The Yankees concluded the three game set against the Houston Astros with a 5-4 victory. Mariano Rivera picked up his eleventh save in 11 chances helping the Yankees improve to an impressive 17-10 record on the season.
A sweep of the three game set against the Astros, who are currently 8-20, would have been ideal, but even though the Astros do not have the most imposing offense Andy Pettitte was due for an off game on Monday. He came into the contest with an excellent ERA of 2.22, reminding fans of the way Pettitte pitched earlier in his career, but his ERA now sits at 3.86.
The Yankees currently have a grand total of eight regulars on the DL, which makes it even more impressive that they have 17 wins in their first 27 games. Brian Cashman should get a lot of credit for acquiring players before the team left Florida who have been able to replace the starters in an exemplary manner so far.
One of Cashman’s off-season signings, Ben Francisco, has not worked out like his others so far, but he did hit a solo home run in the third inning that would help the Bronx Bombers take a 4-0 early advantage. Francisco was brought to the Yankees to provide a productive righty bat off the bench, so hopefully his walk and homer will help him be more productive.
Ichiro was the only Yankee with two hits and Robinson Cano hit his eighth home run of the season. That solo homer by Cano was his 185th of his career, which ties Paul O’Neil for 17th place on the all-time list of the storied franchise. Besides Francisco and Cano, the other runs were scored by Ichiro, Travis Hafner and Eduardo Nunez.
David Phelps, who made his first start of the campaign, as a result of Ivan Nova being put on the disabled list, allowed four runs in 5.2 innings. He fell apart in the fourth inning as he hit two batters and allowed all four of Houston’s runs, but was successfully able to limit any further damage in the fifth inning.
As has happened many times the past few weeks the bullpen was basically flawless. Over 3.1 innings, the trio of Boone Logan, David Robertson and Mariano Rivera combined for four strikeouts, two hits and no runs. This excellent relief pitching should last all season, but is even more necessary while the Yankees are without their offensive stars.
However, Vernon Wells (.298 and 6 homers), Lyle Overbay (4 homers), Travis Hafner (.304 and 17 RBI) and Kevin Youkilis when he was healthy, have performed better than expected and have been instrumental in the team getting off to the start that they have. It seems like Curtis Granderson will return to the Yankees in about two-three weeks after after a rehab stint with about 50 at-bats.
Granderson’s return will present a dilemma for manager Joe Girardi because they will have four quality starters for three outfield spots. It will depend on who stays hot, but Ichiro will likely be put into a platoon as a result of how much Wells is helping offensively.
The Yankees have an off day on Thursday and then conclude the 10 game home stand with a three game series against the Oakland Athletics. It will be their first series of the year agains Oakland who has the seventh best record in the league (16-13).
Update: On Wednesday, The Yankees acquired Chris Nelson, who can play second and third base, from the Rockies for cash considerations or a player to be named later. He was hitting .242, with six runs scored and four RBI so far this season. He is a former first-round pick in 2004 who was recently designated for assignment by the Rockies. He will be able to give Cano or Jayson Nix a day off, which the Yankees were not able to do previously with their injury situation.