One week ago, the Yankees had lost seven of eight. They’d been swept by the Mets and lost two of three against the Red Sox. Their division lead had slipped away, and they’d fallen into a tie for third place. It was ugly.
Today, the Yankees have won six of seven. They’ve swept a dangerous Indians team and taken three of four from the Mariners, including a win in a game started by Felix Hernandez.
“Everybody was probably doubting us again,” Brett Gardner said. “We’ve been playing pretty good. Our guys have been continuing to pitch well and different guys have been stepping up every day.”
The different guys have been the hitters. The source of consistency has been the pitching. Yes, the Yankees are winning again, but they’ve also scored a total of six runs in their past three games. They’re in the bottom half of the American League in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. They don’t have a single hitter with a batting average above .284.
“That’s what we are,” Joe Girardi said. “Maybe we’re a little bit different club than we’ve been in the past, but we’ve pitched really well and we’ve found ways to win. Sometimes it’s not how many hits you get, it’s when you get the hits. We’ve had some pretty decent timely hitting.”
Overall, the Yankees numbers with runners in scoring position aren’t much better. What’s mattered most has been the pitching. If the lineup can scratch out a few runs each night, the team has a chance. In the past 14 games, the Yankees pitchers have allowed more than four runs only twice.
“That’s no surprise, that’s expected,” Mariano Rivera said. “We have high-caliber pitchers here from the rotation to the bullpen. We are capable to do that.”
Of course, in those past 14 games, the Yankees are 7-7. Sometimes the pitching is enough. Sometimes it’s not. It seems fair to wonder whether a team can ever consistently win like this, or if the Yankees are in for a lot of the ups and downs we’ve seen lately.
“There’s obviously a little bit of a different offensive approach because there are different guys in the lineup,” Girardi said. “Those guys are a little different than what we’ve had in the past. We’ve pitched really well. We’ve had some real (timely) hits. You think about the couple we got (on Sunday); we didn’t get a whole lot with runners in scoring position, but we got enough. That’s the important thing.”
Associated Press photo