The Yankees have 29 come-from-behind wins this season, the most in baseball. They’ve scored at least three runs in 38 consecutive games, the franchise’s longest such streak since 1951. They’re a full 21 games over .500, the best record in baseball.
“I know at times I’ve had clubs hit more,” Joe Girardi said. “We’ve hit more and we’ve had bigger offensive numbers from certain guys (in past seasons), … but I think this team is playing almost about as well as it can because we’re getting contributions from a lot of different guys at different times. Could some individual numbers be a little better? Yes. But I think the contributions we’re getting from all 25 guys has been really good this year.”
Different guys have been hot and cold, up and down, but the Yankees OPS leaders are Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano, the same guys who finished fourth and sixth in MVP voting last season.
Derek Jeter’s having a career resurgence, Mark Teixeira is hitting for power again and Nick Swisher has 51 RBI, but there’s little doubt who the Yankees go-to hitters are. Today it was Cano who tied the game with a two-run homer in the first inning, and Granderson who gave the Yankees the lead with his team leading 24th homer in the third.
“(They’ve been) extremely important,” Girardi said. “But if you remember, the first two months we were asking about Robbie and he’s just really turned it on and been huge for us since probably the end of May, June and July. It’s important because you need different guys to carry it. Tex had a road trip when he carried us. He had a tremendous road trip the last time, but you need to spread it around.”
Cano and Granderson have had their down times as well, but it’s hard to imagine this lineup without them.
“Everything is just clicking,” Cano said. “I’m doing the same thing (as in April). Baseball is all about ups and downs, ups and downs, and you have to make adjustments. … You’re always going to be confident when you’re in first place and you come back in games and win series.”
• Four scoreless innings from the bullpen today, including two from Cody Eppley. “I think that’s the nature of the bullpen out there,” Eppley said. “I think we’re real competitive. I think we expect each other to go out there and get the job done every day. I think we feed off each other. When one guy goes out there and throws well, I think the next guy wants to go out there and throw just as good.”
• Managing this bullpen might be Girardi’s greatest accomplishment of the season. Granted, his relievers have pitched well for him, but Girardi’s navigated some rough late-inning situations without Mariano Rivera and dealt with some stretches when the Yankees starters haven’t pitched deep into games. “It’s always been a focus of mine,” Girardi said. “When I was a player it was a focus of mine. I always started thinking, you have this guy for the ninth, this guy for the eighth, we can mix-and-match for the seventh, how many innings do I need out of my starter? That’s always been how I thought as a player, and that’s how I think as a manager.”
• The Yankees might have turned Kendrys Morales around to bat right-handed in the seventh, but with no one on base, Girardi left Eppley in to face him and Eppley got the out. “We decided that we might turn Morales around if Pujols got on, and then we were going to have to use a bunch of pitchers to get through that inning possibly,” Girardi said. “[When he got Pujols out, we decided to leave him in. He’s been very good at getting ground balls for us, so I left him in.”
• Rafael Soriano has been terrific ever since taking over the ninth inning, but this looked like a return-to-form for Dave Robertson. He struck out two in a scoreless eighth. “I felt good today,” Robertson said. “It was one of the good days. Hopefully when I pitch tomorrow, I’ll have another good day.”
• Freddy Garcia had a total of 10 walks this season, but he walked five today. Girardi, Chris Stewart and Garcia himself all seemed to agree that his control wasn’t bad this afternoon, it’s just the risk you run when you live on the edges. “It’s not like having bad command,” Garcia said. “Those guys, they don’t swing at bad pitches. They’re a pretty tough lineup.”
• Garcia’s final line would have looked a lot better if not for that first inning, which pushed his pitch count up and put the Angels on the board with a two-out, two-run single. “Any time a pitcher labors in the first, you’re a little concerned,” Girardi said. “Freddy hasn’t been up to 100 (pitches) but, I think, once, so you’re a little more concerned.”
• It went unsaid, but Garcia was clearly pitching around Trumbo when he walked him with first base open in the first inning. “We didn’t have to go out and tell Freddy,” Girardi said. “Freddy’s been around the block.”
• Garcia improved to 16-3 with a 2.66 ERA in 28 career starts against the Angels. According to Elias, that’s the highest winning percentage all-time against the Angels for any pitcher with at least 20 starts against them.
• After Girardi committed to Alex Rodriguez in the middle of the order pregame, Rodriguez went 2-for-4 with a double, a stolen base and a insurance run. He still hasn’t homered since June 26. “He’s going to be a guy that we talk about all the time because of who he is,” Girardi said.
• The Yankees have scored in the first inning of nine of their last 12 games. “You want to support your starter right away,” Cano said.
• Cano extended his hitting streak to 17 games. That’s the Yankees longest of the season and one away from Cano’s longest of his career.
• Fourteen of Granderson’s 24 homers have tied the game or given the Yankees a lead.
Associated Press photos