New York Yankees: The Top 5 Stories of the First Half – Sports – AllMediaNY

11 Jul 2012 04:11 PM EST

-by Justin O’Reilly, Contributing Writer; Image: despite the loss of Mariano Rivera, the new York Yankees have the best record in baseball. (Image Source: Getty Images)

The new York Yankees enter the break with a 52-33 record, the best in the Major Leagues. here are the top 5 stories from the first half of the season:

5. Michael Pineda goes Down: For as long as anyone can remember Jesus Montero was to be the player of the Yankees’ future. Just about every team in baseball tried to get the Yankees to include him in a trade package, but general manager Brian Cashman played it close to vest. after years of buildup, Montero finally made his first appearance with the Yankees in 2011 and he was very impressive. however, the Yankees were more interested in someone else, Seattle Mariners pitcher Michael Pineda. A very strong rookie season in 2011 attracted the Yankees, as well as most of baseball, to Pineda. In a surprise blockbuster move Cashman sent Montero to Seattle, along with Hector Noesi, for Pineda and top prospect Jose Campos. Along with the addition of Hiroki Kuroda the Yankees were looking to have one of the best rotations in baseball. That is until Pineda, after making his last spring training start, went down with a season-ending labrum injury. At first it looked like things may taken a turn for the worse, but the starters they have were able to pick up the slack and give the Pinstripes enough quality starts to build a 7-game lead in the AL East. Hopefully Pineda will be able to return in 2013, healthy, and give the Yankees what they expected.

4. Andy started off Dandy: Another one of the big moves the Yankees made this offseason was to reach out to retired pitcher Andy Pettitte. Thinking they could use the security of an extra starting pitcher, Cashman asked Pettitte if he’d like to return, and after taking some time to think it over, the southpaw agreed and was primed to join the team in May. when Andy returned, no one really expected much out of him, but what they got was some quality pitching. In the time he was there, Pettitte was arguably the Yankees best starting pitcher. In nine starts he went 3-3, with a 3.22 ERA, which is pretty solid considering he is a 40-year old pitcher who spent all of 2011 retired from baseball. however, disaster struck, when in the 5th inning of a game on June 27th, Pettitte was hit in the leg by a line drive off the bat of Casey Kotchman of the Cleveland Indians. The line drive fractured Pettitte’s ankle and forced him to go on the disabled list for at least two months. 

3. The Bullpen: Early last season, the Yankees lost Joba Chamberlain to Tommy John surgery but he was expected to be ready to pitch in 2012. however, a freak trampoline accident pushed that return date back quite a bit and the Yankees were to be without one of their best middle relievers. to make matters worse, Mariano Rivera tore his ACL and went down for the season, and David Robertson also spent some time on the DL. The bullpen was beaten down to what seemed like the scraps, but as it turns out, the relievers have been one of the strongest forces on the team. Anchored by Rafael Soriano’s near dominance as the team’s closer, the rest of the bullpen followed his example. Boone Logan was promoted from just a lefty specialist, to someone who manager Joe Girardi can rely on in nearly any situation. meanwhile, Clay Rapada, stepped up in the role of lefty specialist and has been near perfect. while Cory Wade has been very ineffective as of late, early on he too managed to be one of Girardi’s strongest options. Cody Eppley, who was designated for assignment by Texas, has been a big surprise as well. as a whole the bullpen has been very consistent, even when the Yankees were playing poorly and it’s one of the biggest reasons the Yankees are in first place.

2. Mariano Rivera’s Season-Ending Injury : after making headlines when he alluded to 2012 being his final year, Mariano Rivera went down with a season-ending injury just a month into the campaign. out in the outfield during batting practice, he was shagging fly balls, something he does before every game, when chasing one down he stumbled and fell down in pain. when at first he was diagnosed with  just a bruised knee, many fans breathed a sigh of relief, however, the when the second report came in, there were tears brought to many Yankees’ fans eyes. Mariano Rivera had torn his ACL and would miss the entire 2012 season. A series of thoughts were going through everyone’s mind: Who’s going to be the closer now? Will the Yankees be good enough this season? And worst of all: Was that the last we’ll ever see of Mariano Rivera? well, as it turns out, Rafael Soriano has been doing an amazing job as the closer, the Yankees are the best team in baseball and Mariano has said that he will pitch again.

1. best Record in Baseball: on May 21st, 42 games into the season, the Yankees were 21-21, tied for last place in the AL East and 5.5 games behind the first place Baltimore Orioles. Mariano Rivera had just gone down for the season, David Robertson was on the DL, and it didn’t seem like anyone on the team was producing the way they should be. But then, as if all at once, everyone started to play better. The starting pitchers were unhittable, the lineup, pretty much top to bottom was picking up hit after hit, and the bullpen was a consistent force. From that point on, the Yankees went 31-12 and marched their way to the top of the AL East, then to the top of the Majors. Going into the all Star break, the Yankees are 0.5 game ahead of the Texas Rangers for the best record in baseball. The Bombers show no signs of slowing down either, as they came into the break taking three of four from the Boston Red Sox in Fenway. With CC Sabathia coming back from injury this weekend and Brett Gardner expected back at the end of the month, as well as Joba Chamberlain at some point this season, the Yankees will only get better.

New York Yankees: The Top 5 Stories of the First Half – Sports – AllMediaNY

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