Yankees offense comes back to life, but can they maintain it?

New York Yankees’ Anthony Rizzo reacts after Josh Donaldson hit a walk-off grand slam during the 10th inning of a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022, in New York. The Yankees won 8-7. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

You could almost say it took an act of divine intervention to help spark the Yankees out of their current offensive slump on Wednesday night. With the Yankees down in the seventh, the skies opened up forcing an hour and three-minute delay before baseball finally resumed. 

What happened next was nothing short of whacky. The Yankees tied the game over the next two innings, let a few other chances slip away, looked as though they’d let the game get away from them before finally winning it all in extras on a Josh Donald grand slam. 

Yeah, it was that kind of night. 

But for the first time in more than a week, the Yankees at least resembled the team that had been the best in baseball for the first half of the year and exercised some demons on Wednesday night. It certainly showed as Donaldson crossed the plate just after 12:01 a.m. on Thursday morning. 

“The guys were pumped,” Donaldson said about the win and the celebration after. “I definitely think that was some kind of release of some joy and some frustration over the past couple weeks for sure.” 

Considering how the Yankees had played this year, the no-quit attitude certainly felt like a return to form. 

“Just a great fight all night,” skipper Aaron Boone said. “Obviously not easy for us right now, but we’re in the fight and we’ve just got to keep fighting. Great to see that level of at-bats to finish off a game when it looked like it was stripped from us.”

Josh Donaldson Yankees
New York Yankees’ Josh Donaldson, center, celebrates with teammates after hitting a walk-off grand slam during the tenth inning of a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022, in New York. The Yankees won 8-7.AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

With one monkey off their back, the Yankees need to turn their focus to the next. A four-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays and then the second edition of the Subway Series next week against the New York Mets.

New York was able to take back a 10-game lead of the AL East, but now they need to sustain the offensive uplift they got from Wednesday night/Thursday morning’s win over the Rays to avert a series sweep.

On the bright side, Anthony Rizzo, who had been 2-for-26 at the plate since returning from a five-game break while he dealt with back spasms, hit the game-tying home run and Donaldson seemed to break the offensive funk he had been in. 

Still, the Yankees have had a rough go of it since the MLB All-Star break last month and they’ve gone 9-17 since then. Between an offense that has struggled to put up runs since the loss of Giancarlo Stanton and Matt Carpenter to injuries and pitching that has seemed to come back to earth, New York has not been able to catch a break. 

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The Bronx Bombers have been far from that in August with the team sitting in 24th in baseball in runs scored and they are slashing .220/.299/.376 during that span. Add to that a starting rotation that has an ERA of 4.37 and a bullpen that is at a 3.51 and it is the perfect storm for the Yankees. 

New York has talked about needing some sort of spark to get out of its current funk. It’s hard to argue that Wednesday’s game wasn’t it, but now that they’ve gotten the spark they need to keep the flame going with two critical series coming up.