By Brad Carroll
In a season that has been more about disappointment than anything else, the New York Yankees finally gave their fans something to latch on to after winning four straight games, including a sweep of the White Sox, to not only stay in the wild card race but take a major step toward challenging the Orioles for the AL East crown.
The sweep of the White Sox allowed the Yankees to knock three games off in the AL East, going from nine to six games out. The Yankees didn't make up ground for the second wild card spot, but that deficit sits at just 3.5 games.
Momentum is finally on the Yankees side, and here are the players who made it happen, and some who didn't quite give performances to remember, with our 3 Up and 3 Down risers and fallers from the 4-2 week that was.
Martin Prado: Unlike the Stephen Drew trade, we loved adding Prado on deadline day, and he's been a sparkplug for the Yankees since joining the team. This week, he went 10-for-25 (.400) with four doubles, a home run and seven RBI. He has hit in four straight games and seven of his last eight. This has been a winner of a trade so far.
Brandon McCarthy: He's been the ace of the staff since coming over in a trade last month, going 5-2 with a 1.90 ERA for the Yankees. Over his last four starts, he's allowed a total of just four runs. McCarthy's four-hit, complete-game shutout of the Astros Thursday was a season-saver for the Yankees, as it saved what would have been an embarrassing sweep by Houston. It gave the Yankees some much-needed momentum.
Jacoby Ellsbury: He batted .409 this past week (9-for-22) with two runs scored, a double, a pair of RBI and four stolen bases. He's battling general soreness, but is in the lineup Monday night against Kansas City.
Derek Jeter: It's almost criminal to put the Captain in this spot, but we have to look at the facts. Jeter went 4-for-22 (.182) with no extra base hits and no runs scored last week. He's batting .265 with three home runs and 32 RBI on the season. Still, if the game is on the line, Jeter's still the guy to lean on.
Brett Gardner: He went 2-for-18 with a single run scored the past week. He is 1-for-his-last-10 and his average is down to .269.
David Robertson: The Yankees closer allowed runs in two of the four games he pitched in last week. He took the loss against Houston after allowing a three-run home run in the ninth inning last Tuesday. Thursday, he allowed a game-tying home run to blow a save against the White Sox. The Yankees ended up winning that game in 10 innings. He had converted 22 straight save opportunities before that.