Baseball is a fickle game. On any given day, the worst team in the major leagues can beat the best team. On any given day the worst hitter in the game can go 4 for 4 and the best 0 for 5, while the best pitcher can take the mound without his stuff and get rocked as the worst finds an unfamiliar feel and pitches a complete game shutout. A large part of this is that baseball, more than any other sport, is a game dependent to a large degree on luck. It’s the line-drive right at a fielder versus the weak grounder that finds a hole, the hanging curve that’s taken for a high strike versus the one with a sharp break and great placement that gets deposited in the seats.
These are all reasons that the two tremendous losses the Yankees suffered at the hands of the Red Sox this weekend (total score, 24-3) don’t really bother me all that much. It was clear that Pavano and Mussina simply didn’t have it and that Clement and Wells (who found that famous curve after the first inning on Sunday) did. In and of itself, that doesn’t really reveal any essential flaws in this Yankee team other than the fact that they were simply off their game two days in a row. Consider the following:
Tuesday through Thursday the Tigers are swept by the Yankees. Friday through Sunday the Orioles are swept by the Tigers. Saturday and Sunday the Red Sox humiliate the Yankees. Monday night, the Red Sox get crushed by the Orioles (8-1).
There’s no logic to that. As of this afternoon, the Orioles are the best of those four teams (.620 winning percentage), the Tigers the worst (.479) and the Red Sox and Yankees are tied, four games behind the O’s in second place in the AL East with .540 winning percentages. One or two, or even three-game sample sizes are simply not enough to determine the relative quality of two or more teams. Heck, take the seven days since Tuesday:
Red Sox 2-5
Then there are these guys:
Yeah, they’re that bad. But given the nature of the game, even the Royals, who are indeed the worst team in baseball (.260 winning percentage, even worse than the Colorado Springs Sky So . . . er, Rockies at .286), win a game every now and then (once every four days or so, to be precise). Having been without an official manager since Tony Peña resigned exactly three weeks ago today, the Royals have just hired Buddy Bell, who will manage his first game for Kansas City tonight. With a new skipper in the dugout and their best pitcher on the mound, the exciting young phenom Zach Greinke, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Royals stop that six-game losing streak tonight despite being clearly overmatched by the invading Yankees. That’s just how this game works.
That said, the Yankees should feast on the Royals over the next three days, which would be a nice way to kick off the year’s longest road trip (12 games in four cities).
More on the Royals themselves below the fold.