Saturday, July 2, 2011
Yankees on pace for 100 wins at midway point
Through all the injuries and a 1-8 record against the Red Sox, the Yankees are the class of the American League at the halfway point of the season.
With their 5-2 win over the Mets Saturday, the Yankees improved to an American League best 50-31, which puts the Bronx Bombers on pace for a 100-win season. The team has also won a season-high seven games as it heads into the second half of the year.
"I'm pleased with the way we have played," Manager Joe Girardi said. "Our guys have kept at it, we've had some bad series, some tough series we've had to overcome and they’ve done that. I give them a lot of credit, they just go about, they're business-like and they go to work every day."
The biggest factor that most Yankees pointed to as to why they have been the top team in the American League this season is the contributions they have received from players who have filled in for injured starters, or those who are filling key spots in the rotation.
Saturday's game was a perfect example. Bartolo Colon was signed in the offseason and started the season in the bullpen, but after moving into the rotation after Phil Hughes' injury, he's 6-3 with a 2.88 ERA in 11 starts. Colon pitched six shutout innings against the Mets on Saturday.
At the plate, backup shortstop Eduardo Nunez, filling in for the injured Derek Jeter, went 3-for-4 and is 7-for-8 in the Subway Series. He had a home run to give the Yankees a 5-0 led in the ninth inning and has performed admirably while filling in for the Captain.
"I think we're playing well but there's no question there are areas we can improve," third baseman Alex Rodriguez said. "The good thing is collectively, one through 25, everybody is doing a little bit."
The bullpen is even a better example of what the players are talking about in terms of players stepping up. It has been devastated by injuries, as set-up man Rafael Soriano has missed a significant portion of the season and seventh-inning man Joba Chamberlain is lost for the season with a torn right MCL, yet it's still been one of the best units in baseball.
Unheralded relievers like Cory Wade, who threw two shutout innings Saturday, and Luis Ayala, pitching to a 1.38 ERA, have combined with fantastic seasons from David Robertson and Mariano Rivera to give the Yankees a formidable late-inning lockdown unit.
Add in other key first-half performances like Freddy Garcia in the rotation and Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira's home run explosions, and 100 wins is a realistic goal for the Yankees--even if they continue to struggle against the Red Sox.
"I think we're still working on some things," Teixeira said. "We're not a perfect team, there aren't any perfect teams. I love to see us get completely healthy in the bullpen. Other than that, you gotta feel good with where we are right now at the halfway point."