Monday, April 13, 2009

Dude, People, It's Been Six Games

The level and the number of people freaking out over the Yankees' 3-3 record after six games in a 162 game season is astounding.

Don't know what I'm talking about?

Check out this post. It really only gets worse from there.

Look, I understand the importance of not blowing it in April, because, hey, I've paid attention the last couple of seasons. So yeah, if the Yankees go 10-20 or what have you, it's a pretty big deal, but 3-3 is not 10 games under .500.

The Yankees could be the Red Sox, 2-4, or the Indians, 1-5, or the Nationals, 0-6, but they're not.

The Yankees are right now in third place at 3-3 behind two teams that probably have weeks left in the first place spot, if even that, in Baltimore and Toronto. Now, Baltimore and Toronto aren't as bad or playing as bad, as some make them out to be, but, whether or not they can hang with Tampa, Boston and New York over the long haul is another matter, entirely.

What's more important to take into account is how the Yankees have been playing their games.

The Yankees, in the six games they have played, have scored 5, 5, 11, 4, 6 and 4 runs. In 2008, over the same span, the Yankees scored 3, 2, 3, 4, 3 and 2 runs.

May I remind you that at this time last year, Alex Rodriguez was in the line up, though he is out so far this season, and, oh, over the past two games in 2009, the Yankees have scored 6 and 4 runs without Teixeira.

Now, 6 and 4 runs hardly counts as a blow out, but when you realize that if not for today's blow-pen, the Yankees would have won both games-even with today's line up including Gardner AND Melky Cabrera AND Cody Ransom AND Jose Molina-then the six runs and four runs loom fairly large, indeed.

Think of it this way: with the exception of the first two games, Yankees' starting has been stellar.

Since game three, ER from the starting pitchers are 2, 1, 0 and 1 (today's other KC runs were either unearned or ER from the bullpen of dooooom). When you consider that a quality start is 3 ER or less over six innings, the only conclusion that can be drawn is that the Yankees have gotten four quality starts in a row. Niether Tampa Bay nor Boston has done that.

Now, it will of course be interesting to see how Chien Ming Wang rebounds from his poor outing last week tomorrow night (or tonight, depending on your time zone), but the fact is that with the Sabathia-Wang-Burnett-Pettitte-Chamberlain rotation, it's unlikely the Yankees will get more than two games in a row where the starting pitching doesn't give the team a chance to win.

In fact, if you consider that the Yankees trailed Baltimore by the score of 6-5 going into the ninth, you can argue that there has only really been one game the Yankees' starting pitching took the team out of the game early, and even then, the Yankees still came within 7-5.

There has not been a single game the Yankees have been 'blown out', which, for this purpose, I'll define as the Yankees scoring less than three runs while the opponent scores at least five more runs than the Yankees. There can be arguments, some valid, that the final score of the first game indicates a blow out loss while the majority of the second game was a blowout for the Yankees, but don't let that fool you: in both games the Yankees showed enough fight to have a chance to win, despite the poor starting pitching.

Even today's loss could be considered more of a result of over-managing the bullpen, though hindsight is still 20/20. Today's loss can be blamed as much on not giving Damon a chance to pinch-hit for Melky in the seventh as much as it is Coke's awful outing, but the fact is, that the Yankees have that option bodes well for the team in the near future.

Oh, also in the near future? The return of Alex Rodriguez.

Whatever you think of him as a person, he's still a damned good baseball player, and having him in the line up over Cody Ransom? Yeah, if Alex is even half as good as he normally is, he'll still be eight times better than Ransom.

So whatever your thoughts, the Yankees are playing well, for the most part. In the first week of April, while the record still matters, what's more important is how well the Yankees are playing, and they are, for all intents and purposes, playing well enough to have a chance every game.

They didn't do that last year.

Chin up.

It's April.

Hope abounds.

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