Yankees Edge Out West Coast Opponents, Look to Gain Ground on AL East This Week
If you’re like me, you lose valuable sleep hours when the Yankees play on the west coast. The difference this time was that most of the games were actually worth staying up for.
When the Yankees arrived on the Pacific coast, they were reeling from a 3-7 stretch in their last ten, losing series to the Twins, A’s, and Royals, with a 10-2 laugher makeup loss to the Mariners thrown in. Suffice it to say that the Yankees weren’t exactly looking forward to facing two of those same teams, and on the west coast, no less.
But when all was said and done, the Yankees walked away with a 5-4 west coast trip. Not too bad, all things considered.
The Mariners series and the first game against the A’s were characterized by the kind of pitching Joe Girardi has been hoping to get all season: quality starts from the rotation each day, and nearly flawless pitching from the bullpen. Especially notable were Masahiro Tanaka’s second complete game win on Wednesday (he has the only two for the Yanks this season), Chase Whitley’s second career win on Thursday, and David Phelps’ scoreless performance in 6 2/3 innings on Friday.
Unfortunately, the series ended on a sour note: On Saturday, Hiroki Kuroda was inconsistent and the offense was nonexistent in a 5-1 loss, and Vidal Nuno returned to his old ways on Sunday, getting knocked out of a 10-5 blowout after only three innings.
The bright side is that, as New York fans fell asleep during the after-hours games, Yankee bats began to wake up. They were 40-for-140 (.287) during their four-game winning streak. However, the average dwindled down to .188 (12-for- 64) in their two losses to the A’s.
This week the Yankees will play what many consider their first two crucial series of the season. On Tuesday the 10-1 Tanaka will kick off a three-game set at home versus the Blue Jays, whom the Yankees are chasing in the AL East. They are currently four and a half games back, tied with the Orioles, who just happen to be their next competitors this weekend.
No doubt Girardi is looking for the same formula that carried his team throughout the first half of their west coast trip: quality pitching and solid bats. It would behoove the Yankees to go at least 4-2 in their next six games. And that shouldn’t be too much to ask, considering their lineup is devoid of injuries at this point, and they have generally garnered fairly good pitching from their starters and bullpen.
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