Winning streaks, close games, and hoping for a blowout

Granderson's late homer helps Yanks finish off sweep of Braves
The Trade Deadline and the Rule 5 Draft
(Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

The Yankees have won six straight games and outside of the series opener against the Mets, they all have one thing in common: they were close games. Three of the last four games were decided by one run and four of the last five were decided by two runs or less. The one exception was a game separated by three runs. The bullpen has been worked hard but they continue to get the job done, preserving all those small leads. Joe Girardi is pushing all the right buttons right now.

David Robertson‘s expected return tomorrow will be a huge boost to the relief corps, especially if all this close game nonsense continues. The Yankees have played just 11 games decided by four of more runs in the last calendar month, a span that covers 28 games. They’re 8-6 in one-run games and 14-9 in two-run games overall, which means more than one-third of their contests this season have been separated by no more than a bloop and a blast. That’s a lot of tight baseball and with Mariano Rivera out for the season, a lot of stressful late innings.

The offense has continued to struggle with men in scoring position, particularly with the bases loaded, but the Yankees are averaging 5.2 runs per game during this 16-4 stretch. It’s not like they’re scratching and clawing for every run, they’ve just happened to score almost exactly five runs per game and not ten in one game and one in the next. The pitching staff has been doing its job and the timing has just worked out that every night features a close game that could go either way. It happens from time to time, and right now everything is breaking New York’s way.

Wins are wins and I’ll take them in any shape or form, but all the close games of late have been quite nerve racking. A few blowout wins in Washington this weekend — which won’t happen because their pitching staff is insane — would be very much appreciated just so every game doesn’t have me on the edge of my seat. A stress-free win would be appreciated at some point. Get Freddy Garcia some garbage time innings, ease Robertson back into things, maybe get Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano off their feet for a few innings … we could all use a little of that.

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Granderson's late homer helps Yanks finish off sweep of Braves
The Trade Deadline and the Rule 5 Draft
  • 28 this year

    Blowouts would be nice but I like how each day the Yankees are consistently scoring enough to win. Like you said, its better than 10 one day and 1 the next.

    • Ted Nelson

      And a whole lot better than losing, too.

  • CS Yankee

    Your idea doesn’t sound like great entertainment. I guess going 16-4 might just be spoiling us all a bit.

    The Atlanta game the previos night; where CC gave up 3 in the 1st and another in the 7th(?) I still felt like it was going to work out as a “W”. Arod was either going 6-4-3 DP or yard it seemed. However, when he hit that ball I didn’t even jump up and my wife asked “what’s wrong?”. I replied that it looked like a 2-run double and we would still be down two and I wanted a Slam while i was clapping. Swish’s dinger made it too nice.

    We all need to enjoy this play (and results) as we will likely have another bad stretch or two over the next three months.

  • JohnC

    Nationals will present a challenge. Very impressive team. Can’t wait to see phenom Bryce Harper. Catch a break missing Strasburg. Is Wang gonna pitch Sunday?

    • pat

      I think we miss Wang and Stras.

  • Mick Foley

    DOES MIKE AXISA HAVE THE TESTICULAR FORTITUDE?!?!?!

    • jjyank

      That was mildly amusing the first time you said it, not so much anymore.

      • Havok9120

        I’m glad its an off day. Maybe it’ll be funny again by tomorrow or Saturday.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          My feelings are hurt.

          • Havok9120

            For the record, I found it amusing every time it was done. Including this one.

            But it needs to age a little while longer. Less is, as they say, more.

            • Robinson Tilapia

              Heh heh

              I actually knew it wasn’t catching on. Much funnier to say out loud than write down.

  • jjyank

    Weren’t people complaining a while ago about how bad the Yankees were in close game? I for one am thrilled that they’re righting that ship. The blowouts will come, I’m sure. But the close games have made for some good baseball, even with the hightened blood pressure.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Yup. They absolutely were.

      Winning games like last night’s are hugely important. We remember the blowouts, but those games where you have to just find a way to win are just as important.

  • vin

    ” They’re 8-6 in one-run games and 14-9 in two-run games overall, which means more than one-third of their contests this season have been separated by no more than a bloop and a blast”

    I wonder if the increase in close games has carried through to the rest of the league, or is it an anomaly with the Yankees. On the surface, it makes sense to me… Offense is down, pitching is up, decent parity… these games feel more like the post season than regular season.

  • CountryClub

    The pitching staff has been great. They now have the 4th best ERA in the AL. Feels like just a couple of weeks ago where they were second to last.

    I honestly havent been stressed out at all during this stretch. When the games are close, I always feel like the Yanks will score the run or two they need to get the W.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      It’s a nice feeling to watch the team be behind and have some confidence that they’ll still come back.

      Axisa should start bringing back “The Yankees will bring the tying run to the plate” now.

  • Eirias

    Best record in the American League. Fantastic.

  • Paul VuvuZuvella

    Didnt you call this hot streak? I seem to recall when things were pretty much at their worst this season, and my neurotic Yankee fan friends were driving me insane, you predicted a 9 out of 10 or 16 out of 20 type run. Don’t think you predicted the nail bighters, though but KUDOS.

  • MannyGeee

    I love everything I am reading right now. the pendulum swinging back to the Yankees winning the close ones instead of losing them is a beautiful thing.

    I too would love a 12 run game as much as the next guy, but I will take ‘pitching and defense (C)’ wins at this clip over winning by 12-1 today and losing 6-1 tomorrow

  • BK2ATL

    We’re in a great little stretch right now. Not playing our best baseball, but we’re finally getting strong starting pitching, timely hitting, and our bullpen as a whole is shutting teams down.

    I really think that we need to send Phelps down instead of Eppley. Garcia holds the long man role down, and Phelps is getting rusty from the lack of use. Eppley’s been this year’s Cory Wade so far.

    I think we will sweep Washington as well. Like the Atlanta series, it won’t come easy, but I think we’ll be able to pull out each game. Will be interesting to see how Hughes and Nova handle this lineup.

  • Kevin

    I like how we’ve done because chances are in the postseason..close games will sadly be the norm.
    If we win most of them by blowouts en route to 28..I’ll be fine with that though.

  • Tut

    Does this bring up the importance of run differential as a meter to judge a team? does too many one run wins indicate luck? Can a few ground balls going through for the other team change the results?

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      Years ago, Bill James did work showing that a team’s record in games decided by three or more runs had far more predictive value than games decided by one run. So much can happen in a one run game.

  • Deep Thoughts

    Wait a minute. Do you actually mean to suggest that games against above-.500 teams are competitive? Nobody could have predicted this.

    If you find this “nervewracking” try some nice Bigelow Green Tea or transcendental meditation.

  • KL

    And Yankee fans wonder why so many people hate them. They are on a hot streak, and playing very enjoyable games against good teams, and one of their top blogs is now complaining about them playing too many close games and not blowing enough teams out. Because it is nervewracking?

    Can you only enjoy games where they win 10-0? Geez.

    • al

      think you missed the point.

  • Whitney Rothe

    Pitching has been great. Clutch hits have come through late in games. What is there to complain about?

  • LiterallyFigurative

    The best thing about this run has been the pitching. As long as you keep your team in the game and go 6+, you can win. Plus, with the homerun power we have, a small deficit is never too much to overcome.

    The offense is far more consistent (in terms of runs scored each game).

    Each group doesn’t have to press or feel like it has to carry the team.

  • tommy cassella

    baseball is really a strange game. yankee fans were rooting hard against the braves and now we have to root for them because they are playing the oriole’s.

  • tommy cassella

    the yanks did the mets a big favor by sweeping atlanta and washington on the road. let’s see if the mets can return the favor be beating the oriole’s tonight.