If someone told me a week ago that the Yankees, in their first six games, would score 35 runs, I would be ecstatic. Nearly six runs a game! That’s fantastic.
If that same person told the Yankees, in those first six games, would only surrender 23 runs and just 17 earned runs for an ERA of 3.04, second best in the AL, I would be in shock. The pitching is outperforming all expectations, I would say.
And then, if you told me that the Yankees, with these numbers, would be just 2-4 after what many are considering a disaster of a West Coast road trip, I would say, “Hold your horses. The Yankees have just been the victims of some bad luck to start the season.”
After their 10-1 drubbing of the Los Angeles de Los Angeles this afternoon, that is exactly where things stand. The Yankees, despite a slow offensive start, are averaging nearly six runs per game. Their pitching meanwhile has given up just 17 earned runs. Yet, the team is just 2-4 sitting three games behind those hated Boston Red Sox in the American League East.
While many fans are sounding the alarm, I would like to take a step back and evaluate the first six games of the season. It’s really not that bad.
First, the Yankees defense contributed to one of these unfortunate losses. Had Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano not committed errors in key situations during Wednesday’s 9-4 loss in Oakland, the Yanks would be 3-3. Those errors were responsible for many of those AL-leading six unearned runs the Yankees have surrendered. Tighter would have given the Yankees one of those games.
Second, Joe Torre’s poor managerial decisions contributed to one loss. On Tuesday, in a game tied at 3 in the 9th, Torre went with the distracted Scott Proctor. Proctor, the last pitcher out of the bullpen, had been home dealing with an emergency operation for his young daughter. While Proctor blew the game, Mariano Rivera, the Yanks’ best reliever, watched from the bullpen. A better decision by Torre could bring the Yanks to a hypothetical 4-2.
Finally, against the Angels, the Yankees were just victims of bad, bad luck. During last night’s game, the Angels made four key defensive plays that all saved the game. Had any of those plays not been made, the Yankees could be returning home from the road trip 5-1.
That is not to say that everything is perfect in Yankee-land. We’ve seen the flaws of the Yankees up close and personal. Their defense is shoddy; they’re bench is just plain awful; and the team may be putting too much pressure on themselves to hit home runs. When they returned to basics on Sunday with run-scoring doubles and timely base hits, they won. On Friday and Saturday, everyone went up to the plate looking to hit that game-winning home run.
But for all of their losses, things aren’t looking that bad. They held the A’s, the trendy pick for World Series champions, largely in check for two games. They allowed just 8 runs to the team that defeated them in the playoffs last October. Their suspect pitchers exceeded any expectations at the start of the season. The bullpen looks better than it has in years, and Randy Johnson and Mike Mussina are throwing as well as they ever do.
One could argue that the Yanks won’t face a challenge as tough as the Angels and A’s back to back until they play a series against Toronto to end the month and one against the Red Sox to open May. If that is indeed the way the rest of April plays out, this shaky start will be a distant memory by the time the Yanks and Red Sox square off on May 1.
As the Royals come to town this week for three in Stadium, I would expect a grand homecoming for the Bombers. With a few more odd bounces and missed pop-ups by their opponents, the Yankees’ luck will challenge, and that 2-4 record could turn into a 5-4 mark by Thursday.