The Yankees had a much needed offensive outburst from Nick Swisher to help them defeat the Cubs, 10-4, and win the series in the process. After pitching a shaky first three innings, where he allowed all four of the Cubs’ runs, CC Sebathia was able to bounce back and have a solid start.
Sebathia has not been able to pitch like his usual dominant self but he has at least been able to get the win in two out of his last three starts. The only other true positive sign over his last three starts is that he has not walked more than two batters in any start, and has three combined. However, he has had a tendency to be less accurate with the location of his pitches early in his starts, which has caused the offense to have to bail him out.
Overall, he has picked up the victory for the Yankees in six out of his last seven starts. He has proven that he will allow three runs or less more often than not, so it seems like he will surely bounce back from this rough stretch. He is impressively able to rebound after allowing some runs early in a start to keep the team in the game. When an ace does not have his best stuff that is all you can ask for.
As for Nick Swisher, he has reverted to his 2010 form, where he was the last one voted on to the All-Star team last season, since he has raised his average 21 points in the last nine days. A few weeks ago some were thinking that the Yankees might have to get an outfielder to replace Swisher, but he has successfully proven that he was just going through a slump. He has drawn 10 walks since his turn-around began on June 10th, and has also blasted two homers while driving in seven runs. In yesterdays game against the Cubs, he hit a home run and collected four RBI. Throughout his career, as well as this season, he has proven that he is a valuable asset because he can be relied upon to draw walks, but to truly help the team he needs to continue to hit for a decent average and drive in runs. It is a great bonus to have the always energetic Swisher back on track.
Another player that was somewhat of a catalyst in the 10-4 victory and has also hit significantly better recently is the speedy Brett Gardner. He was 3 for 5, with his fourth homer of the season, an RBI and two runs scored. Since play began on June 9th he has had six multi hit games helping his average 40 points to a very solid .294. He has made more of a drastic improvement than Swisher while definitely making a case for hitting leadoff when Derek Jeter returns from injury.
On the other hand, it would make sense to hit Jeter lead-off until he picks six more hits becoming the 28th member of the 3,000 hit club. Since Gardner hitting has been much improved, and he causes havoc on the base-paths, it would make sense to have him bat first. This could move Jeter down to eighth in front of Russell Martin. Martin has regressed since his torrid start to the season, but batting him last in the order would give them a little power and speed to close out the lineup.
The Yankees really should have swept the series at Wrigley Field against the Cubs, who are the second to worst team in baseball, but at least they were able to win the last two games. With Boston playing at such a high level recently they need to take advantage of all the games against teams below .500. They were able to use effective pitching by A.J. Burnett as well as four relief pitchers out of the bullpen to get the one-run victory in game two, and then Sebathia’s ability to not give in after the first few innings combined with a 10 run effort helped the Yankees win the series.
The Cubs have the second to worst team ERA in the National League and the Yankees were able to successfully take advantage of their deficiency in the final game. The Yankees now face the Cincinnati Reds who similarly have a much stronger offense than pitching staff. However, they are 38-35 and only two games out of first in the NL Central. Currently, they find themselves 12th in the NL in pitching but 3rd in average and homers. Sluggers on the Reds to watch out for include Joey Votto who will be in the All-Star game, Jay Bruce, Brandon Phillips and the Drew Stubbs who has swiped 20 bases. The Great American Ballpark is notorious for the higher rate that homers are hit than in many other stadiums.
The Yankees will send out a struggling Ivan Nova (6-4, 4.46, 1.56 WHIP), as well Brian Gordon, who will be making his second start filling in for the resurgent Bartolo Colon and then Freddy Garcia. Johnny Cueto was scheduled to start tonight, but has a sore neck, so the Yankees get to face the more favorable Travis Wood (5-4, 5.11). The Yankees have won their last three series, since the sweep to the Red Sox, and will battle a playoff contender from the National League.