First Pitch: How sweep it is?

May, 27, 2012
5/27/12
7:00
AM ET
You have to go back a long way -- all the way to April 9-11 -- to find the last time the Yankees swept a series.

That one came at the expense of the Baltimore Orioles, who were not yet the squad that now sits atop the AL East, 11 games over .500.

Since then, the Yankees' season has been a series of fits and starts, of a win or two here, followed by a loss or two or three there.

At times, the problem has been the starting pitching, and at other, more recent times, it has been the hitting, or lack thereof, especially in clutch situations.

But this week, the bats have seemed to begin awakening from their long winter slumber, and after Saturday's 9-2 win over the Oakland Athletics the Yankees stand nine innings away from their first series sweep since the second series of the season.

True, it's only the A's, the low-budget, weak-hitting A's, but still, it is something the Yankees have not been able to do to anyone, from the mighty Texas Rangers to the lowly Kansas City Royals, practically all season long.

There has been a team-wide inconsistency that has made what is normally a commonplace occurrence practically impossible for them this season. So while another win over the A's won't be hard evidence that the Yankees' problems have been fixed or guarantee them a playoff spot, it will at least be a sign that for three games at least, they have been able to sustain a winning brand of baseball, which is a step in the right direction.

Once again, the burden falls on Hiroki Kuroda, whose personal inconsistency this season in many ways mirrors that of the team. Kuroda has lost three of four decisions this month and while his last outing wasn't terrible -- three earned runs in 5 1/3 innings against the Royals -- it was not nearly good enough when the Yankees' lineup was being shut down by Felipe Paulino.

Today, Kuroda draws LHP Tommy Milone, who has never faced the Yankees. That rarely works out well for them. But with the lineup suddenly starting to hit again, it is possible that this time, the Yankees and Kuroda will show a quality that has eluded them all season: the ability to win on a consistent, rather than a sporadic basis.

The Question: After his big day Saturday, do you think Mark Teixeira's problems are behind him? Or was this a one-day extravaganza?

Up now: My column on Teixeira's big day, blogs on Derek Jeter's rough day, Robby Cano's hitting surge, and Joe Girardi's cereal jones.

Coming later: Team reports a bit later today -- 10:15 a.m. Pacific time, 1:15 p.m. NY time -- for today's 4:05 p.m. start, so sleep a little later and start checking for blog items around that time. And as always, thanks for reading.

Question No. 2: When David Robertson comes back, do you think he should be the closer? Or should the Yankees stick with Rafael Soriano?
Wallace Matthews has covered New York sports since 1983 as a reporter, columnist, radio host and TV commentator. He covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com after working for Newsday, the New York Post, the New York Sun and ESPN New York 98.7 FM.
Follow Wallace on Twitter »  Chat archive »

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?

TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Masahiro Tanaka
WINS ERA SO IP
3 2.15 35 29
OTHER LEADERS
BAJ. Ellsbury .342
HRC. Beltran 5
RBIC. Beltran 13
RJ. Ellsbury 12
OPSC. Beltran .920
ERAM. Tanaka 2.15
SOM. Tanaka 35

NEW YORK CALENDAR