Yankees look to continue newfound momentum on West Coast trip

Three wins can’t fully erase a rough monthlong slide, but perhaps they can send the Yankees on their way out of it.

For the first time in a while, the Yankees were feeling good about themselves Tuesday night after they finished off a two-game sweep of the Mets. That series victory followed a win Sunday over the Blue Jays, and gave the Yankees a three-game winning streak for the first time since July 28-30.

The Yankees’ mojo had largely gone missing during a 9-20 stretch coming out of the All-Star break (at which point they were still playing at a 113-win pace), especially during the more recent 2-9 skid in which their offense went ice cold. But they looked like a team that was starting to rediscover it over their last three games.

Giancarlo Stanton is expected to return to the Yankees’ lineup against the A’s.
NY Post/Charles Wenzelberg

Now, they will have a chance to reinforce that winning feeling — and to get Giancarlo Stanton back from the injured list to help — when they open a four-game series against the last-place Athletics on Thursday in Oakland, Calif., before visiting the struggling Angels next week.

“I think it’s tough to have a little bit of swagger when you keep losing games and dropping series and not playing your brand of baseball,” Aaron Judge said late Tuesday night before the Yankees flew west. “But I think the swagger’s always been there. I think it just took a little reminder of who we are and what type of baseball we play and going back to doing the basics. We got it back.”

Of course, it helps that Judge has returned to MVP form. After he went through a small rut while the rest of the lineup was also struggling, Judge crushed a home run in each of the two wins over the Mets.

“The dude is pretty much the best hitter right now,” Frankie Montas said after turning in his best start as a Yankee on Tuesday night.

In addition to Judge’s resurgence and signs that Montas is settling in, the Yankees have recently displayed other reasons to believe that they might just be emerging from their funk.

They played two mostly crisp games against the Mets, with their strong defense flashing once again — especially on a pair of double plays between Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Gleyber Torres on Tuesday night. There was a dropped pop-up between Oswaldo Cabrera and Marwin Gonzalez in right field on Monday and Torres (unsuccessfully) racing Jeff McNeil to second base while allowing Pete Alonso to score from third on Tuesday, but manager Aaron Boone attributed both to the amped- up crowd noise.

Timely hits from Andrew Benintendi also played a key role in all three wins. After a cold start in pinstripes, he is batting .310 with nine extra-base hits and a .892 OPS over his last 16 games.

“He’s been big-time,” Judge said. “I told him, ‘Hey, keep leading us. Keep being a guy that can come up in big spots.’ ”

Then there is Cabrera, whose arrival has also given the Yankees a boost. The versatile rookie seems to have made his presence felt in at least one way every game.

There are still a few areas that offer cause for concern, though, leading with the bullpen. While some unlikely arms helped close out three straight 4-2 wins, the relief corps remains unsettled, with a mix of inconsistency and injuries popping up of late.

And in the lineup, not everyone is out of their slumps just yet. Josh Donaldson is still batting 6-for-44 (.136) with 17 strikeouts and a .445 OPS over his last 12 games, though his walk-off grand slam on Aug. 17 against the Rays certainly helped.

But the Yankees still came out of a tough nine-game homestand looking much better than when they started it.

“I think the most important thing is we learned from it,” Judge said. “We learned about what not to do. That if we don’t do the little things, we don’t make the little plays and prepare the right way, teams are going to come after us. I think it comes back to learn from those mistakes, learn from those series and time to move on to the next one.”

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