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August 5, 2005

It can't go on like this
by TVerik

July 26. That's the last time in a Yankee game in which neither team has gotten its closer into the game.

In case you don't have a head for these things, that was the game in which Randy Johnson won 4-0 over Brad Radke.

Over the next eight games, Mariano Rivera cleaned up one easy one, four games were saved by opposing closers (Joe Nathan, Francisco Rodriguez, and Bob Wickman x2). Shockingly, three games were won by the Yankees off of closers. The Yankees won games in which Francisco Rodriguez, Scot Shields, and Bob Wickman blew saves.

So that's a total record of 5-4 against Minnesota, Anaheim, and Cleveland. All three are good teams, but none are really great (Anaheim being arguable).

This Yankee team has been playing the way it wants to all year, regardless of the quality of opponent. All of these late-inning comebacks, while thrilling to watch and probably unnerving to fans of the other team, simply don't portend well.

Similar to a team leading the league in double-plays hit into is a positive thing because it means that it gets a lot of base-runners, sometimes negative indicators are actually positive. And vice-versa.

In this case, all of these late-inning comebacks tell us that the Yankees were trailing in many of these games. This is due mostly to a starter going short and the middle bullpen corps not getting the job done.

As far as long-term success, winning games like this simply isn't sustainable. You can't let the other team take late leads without losing a lot of those games.

Put it this way, if the Yankees didn't take games from other team's relief aces, this 9-game stretch would likely have been 2-7, and the AL East race would be almost over.

All I'm saying is that if the last 8 games are a meaningful sample of how this team should be expected to perform for the rest of the year, I'm not betting a mortgage payment on them making the playoffs, or even making noise in September.