Friday, June 10, 2016

Yankees Sweep Angels 4 Straight -- Have They Turned the Corner?

I'll have a memorial post for Gordie Howe later tonight. My trip guide for next weekend's Yankee visit to Minnesota may have to wait until tomorrow.

Have the Yankees snapped out of it yet? They're currently playing better than they have in 4 years -- since the Summer of 2012, before they stopped hitting, and basically didn't start again until a couple of weeks ago.

Ivan Nova started last night, and over the 1st 6 innings, allowed just 1 run, unearned, on 4 hits, a walk, a hit batsman and an error (hence the unearned run). If he's your Number 1 starting pitcher, you've got problems. But if he's your Number 5 starter, you're fine.

The Yankees trailed 1-0 going into the bottom of the 5th, but took care of that. Didi Gregorius led off the inning with a walk, and advanced to 2nd base on a Chase Headley groundout. Chris Parmelee, the previous night's hero -- who later had to leave last night's game with an injury -- singled Didi home to tie the score. Jacoby Ellsbury singled. Brett Gardner walked. Carlos Beltran continued his hot streak by sending a drive to right field, and it bounced into the stands, scoring Parmelee and Ellsbury to give the Yankees the lead. Alex Rodriguez got Gardner home on a sacrifice fly. And Brian McCann doubled home Beltran. 5-1 Yankees.

Joe Girardi once again let the pitch count make his decision for him, and left Nova in to begin the top of the 7th. At first glance, this appeared to be the right thing to do, as Nova was pitching very well. But he allowed a double and a home run, allowing the Angels to close within 2 runs.

So Girardi went to the bullpen, to the combination that some Yankee Fans were calling "The Three-Headed Monster." But Modell's is already printing up T-shirts with their other nickname, based on the Queens rap trio of the 1980s: "NO RUNS DMC." D, Dellin Betances; M, Andrew Miller; C, Aroldis Chapman. (I think calling them "DMC" is a bit of a stretch, but if it excited the fans and doesn't hurt anybody, who am I, a white guy who grew up in the suburbs when Run-DMC were "Tougher Than Leather," to judge?)

Betances got the last 2 outs in the 7th. A Gardner single, a wild pitch, a balk, and an A-Rod double got the Yankees an insurance run. Miller allowed a leadoff single in the 8th, but got the next 3 batters to end that minor threat. Chapman got the 1st 2 outs in the 9th, allowed a double, and then got a strikeout to end the game.

Yankees 6, Angels 3. A 4-game sweep. WP: Nova (5-3). SV: Chapman (11). LP: Jhoulys Chacin (2-4).

*

The Yankees are now back to .500, at 30-30. They are 6 1/2 games behind the American League Eastern Division-leading Baltimore Orioles, 7 in the loss column. My research going back to the start of Divisional Play in 1969 shows that the teams that finish 2nd in the AL East average 92 wins. That means that, more often than not, 93 wins is enough to win the AL East. Therefore, to get to 93 wins, the Yankees will have to go at least 63-42 the rest of the way -- a winning percentage of .618, a 162-game pace for 100 wins.

I'm not going to doubt it at this point. The Yankees look like they really have turned the corner.

Tonight, the Yankees begin a 3-game home series with the Detroit Tigers. Here are the projected pitching matchups:

* Tonight, 7:05 PM: CC Sabathia vs. former Met Mike Pelfrey.

* Tomorrow, 7:15 PM: Masahiro Tanaka vs. Justin Verlander.

* Sunday, 2:05 PM: Michael Pineda vs. Michael Fulmer. This will be Old-Timers' Day, and the ceremonies will begin at 11:30 AM. There has been no announcement of a new Plaque for Monument Park. Then again, on last year's Old-Timers' Day, they announced they were giving one to Willie Randolph, and surprised that other Number 30, Mel Stottlemyre, with one. So if anything is planned, the Yankee brass isn't telling.

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