After 10 in row, torrid Yanks take day off

May 16, 1994|By Jack Curry | Jack Curry,New York Times

MILWAUKEE -- Play, win, play it down, repeat. Duplicate this arduous routine for 10 straight days while averting disasters and humbling opponents with skills and thrills. Wake up each morning for the last week to find yourself entrenched in first place. This has been the itinerary for the streaking, surging, successful Yankees lately.

And on the 11th day, the Yankees will finally rest. They will rest after destroying the Brewers, 12-1, at County Stadium yesterday to balloon their winning streak to 10 games, and the rest of the American League was probably elated that New York does not play today.

But any elation should be tempered because Manager Buck Showalter was busy compiling the next itinerary and it starts with Jimmy Key tomorrow.

Of course, it was impossible to choreograph the Yankees' first 10-game winning streak since 1987, impossible to orchestrate the first sweep in Milwaukee since 1971 and impossible to forecast the team's best beginning since 1958. It only seems like each game is an electronic toy with Showalter dominating the controls because the outcomes, sometimes wacky and sometimes wonderful, have eventually piled into the Yankees' victory column.

If this had been an imaginary game, would Showalter have punched the buttons any differently to alter what actually transpired? Every starter had at least one hit and only Danny Tartabull did not score at least one run.

Don Mattingly continued his torrid hitting by rapping four hits, including a homer over the center-field fence. Wade Boggs and Bernie Williams also homered.

Paul O'Neill increased his hitting streak to 12 games and was one of five players with two hits. Scott Kamieniecki pitched eight sterling innings.

It might have been New York's most impressive display of the year. Just as planned in the itinerary. "I think we're playing our best," said Luis Polonia. "I think this has to be the best. What else can you ask for? I don't think you can play better than we are. This is the best anybody can play."

Maybe Polonia is right. The Yankees have the best record in baseball, their starters have averaged seven innings and a 3.09 earned and their batters have averaged 6.7 runs a game during the streak.

While the Yankees have moved from 3 1/2 games out of first place to 2 games ahead of the Red Sox, they also have established a hefty nine-game lead over Toronto.

After chasing the two-time World Series champion Blue Jays last season, seeing them stumbling near last in the American League East is a welcome vision. Even in May.

"One thing I noticed is that it's pushed Toronto back," Mattingly said. "If you're losing and you're near the bottom, you're losing a lot."

While Polonia forgot to downplay the streak and maintain the level approach that is preferred in the clubhouse, even the cautious Showalter grudgingly admitted that the Yankees are cruising with confidence.

When he was asked if the 10-game skein could increase the confidence of an already confident team, Showalter smiled and obviously felt the Yankees can do better. Rather than concede it, he smiled and said, "Go ask Luis."

"You got to go out and play every day," O'Neill said. "You just can't show up. Sometimes, players get lackadaisical and go out and lose. We haven't done that. That's why we are where we are today."

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