On June 9, The New York Yankees faced off against the Boston Red Sox in the Bronx hoping to salvage the final game of a three-game set. Unfortunately it was not to be, the Sox once again swept their rivals aside, leaving them bewildered, embarrassed and on the verge of losing any credibility within the division.
The Yankees had been playing well up to that point, but they hit a wall while facing the Sox. Many thought the Yankees were done, they wouldn’t survive, injuries had taken complete control of the team, but a rebound has been in order.
Since their crippling sweep at the hands of the Red Sox, the Yankees have won eight straight series, going 16-5 over the span, showing why they are among the best teams in baseball. It is a resounding message to the rest of the league for one reason — they are on this streak with replacement players.
The 27-Time World Series Champions have an MLB-leading 11 players on the Disabled List, many of them expected to be major players for the 2011 season. One of the said players is Bartolo Colon.
Colon, expected to be only an insurance policy before Spring Training, has been arguably the team’s best pitcher this season. His ERA of 2.88 is the lowest on the team, made possible with the appearance of a wiffle ball-like two-seam fastball thrown to the four quadrants of the strike zone.
When he suffered a hamstring injury, many expected the Yankees rotation to crumble, especially with the loss of Phil Hughes occurring earlier this season. However, that has not been the case.
As has been the case for everyone on the 25-man roster, others have stepped up when others have gone down. Replacing Colon in the rotation had been Minor League retread, Brian Gordon, plucked from the Phillies farm system.
Gordon, in front of his entire family and a sold-out N.Y. crowd, pitched the game of his life, only allowing one run in five innings of work.
Then, not too long afterwards, Yankees captain Derek Jeter also suffered an injury, this one to the calf, pitting him on the DL. Replacing Jeter in the shortstop role would be Eduardo Nunez, the player whom the Yankees would not part ways with to obtain Cliff Lee last season.
Nunez had more than admirably filled in for Jeter on the offensive end, even surpassing him for output, but the defensive side leaves a lot to be desired. His 14 errors have cost the Yankees some runs that he has had to make up for with his bat.
With Hughes, the former 18-game winner from last season, heading back into the rotation, the Yankees will gain even more reinforcements. The rest of the East better beware.
Standing at 18 games over .500 with replacements at the shortstop position, the pitching staff and bullpen, the Yankees are gaining reinforcements, and ready to take aim at the rest of the league.
Ryan Lazo is a Senior Writer covering the A.L. East for baseballdigest.com. He can be reached at RMLazo13@gmail.com, and follow him on Twitter @RMLazo13.