Adaptation Serves the Yankees Well

Yankees have taken four of last five to stabilize themselves

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Martin's renewed vigor is one part of the new Yankee puzzle.

    When things were going right for the Yankees this season, they bludgeoned opponents with powerful bats and then sat back to watch their pitching staff handle their end of business without great difficulty. 

    That charmed life ended quite some time ago. For the last couple of months, the Yankees have struggled to do things the old ways and we've watched the lead disappear as a result. 

    It's almost as if the Yankees were a high-flying executive at a thriving company whose lifestyle reflected his outsize salary and the thought that things were only getting better. The economy took a downturn, though, and our noble young exec isn't making the same cash because he's lucky to still have a job, yet the caviar lifestyle still exists on a Chef Boyardee budget. 

    Eventually you have to adapt or you will die. In Sunday's 6-4 win, the Yankees showed how they are adapting to the new reality. 

    They scored five times in the third inning with the kind of rally that you just didn't see earlier in the season for the Yankees. Eduardo Nunez singled, stole second and scored on a Derek Jeter hit before Jeter himself came around following a Nick Swisher bunt and an Alex Rodriguez single. 

    That's two runs that came the old-fashioned way which opened the door for three more to score later in the inning on a Russell Martin home run that continued the catcher's hot September after a season spent in the dumpster. That's another adaptation, of course, and one that's helped the Yankees win four of five and seven of 11 with their backs right up against the wall. 

    Nunez would score another run the next inning when he reached on an error and stole second and third to put himself in scoring position. It's an element that the Yankees have not had available to them for much of the year and one that's helping them at this most crucial point of the season because Jeter isn't able to play short on his ankle right now. 

    Hiroki Kuroda hasn't changed much of what he's done all season, but Sunday saw him make the necessary moves to avoid the disaster innings that have sunk so many Yankee pitchers this season. A fan got in Steve Pearce's way on a foul pop and a bad bounce robbed the Yankees of a double play, but Kuroda doubled down and got the extra outs to keep the Yankees in the lead. 

    Compare that to the way CC Sabathia spit the bit again on Friday and you see that things need not be beautiful to be successful. Kuroda took the hits and then returned fire while some of his teammates seem to be unable to succeed when things get the least bit hairy. 

    It's scrappy, survival mode baseball and the Yankees don't have any choice but to go that way for the rest of the season. After all, it doesn't matter whether you're dining at Per Se or the diner on the corner as long as your belly's full when the day comes to a close. 

    Josh Alper is also a writer for Pro Football Talk. You can follow him on Twitter.

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