Like a long hitting streak, it may begin innocuously. Maybe a 1 for 4 with 3 strikeouts. But if this weekend’s series against the Mariners marks the moment in which the Yankees resorted to their winning ways, the significance should not be lost on any of us. Yes, the Mariners are a fledgling team. Hard pressed to score runs and practically buried in the basement of the AL West. But they came into this series as the second hottest team in the American League (Oakland) since the All Start break, winners of seven consecutive game. And to say that the Yankees stumbled into the weekend set might be a huge understatement.
On Friday, the Yankees sent their Ace to the hill, and CC Sabathia did exactly what an Ace is supposed to do. He stifled the Mariner’s bats to the tune of 3 runs on 3 hits in a complete game gem that saw the Mariners score 2 insignificant runs in the 9th inning. The Yankees offense looked sharp as well, going 4 for 9 with runners in scoring position and getting 3 2-out RBI.
The good feelings were quickly stifled on Saturday afternoon. But there really shouldn’t be cause for panic. Felix Hernandez is one of the best pitcher’s in the game. And while no one would expect this dominant Yankee offense to be blanked, it was still just one game. And sometimes, you just have to tip your cap. On the plus side, Hiroki Kuroda turned in a gem of his own, hurling 6.1 innings of one run ball. And the bullpen seemed to regain it’s form as Logan, Robinson, and Rapada combined to pitch 2.2 shutout innings. But, a loss is a loss. And it seemed that the Yankees would stay mired in there slump. Especially with sending the recently shaky Freddy Garcia to the hill on Sunday afternoon.
Despite giving up a 1st Inning run (He was saved from giving up a second by the grace of Nick Swisher’s arm), Freddy Garcia managed to keep the Mariner’s offense at bay. He put runners on in every inning but one (4th), but he didn’t allow another runner to cross the plate until the 5th inning. Not a great performance, but serviceable because the Yankees offense got off the mat and did what they do best, erasing Seattle’s early run in the 1st with one of their own. Then taking the lead in the 2nd inning. A lead they would not relinquish. They also got 3 more 2-out RBI. We’re always talk about not being able to hit home runs in October, so the Yankees sudden knack for scoring with two outs (None on Sunday via the home run I might add) may be a boon come the fall.
The Yankees did everything in Sunday’s game that we have come to expect from them this season. They got great defense, as evidenced by Mark Teixeira’s stellar grab in the 4th, showed hustle on the base paths (Teixeira again), got contributions from unlikely sources, as Chris Stewart went 2 for 3 with 3 runs scored, and saw their bullpen produce another four innings of scoreless baseball.
So now it’s off to Detroit and a four game showdown with the Tigers. This will be a measuring stick series. But as the Yankees continue to persevere through injuries and come up with big plays, the kind that win tight ball games, we should keep this series in the back of our minds. Because as the push to October begins, it may be a few days in early August that really got the Yankees going once again.