NEW YORK -- Whether it's luck, good timing or things finally starting click, perhaps the most pivotal stretch of the Yankees' season thus far just coincided with perhaps the team's best string of pitching performances.The Yankees won six of their last eight contests to end a 10-game homestand, capping the
NEW YORK -- Whether it's luck, good timing or things finally starting click, perhaps the most pivotal stretch of the Yankees' season thus far just coincided with perhaps the team's best string of pitching performances.
The Yankees won six of their last eight contests to end a 10-game homestand, capping the stretch with Sunday's 5-2 victory over the Giants. Over those eight games, the staff has allowed fewer than two runs per game (13 total), 10 of which counted against the starters.
In the opinion of Nathan Eovaldi, Sunday's starter who allowed two runs on seven hits in 6 2/3 innings, this is a product of the rallying effect of team sports. One player's success, in this case Masahiro Tanaka's three-hit gem last Sunday versus Boston, catalyzes the next player to succeed. And when that next player succeeds, everything keeps flowing from there.
"I feel like we just feed off of each other," Eovaldi said. "I feel like if the team is struggling and we have somebody go out and give us a nice 7, 8 or 9 innings, enough where we can get the bullpen in there and have a shutout performance, it's going to turn everybody around. I feel like everybody feeds off of it. It relaxes guys, and it allows everybody to have better at-bats and defense."
Given Eovaldi's outlook, it's no surprise that he said he believes the last week was the best pitching week the Yankees have had this season. Eovaldi singled out Tanaka, who has permitted one run in 12 innings over his last two starts, as the pitcher who has been the most impressive. But Eovaldi hasn't been bad himself.
In his two starts since the All-Star Break, Eovaldi has surrendered three runs on 11 hits over 12 frames, leading the Yankees to victory both times. This has been particularly valuable for Eovaldi, who prior to the All-Star break, had been demoted to the bullpen for a brief period before regaining his place in the rotation.
And the performances that Eovaldi and the rest of the rotation have put out since returning haven't just helped their ERAs. Catcher Brian McCann remarked that the Yankees are running out "quality guys" every day, and first baseman Mark Teixeira said the success of the starters has made the game "a lot easier to play" for the lineup.
Outfielder Brett Gardner echoed that idea.
"It makes it a lot easier for us to win when the starters are doing what they've been doing, either just keep it tied or keep the opposing offense down early in the game so we can get a lead," Gardner said.
By doing a little simple baseball math, it's easy to figure out that good hitting and good pitching usually leads to wins. Since the Yankees are 9-5 over their last 14 games, all against teams that would be in the playoffs if the season ended on Sunday, the math checks out.
Or, as manager Joe Girardi implied, this Yankees team at its best can compete against anyone else's best.
"It just shows you that we're capable of playing good baseball against the teams that are leading divisions," Girardi said. "We played three teams, Boston, Baltimore and San Francisco, and it's probably the -- if you put their records together -- it's the best winning percentage against three teams we played. And we fared pretty well."
Nick Suss is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York.