Yankees Win Again and they are doing it with…Pitching and Defense?

It might be that the Yankees shouldn’t have anybody, especially their starting pitchers, attend next years All-Star Game.  Winners of four straight games since the Classic in St. Louis, including the last three by the score of 2-1. Thanks to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last time a team won three straight 2-1 games was the 1987 Minnesota Twins.

With all the power hitters the Yankees have, it is the Yankees pitchers have been absolutely dominant in the second half with a total staff ERA of 1.25.

None of the four starters made the All-Star team. AJ Burnett, CC Sabathia, Joba Chamberlain and Andy Pettitte all took it easy during the break, and it appears the rest has paid off. The Yankee starters have combined for 27 IP, allowing 20 hits, 5 ER’s, striking out 21, with a 1.67 ERA.

So it looks good for Sergio Mitre making his Yankee debut tomorrow night, who hasn’t pitched since June 12th.  

While eight of the eleven runs scored since the break have been the result of home runs (including two by the fully rested, non-All Star Alex Rodriguez), the defense has also been an important factor.

I was looking at the following numbers on two A.L. first basemen:

Player A    309 AB, 43 runs,  90 hits, 24 2b’s, 17 HR’s, 52 RBI’s, 29 BB’s, 58 K’s, .291 BA, .349 OBP, .547 SLG, .896 OPS

Player B    343 AB,  58 runs, 96 hits, 24 2b’s, 23 HR’s, 67 RBI’s, 50 BB’s, 61 K’s, .280 BA, .381 OBP, .551 SLG, .932 OPS

Both have similar numbers, and although Player B has a few more HR’s, RBI’s and BB’s, both players OPS are relatively the same. But Player B (Mark Teixeira) makes $22 million this season, much more than the $600,000 his 2009 replacement (Kendry Morales) earns for the Anaheim Angels.

But the Yankee fans don’t care about how much Teixeira earns if he keeps making the four-star defensive plays like he did Monday night and basically has all season long. The eighth-inning play Tex made on the hard ground ball hit by Nick Markakis and subsequent throw to home never would have been made by last season’s first baseman Jason Giambi.

Coupled with a great tag by Jose Molina, the Yankees cut the first of two runners down at the plate in the eighth. Molina’s on target toss to Pitcher Phil Coke covering home plate caught Brian Roberts trying to score on Coke’s wild pitch for the third out. Both Molina and Coke’s tag were placed right on the corner of the plate, letting both runners tag themselves out. Terrific defensive instincts by all players involved.

Also, the Derek Jeter range to his left critics have been very silent all season…and with good reason. Jeter’s range up the middle has been stellar all year, never more evidenced by the play he made up the middle on Melvin Mora in the top of the 4th.

The defensive upgrades has not only been assigned to the Yankee wealthier players. Young outfielders Brett Gardner and Melky Cabrera have made highlight reel catches and have throw out important base runners. It is not uncommon to have both Gardner and Cabrera starting inthe same game or having them in late for defensive purposes.

Also, minor league call-ups SS Ramiro Pena and C Francisco Cervelli have showcased their talents, prompting talk that both could make the postseason Yankee rosters. In fact, the Yankee catchers Cervelli, Molina dn Jorge Posada have thrown out 37 steal attempts, most in the majors.

Pitching and defense wins championships. It is good to see that the Yankees hierarchy have noticed this factor, and the team has improved in both of those aspects of the game. The Yankees are now not only known just for having a potent lineup, but having the other two parts of the equation, too.

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