Here’s what a five-game winning streak will do for you. All of a sudden, the Yankees are just a game and a half behind the Red Sox and have the fifth-best record in the American League, a half-game behind fourth-best Detroit. They’re 7-3 over their last ten games, which is second in the AL to only the Rangers (8-2) over that stretch, and have won their last three series.
As for how this winning streak has come about, obviously the walk-off magic of the last three games has been the key feature, but the Yankees were only in position to make those comebacks because of how well they’ve been pitching, and how well they’ve been playing in the field (think Mark Teixeira’s game-saving dive and throw to home in yesterday’s game). Over the last five games, which is once through the starting rotation, the Yankees have allowed just 14 runs, or 2.8 per game. The only Yankee starter to last fewer than six innings or allow more than two runs in that span was Phil Hughes, who gave up three runs in five innings on Friday night. Collectively, the starters’ ERA has been 2.84.
The bullpen, meanwhile, has been even better. In 16 1/3 innings over the last five games, the pen has allowed just three runs for a 1.65 ERA. All three of those runs were charged to Phil Coke, and two of them came on solo home runs by Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau. The only time a reliever has replaced a starter mid-inning during this streak came yesterday, when Jonathan Albaladejo replaced A.J. Burnett with the bases loaded and two outs and struck out Jason Kubel to strand all three runners. The Yankees also haven’t made an error since the first game of this streak.
Andy Pettitte got things kicked off with six innings of two run (one earned) ball in Toronto on Thursday. Now, the streak has wrapped back around is asking him to keep it going as well as to complete a sweep of the Twins, who have to be going slightly batty after losing three straight on Yankee walk-offs.
Alex Rodriguez gets a half-day off at DH today as Ramiro Peña fills in at third and Hideki Matsui rides pine against lefty Glen Perkins. The switch-hitting Peña has had just three plate appearances against lefties this season (one walk, two Ks), so it’s nice to see him getting some exposure from the right-side, though it again begs the question, “why is Angel Berroa still taking up a roster spot.”
As for Perkins, his first three starts of the season were excellent (8 IP each, 4 runs total), but since then he’s posted a 7.25 ERA, going five or six innings and allowing four or five runs in each of his last four outings, three of them Twins losses.