CHICAGO — There’s no better way to mask imperfections in a team than by winning.
And winning is just about the only thing the Yankees have done lately. They took a four-game winning streak into Friday night’s game against the White Sox to go along with 16 wins in their previous 18 games.
And while the pitching has stood out throughout the recent streaks, it’s Aaron Judge that has shined the brightest.
He entered Friday’s game leading the majors with 11 homers and tied for fourth in the majors in OPS (.994) and RBIs (26).
His average exit velocity of 96.4 MPH is the highest of his career and Judge is swinging at more pitches in the strike zone than ever, according to Fangraphs.
That’s led to the outfielder making more contact than ever.
Judge has been at his best, during the Yankees’ 18-game run of success that pushed them from 7-6 to 23-8. He played in all but one of the 18 games and went 22-for-68 (.324), with 10 homers, two doubles, 24 RBIs, six walks and an OPS of 1.167.
“I get the second-best view of it,’’ Giancarlo Stanton said of Judge’s rampage, since he’s typically hitting two spots behind Judge in the lineup and near the top of the dugout when Judge is at the plate. “(Anthony) Rizzo gets the best.”
No doubt, the threat of Rizzo in the on-deck circle and Stanton right behind him help Judge get better pitches to hit.
“It’s fun to watch them try to get him out as he wears them down,’’ Stanton said. “And then I hope I get a mistake after he’s done.”
Judge and Stanton combined for 10 RBIs in Thursday’s win at Guaranteed Rate Field, as the Yankees scored a season-high 15 runs, their biggest outburst since they scored 20 runs against the Blue Jays on Sept. 15, 2020.
Much of the winning has come in spite of a significant portion of their lineup struggling.
And it’s not all Joey Gallo’s fault. The left fielder is 6-for-20 with a homer and four walks in his last eight games.
There’s Aaron Hicks, hitless again on Thursday and now stuck in an 0-for-19 slump with eight strikeouts — although he’s walked six times in that stretch. Hicks has a hit in just one of his last 10 games, part of a 2-for-30 skid with eight walks and 13 strikeouts.
Aaron Boone pointed to the walks as something of value while Hicks is in the rut, but his OPS has sunk from .794 to .617.
Isiah Kiner-Falefa didn’t start on Thursday, but he’s also in the midst of a sizable hitless stretch covering his last five games in which he’s 0-for-16 with two walks and five strikeouts.
And catchers Kyle Higashioka and Jose Trevino both continue to struggle at the plate.
For now, their defense and the success of the pitching staff — and the team as a whole — has been enough.
Higashioka had two singles on Thursday, scoring after his two-out hit in the fourth on DJ LeMahieu’s double.
But getting so little out of the latter part of the lineup will take its toll at some point.
For now, though, Judge is leading the charge.
“He’s just a great player,’’ Aaron Boone said. “In every way.”