A win makes everything all better except the offenseBy
There? Doesn’t that feel good? The Yankees won, and they did so on a night when the second-place Red Sox lost. So despite their 20-21 record, they’re just three games — two in the ever-important loss column — in back of Boston. A win later this afternoon against Scott Kazmir could do wonders for the morale of Yankee fans.
Let’s do this one up, bullet-point style:
- Had someone told me in March that Mike Mussina would be 6-3 with a 3.99 ERA after nine starts, I would have wondered what that person was smoking. Had I been told that Mussina would share the AL lead in victories in mid-May, I would have just laughed in your face. But Mussina was masterful yet again tonight. He used a devastating fastball-curveball-change up combination to keep hitters off balance, and one at bat late in the game really showed me how Mussina has progressed this season.
At one point in the AB, Mussina dropped in a 64 MPH curve for a strike before coming back with an inside fastball that hit 85 on the YES gun. At that point, Al Leiter was gushing all over himself, saying how pitchers are great if they can get a 10-12 MPH separation between their fastballs and their breaking pitches. That Moose can get a 20 MPH separation and can throw these pitches for strikes leaves me rather optimistic that he can sustain this new-found effectiveness. Girardi is keeping him on a short leash in the late innings, and that’s a-ok with me.
- Over his last five starts, Mike Mussina is 5-0. He’s thrown 29.1 innings with a 2.76 ERA. He’s struck out 17 good for a respectable 5.25 per 9 IP, but he’s issued just 3 — three! — bases on balls. It will be nearly impossible for Mussina — or any pitcher — to sustain this Cliff Lee-ian pace, but as long as he’s stingy with the walks, Moose will find success.
- The Yankees offense isn’t exactly out of the woods yet. Despite their win tonight, the Yanks were just 7 for 31 off of Jamie Shields and the Tampa bullpen. The team is hitting just .194 this week against the Rays. Ouch.
- There is an offensive bright spot, however. Robinson Cano is now hitting .350 on the month, and his average now sets at .205, a whopping .050 higher than it was a little over a week ago. I’m really glad Robbie’s doing well; he’s one of my favorites on this team right now.
- On the other side of the spectrum — and you all had to know this one was coming — is our good friend Melky Cabrera. With his 0 for 4 performance tonight, Melky’s season average dips to .261. In May, he’s hitting .191 with a .224 OBP with a .319 SLG. Now that he’s hitting seventh in the order, the bottom three members of the Yankee lineup have been an offensive black hole lately, and I’m almost tempted to offer up a RAB poll: When will Robinson Cano’s batting average be higher than Melky Cabrera’s? That .056 gap isn’t as large as it seems.
All in all, it was nice to walk away from that game with a win. Shields was tough, but the Yankee pitchers were tougher. We’ll do it again at 4:10 p.m. when one of the prodigal sons returns.