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One of the lesser-known reasons for the Yankees' success this year has been the strength of their pitching staff. Whitey Ford, the star, has been ably backed by such as Johnny Kucks and Tom Sturdivant (right).
The depth of their hitting has also been overlooked. It is a baseball banality to talk of Yankee power, but many think of it as almost exclusively wrapped around Mantle, aided and abetted by Berra, Bauer and Skowron. Yet the Yankee bench, strongest in the league, has been a vital factor.
Casey Stengel called on his bench 149 times in New York's first 128 games. Fifty-two times the Yankee pinch-hitter reached base safely for an impressive .349 average. The 1956 Yankees have yet to be beaten by a pinch-hitter. But in six games this season (oddly all at the home stadium) a Yankee pinch-hitter has knocked in the winning run. These six games just about represent the margin of difference between New York and its closest pursuers in the American League:
? New York, April 21. It was the bottom of the eighth inning and the Yankees had just tied the Red Sox at 10-10. There were men on first and second with one out. Eddie Robinson (now with K.C.) pinch-hit for Andy Carey. With the count three and two, Robinson singled to left, and the winning run scored. The Yanks added four more runs before the inning was over. Result: Yankees 15, Red Sox 10.
? New York, May 4. It was the last half of the eighth inning and the Athletics and the Yankees were deadlocked at 6-6. There were men at second and third with one out. Joe Collins batted for Hank Bauer. Hitting the third pitch to deep short, Collins was credited with an infield single as the winning run crossed home plate. The Yanks scored three more runs that inning. Result: Yankees 10, Athletics 6.
? New York, May 11. It was the bottom of the ninth and the Orioles and Yanks were tied 2-2. The bases were full and there was one out. Bill Skowron pinch-hit for Bobby Richardson (now in the minors). The count reached two and two before Skowron lifted an unplayable fly to center and the game was over. Result: Yankees 3, Orioles 2.
? New York, June 10. It was the bottom of the third inning and the Indians and Yanks were locked in a scoreless game. There were two out and men on first and third. Although the game was so young, Joe Collins was sent to the plate to bat for Hank Bauer. He hit a long home run into the right-field bleachers, and that was the ball game. The Yanks scored three more "insurance" runs after that. Result: Yankees 6, Indians 0.
? New York, July 3. It was the 12th inning and the Yankees and Orioles were deadlocked 3-3. The bases were loaded with one out. Mickey McDermott pinch-hit for Gil McDougald and rapped the first pitch sharply to right. The winning run scored easily. Result: Yankees 4, Orioles 3.
? New York, July 15. It was the 10th inning and the Yankees were losing to the White Sox 5-4. The Yanks loaded the bases on one out, and Hank Bauer went in to hit for Phil Rizzuto. He singled through the hole, and the tying and winning runs scampered across the plate. Result: Yankees 6, White Sox 5.