The All-Star Game is over and the Yankees second half doesn’t begin until Friday. I thought we’d spend this day looking back, and spend tomorrow looking forward. I’ll be hosting a chat on the blog tomorrow at noon, and I’m sure we’ll talk a lot about injuries and trade speculation and whether Alex Rodriguez will ever hit another home run. But those are questions for another day.
For now, the Yankees are 52-33. They have the best record in baseball and a seven-game lead in the American League East.
“It’s been a strange first half, I think,” Joe Girardi said. “It’s been kind of streaky for us. At different times, different parts of our game has struggled. But we give our guys a lot of credit. They found ways to win games.”
It has been a strange first half, that’s certainly true.
The rotation came out stone cold, then got red hot, then lost CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte only to have Freddy Garcia return to form when the Yankees needed him most. Even without their top offseason addition, Michael Pineda, the Yankees rotation has become a strength, especially the past month or so.
Behind the rotation, the bullpen has always been a strength, which is strange considering the injuries to Mariano Rivera and Dave Robertson. The Rafael Soriano contract is suddenly coming in handy, and the Yankees have found unexpected bullpen depth from Boone Logan, Cody Eppley, Clay Rapada and — for a while — Cory Wade. They’ve also found that David Phelps can be a difference maker in a variety of roles. The bullpen has been the biggest surprise and the most consistent piece of the roster.
Oddly enough, it’s the lineup that’s been the biggest question mark. That’s odd mostly because of the names involved. Robinson Cano is as good as ever, Derek Jeter lead the AL in hits and Curtis Granderson is proving last season wasn’t a fluke. But Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Russell Martin have underperformed, and there was that lengthy stretch when the Yankees absolutely could not get a hit with runners in scoring position.
But, the only reason to have consistent pitching and timely hitting is to win games, and so far, the Yankees have done a better job winning games than any other team in baseball. It’s been a strange first half, but it’s been a winning first half, and winning trumps everything else.
“I think with any clubs, at times, you’re going to have different parts of your game struggle,” Girardi said. “But the bottom line is when you struggle, you still have to find ways to win games, and we’ve been able to do that.”
Associated Press photo