That was the near-universal thought in the Yankees' clubhouse after this afternoon's victory that sent the Yankees into the All-Star break with the best record in baseball (56-32) and having won eight of their last night.

To the every day players, they feel they should be doing more.

“We have so much talent out there that it’s hard to keep us down but at the same time we know we haven’t lived up to our expectations as a whole,” said Mark Teixeira, who had four hits. "That’s our goal for the second half, as an offensive group to step it up a little bit.”

Said Derek Jeter: "We have a lot of room for improvement. We been inconsistent at times. There’s only been a few players that have been consistent. The main consistency has been our pitching."

CC Sabathia won his eighth straight start to finish the first half 12-3 with a 3.09 ERA. He has a 1.81 ERA in his last eight starts, and his poor May is very much a distant memory.
“It feels good,” Sabathia said of his streak. “I did have a tough May and I was struggling with my mechanics and I felt like I was getting behind everybody. To be able to turn it around and finish the first half strong feels good.”

"He's that type of pitcher," Girardi said. "When he gets on a roll and when things get right, he can be extremely effective. He's using all his pitches, his velocity has been great, his location has been great. He's in a good groove."

Sabathia, headed for Anaheim and the All-Star break, said the winning streak has been the result of one thing.

"Fastball command," he said. "Being able to get ahead with my fastball makes everything else that much better. Throwing the fastball to both sides of the plate, commanding the strike zone has been the biggest thing."

The Yankees finished their West Coast trip, which started last Monday in Oakland, with a 6-1 record and they hold a two-game lead over the Rays in the AL East. The Red Sox are five back. The Yankees return from the break with a three-game series against the Rays, starting Friday at the Stadium.

The Yankees allowed only 12 runs in the seven games on the trip, with their starting pitchers giving up only seven runs in 502/3 innings for a 1.24 ERA.

“It’s extremely gratifying,” Girardi said of going 6-1 on the trip. “The guys didn’t start their break early. They just pushed and pushed and pushed and for that I’m extremely proud of them."

"We’re focused," said Alex Rodriguez, one of the seven Yankees off to Anaheim. "We’re doing the little things, and this group knows how to win games. On this road trip we showed, even when we’re not playing our best baseball, we are getting good pitching, we’re defending well and we’re getting some timely hitting.”

*** Derek Jeter, introduced for every Yankee Stadium at-bat by a recording of Bob Sheppard’s voice, will have that same introduction at tomorrow night’s All-Star game.The idea was brought to Jeter, who couldn’t say yes fast enough.

“It’s a great idea,” Jeter said. “He deserves it.”

The Yankees plan to wear some kind of patch to honor Sheppard on their uniforms during the second half but haven’t yet specified it.

And with that, it's off to the airport for a red eye back home to New York. Ken Davidoff will fill you in on all the Yankee news from the All-Star game -- and all the baseball news in general -- from Anaheim the next few days.


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