Our weekly review of the good, the bad and the odd in Yankeeland
SEVEN IS ENOUGH FOR YANKS
The Yankees-Red Sox rivalry continued last weekend with a three-game set in Boston, with both teams tied atop the AL East entering the series opener.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the seventh time that the two rivals had met with first place on the line this late into the season, and just the third time since divisional play began in 1969.
The Yankees, bolstered by a lockdown performance from their bullpen and timely hitting in the sixth inning, took the first game, 3-2. A search via the Play Index at Baseball-Reference.com tells us that they snapped two miserable streaks with the win:
• A seven-game losing streak, which was tied for the third-longest in the history of the rivalry.
• A 12-game streak of allowing four-or-more runs, which was tied for the longest in the last 90 seasons of the rivalry.
David Robertson pitched a perfect eighth inning to help preserve the one-run lead. It was his 62nd consecutive appearance without allowing a homer, passing Mariano Rivera for the longest streak of homerless games pitched in Yankees history. The last home run he allowed was August 28, 2010, to Alexei Ramirez.
CC'S KRYPTONITE IS RED
Saturday afternoon's pitching matchup between CC Sabathia and John Lackey appeared to be a mismatch on paper, in favor of the Yankees, but as our favorite announcer Mr. Sterling likes to say, "You can't predict baseball ... "
Sabathia entered the game with a 0-3 record and 6.16 ERA in three starts versus Boston this year, and both of those numbers got worse, as he allowed seven runs on nine hits in six innings in the Yankees' 10-4 loss.
Sabathia became the first Yankee pitcher to lose four games in a single season to the Red Sox since Pat Dobson went 1-4 in 1975. He also became the first Yankee pitcher in the Live Ball Era to allow six-or-more earned runs in three straight starts versus Boston.
On a positive note, Sabathia did strike out six batters for the ninth straight start, matching Ron Guidry for the longest such streak by a Yankee lefty in the last 90 seasons.
PHIL SERVES UP BOSTON CREAM PIE
The rubber game was another epic marathon in the Boston-New York rivalry, a 10-inning affair that lasted more than four hours and didn’t end until Red Sox rookie Josh Reddick lined a single to left field to give the home team a 3-2 walk-off win.
The Red Sox's victory guaranteed that they would win the season series outright for the first time since 2004. The Yankees' streak of six straight non-losing seasons in the rivalry (2005-10) was the longest since a seven-season stretch from 1960-66.
Brett Gardner and Eduardo Nunez both hit solo homers to provide the offensive firepower in the game. Nunez's homer traveled a distance of just 349 feet and would have been a home run at only one other MLB stadium, Minute Maid Park in Houston, according ESPN's Home Run Tracker team.
Gardner's homer, his first against Boston, gave the Yankees a brief 2-1 lead in the seventh inning. That homer went 414 feet, the longest of his career and just the third time he had cracked the 400-foot mark.
Rivera blew his fifth save chance of the season, matching his total from last year, on a sacrifice fly by Dustin Pedroia in the bottom of the ninth. It was the second time this season Rivera had blown a save in the ninth inning with a game-tying sac fly, with the other coming off the bat of Vladimir Guerrero on May 18.
Prior to this year, Rivera had allowed just two game-tying sacrifice flies in the ninth inning in his career: August 18, 1998, by the Royals' Mike Sweeney, and June 29, 1997, by the Indians' Kevin Seitzer.
BLOND BURNETT NO BETTER
The Yankees returned home on Tuesday to face the Angels, but their losing streak reached three games with a 6-4 loss to the Halos. The game ended as Curtis Granderson was caught stealing with Mark Teixeira at the plate, representing the winning run.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last time the Yankees lost a game that ended on a caught stealing was April 13, 2002, against the Red Sox. Alfonso Soriano was caught stealing in the top of the ninth inning with Robin Ventura at the plate in a 7-6 loss.
A.J. Burnett had a classic mediocre A.J. game, allowing four runs in six innings. Burnett still hasn’t figured out how to win in August, as he extended his winless streak to 13 straight starts in the month since joining the Yankees in 2009. Elias reports that the only Yankee with more consecutive winless starts in a calendar month was Ray Fisher, who had 17 in June from 1912-15.
Mariano Rivera proved to be human once again, allowing a tie-breaking homer in the ninth inning off the bat of Bobby Abreu. Fellow ESPN Stats & Info Researcher Vince Masi chimes in with this gem for our Guest Yankeemetric of the Week: Abreu is the second former teammate of Mariano Rivera to homer off him. The other was Mike Stanley on July 18, 1998.
FROM GOAT TO HERO IN 24 HOURS
The Yankees ended their three-game losing streak with a 9-3 rout of the Angels on Wednesday. Ivan Nova continued his brilliant run, improving to 7-0 in his last eight starts and 11-4 this season. The last Yankee rookie starter to win seven consecutive decisions was Tom Morgan in 1951.
Most Seasons with 30+ HR, 20+ SB
One day after being the goat, Granderson played the part of the hero, hitting his 30th and 31st homers of the season. Granderson and Teixeira are the first Yankee teammates to reach 30 homers this quickly since Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris did it in the first 84 games in 1961, according to Elias. Granderson also became the fifth Yankee with at least 30 homers and 20 stolen bases in a single season.
Rookie Garrett Richards, who was making his major-league debut, allowed six runs in the loss. That’s the most runs allowed by a pitcher in his first major-league start against the Yankees since the Tigers’ Beiker Graterol allowed seven in his only big league outing on April 9, 1999.
Fellow blogging colleague Mark Simon contributes this great note, good enough for our Obscure Yankeemetric of the Week: Since 1920, Granderson is the first Yankee to hit two home runs in a game against a pitcher making his major-league debut.
Robinson Cano also starred at the plate in the win, falling a single shy of the cycle. It’s the second time he’s done that in his career. The only other Yankees since 1900 to have two-or-more games where they’ve hit at least one double, one triple and a homer but no singles are Babe Ruth (3), Lou Gehrig (3) and Joe DiMaggio (2).
MO MAKES HISTORY
The Yankees took the rubber game, 6-5, thanks to a seventh inning tie-breaking grand slam by Cano, the fifth grand slam of his career.
The last Yankee second baseman to hit a go-ahead grand slam in the seventh inning or later was Bobby Richardson in 1962. And the only other Yankee second baseman with more grand slams than Cano’s five is Tony Lazzeri, who had six in his career.
Rivera showed his human side once again, allowing a three-run ninth-inning homer to Russell Branyan. It was the second straight game he’s given up a longball. Since becoming a full-time reliever in 1996, he’s only done that two other times: April 24 and 29, 2009, and August 15 and 16, 2003.
It was also the third appearance in a row he’s allowed a run and failed to record a strikeout. He’s never done that before in his major-league career.
Mariano did get his 30th save of the season, his ninth straight season with at least 30 saves and his 14th overall. His 14 30-save seasons are tied with Trevor Hoffman for the most all-time, and his streak of nine straight 30-save seasons is one more than Hoffman had.
Katie Sharp is a researcher with ESPN Stats & Information