After their 11-3 win over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim behind 7.1 effective innings from Ivan Nova, the Yankees have now won four games in a row and five out of their last six games. Led by Alfonso Soriano’s 13 RBIs in the last two games, their 25 runs scored in the last two games were as many runs as they scored in their previous eight games combined.
Soriano’s performance since hitting his 2,000th career hit on Sunday has been one out of a video game. In the past four games, which includes an 0-3 on Monday, Soriano is 7-15, with seven runs scored, the aforementioned 13 RBIs, five homers and one grand slam. He joins Tony Lazzeri, (15 in 1936) Lou Gehrig (12 in 1930) and Babe Ruth (12 in 1927) as Yankees who have hit 12 or more RBIs in a two-game span.
However, his last two games is where the historic damage has happened. His walk-up song is Hot in Here by Nelly and he is certainly living up to that. He is only the fourth Yankee who has slugged back-to-back multi homer games. He is also the first Yankee to drive in seven runs in a game since Alex Rodriguez did so on the last game of the 2009 season against the Tampa Bay Rays.
He was able to hit his grand slam last night against Angels ace, Jared Weaver, with two outs in the first inning. His hot streak definitely appears to be legit because Weaver has been one of the best pitchers in the American League this season, and partly because of Soriano, his ERA went from 2.87 to 3.49 after yesterday’s game.
Since the Yankees scored 11 runs there were definitely other players who contributed to the offensive outburst. Robinson Cano, who is now in 15th place in the all-time Yankee hit list, went 4-4, with two runs scored and an RBI. This was also his 22nd four-hit game as a Yankee. Curtis Granderson was two for three, with two runs scored an an RBI. Granderson is now eight for his last 14, with a homer, two runs batted in and five runs scored. Cano, Alex Rodriguez, Granderson and Soriano, who were the 3-6 in the lineup and will be on most nights, can rival any heart of the lineup in the league.
The Yankees now truly have a legitimate lineup with power at multiple positions. That is something that could not have been said for much of the season and the lineup will be able to give pitchers much more run support. This includes Ivan Nova, who received more than four runs in a start for the first time since July 10.
Nova, who picked up his sixth win of the season, has now pitched seven or more innings in his last seven starts while limiting the opposition to three runs or less in all of those starts. He has allowed two runs or less in five of those starts and figures to form an imposing trio at the top of the rotation with Hiroki Kuroda and CC Sabathia, if Sabathia can continue his resurgence.
The Bronx Bombers, as they can fittingly be called again, are currently five games behind the Oakland Athletics for the second Wild-Card and will try to sweep the Angels on Thursday. The finale of the series will be a matinee that will start at 1:05.
Phil Hughes will start for the Yankees and C.J. Wilson will take the hill for the Angels. Hughes has a 4.99 season ERA, but Hughes’s home ERA is a horrible 6.18. If he wants to make anything of his season he will need to pitch six innings while allowing three runs.
After the Yankees (2.5 ahead of the Red Sox in AL East) lost last night to the Angels 2-1, behind a dominating eight innings by Jared Weaver, who gave up three hits including Jesus Montero’s third home run and sixth RBI in six games, CC Sebathia will pitch looking to get the Yankees back on track.
Weaver is one of the top five starters in the American League, sporting a 2.44 ERA and 187 strike outs, so his dominance of the Yankee lineup is not that surprising even though he was coming off two shaky starts. The Yankees will possibly face Weaver twice in the playoffs so if this happens they will need to figure him out before the postseason starts.
There were two major positives to take out of this game.
One was the aforementioned Montero continued to jolt the offense by supplying power and average out of the Designated Hitter spot. It seems like he will positively affect the Yankees down the home-stretch of the season in a similar way that Joba Chamberlain did out of the bullpen in 2007.
The second is that Bartolo Colon (3.55 ERA) bounced back from a month of August where he was not nearly as dominating as in previous months. He had three rocky stars in August, where he allowed four runs or more three times, but he bounced back with a vengeance limiting the Angels offense to zero earned runs in seven innings.
This start by Colon should cement his name as the winner of the Comeback Player of the Year after missing the entire 2010 campaign because of a rotator cuff injury. After this game against the Halos he was probably thinking back to 2005, which was the last time he picked up hardware being named the Angels second CY Young recipient.
The Yankees were in position play their third consecutive extra inning contest, after losing two in a row to the Orioles, but the Angels scored in the bottom of the ninth off of a Maicier Izturis sacrifice fly that drove in Jeremy Moore, who pinch ran for Alberto Callaspo. The run was charged to Aaaron Laffey as he gave up Callaspo’s single but Luis Ayala gave up the sac fly.
Sabathia is the pitcher the Yankees want to stop this three-game losing streak as he is also in the top five in CY Young consideration this season. He is coming off four straight quality starts, has 19 wins and a 2.97 ERA but will be pitching behind a lineup with some notable absences.
The somewhat fragile Alex Rodriguez in not playing and is being replaced by Eric Chavez. Nick Swisher whose elbow is hurting will be replaced by the infielder, Eduardo Nunez, in right-field. Also, the Yankees received some troubling news as Francisco Cervelli was originally in the lineup but now is not because of concussion symptoms and is being sent for an impact test.
Nobody has any idea how Nunez will handle playing right-field especially after making so many errors at second/short but he is able to be productive at the plate.
The Yankees need another vintage Sebathia start to help them end their losing streak and hopefully their offense will pick up where it left off against Angels starter Dan Haren.
Haren is having a solid season for the Angels with a 3.20 ERA but in his start in the Bronx earlier this season he allowed four runs in 6.2 innings.
An advantage that the Yankees should be able to capitalize on is that the Angels offense is weaker than in years past, as nobody is hitting higher than .290 (Howie Kendrick), or has more than 80 RBI (rookie Mike Trumbo). However, the Angels have been playing potent baseball recently as they are only 2.5 games behing the Texas Rangers and 7-3 in their last 10 contests.
The Yankees lost for the second game in a row to the Baltimore Orioles by the score of 5-4 in extra innings, but the culprit this time was actually the bullpen. After playing the Orioles at home for three games they had to travel to Baltimore, during a rare off day, for one game, to make up a game that was postponed due to Hurricane Irene.
Ivan Nova pitched well enough to get the victory, allowing three runs in 5.1 innings and it would have made sense for Girardi to have left him in to finish the sixth inning since he was only at 98 pitches. This was Nova’s 13th start since June 3rd and he is remarkably not picked up a loss in any of them, while getting the victory 11 times.
However, he was on track to win the game since Alfredo Simon gave up four runs in the first three innings. All the runs actually came off of singles. In the top of the second, Eric Chavez singled to shortstop scoring Alex Rodriguez. Later in the inning with the bases loaded and two outs, Derek Jeter singled to shallow center scoring Robinson Cano and Chavez.
In the top of the third Chavez would collect his second single of the afternoon and thus his second RBI as Mark Teixiera scored from second after a rare steal. After the fourth inning the Yankees failed to have a runner reach scoring position off of five Orioles relievers.
They were shut off the bases by four of those relievers and three of them – Clay Rapada, Jeremy Accardo and Jo-Jo Reyes – have ERA’s over 5.18. They will need to improve their hitting against relief pitching as they will be facing relieves who are much more dominating in the coming series against the Angels in Anaheim, as well as in the playoffs.
Baltimore was led by likely Hall of Famer, Vladimir Guerrero, who was 3-5, with a homer off of Nova. The real hero for the Orioles during this game was the speedy Robert Andino out of the ninth spot in the Baltimore lineup. He won the game for the O’s as he had an RBI single in the 8th off of Rafael Soriano for his second blown save, and a walk-off single in the 10th off of the newly re-acquired Scott Proctor.
They Yankees were lucky that the Blue Jays helped them out once again by beating the Red Sox to keep their division lead at 2.5 games.
The Angels have been surging of late, having won six of their last 10, and they also won seven of eight towards the end of August. Anaheim is now only 2.5 games behind the Texas Rangers so it is possible that the Yankees will play them in the first round of the playoffs.
However, the Detroit Tigers (who lead the AL Central by 8.5 games), Rangers and Angels are all only separated by 2.5 games so we likely will not know the first round pairings until the last few days of the season. If the Red Sox win the Wild Card as they in position to right now they will play the division winner with the second best record and the Yankees will play the other division winner.
As of now the most favorable matchup for the Yankees would be if the Angels do indeed overtake the Rangers in the AL West since they have the weakest offense and the Yankees hit pretty well against their starters, which even includes CY Young candidate Jared Weaver.
They don’t want the take the mindset of scoreboard watching to set up their first round matchup but facing the Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander (22 wins, 2.44 ERA, 232 strikeouts) twice in the first round would be very imposing.
The Yankees should have been able to win three or even four of the games during their makeshift series against the last place Orioles, but they played down to the competition in the last two games with errors, not hitting in the clutch and A.J. Burnett pitching on Wednesday. They also had to deal with a lot of rain.
After playing in what seemed like monsoon conditions at times the Yankees are definitely happy to be playing cross country near Disney Land for three games against the Angels. They will get to avoid the rain for at least three days, play under the sun, but will unfortunately have to face Weaver on Friday after not much rest.
The hefty Bartolo Colon (8-9, 3.72 ERA, 123 strikeouts) who has been consistently reliable and at times dominating, surpassing any expectations that Cashman would have had for him, will pitch against the team that he won the CY Young for in 2005. That was also the last season that he was healthy for the whole campaign.
Colon should be a lock for the Comeback Player of the Year after the blast from the past season that he has put together, especially since he was out of baseball during 2010 due to right shoulder pain and damage to his rotator cuff.
Usually teams that are playing games on the other side of the country have a travel day but the Yankees off day was ruined because of the makeup game yesterday.
The Yankees lead the season series 4-2 after struggling against the Angels in years past. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, (who have gimmicks like the rally monkey that the Yankees would never use) have been the Yankees nemesis in the playoffs in previous seasons but it seems like they match up better this season.