Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Game 77: In Bloom

After putting together six straight victories, the Yankees are a season-high 12 games over 500. It's already their second longest winning streak of the year, behind only the 9 game streak that ended on May 21st. In the month or so between those two streaks, the Yanks went 14-15, winning three straight games only once. They held the division lead once, but were sitting five games out heading into the series in Atlanta.

Then something clicked. Over the last six games they have averaged 7.5 runs per game while holding their opponents to just over 3.

It's certainly not a coincidence that over this run, A-Rod has gotten on base 18 times in 29 plate appearances (.621 OBP), hit three homers and driven in 8 runs. Like Tyler Kepner said very early this morning, "as A-Rod goes, so go the Yankees". He won't get one of his perscribed days off tonight, but Alex will be DH'ing as Cody Ransom holds down third base. Apparently Joel Sherman was right about Eric Hinkse. The only other option would have been Ramiro Pena, but he was officially optioned to Scranton today.

Looking to keep this winning streak blossoming tonight will be Andy Pettitte. The offense and the bullpen both saved his bacon after giving up 6 runs in 3 2/3 against the Braves, and the Yanks won 11-7 in spite of Pettitte's dud. Before that, he threw seven innings of one run ball in Florida, so who knows what to expect. His ERA is exactly league average and he's coming up with a run of the mill season so far; some solid performances mixed in with some shabby efforts.

Creating the second half of the lefty-lefty match up for Seattle is Jarrod Washburn. His name always comes up in trade talks because his salary is a bloated $10.35M this year and although the Mariners are only 3.5 games back at the moment, they aren't expected to truly contend for a playoff spot with the Angels and Rangers. Shedding salary always seems to be high on their priority list.

Washburn is off to an excellent start this year, so far compiling a 3.22 ERA in 89 1/3 innings, even though the Mariners lackluster offense has only allowed for a 4-5 record. In his career, Washburn has a 2.56 ERA against the Yanks over 81 innings, but the Mariners have lost nine straight games as guests of the Yanks in the Bronx.

Which one of those woefully incomplete statistics will turn out to be prophetic? Tune in and find out.

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