(CBSNewYork) — It’s still way too soon to make any projections based on early-season performances. There’s a lot of baseball yet to be played, and teams are still rounding into form. But if the season to date is any indication, the American League-favorite New York Yankees have some serious work to do. The Oakland A’s, however, have figured out how to win. The Yankees have stumbled to an AL-worst 5-10 record so far, while the A’s are one of the hottest team in baseball.
This week’s Baseball Report looks at the Yankees’ horrific start, the A’s’ eight-game winning streak (after a horrific start of their own) and Marcus Stroman’s beautiful behind-the-back play on a sharp grounder back to the mound.
Yankees Not Looking Like Projected Contender
The Tampa Bay Rays swept the Yankees at home in a three-game weekend series that extended their losing streak to five games and dropped their early-season record to 5-10. It’s the first time the team has been last in the AL since 1968.
The Yankees wasted another decent outing from Gerrit Cole to lose, 4-2 and looked lifeless at the plate and in the field. Aaron Judge struck out three times and is 4 for his last 28. Giancarlo Stanton hit a home run in the second inning, but he is just 3 for his last 26. The 10,000-plus fans booed them off the field after the final out.
The team’s batting average sank to .210, just one point above the Cleveland Indians, which have the worst team average in the AL. It’s also their worst team average through the first 15 games since 1968. The batting line for the slugger-filled Yankees is a pathetic .210/.296/.346, with just 15 home runs in 16 games. They have a 139 strikeouts, their worst ever through the first 15 games.
Such a poor showing at the plate for a team with such high expectations might call into question the job security of the manager and hitting coach. General manager Brian Cashman recently confirmed that Aaron Boone and Marcus Thames aren’t in any danger.
“I’ve got a lot of trust in the people we have,” Cashman said. “I’ve seen them work a lot of magic along the way … We’re not reactive. I don’t see us reacting to not believing in the staff we have, and the players we have either.”
The Yankees will look to get back in the win column Tuesday night, when they host the Atlanta Braves.
A’s Win 8 Straight
The A’s have found more success than the Yankees after yet another win extended their streak to eight games. But they needed help to pull off the four-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers this weekend. A fielding error allowed Matt Olson to score the winning run with two outs in the ninth inning.
The A’s wining streak, the best in the American League, also includes a pair of wins over the Arizona Diamondbacks and another pair over the Houston Astros. And it comes after they opened the season with six straight losses. In that opening stretch, they gave up over eight runs per game. During the winning streak, they’ve allowed under three runs per game.
A lot of the credit for the turnaround goes to the starting rotation. They’ve put up a 5-0 record and a 3.48 ERA during the streak. Olson and Matt Chapman have also found their bats. Olson has 3 home runs and 7 RBI over that stretch while boosting his average to .289. Chapman has a pair of home runs and 7 RBI as well.
The A’s will need to do a little better at the plate as a team if they want to take the lead in the AL West. They’re currently hitting a paltry .216, with an on-base percentage of .309 and a slugging percentage of .382. Second-baseman Jed Lowrie is hitting .333, followed by Olson and then leftfielder Mark Canha at .271. But no other player has shown any consistency at the plate so far.
The A’s will try to continue their streak Tuesday with a doubleheader against the Minnesota Twins.
Marcus Stroman Wows With The Glove
New York Mets pitcher Marcus Stroman pitched eight innings of one-run ball Sunday to beat the Colorado Rockies. He didn’t allow a runner past first base in the first six innings. While that’s an impressive showing at Coors Field, even if the Rockies are the worst team in baseball, that’s not what attracted all the attention.
Stroman pulled off what might be the defensive play of the year so far. In the bottom of the eighth, with a 3-2 count, the right-hander fielded a sharply hit ground ball behind his back while backing toward toward third base. He then dribbled an off-balance throw to first base, which still arrived before the baserunner.
— Thomas Harding (@harding_at_mlb) April 18, 2021
“It was all reaction, to be honest,” Stroman said. “I work in the weight room to keep my athleticism and when I’m out there, I just kind of let everything flow.”
Stroman, who has a Gold Glove, has started the season strong. The Mets pitcher has an ERA of 0.90 through 20 innings of work and record of 3-0.