Yankees working to correct the market

We’re on one helluva ride, folks. This actually feels a ton better than the 10-game winning streak back in 2005, because we played so much worse baseball for so much longer. This got to the point where many fans argued that “they haven’t shown us signs that they can put it together, so what should make me think that they eventually will?” Hell, I was at one time asking friends why I continued to bother watching. That’s bad.

However, it only makes sense that the Yankees would go through a market correction period, playing well better than anyone would have expected in order for them to be where they truly should at this point. While we were slumping in mid-May, many people cited the Yankees record in one-run games and their Pythagorean record as evidence that they’ll turn things around. By the end of May, many of those arguments were written off. All the sudden, they’re valid again.

The Yankees currently hold the third greatest run differential in the league. Since historical research shows that a team’s record heavily correlates to their run differential, you have to think that the correction will continue for a bit (maybe not in a string of consecutive wins, but certainly in a string of playing .700 ball). They’re 33-31 right now, with a Pythagorean record of 38-26. I’m not saying they’ll fulfill that expectation soon (in fact, given how they played in May, it will be exceedingly difficult to live up to their Pythag record — we’ll need as much good luck in the future as bad luck we had in the past).

(Also, for the record, Boston’s Pythag is 39-26. They’re coming back to earth, and we’re emerging from the depths. This is why we can’t get too worked up over the first two months of the season — though we already did and will continue to do so in the future.)

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The anatomy of a winning streak

Photo Credit: Associated Press
What’s sweeter than picking up an eighth straight win? Picking up another game on Boston. Yeah, I know that I shouldn’t be thinking about the standings right now; winning is the name of the game, and as long as the Yanks keep doing that, they don’t have to worry about much else. But it’s still nice to see that GB number dwindle. Eight and a half is still a big number, but remember, it was 14.5 just two weeks ago.

Things look to be getting better, too — if that’s possible. We’ve inserted Clemens into the rotation, which helps solidify one of the weak points that was exploited during the season’s first two months. Sure, he’s not going to win the Cy Young or anything, but he doesn’t need to. They Yanks just need someone on whom they can rely.

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The glorious return to .500

On Sunday, June 3, the Yankees defeated the Red Sox 6-5. The game took over four hours to play. That Friday night, June 3, they won 9-5 in a 3-hour, 53-minute bout. Even against the lowly-hitting White Sox and Pirates, the Yanks weren’t able to get the games under three hours.

Last night’s billing of Webb vs. Wang, however, was sure to be different. They’re economical pitchers, both throwing just 3.5 pitches per batter faced. They also both throw a good percentage of strikes: 65% for Webb, 63% for Wang. And guess what? The game clocked in at a hair over two and a half hours (2:34). That was especially nice, considering the near-hour rain delay.

The weird thing was, though, that Wang recorded more flyball outs than groundballs: 10 to 9. It was billed as a night many worms would die, but Wang seemingly had different plans. It didn’t hurt his overall effectiveness, though, as he allowed six hits in seven innings, striking out two and walking none. He threw 64% strikes, which is always a blessing.

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Yanks head into well-deserved off day with another win

I haven’t felt this good about the Yankees since we swept Cleveland. Finally, the Yankees have exploited a weak spot in their schedule and have rattled off six straight wins, and nine of their last 11. We’re finally back in second place, a half game ahead of the Blue Jays, and just a game below .500. And we have the second most runs scored in the majors, behind only Detroit (who are hugely benefiting from Gary Sheffield).

It’s a commonly held belief that you never want to ruin the momentum of a winning streak. If you’re hot you’re hot, and you want to keep rolling until the streak ends. However, I must disagree and say that today’s off-day comes at an opportune time. This is the team’s first day off in June, a month in which they have scored 74 runs. A day off to get collected is going to be a blessing. There’s simply no way the team can keep up with that torrid pace, so an interruption may be just long enough to recharge the batteries — especially since there’s no travel involved.

(Or maybe I’m just throwing darts because I’m so damn happy that we’re winning.)

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Rocket relaunch live-blogged

On May 6, the Stadium erupted when Roger Clemens announced his return. Today, on a hot, muggy day in New York, Clemens is just a minute or two away from his debut. He’s facing the Pittsburgh Pirates, and I’ll be here live-blogging. So let’s get to work.

Seventh Inning: The Yanks score three runs in the top of the sixth, and Brian Bruney is on the hill in relief of Clemens. Cairo is at first, and Melky makes up for last night’s error with a great play to lead off the inning. That’s it for the live blog. We’ll have some Clemens analysis later on. Let’s hope the Yankee bullpen can nail down another win.

For the rest of the live blog, continue reading below.

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Why can’t the Pirates develop pitchers?

Today won’t be as much of a recap as a rail on the Pirates and their history with pitchers. The idea came up after I got a text message or two during the game asking if Gorzelanny is really that good.

The answer is yes. The kid can flat deal. The question, though, is whether the Pirates will screw him up like they have nearly every other promising pitcher that has gone through their system.

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Moose whines more than we do at our host

Mike Mussina has been with the Yankees for nearly seven years now. He’s seen 619 of Joe Torre’s 2000 wins and 1027 of Joe’s games. Yet, for some reason – some reason I can’t fathom – Mike Mussina was pissed off after getting taken out of a 1-0 game in the 7th inning.

Now, why was Mike Mussina whining? Because he had thrown just 79 pitches and wanted to throw more. He wanted to, as he told Tyler Kepner of The Times, throw 110 pitches. And that’s just ridiculous.

Mussina, the Stanford-educated crossword-puzzle aficionado, is a smart guy. He probably knows that Joe Torre has something of a quick hook (as Joe noted earlier this afternoon). We’ve certainly been critical of Torre’s bullpen tendencies in the past, but last night, he made the right move. Mussina should know that.

Moose had just come off of a few bad outings in a row. Entering last night’s game, he was 2-3 with an ERA north of 6.20. But in six innings, he looked great last night. He had given up two hits while walking no one and striking out four. The seventh started out promisingly enough; he gave up a slow roller to Jim Thome.

But – and this is a big but – with the Thome shift on, Robinson Cano was in no position to field the ball, and Miguel Cairo, hustling all the way, couldn’t range from the second base bag to the second base hole and throw out Thome. It should have been an out, and that look crept onto Mike Mussina’s face. It was that “I’m out of my comfort zone” look. It’s the same look I’ve written about in the past.

I knew what would happen next. Mussina doesn’t get an out; he stops making the pitches. The next batter – Paul Konerko – rocketed a single off of Mussina. And that was the end of him for the night. His final line read 6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K. He didn’t get the win, but that’s no big deal as the Yanks crushed the Sox bullpen later on.

After the game, Mussina grumbled like a cranky old man. “Why am I upset? Because I threw 80 pitches and I think I could have thrown 110. It was the first mess I had. I just felt like I could have kept going,” he said. “I understand his thinking, but seventh inning with 79 pitches? I know I haven’t been pitching that well, but oh well. Gotta earn it back, I guess. Gotta earn it back.”

That’s right, Moose. You have to earn it back. You have to suck it up when a squibbler goes for a base hit, and you have to take your lumps like the rest of the team.

And here is just one more nail in the Mike Mussina coffin. Enough already, Mike. Just pitch. You have almost as many excuses as this guy, and we don’t like him too much.