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Yankees on important winning streak

09/22/2012 12:01 PM ET
By Joe Auriemma

Mark Teixeira took batting practice Saturday.(Joe Auriemma/YES)

The Yankees are in the midst of their biggest winning streak of the season, not in terms of length, but in terms of importance. The team had a 10-game winning streak in the middle of June, but six straight wins at the end of September couldn't have come at a more imperative time for the Bombers. They've also won eight of the last nine and 10 of their last 13. All this comes after a stretch of not winning back-to-back games between August 15 and September 13.

As the Yankees continue their winning ways, so do Buck's bunch from Baltimore, who notched their fifth straight win on Friday night in a 4-2 victory over the Red Sox.

Russell Martin mentioned that this is playoff baseball and Joe Girardi echoed this sentiment before the Saturday afternoon game saying, “It's playoff baseball in the month of September. It's what you look forward to is playoff baseball.”

This hot stretch is coming at the right time. The starters are on an upswing and have gotten healthy and the offense, while not lighting up the scoreboard, is coming up with some key hits. The playoff atmosphere in September could be a good sign that this play could carry into October. The Yankees are being battle tested day-in and day-out.

News and Notes:

Andruw Jones is starting on Saturday as the Yankees go with a righty-heavy lineup to combat the lefty Travis Blackley. Since August 5, Jones has played in 27 games and has just eight hits in 65 at-bats for a .123 average. He has looked very pedestrian at the plate. However, the Yankees probably want to see whether they can get him going before the postseason.

“He just needs to have some at-bats and be productive like we know he's capable of doing,” Girardi said. “It's been a struggle for him in the second half, but at any point a guy could get going and today would be a great day.”

The story that may be lost here is that with Jones in the lineup and the left-handed Ichiro playing center field today, Curtis Granderson is not facing the lefty pitcher. Granderson, who in previous seasons had trouble hitting lefties, turned the corner in 2011 against southpaws and was a must play in every game. He had a league-leading 16 home runs against left-handed pitching and a respectable .272 average. Those are the numbers that garnered him everyday playing time in 2012, no matter who was pitching. That streak, however, has run its course. Granderson may have 14 home runs against lefties this season, but his .214 average and 76 strikeouts in 206 at-bats are very alarming.

Joe Girardi announced that closer Rafael Soriano and setup man David Robertson are most likely not available for Saturday's game. Soriano, who only blew his fourth game of the season on Friday night, was a little fatigued and somewhat sore after the game. Soriano stuck by his word that it was just a week where he has worked very hard and there is nothing to be concerned about.

“I take his word for it,” Girardi said. “I really believe it was the twice in one day. Soriano is a guy that knows his body pretty well. He's closed before. He communicates very well how he's feeling. I'm pretty sure that will go away.”

Girardi is alluding to closing out the two games of the doubleheader on Wednesday that may have given Soriano a little case of dead arm on Friday night.

As far as who will close on Saturday afternoon if the situation presents itself, Girardi just said, “We'll work it out when we get there.”

Brett Gardner will most likely be activated as some point from now until the end of the season, but Girardi was non-committal on when that date will be. Gardner will probably be a pinch runner and late inning defensive replacement when he does return.

Mark Teixeira hit in the cage Saturday morning. It's certainly a good sign that the Yankees slugging first baseman will be back sooner rather than later.

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