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Yankees' winning formula on display again in Tuesday's win over Mariners

05/15/2013 12:38 AM ET
By Joe Auriemma

Mariano Rivera pitched the ninth inning and recorded his 16th save of the season.(AP)
NEW YORK -- The ragtag Yankees continue to win, and it has been fun to watch. This group of retreads that no one had any faith in just a month and a half ago has proven to the baseball world that there is still life in a lot of these professional players.

"I still think we have a lot of really good players," Joe Girardi said of his team after Tuesday night's win. "Maybe not the names we're used to having here, but have guys that have had big years. This group has worked really hard. As a manager and as a coaching staff we appreciate what they're doing.

"We also applaud them because they're playing extremely well and it seems to be a different guy every night finding a way to get it done for us. It's been a good month and a half, but we know we have a long ways to go."

Those names now include Lyle Overbay, Travis Hafner and Vernon Wells, who are just three players that have been successful at one time and are rejuvenated in the Bronx in 2013. Wells and Hafner were once superstars and Overbay has always been a solid player. Their production had dipped prior to this year, but Tuesday night's comeback victory was just more proof that this bunch is not doing this with smoke and mirrors; they are legitimately a good team, with the keyword being "team."

Overbay's go-ahead sacrifice fly in the seventh inning, which made the score 4-3, plated his fifth go-ahead RBI this season, tying him for second most on the team with, you guessed it, Wells. Hafner leads the team with six.

"He's had so many big hits and RBIs for us," Girardi said of Overbay. "He got us on the board and then he had the game-winner. He's been really good wherever we put him and been able to manage to play him almost every day. I feel good when he's at the plate. I really do."

Jayson Nix, the third-string shortstop, has been terrific for the Yankees both on offense and in the field. Chris Nelson, fourth-string third baseman, even contributed with a couple of hits in the Yankees' 4-3 win over the Mariners.

Many people were just hopeful that the Yankees were going to be able to stay afloat until the stars came back. The rest of the league had an apparent opportunity to put the Yankees in a big hole to start this season. But at 25-14, the Yankees are better than just afloat: They are one of the best teams in all of baseball.

If you combine timely hitting, good defense, good-to-great starting pitching, a great bullpen, a major superstar in Robinson Cano and terrific team chemistry, then that formula equals success anywhere.

The formula continued with solid starting pitching on Tuesday. Sabathia kept the Yankees in the game and left trailing 3-1, even after striking out 10 in his 6 1/3 innings. Seattle's ace, Felix Hernandez, shut the Yankees down.

But this never-say-die group wore Hernandez down. He left with an apparent back injury and handed the ball to the Mariners' weakness, their bullpen.

On the other hand, there's the Yankees' bullpen, a major strength of the club. Over a 23 2/3-inning stretch, which spans nine games, the Yankees' relievers haven't allowed a run. New York's bullpen has pitched to a 0.77 ERA in May, allowing just three earned runs in 35 innings.

Sabathia handed the ball to Shawn Kelley, who once again dazzled. Kelley entered with runners on first and third and one out. He proceeded to strike out Kelly Shoppach and get Raul Ibanez to fly out to left. Kelley has struck out seven of the last nine batters he's faced.

David Robertson worked into and out of trouble in the eighth, maintaining the Yankees' 4-3 advantage. In the ninth, Mariano Rivera continued his dream comeback season by recording his 16th save.

"It's unbelievable," Sabathia said of the bullpen. "We knew coming into the season that was going to be one of our stronger points on the team. These guys haven't disappointed. They've come out every time out and given us a chance to win and shut down games when they needed to."

"Our bullpen has done a great job for us and we've had a lot of close games," Girardi said. "Mo has 16 saves already. I mean that's quite a pace that he's on. We haven't had to use him in games we're not winning because he's got so many opportunities. Those games are extremely important, one's that you need to win. If you want to play in the month of October, you need to win those games."

They win so many different ways and they get big nights from different contributors. The Yankees are playing fun baseball and this group continues to defy the early season critics and entertain those who watch them play.

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