With one more week of the regular season complete, the New York Yankees sit tied on top of the American League East with a 7-6 record. The Yankees made up a one game deficit to the Tampa Bay Rays by taking three of four games at home against the Boston Red Sox, and now sit even with the Toronto Blue Jays. During the series the team matched their season high for runs scored in a game and held the Red Sox to only 11 runs total.
After not hitting their first home run until their fifth game, and only having five homers total going into the series against Boston, the Yankees cranked eight home runs in the four game series. The team hit five on Saturday alone, including the first two as a Yankee by Brian McCann. The free agent acquisition catcher had his best stretch yet, going 4/11 with a walk in the rivalry match-up. Carlos Beltran also had a big weekend, homering on both Saturday and Sunday. He has now gone yard in three of his last five games, and leads the team with eight runs batted in.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the season so far is how hot Yangervis Solarte has remained. Solarte is currently holding down Mark Teixeira’s spot in the lineup, by way of third base. Kelly Johnson, who was expected to be the Yankees’ regular third baseman, has shifted over to first while Teixeira recovers from a leg injury. After going 3/7 over the weekend, Solarte now has line of .357/.413/.500. which includes six doubles in only 42 at bats. Without him the team’s offense would be in a really bad place at the moment.
On the other side of the ball, the Yankees have had to make due without their closer and former all star reliever David Robertson. New York actually leads the majors in saves, and are one of only six teams who have yet to blow a save. Manager Joe Girardi is really getting the most out of a bullpen of unknowns.
The starting pitching has continued to looks like the strength of the team. The starting five are combining to strikeout around eight batters per nine innings, and both Michael Pineda and Masahiro Tanaka look like they are exceeding their expectations. Oddly enough, the question mark continues to be CC Sabathia. The former Cy Young Award winner and the Yankees’ highest paid pitcher continues to struggle with his velocity. Sabathia’s fastball is averaging out at 89 mph, and is getting hit much harder and more consistently than either his change or slider.
At this point it does not seem like a significant jump in velocity is going to manifest, but Yankee fans should be patient with their ace. His k/9 is actually a career high thus far, while his walk rate is a career low. His biggest struggle has been keeping the ball in the yard, as he has allowed five home runs already. The likely outcome going forward is the home run problem evens out resulting in much better ERA numbers for Sabathia, but the strikeouts probably do not stay quite so high.
The offense has looked okay, and the pitching has looked great. The Yankees are in first, but their season record is only a game above .500. That is the result of the division playing a bunch of games against each other early in the season. By the end of April, both Robertson and Teixeira should be back in uniform and ready to play, hopefully bringing a boost to the roster. The East is going to continue to be tough, and the Yankees offense is going to have to keep up what they have done for the team’s success to continue later in the year.
Commentary by Brian Moore
Guardian Liberty Voice Sports Writer covering New York Baseball