One More To Go

Some of the questions I asked yesterday have been answered.

Andy Pettitte looked really good in his 7 innings tonight, and he finished stronger than he started. You can’t make too much of one start, but that was a very good sign for the Yankees’ October hopes. Mariano Rivera looks like Mariano Rivera again. All those broken bats last night and Mauer’s hit tonight was basically a blooper to left. Kerry Wood certainly made me feel better tonight than he did last night, but I still am not sure about him and we don’t know about the Twins and the running game.

And how about Curtis Granderson? This guy is clearly reinvigorated since he met with Kevin Long and he has become the player the Yankees thought he would be when they traded for him. Kudos also to Lance Berkman for a nice game.

And now the Yankees head home with a 2-0 lead. I still think the Twins have some fight in them, but it is very comforting to know that if they do pull out Game 3, they will have to get beat CC Sabathia, who is 18-4 with a 3.08 ERA in his career at the new place, to return home.

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Permit me a few non-Yankee notes.

I guess Roy Halladay really wanted to get into the postseason. That was a pretty cool moment. But, please don’t compare it to Don Larsen’s game. First of all, Larsen didn’t allow a baserunner. Second, Larsen did it in the World Series.

I said it months ago, and I will say it again, the Phillies made an ENORMOUS mistake trading Cliff Lee before the season. Can you imagine how every team in the league would feel if the Phillies had Halladay and Lee still?

Is there anyone who expected the Rangers to have a 2-0 lead over the Rays?

See you Friday!

And So It Begins

My four biggest questions heading into the ALDS:

1- Can Andy Pettitte be “Andy Pettitte” when he gets the ball?

2- Is Mariano Rivera over his September slump?

3- Can Jorge Posada stop the Twins from running wild on the bases?

4- Will Kerry Wood throw strikes when it counts?

It is going to be a fascinating series. I think the Yankees’ offense has a clear advantage over the Twins’ pitching on paper, but we have seen the Yankees’ offense disappear at inopportune times. If the Yankees hit, there is not stopping them, if the game becomes a battle of pitching staffs, the Yankees could be in trouble. The big guy starts it off tonight, welcome back to October!

“Our Goal Is To Win The Division”

That’s what Joe Girardi said, but his actions certainly didn’t back those words up. I think if you gave him truth serum, he would admit that he put winning the division below resting his players when push came to shove.

It’s water under the bridge now. The Yankees are going to be the wild card because they lost to Boston (As I write this Tampa tied up their game 2-2, so it may not matter what the Yankees did today.) That means they are headed to Minnesota for the start of the playoffs I imagine we will hear that Andy Pettitte is starting Game 2 with Phil Hughes starting Game 3 and CC on tap to pitch on short rest in Game 4. Considering the Twins hit .276/.343/.433 vs RHP and .269/.338/.403 vs lefties that makes sense.

It should be a very interesting October.

Game 162

It’s pretty amazing to think that it was almost six months ago that the Yankees started their season. On April 4th they blew a 5-1 lead at Fenway to start the season. 160 games later they arrive on the final Sunday of the season assured of a playoff spot, but unsure of which spot they will earn.

It’s funny how a season always winds from place to place. If we could rewind the tape three months we would be at a point when the Yankees’ rotation looked awesome and the very idea of adding Cliff Lee seemed an insane excess to some people.

That air of inevitability has clearly disappeared from the Yankees. Pettitte pulled his groin and missed two months, Vazquez fell completely apart, Phil Hughes struggled and AJ became AJ again. Unfortunately, there are no mulligans in sports. For better or for worse, the 2010 Yankees are going to have to rely on their bats and their bullpen to pull out a 28th crown.

I still believe that homefield advantage would be a big boost for this squad. It seems like over the last few weeks Joe Girardi whipsawed from wanting to win the division to not caring about it to wanting to win it again. It’s been a frustrating September, but after today the playoffs await and the slate will be wiped clean.

Intermezzo

The Yankees survived Game 1, using the best of their pen and getting a very lucky hit off of Papelbon in the 10th.

Clearly, Girardi managed all out in Game 1, but what will he do in Game 2? It’s not really about the lineup, the Yankees are using a pretty decent one, but what will they do when the game goes to the bullpen? Perhaps AJ Burnett makes it all moot with another one of his clunkers. But if the Yankees have a lead in the 7th, what will Joe do?

Super Saturday

Today is the biggest day of the Yankees’ season. By the end of it we will know the condition of their postseason rotation and we will have a chance of knowing when and where they will open up the playoffs.

Thanks to last night’s monsoon in Boston the Yankees and Red Sox will play two today. Shame on MLB for scheduling the second game at 9:05pm, but so be it. If the Yankees win those two games and Tampa loses, they are AL East champs. If the Yankees get swept and Tampa wins they are the wild card. The much more likely split means we have an interesting Sunday to look forward to.

But the performances of AJ Burnett and Andy Pettitte in their starts today/tonight are the biggest result. The Yankees are going to need one, if not both of them, to be good in the playoffs. The Yankees want to feel good about giving them the ball and their performances today will determine that. Considering all the stories about Andy’s back this week, the Yankees need to see him go out there and perform.

The Yankees have caught a number of breaks over the past few nights. Who thought Bruce Chen would channel his former prospect status and pitch like that last night? The Red Sox also lost today’s starter and their thirdbaseman heading into the weekend. Now it’s up to them, as Ernie Banks once said, “let’s play two!”