Home runs + quality pitching = success
Yankees manager Joe Girardi has finally admitted publicly what we all pretty much new. The Yankees need to hit the ball out of the ballpark to win games. All there struggles hitting with runners in scoring position point to that. Despite batting .217 in clutch situations, the Yankees are in first place in the American League East largely because of two elements – quality pitching and power hitting, both of which were on display Saturday night.
The Yanks guaranteed their winning of this year’s the Subway Series with a stirring, come-from-behind, 4-3 victory over the Mets at Citi Field. It was all Mets for six innings until the Yankees began hitting the ball over the fence. They have taken four of five games from the Mets this year, which turns Sunday night’s series finale into merely a marquee match-up between CC Sabathia and R.A. Dickey.
Raul Ibanez’s three-run home run in the seventh inning off Chris Young was the Yankees’ only hit in eight at-bats with runners in scoring position in this series, but it was a big one. It tied the score after the Yankees had looked pretty lifeless for six innings. One out later, Eric Chavez got a pinch-hit homer, the first of his career, to put the Yankees ahead.
The Yanks’ bullpen handled the rest. Spelling Ivan Nova over the final 3 1/3 innings, winning pitcher Clay Rapada (2-0), Cody Eppley, Boone Logan, David Robertson and Rafael Soriano (14th save) combined to hold the Mets to two hits and two walks with eight strikeouts. From the third out of the sixth through the second out of the ninth, all eight of those outs by the Mets were on strikeouts. In all, the Mets struck out 15 times in the game.
Rapada came on for Nova and ended the sixth with a strikeout of Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who had homered three innings earlier, after the Mets had gone up, 3-0. Logan inherited a one-out, runner on third situation in the seventh and struck out two left-handed hitters, Lucas Duda and Daniel Murphy. Robertson had a no-contact eighth with two walks and three strikeouts.
Soriano had two strikeouts sandwiched around a single by David Wright before Murphy excited the record Citi Field crowd of 42,122 with a fly ball to the warning track in right where it nestled in the glove of Nick Swisher. No leap at the wall this time.
“We’re a home run-hitting club,” Girardi had said Friday night when three Yankees home runs were not enough to avoid a 6-4 loss. “We are who we are. There are basketball clubs that are built around 3-point shooting and when they don’t make their 3’s they don’t win. If we hit two- and three-run homers, we usually win games.”
Plainer truth could not be spoken about the 2012 Yankees. They lead the majors in homers with 110 in 70 games, including 32 over their past 18 games. The Yankees are 41-15 when they hit at least one home run and 30-7 when they hit more than one. In games when they fail to go yard, the Yankees are 1-13. They have out-homered the Mets this year, 13-4.
But let us not forget pitching. The Yankees made sure that fans remember that aspect in helping to end a three-game losing streak and ensuring bragging rights over the Mets for another year.