That run includes a five game winning streak immediately following that 6-0 loss, and the Yankees have now won three of their last four series and taken the opener of the fifth. What’s more, two of those three losses (the Memorial Day game in Anaheim and the Saturday night game in Detroit), easily could have gone the other way with just a little bit of good fortune. They’ve only been truly outplayed in one game, and that one game included a very good pitching performance by Dan Haren and a slew of great defensive plays by the Angels. Here are some more factoids from this recent stretch:
- The Yankees have outscored their opponents 67-35.
- Their offense has scored at least four runs in eight of those games, going 7-1 in those games.
- The pitching staff has allowed no more than three runs seven times, and the Yankees have won all of those games.
- In the most recent two games, the Yankees have scored a combined 12 runs in games started by Justin Verlander and James Shields, winning both.
- After falling to 5.5 games out of first after play on May 21st, their largest deficit in the division all season, the Yankees have made up five games in the standings and are now just a half game behind Baltimore and Tampa Bay. That means that with a win tonight and an Orioles loss, the Yankees could finish the day leading the A.L. East.
As I said, though, it is odd that it still doesn’t feel like they’ve been playing the good baseball that they actually have been lately. Maybe that’s because their follies with runners in scoring position (and with the bases loaded as well) have largely continued, or because the starting pitchers are still giving up too many home runs. Maybe it’s because each of the three losses has been a very frustrating defeat in its own right. Maybe we’re instinctively discounting the five wins against Kansas City and Oakland because they aren’t “good teams.” Whatever the case may be, the Yankees are getting the job done right now, even as they have yet to get their starting leftfielder and best relief pitcher not on the 60 day disabled list back from injury. The returns of Brett Gardner and David Robertson should obviously help this team even more at the margins, as can improved performances from Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova.
In the meantime, the Yankees have managed to stay afloat in the division, and have positioned themselves nicely in the divisional horse race with exactly 1/3 of the regular season in the books.