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Here’s An Interesting One

Of interest to both Yankees and Red Sox fans should be the playoff scenarios in the NL. You could have the ultimate tie-breaker with five teams ending up with the same record. (New York, Philadelphia, Arizona, San Diego, Colorado) If so, you would have tiebreaking games starting Monday and ending Thursday. Since both NLDS’s are scheduled to start Wednesday, would baseball move the ALDS to those dates? It would be a pretty wild situation, but it is pretty amazing that with four games left, not one team in the NL has clinched a playoff spot.

The Clincher!

I remember being thrilled in 1995 that the Yanees took the wild card because it meant I would finally see Don Mattingly in the playoffs.  1996 made the ’97 wild card seem cheap, but this one is very special to me.  Special because I didn’t think we would ever see it.  21-29 and left for dead, Chase Wright, Matt DeSalvo and 50 starts by rookies during the year, Shelly Duncan, Hughes’ hamstring, Joba and now this. I can’t remember a season like this and once again we can look forward to October. 

Give Joe Torre a lot of credit for this.  Just like Bob Lemon in 1978, Torre provided the right demeanor for this team to thrive.  I don’t know what will happen to Joe, but if this is it, he went out on a high note, no matter what happens from here.  But, that’s for another day, for tonight just sit back and enjoy.

Take A Knee

As nice as it would be to win the division, at this point it simply isn’t worth it. Boston can go 3-2 and clinch things no matter what the Yankees do. Instead, the best idea is to get the one more win (hopefully tonight with Wang on the mound) and then go into spring training mode. (And I say this as someone who is going to Baltimore Friday night for the game)

It has been a long season and thanks to a 21-29 start, the Yankees have had to play the second-half of the season like every game is a playoff game. Giving Posada, Jeter, A-Rod, etc., time off to rest is a critical need at this point. Get one more win and then take the regular season off, it’s the smart thing to do.

What do you guys think, is the push for the division worth it?

Clemens Scratched (Again)

While the magic number sits at 1, the Yankees have some serious health problems. Roger Clemens has been scratched from tonight’s start and replaced with Kei Igawa. More ominously, the Yankees have announced that Clemens will not pitch in any of the games against Tampa.

Clearly, this is a little more than a hamstring “tweak”. How bad it is remains to be seen, but the Yankees have to hope that Clemens can get back on the mound once more before the regular season ends.

Kennedy Scratched

Not sure what is going on, but Mike and The Mad Dog are reporting that Ian Kennedy has been scratched from tomorrow’s start.  Clemens moving up to take the start makes the most sense, but no official word yet. 

We Have A Fourth Starter

Mike Mussina earned a playoff start last night. Torre always wanted to go to him and last night he gave Joe a reason to. Yes, Mussina will probably pitch two more times, but unless Hughes dominates his next time out, this race is over.

And that brings up a great question, which pitchers make this postseason roster? You have to figure that Wang, Pettitte, Clemens, Mussina, Rivera, Chamberlain, Vizcaino and Ramirez are locks right now. I would assume Hughes and Villone also make it which leaves 1 or 2 spots open right now.

I say 1 or 2 because I am not sure how many pitchers the Yankees will actually take into the playoffs. Conventional wisdom would dictate that you only need 10 or 11, but look at the current 40-man roster. The Yankees only have 15 hitters and numbers 14 and 15 are Alberto Gonzalez and Bronson Sardinha. Neither one of those guys can steal bases and you wouldn’t consider their bats to be weapons, so what value would they provide to a playoff team?

That’s why I assume the Yankees take 12 pitchers in the playoffs and those final two spots are truly up for grabs. Joe Torre doesn’t trust Kyle Farnsworth, so adding him to the roster is a waste, but it’s a move the Yankees will probably make to keep his trade value from dissapearing. (They could have him fake an injury too) I am sure Joe would like a second lefty, but I don’t see Henn making it so forget that. (don’t mention Igawa to me)I think the last guy could be Ohlendorf.

Now Kennedy has pitched the best, but I don’t think the Yankees are going to make him a reliever for the playoffs. Bruney did it last year, but he hasn’t been good this year and I don’t see Joe trusting him in a big spot. Britton hasn’t done much and Joe doesn’t seem to want to use Veras in big spots. Joe hasn’t used Ohlendorf much, but he keeps talking about how he is intrigued by him. Ohlendorf was bombed as a starter earlier this year and his reliever numbers while not dominant, were better.

It will be interesting to see how this shakes out over the last week.

Tonight’s Lineup-9/17

Damon-CF
Jeter-SS
Abreu-RF
A-Rod-3B
Matsui-LF
Poasda-C
Giambi-DH
Cano-2B
Mientkiewicz-1B

I think Torre is very smart to rest Melky, the guy needs a day off. I think his last one was a month ago against Detroit and he is hitting .190 in September. I am a little worried that this past weekend is going to convince Torre to start Mientkiewicz a lot more. I am not sure why Betemit doesn’t get a shot to play, especially against righties.

Big start for Hughes tonight. I think it’s down to him and Mussina for the final rotation spot if the Yankees make the playoffs.

The Big Finish

Last night’s win was important for a lot of reasons. It allowed the Yankees to take the season series 10-8 after starting out 1-5 against Boston. It capped off a 7-2 road trip. But, most importantly, it kept the wild card lead at 2-1/2 games. Detroit has woken up and they are playing very, very well right now.

Detroit also has a pretty easy schedule the rest of the way. After playing three games in Cleveland, they should cruise the rest of the way. Three home games against the Royals, three home games against the Twins and a road trip for three games in Chicago. The Yankees start a three game set at home against Baltimore tonight followed by four against Toronto. Then they hit the road for three games in Tampa and three in Baltimore.

I think the Yankees should be able to close the season 8-5. That would force Detroit to go 10-2 to tie them, which doesn’t seem impossible when you look at their schedule. The odds favor the Yankees, but things will probably go down to that final weekend.

Lineup

I never would have guessed that Jason Giambi would be in today’s lineup playing firstbase. After last night’s defensive nightmare, I would have figured that Torre would stick him at DH or on the bench for a day, but he hasn’t. I give Joe credit for his faith since Giambi’s bat should stay in the lineup, but I think Joe needs to back off a bit on playing him there all the time. Giambi tends to break down when he is in the field a lot and I wonder if that played a part in last night’s problems more than just a simple lack of ability.

Anyway, the rest of the lineup is the same as yesterday with Matsui at DH and Damon in LF. More after the game.

Message Sent

There are a lot of things you can take away from last night’s win, but the biggest one to me is that this team can beat the Red Sox. I remember in 2003 and 2004 when the Yankees were in first and the Red Sox were chasing them, I always felt that none of that mattered because Boston was just as good as the Yankees were. Today, I fell exactly the same way, except it.

Unlike some, I still don’t see the Yankees winning the division, but I don’t really mind. With or without homefield, the Yankees can beat this team in the playoffs and that’s all that matters. Now they have to get in and get past the first round to have that chance.