New York Yankees Are Sailing, But Not Coasting
- Updated: September 12, 2009
As the New York Yankees head down the stretch towards the end of the season, they’re in even better shape than they were in July. And that’s really saying something, given that they went 18-9 in that month.
In August, the Yankees went an incredible 21-7 (a .750 winning percentage). They ended the month – and started September – with a seven-game winning streak. That’s the fifth time they won seven or more games in a row this year. The Yankees have been so hot that they only lost one series in August , dropping two of three against the Texas Rangers.
And most importantly, after going 0-8 against the Red Sox, the Yankees swept them in four games at home, August 6-9, and then beat Boston in two out of three games at Fenway Park, August 21-23
The Yankees-Red Sox game that fans of both teams will remember most was the August 7 15-inning outing, which might have been the first epic game at the new Yankee Stadium. It was certainly the most memorable Yankees-Red Sox regular-season game in the Bronx since Derek Jeter dived into the stands five seasons ago.
What made this year’s instant Yankee classic one for the ages was that it was the most unlikely of such contests between these two hard-hitting teams. It was a pitcher’s duel.
The game started with A.J. Burnett and Josh Beckett facing off – and throwing zeros on the boards. Both team’s bullpens continued the scoreless contest into the fifteenth inning, until Alex Rodriguez hit a two-run homer against Junichi Tazawa, the Japanese Sox pitcher making his major league debut.
The Yanks effectively sealed their chances at making the playoffs by sweeping the Red Sox that weekend, and locked up the division title by beating Boston later that month. And the Bombers looked like a very different team than the one that rolled over for Boston earlier that year.
How good have the Yankees been as of late? Because they’ve been so sizzling since the All-Star Break, they don’t even need to go .500 the rest of the way in order to win 100 games.
Pitching stars for the Yankees included Andy Pettitte, who went 4-0 in August with a 2.50 ERA, and CC Sabathia, who had a 5-0 record in the same month, with a 2.64 ERA. Legendary Yankee closer Mariano Rivera, who has an incredible 38 saves in 39 opportunities this year, ended August with eight saves.
As for the Bombers’ hitting, Derek Jeter hit a sizzling .377 over August, as he chased Lou Gehrig’s all-time Yankee hits record. Mark Teixeria drove in 26 runs in the month. And Johhny Damon, whose swing seems tailor-made for the new Yankee Stadium, hit seven homers in August.
While the Yankees seem to be firing on all cylinders, the team still seems to be facing a few controversies.
After going 4-0 in July, A.J. Burnett struggled throughout much of August, most notably when he got shelled at Fenway Park on August 22, giving up a career-worst nine runs. In that game, Burnett wasn’t on the same page with Jorge Posada. He seemed to be questioning the Yankee catcher – and himself – when he yelled, “Why, why, why, why” after giving up a homer to David Ortiz. The lack of chemistry between Burnett and Posada is still a concern.
Two new editions of the Joba Rules also caused some controversy in Yankeeland. GM Brian Cashman and manager Joe Girardi came up with two new ways to limit Joba Chamberlain‘s innings. First, the Yankees extended the dates in between his starts, and then, they limited his innings in the starts, having him throw only three innings at a time.
Unfortunately, Chamberlain, who seemed to finally have turned around his season in July, struggled under both new sets of rules. He’s been responsible for three Yankee losses since last winning a game on August 6. And it’s unclear what role he will play in the postseason.
But most teams would kill to have these kinds of problems. As the Yankees finish out September, they continue to have the best record in baseball, and to have their winningest season in years. And the dog days of summer have helped to make the Yankees the big dogs in baseball.