(Mr. Clutch? Courtesy of the AP)
If you think back to the painful times of last September and October, you'll remember that one of the Yankees' biggest problems offensively was their inability to hit with RISP or string together multiple hits to keep rallies going. That's what led to so many games being closer than they should have been and it's what eventually sunk them when they ran into Detroit's pitching buzzsaw in the ALCS. With the bulk of the lineup's power on the shelf or in other uniforms, and their replacements being of similar "all or nothing" offensive makeup, I was counting on that frustrating trend continuing in the early part of this season. That hasn't been the case in these last three games, as timely hitting has been at the forefront of this current offensive explosion.
Against the Tigers on Sunday, the Yankees drove in 3 runs with 2-out hits, a Jayson Nix 2-run homer and a Francisco Cervelli RBI single. As a team they went 0-5 with RISP in scoring position, but still put 7 runs on the board thanks to those big 2-out, run-scoring hits. On Monday, they drove in 2 more runs with 2-out hits, improved to 5-12 with RISP and scored 11 runs. And yesterday they knocked in an incredible 12 runs with 2 outs and hit 7-17 with RISP, resulting once again in an increased offensive output of 14 total runs.
It doesn't take Bill James to figure out that hitting with RISP and coming up with hits with 2 outs is a great way to win ballgames, and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that as the Yankees have performed better in those departments they've also scored more runs. Still, it's refreshing to see the Yankee offense be able to do both of those things over these last three games. More than half of their 32 runs scored have been driven in by 2-out hits and as a team they've 12-34 (.353 BA) with RISP. They're not just creating scoring opportunities, they're cashing in on them, with both the long ball and the basic base hit. We don't know how long this is going to last, but if they can keep it up they should continue to come out on the winning side of games.