The Yankees have gone 5-7 in their last twelve games. Each game, they scored 4 runs or less. Last night, they broke through. The offensive spark by an unlikely and respected source, the aging Jeter, secured the victory. But let’s be honest here…we can credit last night as a victory defensively.
Gardner in left. Ellsbury in center. Part-time player Ichiro in right. That’s the fastest outfield in the league right there…actually probably the whole MLB at this point. And last night was an indication that this kind of speed and experience is needed in the outfield. Maybe Ichiro doesn’t play every day, but if you had these three in the outfield every night, amazing things would happen.
Jacoby’s leaping snatch of Robbie Cano’s extra base hit with two outs in the fifth prevented a run and possible rally with another runner put into scoring positions. Brett Gardner’s tricky grab against the left-center wall in the seventh took the wind out of the sails of the Mariners. Ichiro’s ninth inning catch in right stole extra bases and possibly a rally from the M’s. Three different players who are all capable of tracking down the long ball. From now on, there are is no way to be certain a good hit will fall because this speed is unreal. The Yankees proved that tonight.
Not only on the defensive side, but so far, almost halfway through the season, the Yanks have shown they’ve made some strong moves in completing their outfield offensively.
Signing Jacoby to a seven-year deal was risky, as he is vulnerable to injury, but so far he has proven to be worth the $153 million. Besides a few close scares, including being pulled last night due to hip soreness, the Yankees have taken the initiative to give him rest when he needs it so he’ll be prepared to play throughout the rest of the season. But on the season, Ellsbury has boasted a .290 batting average and leads the team in BA, hits (70) and on base percentage (.358). So having that for seven years? We’ll take it.
Brett Gardner is quietly doing well, with a batting average of .278 that ranks third amongst Yankees starters. The thing about Gardner is while he doesn’t display the power several of his teammates are known for, he is showing that he can do a bit of everything. With four home runs this season, he finds ways to get on base. Whether it is a walk due to his patience at the plate or a basic single, he gets on base and makes things happen. That’s why he is second in stolen bases (with 14) and first in runs scored (37) for the Yanks.
Ichiro comes in when he’s needed for defensive purposes and does his job. So well, that he is making a case to be a starting position player once again, after the Yankees signed him to a one-year deal because no other teams were vying to take him off their hands. And, boy, are we glad he’s still here. If last night’s catch in the ninth wasn’t example enough, in his 53 games played this season, he is batting .313, adding four stolen bases to the mix. Now imagine if he could play every day… Ichiro is notorious for getting hits, getting on base and providing a spark for the offense, especially throughout the time on the M’s. Besides, he’s already in the top-50 of the elusive all-time hits list.
Keep these guys out there as much as you can, Yankees, because looking at last night and season stats, great things will happen. And trust me, they need great things if they are going to continue to chase Toronto in the standings. Let’s hope that last night was a sign of good things to come, especially when it comes to the outfield.