Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Close Game Success Helping Drive Yanks' Strong Start

After all the hand wringing many of us did prior to the start of the season, the Yankees came out and surprised us with a 16-10 start in the month of April.  They've gotten good starting pitching, equally good work from their late-inning bullpen core, an MVP-caliber performance from Robbie Cano, and a tremendous team offensive effort driven by the overachievement of many of the new scrap heap pick-ups.  A big part of what has made all of this add up to the 16-10 start is the team's outstanding performance in close games.  After being a thorn in the side of writers and fans alike for what seems like every year since the World Series of '09, this year's team has really gotten the job done in that department.

After last night, the Yanks are now 12-3 on the season in games decided by 3 runs or less this season.  That breaks down to a 3-2 record in 3-run games, 5-1 record in 2-run games, and a perfect 4-0 record in 1-run games.  75% of the team's victories have been of the close variety.  I don't know about y'all, but that's far more close wins than I was expecting from this crew and a far better record than I anticipated them having in those games.

There's been a couple ugly losses, and those suck all the time, but if they're going to lose I'd rather see them lose big than lose close games.  Those games always sting more because there's so much more opportunity to over-analyze and harp on the few "key" moments that could have swung the game.  When they lose by 5 or 6, whatever.  They got beat, it happens, move on.  So not only are all the close wins great; the lack of close losses helps keep everyone's blood pressure in check.

One of the gripes about the last few Yankee teams has been their frustrating inability to do the small things like move runners over, get 2-out hits, keep rallies alive, and win the close games that "good" teams like the Yankees should win.  This group that's started the season has been doing all of those things, and it's added up to the 16-10 record and a 2nd place spot in the division.  There's no telling how much longer this success will last, but it's put the team in a much better position to stay competitive as they start to get their big pieces back.

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