Any week in which a team increases its division lead is a good week. The New York Yankees ended the second week of the regular season tied atop the American League East standings, and have worked their way up to a one game lead. It was a hectic stretch for the Bombers, one in which they had a rain out, a doubleheader against the Chicago Cubs, and were on each end of a pair of blowouts with the Tampa Bay Rays. When infielder Dean Anna needs to pitch an inning by flinging 60 mph something-or-others across the plate then everyone knows it has been a crazy few days.
The continuous CC Sabathia watch elicited better results in his last start against the Rays and their ace David Price. Sabathia is probably at the point where expecting a miraculous return of his velocity is wishful thinking, but he continued to put batters down via the strikeout and the results were solid. An ongoing worry is the home run problem the Yankees’ former ace has had, and Sabathia did allow yet another, bringing his season total to six in only 26 innings. If he can keep the ball in the yard then he should be dependable.
Yangervis Solarte hit his first home run of his major league career against Tampa Bay, part of a three-hit day. He got on base in 6/17 plate appearances in the series. Everyone waiting on him to turn back into a pumpkin will be right in the long run, but for now he has been a revelation, and along with Masahiro Tanaka has given the Yankees the best pair of rookies in baseball. Solarte’s start has been exciting, and it is great to see a guy who spent seven years in the minors finally get to make his debut and capitalize on it. New York has already gotten more than they bargained for out of him, and if he can just hit enough to be a useful utility player then he will stick around thanks to his versatility. With Mark Teixeira back from the disabled list as of Sunday, Solarte may be back to playing slightly less than full time.
April is always too early to write anyone off, but Brian Roberts looks really out of sorts. In his last seven games he has more strikeouts than hits, and his OPS on the season is now down at .500. On the flip side is Brian McCann, who looked about as confused at the plate as Roberts does a few weeks ago. Since hitting his first home run as a Yankee on April 12, followed by his second in the same game against Boston, McCann is 8/24 with 4 extra-base hits and an OPS of 1.110. The Yankees big ticket acquisitions of McCann, Ellsbury and Tanaka are all paying massive dividends. Hopefully Roberts comes around as well.
The next week for New York takes them to Boston for their first series at Fenway this year, followed by a nine game home stand. Boston has recovered well from a slow start, winning four of their last five games. They will be well-motivated after losing three of four on their trip to Yankee Stadium. The Red Sox are currently in last place, but the competition in the East division is thick and they sit only two and a half games back of the first place Yankees. The Bombers’ rotation is lined up as well as could be, with Tanaka, Michael Pineda, and Sabathia slated to start the three games. Tanaka and Pineda’s games have become must watch, particularly against the Red Sox. If they can keep Dean Anna off of the mound then consider their starts a success.
Commentary by Brian Moore
Guardian Liberty Voice Sports Writer covering New York Baseball