With their 2-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Sunday afternoon to win the series, the New York Yankees picked up where they left off before the All-Star Break. Except for the series against the Angels, which concluded on July 1, the Yankees have not lost a series yet this month, taking 2 of 3 from the Rays, the Athletics, the Red Sox and now the Mariners.
That stretch included two solid starts by CC Sabathia, easily the weakest link in the rotation, and some solid timely hitting at home, which is where they will play the majority of their games in the 2nd half. Masahiro Tanaka looked good in Friday’s game and, even though he took the loss, Michael Pineda was decent in Saturday’s start except for two bad pitches.
That kind of consistency is exactly what they need to remain competitive through the summer. Their current situation has them looking pretty good, as they have a 4.0 game lead in the A.L. East and are a season high 9.0 games above .500. Meanwhile, their opponents have been less successful. The Baltimore Orioles are the only other team in the division that are above .500, while the others linger exactly at average (Rays and Blue Jays) or slightly below (Red Sox).
While this is good news (since it means that the Yankees control their own destiny) the Yankees are just 4 games above .500 against their own division. With 38 games remaining within their own division, including 27 of their last 37, they will need to improve on that record. Nothing closes a gap faster than games against division opponents and, given how tight the division is, none of those teams are likely to sell off their best pieces before July 31.
The point is, as good as it felt to bookend the All Star Break with series wins against Boston and former Yankee Robinson Cano’s Mariners, neither of those teams is operating at full strength right now. Cano is batting .252 and that includes the 3-for-4 day he had on Saturday that single handedly gave the Mariners their only win of the season against the Yankees. He’s simply not healthy and it’s showing. Here’s betting he has a much better 2nd half, but thankfully, the Yankees are done with the Mariners for the season. Similarly the Red Sox have been injury prone and playing below expectations all season.
The real tests for the Yankees are coming up starting this week with the powerful Orioles coming to town for a three game set, followed by the surprising Minnesota Twins and the same Texas Rangers that embarrassed the Yankees earlier this season.
Here’s hoping the consistency they’ve shown so far in July can continue and the Yankees can continue to stay as hot as the temperature.