So what’s the more remarkable accomplishment here? Kyle Farnsworth hasn’t allowed a hit in 28 batters. Robinson Cano is hitting .522 since the All Star break. The Yankees are 3.5 games out of first for the first time since May 14.
What a run these last few days have been. Since the All Star break, the Yankees are 5-0, and they’re rapidly gaining ground in the AL East. They’ve outscored their opponents by a combined total of 33-11, and just four teams have better records than they do in the American League. Ain’t baseball grand?
Tonight, the story was Darrell Rasner. On a night when Al Aceves, throwing on a limited pitch count, pitched well enough in AAA, Rasner saved his rotation spot for a few more outings. While he didn’t draw the win — that honor was reserved for David Robertson — Rasner went 5.2 innings and kept the Yanks in the game. He gave up four hits and a few too many walks (4), but with the help of two double plays, he held the Twins to two runs. As the Yanks’ fifth starter, Rasner delivered, and with a win, we couldn’t really ask for anything more.
Once Rasner left, the bats — largely slowed for five innings by Kevin Slowey — took over. Bobby Abreu put the Yanks up for good with a two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth. Robinson Cano delivered another pair of hits and two RBIs while Jeter drove in two and A-Rod picked up a few more hits. When the dust settled, the Yanks walked away with this one by the tune of 8-2. With a Tampa loss, all was right in Yankeeland.
While Rasner held his own to start the game, the bullpen once again threw lights out baseball. Four relievers combined for 3.1 innings of one-hit ball. Robertson, Jose Veras, Farnsworth and Dan Giese struck out five, walked one and slammed the door on the Twins. Since the break — a familiar phrase during this recent hot streak — the bullpen has thrown 16.2 innings, allowing three runs on eight hits and five walks while striking out 25. At some point the pen will falter, but Brian Cashman’s plan is clearly working at the back-end of games. I hate to say it, but I no longer cower in fear when the starters are removed the Yanks’ ace corps of relievers take over.
The Yanks face the Twins tomorrow, and Mike — our good luck charm — will have the game thread. The Bombers are going for a sweep and a perfect home stand to start the second half. Mike Mussina will take the mound, and standing in the Yankees’ way will be Glen Perkins, a tough lefty.
But, hey, these are the Yankees. They’re just getting started, and we should all be glad they didn’t torpedo the team earlier this year when things were looking bleak. Baseball is a marathon; the second leg is only just under way.