(hat tip to Pete Abraham)
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.)
Back in 2004, Donald Rumsfeld, the then-Secretary of Defense, uttered his now-infamous words about the U.S. Army in Iraq. “As you know,” he said, “you have to go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you want.” While I’m loathe to ever think about Rumsfeld these days, as I ponder the Yankees and their nine-game winning streak that has rejuvenated a season many had written off, his words ring true with the Yankees.
Take Johnny Damon, the Yankees’ once and former centerfielder. When the Yankees signed Damon in December of 2005, we knew we were getting an aging, banged-up player who could still hit and cover ground in the outfield but could never really throw. The Yanks were okay with that. Fast-forward to 2007, and Johnny Damon has, in effect, turned into Bernie Williams. I don’t mean that in a good way.
Heading into today’s game, Damon has been a non-factor on this team. He’s dealt with a variety of aches and pains this season, and his defense and throwing arm have gotten so shoddy that he has, in effect, lost his starting job to Melky Cabrera, a far superior defensive outfielder. When (if?) Jason Giambi returns from the DL, Torre will have to sacrifice outfield defense if he wants Damon’s bat in the lineup. And that’s probably turning into a big “if” these days.
As Bobby Abreu, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada and Hideki Matsui have, with help from Melky and Robinson Cano, carried the Yankees for the month of June, Johnny Damon hasn’t done much of anything. Damon this month is hitting .220/.291/.280, and he has just one home run since May 13. Johnny Damon 2007 is, so far, a far cry from the 24-HR Johnny Damon 2006.
Looking ahead to the next two seasons, the Yanks and Damon are wedded to each other no matter what. Much like the Bernie Williams situation, the Yanks have a banged up outfielder well on the wrong side of 30 showing drastic signs of decline in the field and at the plate. But it didn’t have to be this way.
Triple-A Scranton (9-3 win over Charlotte)
Kevin Thompson: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K
Kevin Reese: 3 for 5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 K
Andy Phillips: 0 for 4, 1 R, 1 BB
Shelley Duncan: 0 for 3, 2 BB, 1 K – broke modest 5 game hit streak
Angel Chavez: 1 for 5, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 SB
Bronson Sardinha: 2 for 5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 RBI – last 7 hits have gone for extras (6 doubles and a triple)
Alberto Gonzalez: 2 for 4, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB
Raul Chavez: 2 for 5, 2 R, 2 2B, 1 RBI, 1 E (throwing) – 6 for 15 after 0 for previous 17
Juan Francia: 3 for 4, 1 2B, 3 RBI, 1 K, 1 CS – picked off first
The Ghost of Kei Igawa: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 1-13 GB/FB – 64 of 95 pitches were strikes (67.4%)
Chris Britton: 3 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K
On June 4, just 10 days ago, the Wild Card standings looked like this:
Today, after the Yanks won their 9th in a row and the Tigers lost to the Brewers, the Wild Card picture looks markedly different:
What a different ten days of good baseball make.
Andy Pettitte pitches. Yanks hit (or walk). Yanks win. I’m getting quite used to this.