja vu. Just as Stanton played one game and then sat, Judge probably won’t start Thursday, as per Aaron Boone, who explained, “Then we’ll go back-to-back days the next time and then into three and four in a row, build it that way.” The team opted for this regimen, Boone said, rather than have the pair spend more time working at the alternate site in Scranton.
Stanton, meanwhile, said he had worked to change up his routines in an effort to avoid history repeating itself: “Pregame, in-game, all these adjustments, and I will have those. … We’ve got new warm-up, new mid-game routines if certain things happen in the game. If I’m DHing and not running the bases for two at-bats, that’s an hour and a half of no movement. You’ve got to do more in between at-bats and stuff like that.”
Since his impressively durable 2018 season, his maiden voyage with the Yankees in which he led the team with 158 games while grinding through a left hamstring (yup, the same one) problem, Stanton’s longest run of regular-season sturdiness has been 25 days, from Sept. 18 last year through Oct. 12, Game 1 of the American League Championship Series, when he strained his right quadriceps. From his activation Tuesday to the planned Game 7 of the World Series, Oct. 28, is 44 days. Judge did make it through the last four months of 2019 intact, though he picked up a new injury on the way (a stress fracture in his rib) that would’ve sidelined him for much of this season if not for the pandemic and has visited the injured list twice in this brief season.
Boone said he wasn’t curbing his enthusiasm about the return of his two big boys, proclaiming. “I believe they’re healthy.” And when a Debbie Downer-sounding reporter (OK, it was me) asked Stanton if he felt anxious or uncertain about his ability to stay on the field for the next month-plus, he politely responded, “No, you can’t look at it that way. Honestly I was just really happy to finally be back and help out. … We’ll leave all the other stuff out.”
Nice to be back, to be optimistic, right? Needless to say, Frazier, Brett Gardner and Mike Tauchman, even as they see their playing time slashed, should stay on high alert, as should Miguel Andujar down in Scranton.
“A lot can change between now and next week, and 10 days from now, and three weeks from now,” Boone said, showing that he’s learned a few things these past couple of years. Here you go with Judge and Stanton, bracing for the potential tease while dreaming on the obvious payoff.
Deivi Garcia has one more start to cement Yankees postseason role
Deivi Garcia’s entry to the majors took a step back in his most recent outing, when he gave up six runs in just three innings at Fenway Park.
He’s got one more start Saturday to show the Yankees he’s ready to play an important role in the postseason.
Asked his most important takeaway from that performance, Garcia said it came down to having a game plan on the mound.
“How to put together a plan and understand how important it is to execute certain pitches in certain situations and how to find a way to do that,’’ Garcia said Friday through an interpreter before the Yankees faced the Marlins in The Bronx.
That was certainly an issue against the Red Sox on Sunday in Boston, when manager Aaron Boone questioned the pitch selection with Gary Sanchez behind the plate.
“Just some misses with his fastball,’’ Boone said following the outing of Garcia’s lack of command. “I don’t think he had the same life on his fastball, maybe a tick off. A couple of pitch selections could have mixed a little more.”
Boone was confident Garcia would return to form before the playoffs.
“Just a bump here for him,’’ Boone said. “They’re all things he can correct and do what we’ve seen in his next one. He’s fully equipped to handle these things.”
Unlike his last appearance, Garcia doesn’t figure to pitch to Sanchez against the Marlins because Sanchez caught Friday and Saturday is a day game.
Regardless of who Garcia is pitching to, he’ll hope to avoid the eight hits and two homers he allowed to a bad Red Sox team.
“It’s important to put a good plan in place and go out there and execute the plan, especially in tough moments,’’ Garcia said. “Follow the plan of attack.”
It’s still unclear how the 21-year-old might be used in the playoffs. With Gerrit Cole and Masahiro Tanaka set to start the first two games of the best-of-three wild-card series, the Yankees seem most likely to turn to J.A. Happ, who started Friday’s game against the Marlins in The Bronx.
Even if that’s the case, Garcia figures to play an important role for the staff, either in the wild-card series or beyond, if the Yankees advance.
Wayne Gallman embracing what could be his last Giants chance
It’s déjà vu with a twist for Wayne Gallman.
One year ago, an early-season injury to Saquon Barkley opened a door for Gallman, who answered the call at first, but strangely was buried on the bench for the final five games. Now, another injury to Barkley has created another opportunity for Gallman just as he was in danger of again becoming invisible much earlier in this season.
Gallman could make the big leap from unexpected healthy inactive last week against the Bears to starter Sunday against the 49ers, with a final chance to make something promising of his Giants career before entering free agency.
“I’m not making goals,” Gallman told The Post. “I’m going in trusting the line, trusting the offense and trusting what we’ve done in practice. That’s all I can do. If you put in hard work, the results will come.”
Like all football teams, the Giants preach a Next Man Up philosophy. It just doesn’t seem to apply to Gallman.
Gallman totaled 118 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns in the first game without Barkley last season. Then he suffered a concussion before he could prove his performance repeatable, was replaced as Barkley’s backup by Buck Allen and managed four offensive touches from Oct. 27 onward. He didn’t dwell on the mystery ending in the offseason.
“I just shifted my focus to what’s more important and that’s preparing myself to be ready for anything, whether that’s starting or staying in a backup role,” Gallman said. “There’s really not much I can do except controlling what I can control.”
Before testing Gallman as lead running back this week, the Giants signed former Pro Bowler Devonta Freeman. After only three practices, Freeman is expected to be part of a rotation with Gallman on first downs and Dion Lewis in passing situations.
“Wayne’s got that long speed, get him ranging out and get him really moving,” coach Joe Judge said. “Every player has a role. Anybody coming in doesn’t replace somebody else who’s already here. They just add to our team.”
If Gallman feels cheated, he isn’t letting on.
“I look at it as another opportunity to learn from a vet,” Gallman said. “Devonta has been in this league a long time and I used to watch him all the time in the good old Clemson-Florida State rivalry. We’re all in it as a group.”
The fresh start provided by a first-year coaching staff was supposed to benefit Gallman. But the Giants’ decision to dress only Barkley, Lewis and fullback Eli Penny last week suggested otherwise.
“My drive is to get better each day and be the best Wayne,” Gallman said. “There’s so much to the league that you can only understand so much. Everything will work out the way it should be.”
The likeliest reasons for Gallman’s bit role are his continued struggles with drops as a pass-catcher, his minimal role on special teams and the constant change around him. If new regimes tend to favor their hand-picked players … well … Gallman has had three head coaches, two position coaches and two general managers since he was a fourth-round pick in 2017.
“He’s attacked every single day, especially this camp, and has always stayed ready,” said tight end and close friend Evan Engram. “Wayne is a real laid-back guy. He definitely understands the opportunity that presents itself, but he’s attacking the work the way he always has.”
Gallman tried his hand as a gunner during training camp but didn’t stick. His special teams snaps dropped from 174 as a rookie to 84 to 17 under coordinator Thomas McGaughey last season — and that’s the easiest path to game day for backup running backs.
But maybe he is the starter at long last.
“I feel like I can make an impact with anything given,” Gallman said. “You don’t specifically try to get better in one area. You try to get better in all areas. I’m willing to do whatever I can to contribute to the Giants. With T-Mac, I don’t think you go up to the coach and ask. It’s more what you earn and what’s in the game plan.”
Joe Tsai glad Nets’ Steve Nash hire led to ‘white privilege’ debate
Nets owner Joe Tsai said he was glad Steve Nash’s hiring as Brooklyn’s coach created a discussion about “white privilege,’’ but believes the argument doesn’t hold up.
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said on the air that “white privilege’’ was at work in the Nets’ choice of Nash, the Hall of Fame point guard, because his lone coaching experience was as a part-time skills instructor for the Warriors.
The charge created a national firestorm after the announcement on Sept. 3 — and Tsai actually loved it.
“The example [Smith] uses in this particular case is misapplied, but having that conversation is important,’’ Tsai said on a Yale University podcast posted Friday. “So I think this is a very good example of, rather than just shouting at each other, we understand white privilege is an issue and needs to be talked about. But in this case, it doesn’t apply because Steve Nash is the best person for the job. But we’re not afraid to talk about it.”
Tsai said he was proud of Nash for adeptly responding during the press conference earlier this month to the assertion he wasn’t qualified for this job, despite being one of the smartest floor generals in NBA history.
“When Steve Nash was put on the spot during the press conference, the direct question was: ‘Did you get your job because of white privilege?’ ’’ Tsai said. “What Steve said was very sensible and sensitive. ‘Yes, I’ve been the beneficiary of that, but I don’t think that’s an issue that applies in this particular case. But we need to have this conversation.’ ”
Those were Tsai’s first public remarks regarding the stunning Nash hiring that was fully endorsed by Nets superstar Kevin Durant, who is black. The firestorm included support for Nets interim coach Jacque Vaughn, who is black. Vaughn posted a 58-158 record as Magic head coach between 2012-15 and his Nets were swept in the first round of the bubble playoffs by the Raptors in August.
“Steve Nash is a two-time MVP — one of the most talented point guards that ever played basketball,’’ Tsai said. “It was an incredible get for us to be able to convince him to come in and coach our team. The problem is Steve Nash is white. In the context of social justice discussion in the nation, we came under a little bit of criticism.”
Tsai, whose Nets are expected to contend for the Eastern Conference title, wants to continue to be accessible to Nets fans in every way.
“I started a Twitter account a few years ago so I can communicate directly with our fans,’’ Tsai said. “Up to that point, I had never used Twitter. I didn’t think it was important to me. I can’t understand the idea of limiting the number of words you can post on social media. Because of the Nets, I now have a Twitter account.”
Tsai boasts 23,000 followers.
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