The New York Yankees are once again surging after the All-Star break. This time, they may be poised to return to the postseason.
New York (57-37) trailed Boston by three games entering the All-Star break, but is 6-0 since resuming play to take over sole possession of first place. The Yankees have won 19 of 26 overall to move 20 games above .500 for the first time since finishing 94-68 in 2007.
“It has been very professional the way these guys have gone about their business,” manager Joe Girardi told the Yankees’ official Web site. “And that’s what you want. Every day, you come in and you expect to win. When you don’t win, you’re upset and you’re shocked. And I sense that about this club.”
This is the team’s second fast start after the break in as many years under Girardi. The Yankees opened 8-0 in the second half last year, but eventually saw their streak of 13 straight playoff appearances end.
New York’s current run has been keyed by its starting rotation, which is 4-0 with a 2.27 ERA in the last six games. A.J. Burnett(notes) joined Sabathia (9-6, 3.66 ERA) as the staff leaders in wins with nine Wednesday after allowing two runs over seven innings in a 6-4 victory over Baltimore.
“I do think they feed off each other,” Girardi said of his starters. “They don’t want to be the one that stops the streak. They want to go out and throw well. They compete against each other, and to me, that’s a great situation.”
Sabathia has alternated wins and losses in his last five outings. He gave up five hits over seven scoreless innings Saturday in a 2-1 victory over Detroit.
This game may have added meaning for the left-hander, who hails from Vallejo, Calif. - located just north of Oakland. However, the Yankees ace is just 3-7 with a 6.26 ERA - his worst against any AL opponent - in 16 career outings versus the Athletics.
Sabathia did not pitch well in his first start this year against Oakland (40-53), allowing a season-high seven runs over 6 2-3 innings April 22, though the Yankees went on to win 9-7 in 14 innings.
The Athletics lineup he will face produced 32 runs in winning two of three from Minnesota. Matt Holliday(notes) went 3 for 3 with three runs scored and Rajai Davis(notes) drove in four runs Wednesday in a 16-1 victory.
The A’s are embarking on what is likely their toughest road trip, with four games in New York followed by four in Boston.
“We know it’s the Yankees, we know it’s the Red Sox, but we never underestimate an opponent anyway,” shortstop Orlando Cabrera(notes) told Oakland’s official Web site. “We’re learning just to play our game. We’re getting better at that and I like that.”
The A’s have lost six straight versus New York, which swept a two-game home set April 21-22.
Since winning his first two starts, Mazzaro has gone 0-6 with a 5.59 ERA in seven outings. The right-hander lasted a season-low three-plus innings Saturday, giving up a season-worst eight runs in an 11-6 loss to the Los Angeles Angels.