I don't know if it's possible for the Yankees to do anything quietly -- what with being the Yankees -- but they've won sixteen of their last twenty games. By Yankees standards, I would contend that these three weeks of great baseball have flown a bit under the radar. I knew that they had been playing well and pulling out some close games while climbing to the top of the standings, but I was a bit surprised to hear John Sterling* read off that statistic at the end of the game.
*Yes, I double checked the accuracy by going in the game logs. They've won sixteen out of twenty.
With resigning CC Sabathia, signing Hiroki Kuroda, trading for Michael Pineda, and slowly sabotaging Andy Pettitte's home life, the plan for this season was supposed to be starting pitching. The offense might be a tick below the powerhouses that the Yankees had assembled in years past with an aging core and a dearth of replacements, but you'd expect the pitching to be decidedly improved.
While seemingly every member of the rotation got off to a home run fueled slow start, it looks like things are starting to come together. Hiroki Kuroda was the latest Yankees starter to throw a good game, allowing only two earned runs in six innings of work. Kuroda pitched into a lot of trouble -- allowing eleven base runners and not recording a single 1-2-3 frame -- but eight strikeouts helped him to avoid further damage.
The Braves played like the Yankees circa one month ago. They got a two run home run from Brian McCann as their only offense, despite threatening in every inning. Some of that goes to Kuroda and the relievers who followed him. Some of that goes to the Braves hitters missing their opportunities with runners on base. Some of that goes to baseball for being a fairly luck driven game.
The Yankees were able to get on the board in the first inning on a double from Derek Jeter and an RBI single from Alex Rodriguez. Kuroda responded with a scoreless bottom of the inning, which I bother to mention because he has given up twelve first inning runs so far this year.
After McCann's two run home run put the Braves on the board in the bottom of the fifth inning, Derek Jeter punched a single over the second baseman and Curtis Granderson hit a wall-scraping two run home run to put the Yankees back on top. The final nine outs were recorded by Boone Logan, Cody Eppley, and Rafael Soriano.
Logan and Eppley both pitched their way into trouble before escaping, while Soriano had an easier time of the ninth inning. Things have worked out surprisingly well for the bullpen given the amount of injuries in the short relief corps. Cody Eppley has induced a ton of ground balls -- like the big double play in the eighth inning tonight -- Boone Logan is having a career year, and Clay Rapada is proving to be non-useless when deployed correctly. I'll still be happy to see all of them bumped back down the bullpen ladder.
After an off day tomorrow, Phil Hughes will open the series in Washington against Gio Gonzalez.