"Greatness's New Home" (TM Michael Kay) may soon be giving Fenway a run for its money in the Ultimate Home Field Advantage Showdown. For the third game in a row, the Yankees' offense featured back-to-back long balls. But what's even more significant is that in each b2b incident, the one of those shots was to tie the game.
(Robinson Cano's blast yesterday brought the game within 1 and Jerry Hairston Jr. was the one who tied it. Today and Sunday's first blast of the one-two punches were to tie the game, with the second shot putting the Yankees ahead.)
I like manufacturing runs as much as the next guy, but tonight's win over the Blue Jays was the 8th Yankee win in the last 9 games, and it looks like our boys are bringing the balance of offense and defense down to a formulaic science.
After the first 3 innings, the Yankees convinced us they were going to spend the rest of the night batting Scott Richmond around, like he's one of the half dead field mice my parents' cat drags home for his amusement. He'll swat it around the house for a few hours, get bored with it, and when the mouse tries to limp out the door, the cat'll deliver the final blow, which could range from biting his head off to just beating it into flatlined submission. I guess the Yankees are a little like that cat these days.
They tagged Richmond for 3 runs in the first 2 innings RBIs from Mark Teixeira and Jorge Posada, and a sac fly off Melky Cabrera's bat. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: there's no bottom of the order on this team, and any pitcher that goes up against this lineup is no less terrified than a new freshman shakily gripping his lunch tray as he walks into the cafeteria, completely dumbfounded with respect to his next move.
Richmond was dealing after the 3rd inning, though, and stifled the Yanks long enough for the Jays to come back with 4 runs of their own. Lyle Overbay's 3-run double in the 3rd tied it up, and Ruiz took Joba Chamberlain deep shortly thereafter to put NY in a 5-4 deficit. Joba's outing fell somewhere in between his most recent starts and his earlier ones, as he gave up 5 hits and settled for the no-decision.
When the game was on the line, to a certain degree, the Yankees capitalized on their new Bronx home. Hideki Matsui and Posada's consecutive blasts, of course, fell right over the now notorious right field wall. People can complain about this all they want, but the fact remains that the wall stays the same height whether the home team or visitors are batting.
But here's what this game really spotlighted for me: as voracious as their offense has been, their defense has been just as good--but more than this, it's that both have been at their best when their best is what was needed. A bullpen that's had a worse reputation than Courtney Love has been virtually flawless. To put things in perspective, our pitchers have the lowest ERA in the American League since the ASB, at 3.62.
Our offense has the 2nd best BA in the entire league.
Every team has holes in their game. But the Yankees have been doing something that I haven't seen from them in years--they're tailoring their game to the situation at hand. And when you play like that, any discernible vulnerability progressively diminishes.
The Yankees aren't just winning.
They're becoming harder and harder to beat.