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May 15, 2005

by SG

Who knew that being 19-19 at this point in the season would be good news? After three straight losses to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and a series opening loss to Oakland on May 6, the Yankees were 11-19. Newspapers and Yankee-haters rejoiced about the fall of the mighty Yankees, with story after story being written about all the problems on the team and how they would never recover. Many analysts ran estimations based on how many games they could possibly win if they were to play at their expected level going forward, which had them in the high 80s, and likely just outside of the postseason.

Eight games later, and this team is rolling. That it has come against less than stellar teams like Seattle and Oakland should be considered, but that doesn't lessen the importance of it. The Yankees are fine-tuning their defense and roster right now, and all seems to be falling into place.

The most encouraging thing in this streak for me is that outside of the absolutely unbelievable hot streak of Tino Martinez, no one else is playing above their heads.

Tino has been the MVP of this 8 game stretch, and continued to carry this team on his back today with two huge homeruns.

Robinson Cano has been killing the ball, and you can see him growing more comfortable at the plate in the field. He just hits line drives all over the field, and has not looked overmatched at all. I've also been very impressed with his range and smoothness at second base. The test will be how he responds when pitchers stop throwing him strikes. That will be an area to watch as his reputation grows.

I took a lot of good out of Jason Giambi's performance in this series. A lot of people have given up on Giambi, but I think it is too early for that. In this series, Giambi was not swinging through pitches, and only struck out swinging once. In addition, I thought he did a good job of making contact in most of his plate appearances, which has been his primary problem this season. In today's game in particular, he had an impressive AB where he was able to pull a 90 mph fastball from Ricardo Rincon(a lefty) into the right-field corner for what turned out to be the winning run. We'll see if the media gives him any credit for this after absolutely ripping him all season. I don't know if he will recover to be productive, but if it does come to pass, I'll remember this series as the starting point. I hope for patience from the Yankees, because a productive Giambi makes this likely the best offense in baseball. As it stands now, they lead baseball in runs scored at 217, and they're not even playing as well as I think they are capable of.

The starting pitching came back down to earth a bit in this series after a strong start by Mike Mussina on Friday. Kevin Brown and Randy Johnson were both shaky, but were helped by their offense to pick up wins. The bullpen was pretty good in all three games, particularly the two key guys in Flash Gordon and Mariano Rivera.

Seattle's on a bit of a roll after winning two of three against Boston, but I am hopeful the Yankees will take two out of three at the very least and get over .500. From there, let's just hope it's a case of adding more wins than losses for the rest of the season.