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The New York Yankees have been quietly surging at the right time.
After posting just average records in July (13-13) and August (15-13), the Yanks have been playing extremely hot baseball in the month of September, posting a 15-9 record through their first 24 games this month. That includes a stretch of seven straight wins.
What has been particularly impressive about the Yankees' run this season is their perseverance in the face of injuries. Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, CC Sabathia and Mariano Rivera are just a handful of names that have been sidelined for some length of time or other.
However, the Empire continues to strike back. Only the Texas Rangers have a better record in the American League.
Of course, there are weaknesses in the armor. To begin, the team is 11th overall in team batting average at .261. Is that the be-all, end-all for October success? Of course not. However, what should raise a red flag is the fact that they rank 12th overall in team ERA at 3.86. Seven playoff teams own better team ERAs than the Yankees.
What is mildly concerning is the fact that the Yankees are 26-26 on the season against the Orioles, White Sox, Tigers, A's and Rangers. Yes, they've outscored their opponents 249-239, but fans should be cautious of that "it could go either way" record.
In the month of September the Yanks are 20th in team ERA at 4.16 (fifth among AL contenders). They also own a .249 team batting average this month, fourth among AL contenders but just 17th in MLB.
Contenders or Pretenders?
The 2012 New York Yankees are pretenders.
In order for the Yankees to be considered serious contenders, one would need to have faith that CC Sabathia is hitting his stride at the right time.
Quite the contrary. Sabathia had been 0-3 in his last five starts with a 3.60 ERA, but he might be turning it around given Wednesday's eight-inning, two-run effort to get the win.
That's not all. The rest of the starting pitching staff, in 23 games, is 7-8 with a 5.12 ERA in the last 30 days.