In last week's MLB Power Rankings, I challenged the Yankees to beat somebody other than the Royals and A's before I start taking them seriously. I guess I should consider the challenge met.
The Bombers are 10-3 in their last 13 games and 5-1 in a stretch that includes wins over the Angels, Tigers and two straight over the Rays. While the Yankees continue to lead MLB in home runs, what's really given them a boost is the long-awaited arrival of their starting pitching.
The team ERA in five June games is 2.01 as they have given up just two runs in the last three games. It was 3.97 in May and 4.33 in April. Ivan Nova was at 5.87 last month while Phil Hughes was at 4.66; Nova had a 5.18 in April. Nova, Hughes and Andy Pettitte have been dynamite the last three days.
Look at the last time through the rotation:
Fri at Detroit, Sabathia -- 7 IP, 8H, 3R/3ER, 2 BB, 5 SO
Sat at Detroit, Kuroda -- 7 IP, 7 H, 2R/2 ER, 1 BB, 4 SO
Sun at Detrot, Hughes -- 9 IP, 4 H, 1R/1ER, 3 BB, 8 SO
Tue vs. TBay, Pettitte -- 7.1 IP, 2H , 0R/0 ER, 2 BB, 10 SO
Wed vs. TBay, Nova -- 8 IP, 4 H, 1R/1 ER, 1 BB, 5 SO
5-game totals -- 38.1 IP, 25 H, 7R/7 ER, 9 BB, 32 SO.... 4-0, 1 ND, 1.64 ERA
And wither Pettitte? He's 3-2, 2.78 in five starts -- with 32 strikeouts and seven walks in 35 2/3 innings. In retrospect, most of us present (myself included) were a little harsh on Pettitte when he made his Triple-A outing in Rochester last month. Maybe it was just one of those days for him even though he did have a 4.55 ERA in his six minor-league starts. Maybe he was just bored in the minors. No one expected this kind of impact from him.
And even though there's no Mariano Rivera, Rafael Soriano is 8 for 8 in saves since David Robertson was injured. The Yankees were a mess when I saw them in Toronto last month, getting no pitching and no clutch hitting. Things are quite a bit different now.
I've gotten a lot of gripes lately about the Yankees' position in the power rankings. I'm betting those will be pretty much silenced come Sunday.