(Neil Miller/Sportsday Wire)
Can the pitching, offense and at times defense continue for the New York Yankees that has propelled them to a six game advantage in the Al East? The Baltimore Orioles, just days ago came to the Bronx within reach of the division lead but they have quickly faded off the map after their second loss in two nights to the sizzling Yankees in the Bronx..
Tuesday night it was the pitching and the offense, plus an occasional sparkling play on the field that put the Orioles away. Wednesday night it was the same formula and two of the veterans again, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, supplied the long ball in the Yankees 4-3 win.
Ivan Nova (2-3) got the win. His 6.0 innings and two earned runs, with a sinker that started bad and ended good, snapped a career high three-game losing streak. The way the Yankees have been hitting the home runs, distinctly different from the last two years, the effort from Nova was sufficient.
And the way the Yankees bullpen has been finishing off games, another one-run game was good for a win, though Andrew Miller made it interesting giving up a two-out home run in the ninth to Chris Davis in earning his 22nd save.
“We felt pretty good that some guys could have bounce back years and be productive for us,” the manager Joe Girardi said about the MVP seasons that Rodriguez and Teixeira have displayed.
Girardi said, if they stayed healthy this type of production would be expected. The soon to be 40-year old Rodriguez is showing no signs of the declining player that was expected after hitting his 20th home run and knocking in his 54th run in the fifth inning. The home run perhaps to many added another milestone to his controversial career, and it was the longest one hit at Yankee Stadium this season that went deep into the left center field bleachers.
And it was the first time since 2010 that A-Rod hit the 20 home run mark.Teixeira had his fourth straight multi-hit game and his two-run homer to deep right in the first, his 24th, added to his team RBI lead with 66. That opened a Yankees 3-0 lead and with these numbers is headed to a 45 home run and 120 RBI season.
MVP numbers for both players, more importantly production coming from two players that have a combined 44 home runs, and a reason the Yankees are number two in baseball with the home run.
“Knock on wood,’ Girardi said, adding they are healthy and there is no doubt that the remaining two months of the season they need to remain healthy. Girardi is also not shy to say what Rodriguez has done with a comment, “ more than expected.”
Teixeira, on the other hand was quick to remind everyone that he saw the production coming from Rodriguez, and knew that his health was always an issue that reduced his production the past two years. So the Yankees are getting what they need from two key players that were not there last year.
“He’s showing that I’m the smartest guy in baseball,” Teixeira commented about the production he said would come from Rodriguez. That got a laugh from media members, and by all standards it has been surprising production from someone who sat out all of last year, and supposedly gets his at bats with two bad hips as the regular designated hitter.
Once again Rodriguez said “Joe is a good leader,” and that goes back to spring training when it was best decided by Girardi that A-Rod would be more productive and of better use being inserted in the DH spot.
Teixeira added, about how the Yankees are starting to take command of their division: “ You get starting pitching the way we have the past few days it’s easier to do The starting pitching sets the tone. It allows us to play our game and keeps us in every game too.”
Nathan Eovaldi gave the Yankees almost six good innings the night before and Masahiro Tanaka, showing no signs of elbow issues, gets the ball for the series final Thursday afternoon and he has won his last two starts.
And as Teixeira said, the one run games because of the pitching and the dominant bullpen, have put the Yankees where they are. New York has played five straight one-run games since the all-star break and won four.
“It’s as good as anyone in baseball,” he said about the Yankees’ pen. “In close games a lot of it is, whose bullpen is better.” And it is huge when the starters can rely on the pen that has quickly become a tbird best in baseball.
But more importantly, the defense is helping to keep runs from coming across. Teixeira prevented the Orioles from possibly scoring two runs in the fifth inning by grabbing a one-hop throw from Chase Headley at third. If not, the ball could have went down the right field line.
“Our defensive play has won us some games this year,” Girardi said. But it is well known, a healthy and productive offense from Rodriguez and Teixeira are a huge factor that sees the Yankees 11-games over .500 and widening that gap in their division.
Still a lot of baseball left to play and Girardi keeps reminding everyone about that factor. But for the moment the Yankees are comfortable and there is every reason to be talking with confidence.
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