Look at the bright side, the bullpen got the night off.
The Yankees played this game like a team that was hung-over and suffering from jet-lag.
New York’s 3-4-5 hitters went 0-11 with 6 strikeouts in this contest.
Now, the first reaction to this outcome would be to say “They’ve been playing everyday for a while now. And, they’re just coming off the tough Boston series. And, the move to the West Coast always hits on the second or third day. It’s only natural for them to be playing like lead weights now.”
But, on the other hand, let’s not forget that, in the three series before the Red Sox series, the Yankees were playing poorly (against normal expectations). If you look at their last five series, it goes like this for New York:
@ the White Sox – lost 2 of 3
vs. the Angels – split 4 games
vs. the Orioles – lost 2 of 3
@ the Red Sox – swept 5 games
@ the Mariners – lost 2 of 3
As you can see, the only series that the Yankees have won, out of their last five, was the set up at Fenway.
It does make me (and others?) wonder, just a wee bit, now, if the result of the series in Boston was the Yankees being a great team, or, just the Red Sox being a poor team.
Now, it does seem silly to wonder this – even just a wee bit of a wonder – because the Yankees are playing .600-baseball this year, and, only one team has more wins than them in the A.L. right now.
The Yankees are 26 games over .500 at this moment. Is there something inside that number that we should be concerned about?
New York, this season to date, has a 26-10 (.722) record against three teams, combined – the Red Sox, Devil Rays and Rangers. This means that the Yankees are 50-40 (.556) against everyone else.
It should be noted that the Red Sox, Devil Rays and Rangers are 10th-11th-and-12th in the A.L. right now in team ERA. (Only the Orioles and Royals are worse than these three teams.)
Does this mean that the Yankees can only man-handle teams with very weak pitching, and, against other teams, New York is more like a barely-90-win team (in terms of pace) than a team that would win close to 100 games?
I’m starting to think that the answer here is “yes.”
This is not to say that the Yankees will not make the post-season – because they will, without question.
But, this does make me strongly consider the notion that, once the Yankees are in the post-season and start facing teams with better than average pitching, each series is going to be a challenge for them – and, I expect them to have to struggle and push the series to the max (in terms of the number of games) in order to win (and advance). Also, they’re going to need some breaks in the post-season to succeed.
Yes, I’m talking “Jeffrey Maier HR” and “Tim Welke Block” type breaks here. A “Mark Wohler’s Slider” would be helpful as well.
These things can happen – they did in 1996 – but, without them, when the Yankees hit the playoffs this year, it’s going to be just like 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005 all over again (when they reach the teams with pitchers who can stop them).