The Yankees find themselves in a rather odd position right now. They’ve won seven in a row and 10 out of their last 11 contests. They have the fourth best record in the AL and are tied with the Mets and Brewers for seventh best overall in baseball. Yet, they’re heading home in four days, and I find myself thinking that, maybe, perhaps this would have been easier had the team now gotten so hot in September.
Right now, the Yankees are the hottest team in baseball. Over their 10-1 stretch, they’re pitching to an ERA of 2.52, and opponents are hitting about as well as Melky Cabrera against them. While they’re scoring 5.4 runs per game, that is decidedly better than their season pace of 4.8 runs per game. Where has this team been all year?
What the Yanks have done over the last two weeks is tease their fans. They’ve turned it up a notch when it was too late in the season for them to control their own destiny. We’ve seen Mike Mussina reach 19 wins for the first time in 12 years; we saw Phil Hughes throw eight innings in a start for the first time in his Big League career; we’ve seen the bullpen throw lights out ball; and we’ve seen the Yanks pick up that big hit — as Bobby Abreu did last night — when they absolutely needed it.
Just in case you’ve forgotten, none of that had happened earlier in the year. Phil Hughes in April was 0-4 with a 9.00 ERA. No one was getting hits at the right time, and the Yanks couldn’t buy runs if they tried.
This run has certainly made for a fun September, but it’s made for a forlorn month as well. It’s made for a month of what if’s. What if the Yanks had played like this not just in September but in April, May and June? What if the Yanks had won just five or six more games earlier this year? Baseball has always been a game of what if’s, but for some reason, with the recent Yankee resurgence, this year seems to hurt more than the playoff losses from years gone by.
I guess we’ll just have to do what the old Brooklyn Dodger fans long did. We’ll wait ’til next year, and we’ll get ’em then.