10 and Counting…
The Yankees completed their first ten game winning streak since their magical 1998 season last night with a complete game victory over the Atlanta Braves. CC Sabathia shook off a rocky start to the game, in which he surrendered a leadoff triple to Michael Bourne, but basically shut down Atlanta from that point forward and went the distance, to lead the Yankees to the 6-2 victory at the Stadium. If the Yankees were beating up on the Kansas City Royals, Seattle Mariners or Oakland Athletics, it could be dismissed that the streak is coming at the hands of lesser competition. However, the fact of the matter is the Yanks are beating up the NL East’s elite, which was thought to be one of the better divisions in baseball.
During the past 10 games, the Yankees starting rotation has a combined ERA of 2.09. Each game, the starting pitcher is just trying to pick up where the last one left off, and now for two complete trips around the rotation, they have gotten nothing but winning performances. The emergence of Phil Hughes has been the most important in my opinion, as the Yankees have invested an incredible amount of time, have turned down trade opportunities galore and have billed Hughes as a front of the rotation pitcher. Up to this point in his career, he has been somewhat disappointing as a starter, even though his win totals haven’t been awful. Now he looks as sharp and effective as he has ever in the starting role, and the Yankees are feeling validated for their patience.
The Yankees hit two home runs in last night’s victory, and have taken a whole lot of heat about how dependent they are as a team on the long ball. However, I don’t see how any of these complaints make any sense because the last time I checked, home runs are hits the cause the most damage to the opposition. Should the Yankees really apologize for their power surge? Last night, Mark Teixeira added his 12th home run of the season in the sixth, transforming the Brave’s Mike Minor’s start from heroic to forgettable. Robinson Cano homered for the second consecutive game in the eighth to pad the lead. Curtis Granderson has an unbelievable 21 big flys this year, and although Alex Rodriguez has struggled at times this season and has taken a lot of questions about his lack of power, last week with the Yankees down by 4 and a chance to lose their streak at a meager 4, ARod hit a grand slam which was followed up by a 2 run shot by Nicky Swish and all of a sudden 4-0 Braves was 6-4 Yanks. Yeah, I can definitely see why people think the Yankees hit “too many” homeruns!
Not to give myself too much credit, but a few weeks ago I wrote an article asking Yankee fans not to panic. I pointed out the good (Andy Pettitte, Derek Jeter, Ivan Nova, Rafael Soriano) and wrote about what I thought would improve about this team (Starting Pitching, Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, etc.). The Yankees were tied for last in the division when I wrote my post, but I knew things would have to go their way at some point. I feel justified after watching this team the last few weeks but I am still not fully satisfied as there is still room to improve. The Yankees still need to hit better in the clutch, as they are atrocious while batting with runners in scoring position. The Yankees really don’t have much speed and are definitely missing Brett Gardner, as this team really only plays station to station ball. With all that said, they have the best record in the American League at 41-25, they are up by 2.5 over Baltimore and will have the opportunity to pad their lead even further. They will finish with Atlanta and then get another shot at the New York Mets this weekend, the team they started their winning streak against. How magnificent would it be if the Yankees head into Sunday night with the streak in tact and we get to see them try to extend it to 15 with CC Sabathia on the mound against RA Dickey?! There is still a lot of baseball to be played before this weekend and more importantly to the Bronx Bombers, before the postseason, but I think the rest of MLB has been put on notice that the Yankees will be a major force when the smoke clears at the end of the 2012 season.