With a 3-2 win over the Cardinals, the Yankees continue to track the great 1998 team, winning their sixth straight after the 1-4 start. they still trail the Orioles by 1/2 game – the 1998 Yankees did not take first place until their 21st game. Those Yankees, in case you were wondering, ran the streak to 8 before losing, then reeled off another 6-game streak to go to 15-5. So the comparison is just a bit premature.
But THIS Yankee team is winning with pitching – only once in the 6-game streak did they allow 4 runs, and their game scores have been 49, 82, 49, 69, 54, 63. By contrast, the 1998 Yankees were doing it mostly with hitting, their corresponding 6-game win streak starting with a 13-7 win followed two days later with a 17-13 affair. In those 6 games they scored 50 (!) runs and allowed 32, while these Yankees scored 33 and allowed 15. And when you add in that 1998 Yankee Stadium was a noted PITCHER’S park, while 2017 Yankee Stadium is a pretty fair HITTER’S park, and that 5 of the 6 wins have been at home (4 of 6 in 1998) it is even more remarkable.
Yesterday’s game, which I watched the start of, was certainly one of the strangest games I’ve seen. The Yankees did not put a ball in play until the third inning – every out was a strikeout, and no hits or errors. BUT they led 1-0 because Martinez, while allowing NO balls in play, had walked SIX (four in the first) – the Yankees put a ball in play for the first time on the SIXTY-THIRD pitch that they saw. The 1-0 lead held up until Torreyes put a pop fly into the sun which fell untouched (the analysts say that the centerfielder catches that ball 99% of the time, and the leftfielder 94% – their chances of NEITHER catching it were 6 in 10,000 (!!!). Torreyes moved to third on a ground out, and tried to score on another grounder, which was thrown away by the pitcher, Hicks taking second, where he scored the second unearned run of the inning for a 3-0 Yankee lead. The Cards got two late home runs, but lost 3-2.
Further curious facts:
The Yankees struck out 17 (!) times in the game. How often does a team win while striking out 17 times and hitting no home runs?
The Yankees are 1 for 30 (!!!) with runners in scoring position in their last three games – all wins. (3-2, 4-3, 3-2) Thank goodness for home runs.
Adam Warren has faced 20 batters this season, and retired them all. He was in contention for a starting spot, but was felt to be too valuable in the bullpen, especially since (obviously) he can go multiple innings. So he came in with one out in the eighth, retired the two batters he faced to preserve a 3-1 lead, and was replaced by Clippard who gave up a home run and had two runners on base when he got the final out for a “save”. Also, in the parlance of baseball Bob, a yikes. Does this make sense to you?
So, the 1998 Yankees these are not. Near-rookie first baseman Greg Bird has exactly one hit this season, an opposite-field bloop double that might have been caught by a fleet left fielder. He has achieved the near-impossible feat of an OPS+ of -27, -0.6 WAR in only 7 games played, on pace for -150 for the year. Girardi says he is not worried.
Michael Pineda takes the mound tonight for the finale of the Cardinals series. Last time out he retired the first 20 he faced, the time before that he was shelled. Go Big Mike!
Isn’t this fun?