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Yankees offense thriving against top-end pitchers this season

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Yankees hit two home runs and a big blowout Sunday against the Dodgers’ Tyler Glasnow, who allowed a season-high-tying eight hits and five runs over six innings.

On Monday, the Yankees wore down Royals pitcher Seth Lugo with a single and a sacrifice fly, giving up four runs in seven innings and raising his ERA from 2.13 to 2.36.

The Yankees, who beat the Royals 10-1 on Tuesday, are not only showcasing a diverse offensive style, but also finding ways to navigate some of the best pitchers in baseball.

Trent Grisham’s three-run homer off Tyler Glasnow in Sunday’s Yankees-Dodgers game was just one example of how the Yankees have performed well against elite starting pitchers this season. Robert Szabo (New York Post)

The Yankees entered Tuesday’s game with an .802 OPS against pitchers on teams with a winning percentage of .500 or better, clearly the best mark in baseball (the Orioles are second at .782).

Have the Yankees finally built the offensive firepower to compete against some of the best pitching staffs in the league that they’ll likely face in October?

“I hope so,” coach Aaron Boone said before Tuesday’s win at Kauffman Stadium. “Look, I think we’re a really good offensive line. I think we have a chance to be a really, really good, special offensive line.”

“[But] We don’t know what will happen. It’s only June. We still have a long way to go.”

Boone is right, but the early results are promising.

Over the past few weeks, their lineup has featured players like Logan Webb, Camilo Doval, Jordan Hicks, Dylan Cease, Bryce Miller and Luis Castillo.

Tyler Glasnow reacts after giving up a three-run homer to Trent Grisham in the Dodgers’ loss to the Yankees. Luke Hales

But there have been notable exceptions this season, including series losses to the Orioles and Dodgers, due in part to the batting struggles of Corbin Burnes and Yoshinobu Yamamoto.

Those numbers against some of the better pitchers and teams in baseball are worth keeping an eye on, as the Yankees will be hoping to build a different team than they did in years past, when their pitching offensive ability repeatedly beat underachieving pitching staffs but failed in the postseason.

Last year, the Yankees posted an OPS of just .693 against above-average pitching staffs.

Injuries were an issue, of course, but so was having a lineup dominated by powerful right-handed hitters.

Jose Trevino hit a two-run single off Seth Lugo in Monday’s Yankees-Royals game. Denny Medley – USA TODAY Sports

The addition of Juan Soto was an obvious plus, but hitting coach James Rowson credited the additions of Alex Verdugo and seldom-used Trent Grisham as capable left-handers that help balance the lineup.

“When you add that type of hitter to your lineup, it definitely makes your lineup better,” Rowson said, “but you also have to see the synergy and how this group comes together and rallies, and I think that’s something special to watch.”

“We have the talent, but we also have good chemistry with the guys in this clubhouse.”

Rowson was especially proud of how his small-ball lineup, missing Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Anthony Rizzo, took the mound against Lugo on Monday and stringed together a single and a sacrifice bunt to trouble a pitcher who has emerged as one of the league’s best.

Although the Yankees have hit the second-most home runs in the major leagues, Rowson believes the team scores in a variety of ways.

“They have the ability in their approach to not just rely on home runs. They just rely on having a consistent, good approach,” said Rowson, in his first year back as hitting coach, “and sometimes that translates into actually hitting home runs, but when it doesn’t … they’re just trying to go out there and score runs, and I think that’s a compliment to what’s going on across the entire offense.”

Their success against better pitching staffs has translated into a 17-10 record against teams with a winning percentage of .500 or better entering Tuesday.

When was the last time the Yankees hit against these teams?

Their final championship season.

In 2009, they posted an OPS of .839 against teams with a winning percentage of .500 or better.

“I think we have the makings of a really good offense and that’s proven so far,” Boone said, “but we’ve just got to keep doing it.”

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