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September 14, 2005

by SG

When Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez led off last night's game with singles, and Jason Giambi ripped a line drive homerun to make the score 3-0 before an out had been recorded, we got a glimpse of just how good this team can be at times.

Lineup order has typically been debunked in analysis as having any significant impact over the course of a season. There is just something about sending up the top two players in the league in OPS up in the first inning that seems right. No easy inning in the first, and the first is often an inning that pitchers struggle in.

What looked like a sample size blip in July is now 4 months of good performance by Giambi. If you pro-rate Giambi's numbers from May 15 to last night over 155 games, you get the following batting line:

AB: 480
R: 89
H: 150
2B: 20
3B: 0
HR: 45
RBI: 123
BB: 120
HBP: 19
K: 110
GDP: 12
AVG: .312
OBP: .465
SLG: .639
OPS: 1.103

That's not just good, that's MVP good.

Gary Sheffield came back yesterday. He doesn't look like he can run much, but the bat looks good.

Happy birthday to Bernie Williams, who may have had his best overall game of the season offensively and defensively. He still probably doesn't belong out there on a regular basis, but with Sheffield restricted to DH and Matt Lawton hitting like Tony Woemack, the defensive hit is probably worth the offensive upgrade. If this is indeed Bernie's last season in pinstripes, I'd like to see him go out strong.

Lost in the offensive explosion was another decent start by Jaret Wright. After a shaky first inning in which he allowed two runs and looked like he was ready to give back the lead that the Yankees fought for in the first, He settled down to allow just an unearned run over his last six innings.

In 6 starts since his return from the DL, Wright is 3-0 with a 3.38 ERA. The BB rate is a high, the K rate is low, but the results have been good so far. He has done an excellent job of keeping the ball down, which has resulted in a very low HR rate of .24 per nine.

A laugher like this was great for a team that needs to win a ton of their remaining games. With Boston losing in Toronto, it keeps the division in fighting distance(2 games in the loss column). It also allows the regulars to get some rest and the bullpen to use some back-end people. Let's just hope the Yankees don't do what they've done the last two times they've scored 17 or more runs against Tampa and lose the next day by scoring 3 runs or fewer. I'm a little concerned about Chien-Ming Wang facing Tampa again today. They've hit him pretty well this season.

Against Tampa, Wang is 0-3 with a 6.88 ERA. Against the rest of baseball he is 6-1 with a 3.28 ERA. Hopefully he can pitch well today, and the Yankees can remember the 7th inning they had against Mark Hendrickson in his last game against them, and forget about the prior six.