Thursday, September 2, 2010

Yanks abuse fading A's

I know they still have one game left to play in their four-game series, but the Yankees just can't help beating up on the Athletics in the Bronx.

First, it was an 11-5 victory against Oakland right-hander Trevor Cahill, who had allowed just 4 earned runs in his previous six starts, including four shutouts (two against the potent Texas Rangers). The Yanks smacked Cahill around for 9 hits and 8 runs in four innings in his shortest and least effective start of the season.

New York then did the same to the less-heralded Viz Mazzaro, who came into the game with an ERA under 4.00 and left with a 4.05 mark. Left-hander Brett Anderson didn't fare much better last night, allowing 4 runs in the first two innings as the A's lost 4-3.

In three games this series, the Yankees have outscored Oakland 24-11 and hit six home runs, including two from Mark Teixeira, his 29th and 30th this season. Why have the Yankees had so much success against an A's rotation that has been great all season?

First off, moving from the spacious Oakland Coliseum to the bandbox that is Yankee Stadium doesn't help. Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher and Teixeira all hit home runs that would likely have been doubles or outs in Oakland. But regardless of the park, these balls were scorched off the Yankee bats and reached the seats within three seconds.

It also doesn't help that the Yankees feature the league's highest-scoring lineup, 52 runs ahead of the second-place Boston Red Sox. Combine the park and the lineup and you have a recipe for disaster for any rotation, including one with a Cy Young hopeful (Cahill) and a popular pre-season breakout candidate (Anderson).

If you thought the Yanks were playing well lately, just imagine when they get reinforcements back. Alex Rodriguez and Andy Pettitte are both making progress and should return soon from the disabled list, shoring up the middle of the lineup and the starting rotation, respectively. Javier Vazquez has ran with his demotion to the bullpen and could possibly find his way back into the rotation by season's end as well.

The Yankees also have a revamped bench with the acquisitions of Lance Berkman and Austin Kearns and the recent resurgence of Marcus Thames (even against righties!) and an improved bullpen after trading for Kerry Wood. Joba Chamberlain has pitched better of late since being removed from the eighth-inning role in favor of David Robertson and everything seems to be coming together at the right time for New York, despite the injuries.

Tampa Bay is still creeping up just a game behind in the AL East, but the Red Sox have fallen eight games back and it looks like both the Yanks and Rays will cruise into the playoffs, one winning the division and the other taking home the Wild Card.

It doesn't seem to matter which team wins this division, which has led some experts to look for ways to "punish" Wild Card teams in some way, potentially giving them less home games in the playoffs. I'm not sure how or if that would work, but it's a legitimate discussion. For another blog post, that is.

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