COMMENTARY | After a season burdened by injuries, the New York Yankees (74-64) are winning games in a multitude of ways and it is a once putrid offense providing the punch.
The Bombers remain 2.5 games back of the Tampa Bay Rays for the second wild-card slot after a rousing 6-4 comeback victory over the Chicago White Sox Sept. 3.
The Yankees looked a bit flat through the opening seven-plus frames, but facing a dominant Chris Sale will do that to a team. White Sox manager Robin Ventura pulled Sale after 7 1/3 innings (114 pitches) and the Yankees took advantage of the lowly White Sox bullpen.
There is a fire in the Yankees' belly these days, mainly on offense. They seem to sense when they can pounce on an opponent with their bats as witnessed in their 9-1 drubbing of the White Sox in the opener of this series. The Yankees also believe that they can win a ballgame when seemingly backed into a corner.
Just one month ago, a five-run late-inning rally like their most recent victory would have been unheard of. The Yankees simply did not have the fire power to pull off such a feat.
Since being swept by these same White Sox in early-August, the Yankees are 17-8. The Bombers are 10 games over .500 for the first time since June 11. According to Baseball Prospectus, the Yankees' probability of reaching the postseason has increased from 1.5 percent since the sweep to 10.5 percent through Sept. 3.
The Yankees have received immense help several players on offense of late, including Alfonso Soriano, who the Yankees received from the Chicago Cubs in a trade July 26. Soriano, in his second tenure with the Bombers, has revived a sluggish offense with 12 home runs, 39 RBIs and an OPS of .851.
While the Soriano trade has paid off immensely, much of the turnaround can be attributed to the return of several players who had missed large chunks of the season. As divisive a figure Alex Rodriguez can be off the field, there is no denying that his abilities, while diminished from his MVP-caliber seasons, have provided a spark. Rodriguez's .275/.365/.440 line in 25 games is far more than they received from anyone who filled the void at third base this season. During the time span, the Yankees have averaged 5.16 runs per game.
Rodriguez's performance has not only been welcomed in and of itself, but it has also boosted Robinson Cano's production. Cano was already in the midst of a spectacular season, especially considering the lack of lineup support around him. Since Rodriguez's return, Cano is sizzling at the plate, hitting .373/.439/.578 with four homers and 19 RBIs.
The Yankees have also received an injection of offensive support from Curtis Granderson (.863 OPS since the 17-8 run began) and most recently from Derek Jeter, who looks much better at the plate in the White Sox series. Their return, combined with a continued presence at the top of the order from Brett Gardner (.271/.340/.410 with 74 runs and 22 stolen bases), has provided the Yankees with a lineup that is once again able to score runs in bunches.
After a season filled with debilitating injuries to a majority of the Yankees' star players, the team is no longer simply treading water. The Yankees may still be swimming upstream, but they are doing so with confidence that they can win due to their resurgent offense.Chris Carelli is a freelance baseball writer/editor. He is a New York Yankees contributor published on Yahoo Sports and has previously written for Call to the Pen, Redbird Rants, Yanks Go Yard and Big Leagues Magazine. Chris currently covers MLB for Sportsideo where he is also the Director of Content Strategy. For more baseball commentary you can follow Chris on Twitter. Sources: Stats from Baseball-Reference and postseason probabilities from Baseball Prospectus.
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