The names are massive. Babe Ruth. Lou Gehrig. Mickey Mantle. Even Jason Giambi is a huge name when you consider just how good he was in his prime. Now Curtis Granderson joins that group — the only Yankees to ever hit 40 homers in back-to-back seasons. Who would have thought?
But really, isn’t the way this Yankees team feels from time to time? It’s easy to forget that, despite the flaws, they’re doing some things pretty well.
“I think the one thing we’re doing now is just finding different ways to win,” Granderson said last night. “It’s not necessarily been the same thing every time out. Some have been prettier than others, but the fact that you’re able to pick up Ws is what you definitely need to do. Once you get an opportunity to play in the postseason, you’ve got to find ways to be on top at the end of the game, and that’s what we’ve been able to do over the last couple of weeks here.”
Last night it was pitching and home runs, which isn’t particularly surprising (the Yankees are built for those things). But they’ve also won on nights when the offense hasn’t shown up. And they’ve won with late-inning rallies when the pitching staff has nearly blown it. Ichiro Suzuki is red hot. Raul Ibanez is driving the ball again. And Granderson remains one of the game’s best home run hitters even as his batting average dips and his strikeouts increase.
Is that going to be enough?
The Yankees picked up a half game last night — which is huge considering the way this division race has gone the past few weeks — and they’ve played pretty good baseball these past few weeks. But there are always questions, aren’t there? Look at Granderson. The guy hits 40 homers for a second straight year while playing center field, but he’s not the overall hitter he was last year. The pitching staff has been pretty good, but Hiroki Kuroda is slipping for the first time in months and CC Sabathia hasn’t gotten on a roll. It’s a bad time for Robinson Cano to go stone cold.
“He’s not making the solid contact on a regular basis right now,” Joe Girardi said. “Could it be that he’s played a lot of games? Sure. Our schedule’s been kind of rough? Sure. But it’s that time of year; you’ve got to fight through some things.”
A little bit later, Girardi said this.
“We all believe in Robbie a lot around here. We know he’s going to be there.”
I guess my question this morning is this: Do you believe in this team right now? Do you think the Yankees are going to be there when it counts?
The Yankees have given you reasons to not believe. They’ve blown a 10-game division lead, they’ve lost a lot of talent to the disabled list and there have been times when they’ve played bad baseball. But they’ve also given reasons to think they can take the division and make a run in the playoffs. Andy Pettitte looks great, Derek Jeter is having a bounceback year and the Yankees aren’t completely out of the mix for the best record in the American League.
With nine games left, what do you think of this team?
Associated Press photos