He may not have the gaudy numbers of Alex Rodriguez or the instant name recognition of Derek Jeter in New York, but Bobby Abreu may be the key to the recent turnaround of the Yankees.
Abreu and his teammates seek to climb over .500 for the first time in nearly two months and win their eighth consecutive game Wednesday when New York continues its three-game series with the Arizona Diamondbacks at Yankee Stadium.Like just about every other player on the Yankees (31-31), Abreu spent most of the first two months in a funk. His batting average was a season-low .228 at the end of May after enduring a 3-for-25 (.120) slump. But with the change of the calendar, there has been a change in Abreu's game.He is currently enjoying a season-high 11-game hitting streak, batting .488 (20-for-41) with two homers, 12 RBIs and 15 runs scored to raise his average 45 points. Abreu provided the decisive hit in Tuesday's 4-1 victory, a three-run first-inning homer, and Chien-Ming Wang pitched seven strong innings as the Yankees reached .500 for the first time since May 9."I don't think too much right now at the plate. In the past, I was thinking too much," Abreu said.The seven-game winning streak is New York's longest since a 10-game run from May 7-17, 2005. Wang's outing continued a strong pitching trend for the Yankees, who have a 2.95 ERA during the winning streak and have held five opponents to three runs or less."This whole streak is based on how well we pitch, and Wang did it again tonight," manager Joe Torre said. "When you win, you don't feel you're ever going to lose. It's great confidence we've got right now, great confidence."Mike Mussina (2-3, 5.63 ERA), whose last victory came on May 9 in helping the Yankees improve to 16-16, is now charged with getting them over .500 for the first time since owning an 8-7 record on April 19. The right-hander pitched well on Thursday, limiting the Chicago White Sox to one run in six-plus innings, but left before the Yankees rallied for nine runs in the final two innings of a 10-3 win.The veteran right-hander has struggled at home, going 1-2 with a 6.65 ERA in four starts. Despite losing in his only appearance against the Diamondbacks, Mussina is 19-10 in interleague starts, including a 12-6 mark at home.The Diamondbacks (37-28) have lost four of their last five games overall and are 13-24 in interleague play since the start of the 2005 season. A throwing error in the first inning by Gold Glove second baseman Orlando Hudson on a ball hit by Johnny Damon led to a hit-and-run single by Jeter that preceded Abreu's home run."That's my mistake. Those are my three runs," said Hudson, who has nine errors after committing just 13 in 2006.After his bullpen squandered a potential victory in his last outing, Livan Hernandez (5-3, 3.66) tries again for his first win this month. The right-hander allowed three runs in seven innings to San Francisco on Thursday, but the Giants scratched out a ninth-inning run before winning 5-4 in 11 innings.Hernandez is 17-12 in interleague starts, winning six of his last seven decisions. But he is 0-2 with a 4.12 ERA in three starts against the Yankees, giving up 10 runs in 19 2-3 innings.