To improve their winning streak to four games and overall record to 35-31, the Yankees beat the Oakland Athletics 7-0 on Friday night at O.co Coliseum in Oakland. David Phelps had his best start of the season as he pitched 6.2 two-hit innings for his second win of the season, and seven different Yankees had RBIs.
Phelps had four strikeouts and allowed three walks while throwing 102 pitches. He was able to pitch well with runners in scoring position since the Athletics did not convert on any of their three chances. Phelps allowed seven earned runs and 10 hits in 5.2 innings in his last start, which proves that he was able to rebound very well.
Phelps’s dominating pitching performance was important, but it was just as significant that the offense scored six or more runs for the second consecutive game. Brett Gardner, Derek Jeter, Ichiro Suzuki and Brian Roberts all had two hits for the Yankees, while everyone else in the lineup besides Carlos Beltran had a hit. They did their damage off of small ball as they scored all of their runs off of singles and a sacrifice fly. Also, the Yankees have drastically improved their hitting with runners in scoring position as they are 6-13 in their last four games.
Jacoby Ellsbury‘s single to left in the first inning that drove in Gardner for the first run of the game gave him a 17-game hitting streak. Later in the first inning, off of Oakland starter Sonny Gray who came into the game with a 2.83 ERA, Mark Teixeira’s sac fly to center scored Jeter. Ellsbury has improved his average from .258 to .290 since the start of his hitting streak. Over his last four games, Ellsbury has five RBIs, one homer and three runs scored and is hitting like he should remain in the three hole.
Ellsbury is impressed with how the offense has improved over the last four games and knows that the team has talented hitters. “When a team is clicking offensively it builds confidence with the team,” Ellsbury said. “We have very good hitters one through nine. We like where we are at right now.”
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Ellsbury is the first Yankee since Reggie Jackson in 1977 to have the game winning RBI in each of the Yankees last four games.
Another player that has recently been on a hot streak is Jeter. He has improved his average from .259 to .275 in his last seven games. He has four multi-hit games in his last four games and has scored five runs and stolen two bases in that span. Jeter has always said that baseball is a game of momentum and he is proving that he can continue being a productive player for the rest of his final season.
The other Yankees who drove in runs were Gardner in the second, and Ichiro, Roberts and Kelly Johnson all drove in runs off of singles in the eighth inning.
Dellin Betances, the rookie from New York City who could be the Yankees’ first set-up man All-Star since David Robertson, picked up his ninth hold of the season and recorded two more strikeouts in his 1.1 innings of relief of Phelps. Even though he is a relief pitcher, his is in 30th place of all pitchers in the American League in strikeouts (65), and has the second most strikeouts among Yankees pitchers behind Masahiro Tanaka.
Betances now has an outstanding ERA of 1,63 and a WHIP of 0.75. His control, which was not so reliable earlier in his career, has been remarkable as he only 10 walks compared to his 65 strikeouts. He can throw a 99 MPH fastball and throws his slurve in the mid 80s.
Saturday’s game will start at 10:05 p.m. EST and if the Yankees are able to stretch their winning streak to five, they will have their second winning streak of that many games of the season. A win would validate the winning streak that started in Seattle because the Athletics have the best record in the American League, and it would also mean that they would win the series.