In the seven days spanning from May 15 to May 21, the New York Yankees won a single game. It their game against on May 18 against the Cincinnati Reds which was sandwiched between two three-game losing streaks. Entering their game on May 22, the Yankees were 21-21 on the season and five and half games out of first place. And even though the team was at .500, it seemed as if that week was rock bottom.
Since that awful stretch, the Yankees have gone 19-4. They’re now 40-25, sitting atop the American League East and are currently riding high on a nine-game winning streak after sweeping the New York Mets, Atlanta Braves and their first place counterparts Washington Nationals.
So what’s behind this resurgence? Starting pitching. So far in the month of June, the starters are 11-1 with a 1.97 ERA. Amazingly, the “worst” starter has been CC Sabathia. He is the owner of that one loss – a 7-3 loss against Tampa on June 7. Also amazing, if it weren’t for that loss, the Yankees could be on a 13-game winning streak with four sweeps in a row.
Of course, a 13-2 record for the month of June is not too shabby. Oh who am I kidding? It’s phenomenal considering the Yankees were just 14-14 in May. Even more unbelievable, the offense is still having issues with runners in scoring position. They’ve had flashes of RISP success during this streak but for the most part are still mired in a pretty astounding RISP fail of epic proportions. It’s making some people wonder if they’re due for a massive correction or if this is just how things are going to be this season.
Ivan Nova is leading the Yankee starters in ERA in June. He’s sitting at a paltry .079. Phil Hughes at 1.69, Hiroki Kuroda at 1.77 and Andy Pettitte at 1.80 account for the lower team number. Again, CC Sabathia is low man on the totem pole so to speak with a 3.86 ERA in June.
In his last start against the Atlanta Braves last Tuesday, he was bailed out by a six-run eighth inning by the Yankees. If Alex Rodriguez had hit his 23rd career grand slam, CC would have been on the hook for the loss. Sabathia looks to rebound against those same Braves tonight at the Stadium.
Hughes credits Andy Pettitte for his personal resurgence which began May 22 with a 3-2 win over the Kansas City Royals. Since then Hughes has won four out of five decisions including pitching a one-run complete game against Justin Verlander on June 3. His velocity has stayed up, he keeps racking up quality starts and he finally had a game in which he didn’t give up the long ball. His start on Friday against the Nationals marked the first time all season that he didn’t give up at least one home run. He had at least one in his previous 12 games.
Andy Pettitte is winless in his last two games but he also didn’t lose those decisions. One resulted in walk-off victory against the Mets on June 10 and the other an extra innings triumph over the Nats on Saturday. Pettitte left that game not only with the lead but he also retired rookie phenom three times with three strikeouts.
Hiroki Kuroda, thanks to this recent streak by the Yankees has even his record to 6-6 and lowered his ERA to 3.43. He had a no decision on June 2 – David Phelps picked up the loss in the bottom of the ninth. Since that fateful week in May, Kuroda has three wins and that no decision. He pitches tomorrow night against the Braves at the Stadium.
In yesterday’s game against the Washington Nationals, Curtis Granderson hit his 21st home run of the season and collected his 40th RBI. The Yankees as a team now have 99 round trippers on the year.
As I mentioned earlier, the Yankees are still struggling with runners in scoring position. So how bad is it? They’re batting .216 with RISP, .174 with the bases loaded and even worse, they’re batting .125 with runners on second and third with less than two outs.
I know, how the hell are they winning? Pitching.
Unfortunately for the Yankees, the pitching will not be this good all year. It’s nearly impossible to sustain that kind of performance for that long. There will be lulls and when that happens, the offense is going to have to figure out how to get things going when there are men on base.
Some random facts for you to chew on
- The 2009 Yankees were 37-29 on this date
- This streak is happening without Brett Gardner in the lineup and without Mariano Rivera closing games
- Rafael Soriano now has 13 saves and has the most saves for a closer not named Mariano Rivera since Steve Karsay’s 12 in 2002.
- During this amazing streak, the Yankees are 19-4 in their last 23 games and have outscored their opponents 120-65
- Yankee starters have tossed at least six innings in 17 straight games, longest streak by Yankee starters since 1981 (Elias). (H/T to Jack Curry of YES)