The New York Yankees needed until game 162 to clinch the American League East, but were able to do so while simultaneously clinching the best record in the league. October Baseball is nothing new for this team, but this year the Yankees enter the postseason on an absolute tear. Winners of four straight after sweeping the Boston Red Sox, they have taken 14 of their last 18 games to finish the regular season. Their recent success has come from an all around team effort. The starting pitching, a major question mark throughout the second half of the season, has been exceptional. The offense has been nothing short of explosive and down right scary.
There is no doubt who the Yankees will give the ball to in the first three games of their ALDS series against either the Orioles or the Rangers. Yankee's ace CC Sabathia will take the ball in game one likely followed by Andy Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda. All three have been stellar down the stretch for the Yankees, but the big man seems to be on the top of his game.
In each of his last three starts CC has worked eight innings and recorded a total of 28 strikeouts. He is 2-0 during this three start span with a 1.50 ERA and 0.71 WHIP. It took him a while to hit his stride this year, but what better time then now?
Since returning from the disabled list Andy Pettitte has made three starts. In 16.2 innings pitched Pettitte supports a 1.62 ERA while going 2-1. Having dealt with no setbacks to his lower leg injury, look for the pitch count to come off and Pettitte to work deeper into games in the postseason.
Kuroda has been a workhorse for the Yankees pitching staff all year. Despite a down September by his seasons standards, he enters the postseason winning each of his last two starts. Over 12.1 innings pitched he supports an ERA of 2.98 Kuroda looked sharp last night in a game the Yankees had to win against the Red Sox to clinch the AL East and home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
With the starting pitching being as successful as it has, the Yankees have been able to over come recent slumps by Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, and Mark Teixeira since returning from the disabled list. Unfortunately for opposing pitchers that list doesn't include Robinson Cano, the hottest hitter on the universe, Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher, and Ichiro Suzuki.
What Robinson Cano has done in the last nine games is unprecedented. He has recorded multiple hits in each game while recording three hits in four of them, and four hits in one. All of that calculates to a .615 batting average. His three home runs during this time frame have assisted him in driving home 14 runs and scoring 11.
Since breaking out of an astronomical slump, Nick Swisher has been red hot over the last 15 days of the season. He has cranked four home runs and driven in 15 runs while batting .407.
Ichiro charges into the postseason having hit successfully in 16 of his last 17 games. During this time frame he is batting .386 with nine stolen bases and 15 runs scored.
Curtis Granderson, who finished third in the American League with 43 home runs this season, drove three balls out of the park in his last three games of the season. In those three games Grandy was six for 13 with six RBI's, five runs, and a stolen base.
As the New York Yankees head into postseason baseball they truly are a force to be reckoned with. The starting pitching has come full circle and there has never been questions about the bullpen, despite losing arguably the greatest closer of all time in Mariano Rivera. The offense is as dangerous as it has ever been and imagine if A-Rod or Teixeira wake up in the post season? There isn't a team in the American League with the pitching to shut down this lineup. As long as the starting pitching does not completely collapse, the Bronx Bombers look primed to return to the World Series and take home ring number 28.
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