(NY Daily News)

Back like I never left. I took a couple of series off to extend my own All-Star break, but with the Yankee fans plummeting I figured there would be there no better time than now to get back in the game.

The Yankees have struggled with Tampa all season, and I think it’s a combination of a few things. First, I don’t think the Rays are THAT bad. They had a really tough start to the season, but have pitched really well over the past 2 months of the season. The Rays are also an American League team, which means even though they seem to have the Yankees figured out, they also have to deal with the Astros, Red Sox, and Indians over the course of the regular season (the Sox crushed them early on to be specific).

Still, the Yankees have not played there best baseball, and it seemed to start with their last series in Tampa. I think “The Opener” works really well against the Yankees, because it keeps some of the big guns in the lineup completely off balance the entire game. I also feel that the pitchers have taken some mental breaks against Tampa, which you can’t really do against any big-league club.

Game 1 (Yankees 6, Rays 7)

This was as bad as it gets for Yankee fans. The ace fell apart, their was obvious quit in the team, and they dropped a game in which they scored 6 runs.

I’ve written in the past the Severino has all the talent and ability in the world. He’s nasty, there is no doubt, but Severino does not bring the consistency in his location that the top flight pitchers in the American League have. Now, a lot of those pitchers don’t bring 100mph with a wipeout slider, but that only gets you so far with big league starters. I’m not pressing the panic button with Severino, but their is definitely some cause for concern. His velo was down (again) towards the end, and he seems to be dejected. Not what you want out of your ace. His line: 5.0 IP, 11 H, 7 R (6 ER), 0 BB, and 8 K’s.

As for the offense, Giancarlo Stanton continued to lay waste to Rays pitching in this one, racking of 4 H, 2 RBI, 2 R, and 1 BB in the teams’ effort. Miguel Andújar played second fiddle to Stanton, collecting 2 H and 1 RBI as he continues to stay locked in at the plate. Both players seem to have found their timing, and when both do, their hands do the rest of the work.

With regards to the elephant in the room, Gary Sanchez, people have a right to be upset. He dogged it. We all watched; hurt or not he found it in him to sprint after jogging halfway, so he clearly had it in him the entire time. Still, you have to ride with Sanchez. He’s 25, having a terrible season, and plagued with injury. The worst case situation is that he turns into Giovany Soto (which would be catastrophic. The best case, and the most likely, is that he turns it around at some point. Stay positive.

Game 2 (Yankees 4, Rays 0)

Oh how things changed. Tanaka comes up big in the shadow of Severino’s disaster Start, and the Yankees’ offense was able to do the bare minimum, which just happened to be enough.

Tanaka has these nights. I’m not sure what changes for him, but his stuff seems to come alive in random outings. The Yankees could really use more of this from him, especially with the current state of the rotation, but I guess we’ll have to wait 5 days to see if it’s for real. On Tuesday though, his fastball came alive, and his splitter was a mirage, which typically bodes for a nice result for Tanaka. When he can make it last for 9 IP, it’s a manager’s dream. The rest of his line: 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 9 K’s.

Even in the Yankees win, the offense has seemed crippled. They haven’t hit a homer since Judge’s in Game 2 of the Subway Series, and that is the only one they’ve hit since the break. Im happy that guys like Walker, Didi, and Romine were able to contribute, but would like to get back to seeing the ball leave the yard.

Game 3 (Yankees 2, Rays 3)

This series wasn’t lost here folks, it was lost on Monday. Sure, this was the deciding game, but you have be honest with the pitching matchup and the recent play of both clubs. The Yanks sent out Luis Cessa, and the Rays essentially sent out their 2nd best starter (The bullpen).

I was wrong about Luis Cessa. Not because he’s as good as he’s been pitching in his big league starts, but because he has proven that their is a chance for growth. My strife with Cessa’s game was his inability to command the strike zone. Even though his good outings this season have come against the O’s and Rays weaker offenses, throwing strikes doesn’t care about who’s at the dish. Kiermaier burned him, it’ll happen, but I’ve been happy with what I’ve seen from Cessa so far in 2018. His line: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 3 K’s, and he was honestly on cruise control until he hung back to back changeups.

That being said, Holder can’t come in and give up a homer to CJ Cron. I know Cron is no pushover at the dish, and already has 20 HR, but that looks like a mental lapse from Holder to me. He’s gotten some of the best hitters in baseball out in much tougher situations, so I think if you asked him he’d be clear in saying he didn't get the job done today.

8 LOB, 0–4 with RISP, 0 HR. All 3 of these can’t be true if you wan’t to win baseball games. The Yankees offense is definitely not clicking on all cylinders, which sounds like a broken record, but it is what it is. Judge has been good, Stanton has been good, and everyone else has either been hurt or streaky. I think “The Opener” has been really effective, but good teams have proven it’s beatable.

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It felt good to get that under the belt. It’s been great chronicling this season, and the rest of the year is shaping out to be exciting.

Zach Britton joins the team tomorrow, which will be a welcome addition to the already stout bullpen. Gleyber is back, which is HUGE for the bombers. I’ve decided on a nice comp for Gleyber, his countryman, Bobby Abreu.

Now Gleyber obviously projects to have a much better, and more fruitful career than Abreu, but as far as what he can produce for THIS lineup, we’re talking about a consistent .290+ with 20–25 HR boot. If he can return to being a consistent force in this Yankee lineup, and the bridge from the bottom of the order to the top, the Yankees’ offense will be back before you know it.