Alex Cora explains why he believes Yankees are no fluke

Rob Bradford
May 30, 2019 - 6:28 pm

NEW YORK -- Before the Red Sox' series opener against the Yankees was rained out Thursday night, Aaron Judge -- one of New York's walking wounded -- could be found being put through his paces in the Yankee Stadium outfield. The image offered the reminder that the Yanks were going to get some key contributors back in the not too distant future.

Until then, they're doing just fine. 

Heading into what will now be a three-game series, the Yankees reside in first-place in the American League East (36-19), one game ahead of second-place Tampa Bay and 7 1/2 in front of the Red Sox. This despite living life without the likes of Dellin Betances, Didi Gregorius, Jordan Montgomery, CC Sabathia, Luis Severino, Giancarlo Stanton, Troy Tulowitzki and Judge. (For a timetable on each player's return date, click here.)

Aaron Boone's team has done just fine thanks in large part to the replacements for those injured regulars, with the likes of third baseman Gio Urshela (.331 batting average, .855 OPS), second baseman D.J. LeMahieu (.313, .807), shortstop Gleyber Torres (.882) and outfielder Clint Frazier (.839 OPS) all stepping up.

Consider Red Sox' manager Alex Cora hardly surprised.

"The guys who are playing, they’re pretty good," Cora said. "They’re good. I saw Giovanny in that group of (Francisco) Lindor and (Joey) Wendle in Cleveland. He was supposed to be the third baseman of the future of the Indians. It just happened that he didn’t hit, and then that little guy, Jose Ramirez, went off. But it’s happening here. They’ve got talent. They’ve got a good team. They’ve got a good bullpen. Obviously, the rotation is a little bit banged up, but they’ve done an outstanding job holding leads late in games, and the last two weeks, they’ve been amazing at coming back. But they’re good. they have a good team right now."

Cora added, "They’re talented. They did a good job signing players. They’ve done an outstanding job adding players in their minor league system. Cam Maybin, Urshela, I saw him in spring training, LeMahieu was a good sign by them. They’ve done it well. They’ve done a good job for the last four, five years. Everybody was talking about, I think I was in the media at that time, I was also talking about it, how long it was going to take them. They did an outstanding job when they traded (Andrew) Miller and (Aroldis) Chapman and (Carlos) Beltran. Right away, they brought up those kids – Judge and (Gary) Sanchez. There was a different vibe. They actually played well in the second half, or after July 31st that (2016) season. After that, they’ve been a force. I’ve said it all along when I was watching games at home, my mom used to say, ‘That’s a fun group to watch.’ The energy here is a lot different than earlier. In ’17, I was coaching against them and this place was alive. Last year was the same. I bet it’s the same right now."

The Sox manager also gives a tip of the hat to his counterpart, Yankees skipper Aaron Boone. Heading into Friday the Yankees are just one win behind the Red Sox when it comes to regular season wins going back to the beginning of the 2018 campaign.

"He did an outstanding job last year," Cora said of Boone. "I said it all along. It took a historic season for them to finish second in the division. He knows what he’s doing. He was very calm last year. he dealt with adversity. He dealt with the media. It just happened that last year, we won 108 games. If you tell me I’m going to win 100 games every season, I’ll take that. Most of the time, you’re not going to finish second. He was good last year, he’s been great this year."