<
>

First Pitch: Homers key to playoff push

NEW YORK -- The Bronx Bombers are back -- at least for the past four games.

After blasting three homers in Tuesday night's win against the Angels, the Yankees now have eight in their past four games, including four straight games with a homer.

In the previous 10 games leading up to this four-game stretch, the Yankees had eight. They also have 16 in their last 14 games after going nine straight games without a homer from July 19-27.

Last season, one of the common complaints from fans was that the Yankees were too reliant on home runs. This year, as the Yankees have struggled to hit them, with just 104 through 118 games, Yankees GM Brian Cashman and manager Joe Girardi have mentioned how those homers were such an important part of what the Yankees were able to accomplish as a team.

The Yankees are 41-21 when they homer this season, and now 21-7 when they hit at least two.

If the Yankees are going to make a playoff push, as they have crept within 5 1/2 games of the second Wild Card, they will need to continue to hit homers. The Yankees are 3-1 in this past four-game stretch, and have resembled a competent offensive team while doing so. Hitting homers can make up for the overall struggles of the lineup, and allow them to slug their way to wins.

Up now: The Yankees beat the Angels 14-7 as Alfonso Soriano had two homers and six RBIs, and CC Sabathia won for the first time since July 3. The 14 runs scored tied the season-high, while the 19 hits were the season's best. Alex Rodriguez went 1-for-5.

On deck: The Yankees play the third of four games against the Angels. It's Ivan Nova against Jered Weaver. Ian Begley and myself will have you covered from Yankee Stadium. As always, thanks for reading.