You can’t hope for a lot when your team is facing Justin Verlander, so you’ll take a win just about any way you can get it. And that’s exactly what the Yankees were able to do last night as Derek Jeter came in from third to score the winning run on a passed ball. Not exactly the walk-off drama that Yankees Classics are made of, but a win is a win and they all look the same at the end of the season when it really matters.
And in true form, El Capitan was nothing but humble regarding his baserunning: ”[a]s much as I’d like to say that was great baserunning tonight, basically all I had to do is run.” Jeet was probably just thrilled that A.J. Burnett was 900 miles away pitching against the Braves and unable to pie him.
On the pitching front, Yankees’ starters continued their struggles with Ivan Nova getting roughed up for 6 runs off of 11 hits in just 5.1 innings. Thankfully, the bullpen continued to shine with Boone Logan, Cory Wade, David Robertson, and Mariano Rivera combining for just 2 hits and 2 BB with 4 strikeouts in 4.2 innings. I’ve mentioned several times already this season that I expected a bit of a regression from D-Rob, mainly because I believed that his 1.08 ERA and 100 K in 66.2 innings in 2011 were a career year for him. But so far Robertson hasn’t missed a beat – in 9.0 IP he hasn’t allowed a single run, has give up just 7 hits and 3 BB and struck out 13 men in the process. No one will ever truly replace the amazing Mariano Rivera, but I’ve gotta say, if D-Rob keeps pitching like this he certainly has my vote as Mo’s heir apparent.
Despite the fact that the Yankees have scored the third-most runs in all of MLB (107) it is clear from looking at the above box score that this offense is definitely not firing on all cylinders. If you had to ask any Yankees fan at the beginning of the season which players would be batting over .300 at the end of April no one’s answer would have been Derek Jeter, Brett Gardner, Eduardo Nunez, Eric Chavez, and Chris Stewart. Granted, the last three guys on that list are bench players and have had less than half the plate appearances that Jeter and Gardner have had, but it’s still a pleasant surprise that they are contributing at such a consistent level when they are in the game.
This first month of the season has not been the prettiest in terms of the win-loss record, but a major takeaway is that in the games the Yankees have won, it has been because guys like Swisher and Ibanez are stepping up and driving in runs when we need them to. Given the age of the Yankees’ lineup and the health struggles some guys have faced in the past couple years, it is great to know that these guys are proving they can come through and carry the lineup if others hit a snag.