As has been thoroughly reported, the Yankees have struggled lately in losing 6 of 7 games going into yesterday’s contest with the Royals. They have not hit with runners in scoring position. They have not gotten quality starts from their rotation. Their bullpen has been inconsistent. They have had key injuries, and their manager hasn’t made enough changes. Every possible excuse has been used to write the team off.
Even though the victory was against a team that is 8 games below .500, last night gave the New York Yankees faithful some reason to believe that there may be a light at the end of the tunnel.
First, they had multiple hits (2) with runners in scoring position. It is a category that has plagued them all season. In fact, during the previous night’s game the team was an unbelieveable 0 – 13 with RISP. The 2 hits last night represents a significant improvement and show that perhaps they are turning a corner.
Second, starter Phil Hughes went 6 innings in which he allowed 2 earned runs and struck out 7. This continues an upward trend for the 26 year-old hurler, and marks the fourth straight game where he has yielded 3 runs or less. In that time his ERA has dropped from 7.48 to 4.94. Hughes is slowly establishing himself as a solid piece to the New York Yankees rotation.
Third, manager Joe Girardi wisely utilized his bullpen in calling upon 5 different relievers to go the final 3 innings. Those pitchers gave up a total of 2 hits, 0 walks, and most importantly, no runs. Rafael Soriano recorded his third save in as many attempts, and seems to have found a new home as the Yankee closer until Mariano Rivera returns next season.
Finally, much maligned first baseman Mark Teixeira was moved down to seventh in the order by Girardi, and responded with a base hit and run scored in three trips to the plate. While it might not seem like much, it represents the eighth time in his last nine full games that he has reached base with hits. His average has slowly raised to .229, up from .212 two weeks ago.
All of these things are nothing more than baby steps, but at least they are something. New York Yankees fans have been desperately searching for anything to give them reason to keep believing. Yesterday’s game may just be that hope they have looked for.
With Andy Pettitte scheduled to pitch tonight’s rubber game against Kansas City, fans could actually see momentum shift to the New York Yankees, and provide further proof that the team is well on its way down the road to recovery.