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State Of The Yankees 16: Needed Series Win Over Seattle Has Yankees On Road With Positive Momentum

  By Brad Carroll  
Our State of the Yankees column is back for its 16th installment with a much-needed victory over the Mariners Sunday to finish off a disapointing 4-5 homestand with some positive momentum heading on the road. As always, we want to hear what you have to say about your favorite (or least favorite) team below in the comments section. And check back next week for the latest from the New York Yankees right here.

  Opening Statement  
This was the week the Yankees needed to right the ship and regain their once-dominate control of the AL East. It didn't start out so well, with the Yankees losing the first two games to the Baltimore Orioles to turn a once-thought insurmountable lead into a precarious one. But over the final four games of the week, the Yankees did what they had to do, winning three to create some much needed distance between the Orioles (6.5 games), Rays (7.5) and a whole 10 games over the Red Sox. Phil Hughes, CC Sabathia and Freddy Garcia each pitched well in winning over the past four nights, while Hiroki Kuroda might have pitched the best of them all, but had to settle for a 1-0 loss against Felix Hernandez. (Which, again, none of us have any clue why the Yankees didn't demand King Felix for Jesus Montero instead of accepting Michael Pineda instead. It still makes zero sense almost a week into August.) Winning three of four should also alleviate any concern from fans and the organization that the Yankees were in trouble this season based on their play since the All-Star break. Over a 162-game season, even the best teams are going to go through losing streaks, it's handling and limiting those streaks that's what matters. Still, with four games against Detroit starting Monday, winning those three was important to establishing both confidence and an aura as the best team in baseball.

Ichiro Suzuki, Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher. (AP photo)
  The High Point  
It wasn't so much a highlight as much as a needed springboard heading on the road for seven games. The Yankees needed a victory over the lowly Mariners Sunday afternoon for a variety of reason, most of which revolved around ending a nine-game homestand on a positive note, something that would not have been possible with another lose. Even with the 6-2 victory Sunday, the Yankees still ended the stretch with a 4-5 record against Boston, Baltimore and Seattle. We've already touched on above that losing streaks can be handled by good teams with solid cushions at the top of the standings, such as the Yankees built up over the first half of the year. But a 3-6 homestand against three teams the Yankees should handle could have been the moment where we here at GameDay would join the masses in putting the Bronx Bombers' season in serious jeopardy. Losing two of three to Boston and Baltimore is one thing, but dropping two of three to Seattle would be unacceptable and a legitimate reason for concern, especially considering the injuries to Alex Rodriguez and Andy Pettitte. But Raul Ibanez made sure we wouldn't declare a state of emergency. Ibanez went 2-for-4 with a home run and three RBI to lead a 6-2 victory. Garcia, who has surprisingly been terrific as a fifth starter, got the win and the Yankees moved 19 games over .500. Ichiro Suzuki also extended his hit streak with the Yankees to 12 games.

  The Low Point  
Felix Hernandez is a great pitcher, we all know this. He may be the best pitcher in all of baseball. Again, we all know it. But there still should be no excuse for the Yankees' powerful lineup to get just two hits and no runs against the Mariners' ace in losing a game 1-0. Hernandez has shut out the Yankees twice in five starts at the new Stadium and has the lowest ERA (1.13) of anyone in baseball in the new ballpark with at least two starts. Losing to King Felix is nothing to be ashamed or alarmed about, but doing so by getting just two hits and no runs? That's not a good sign for a Yankees team that will have to generate runs come October against some of the best pitchers in baseball. After a Robinson Cano double in the first inning Saturday, the Yankees hit just one ball the rest of the way into the outfield, a fly out by Derek Jeter in the ninth. What's worse is the loss erased what was another solid start by Hiroki Kuroda, who pitched into the seventh, allowing just one run on seven hits. The Yankees should never lose a 1-0 game.
Raul Ibanez had a big Sunday for the Yankees. (AP photo)
  Three Up  
Derek Jeter: The Yankees captain moved up to ninth in the American League with a .314 batting average after a strong 11-for-25 (.440) week against Baltimore and Seattle. In the series loss to Baltimore, Jeter did everything he could to swing the momentum in the Yankees' favor, going 8-for-13.

Hiroki Kuroda: He got the loss Saturday, but pitched yet another brilliant game, allowing just one run on seven hits in 6 1/3 innings. In his last four starts, Kuroda has allowed 0, 1, 2 and 1 runs, but went just 2-1 over the stretch, an indictment on the offense in his starts. The free agent signing has been one of the best moves by Brian Cashman over the past few seasons. Kuroda is ninth in the American League in wins (10) and ninth in both ERA (3.19) and WHIP (1.18).

CC Sabathia: Probably the dumbest thing I've heard in news around the Yankees this week was some saying the team doesn't have an ace pitcher. There is no doubt here and should be no doubt anywhere that Sabathia is the ace of the Yankees staff and one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. Sabathia pitched a complete game Friday night, beating the Mariners 6-3. He allowed three runs on three hits and struck out 10. He's sixth in the American League with 11 wins, and that's even with missing two weeks on the disabled list. Sabathia's 11-3 with a 3.53 ERA. Ace? Um, yes.

  Three Down  
Ivan Nova: The Baltimore Orioles teed off on Nova this week, as the young Yankees starter allowed nine runs on 10 hits in five innings during an 11-5 loss. Nova dropped to 10-5 with the loss, but the alarming part of Nova's season is his ERA, which jumped to 4.53. Nova has just one win in his last eight starts (1-3).

Curtis Granderson: The home runs (second in the AL with 29) and the RBI (69) are there, but he's batting .246 on the season after a week that saw him hit just .208. Granderson is the poster boy for the team's offensive struggles, hitting a bunch of home runs, but not being able to generate runs in other forms.

Joba Chamberlain: He made his anticipated return to the team Wednesday, but wasn't impressive on the mound. He allowed two runs on four hits in 1 2/3 innings against the Orioles. It's just one appearance, but it would have been nice confidence wise for Chamberlain, the team and fans to have a good outing, especially since he's going to be a major component of a bullpen that needs him for the stretch run and playoffs.

  What's Next?  
The Yankees hit the road after a nine-game homestand, starting with four games against the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers (58-50) are one of two teams tied atop the Wild Card standings. Monday, it's Nova against Justin Verlander. The weekend set will have the Yankees in Toronto for three with the Blue Jays, who are three games under .500 at 52-55..

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