Jun
11

The expectations of playing losing teams

By

A little less than three weeks ago, things didn’t seem so rosy for the Yankees. They were battling injuries to a few key players, and weren’t getting elite production from their elite players. After dropping two of three from the Mets the Yanks had something of a cold streak going, 5-9 in a two-week span that began with their trip to Detroit. The starting pitching, which propped up the offense in April, had a bad turn or two through the rotation, and it showed on the scoreboard and in the standings.

Yet there was a bit of hope ahead. The Yanks had an off-day after the Sunday night loss to the Mets, after which they’d travel to Minnesota for a mini three-game road trip. After three games against the first-place Twins, they’d have a string of games that had the potential to boost them back into gear. First four against last-place Cleveland. Then three against last-place Baltimore. The only tough series in that stretch came against Toronto, after which the Yankees would have last-place Baltimore again followed by second-to-last-place Houston.

So far the stretch has gone pretty well. The Yanks, by virtue of their pitching staff, took two of three from Minnesota before taking three of four from Cleveland. They swept Baltimore, so even though they lost two of three to Toronto it didn’t hurt so badly. They had still averaged only one loss per series. In the Baltimore series they maintained that pace. Since May 25 the Yanks are 11-5, with three games against Houston before they face a string of decently tough National League teams (excepting the Diamondbacks). They then get Seattle, Toronto, Oakland, and then Seattle again before the All-Star Break.

This is what the Yanks had hoped for. They played a tough schedule early in the year and despite injuries they weathered it. The Rays might have played better, but the Yanks still find themselves just two games out, which is still a good position right now. If they can make an interleague run like they have in years past, they’ll be in an even better position when they head into the break.

Yes, the Yankees were supposed to do this. They were supposed to steamroll the poor teams. I don’t think that takes anything away from the accomplishment, though. If the Yankees were going to underachieve they’d probably have lost more than one game per series, on average, during this stretch. They’d probably have dropped one of those one-run games in Minnesota. They might have gotten swept in Toronto. Those would be the marks of underachieving teams. The Yanks are just doing what they’re supposed to, and it’s been a joy to watch.

If the Yanks can keep that pace and take two of three from the Astros, they’ll head into the off-day having won 13 of their last 19, a 110-win pace for a full season, just to put it into some context. This has come during a time when they’ve seen Mark Teixeira go hot and cold, and during which A-Rod has hit .288/.317/.475. I guess they picked a good time to struggle. Their teammates can pick them up against the weaker teams. If they start to rebound during the interleague stretch, we’ll see even better things from this Yankees squad.

Categories : Musings
  • http://www.twitter.com/stophamm3rtime Dela G

    everyone on espn was slobbering over the rays when they were playing the school of the blind in april/may, so what’s wrong with the yankees having their fun?

    let’s get this shit yanks, and steamroll into the all-star break

    • vin

      Any good team can play really well when things are going their way… favorable schedule, lots of home games, minimal injuries, etc. However, since teams play so many games over the course of the season, they’re bound to have periods where things turn sour.

      Facing a tough schedule while dealing with some injuries and having a few key guys struggling to boot can really derail a team. Fortunately, the Yanks have been able to minimize the damage. They could’ve easily had an awful May, but they still managed to play to a .552 winning percentage.

      Just look at the Mets – they play .706 baseball at home, and .308 on the road. That’s a ridiculous discrepancy. Unfortunately for them, they’ve already played 8 more home games than road games.

  • poster

    I think they sweep the Astros. They’re really atrocious.

    Of course, so were the Nats, but still.

    • Brian in NH

      could you say Houston is….Astrocious?

      no..that was pretty lame

  • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

    Yes, the Yankees were supposed to do this. They were supposed to steamroll the poor teams. I don’t think that takes anything away from the accomplishment, though.

    Boston’s 5 losses to Baltimore speak to this. It doesn’t take anything away at all. Sure they should win most of them, but they still need to show up and play to do it. They have.

  • Andy in Sunny Daytona

    When the Yanks get to even out their Home/Road ratio of games played, then everyone will see the true Yankees record.

    • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

      then everyone will see the true Yankees record.

      I gagged a little.

      • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

        That’s like… the Yankees’ record… if Paul O’Neill and Scott Brosius were theoretically playing instead of that fourth outfielder Nick Swisher and A-Rod, who’ll never win it all, right?

        And Matsui and Damon!!!!!!

  • Brian in NH

    Also we figured that Tampa couldn’t keep up that blistering 115-win pace they were on. It looked bad for a little bit when Tampa seemed unstoppable…but the Yanks are fine