Let’s do this backwards. The Yankees beat the Astros 9-3 on Saturday afternoon. Saturday was a busy day, what with my daughter’s volleyball game in the morning and a museum trip in the afternoon, so I had to TiVo the game for later, as I often do. I always try to avoid the score, which isn’t usually difficult considering that I’m in California, not New York City, but it didn’t work today.
Someone put the TV on when we got back from volleyball, and even though I was in the kitchen, I still heard Michael Kay talking about a 6-2 Yankee lead. And when we stopped for lunch after the museum, our table was facing a giant television tuned to ESPNews, which cycled through the highlights of the win twice during our meal. No biggie.
As it turns out, it’s incredibly relaxing to sit down and watch a game when you know good things are going to happen. So while you were all worrying about Javier Vazquez, I sat down at about 10:oo PM California time with supreme confidence in him, and he didn’t disappoint. Sure, he gave up 852 feet of home runs (to Hunter Pence in the 2nd and Carlos Lee in the 6th), but aside from that Vazquez was good enough — and has been good enough — that A.J. Burnett is starting to look an awful lot like a long reliever come October.
Let’s look at some numbers. Since being skipped in the rotation back in early May, Vazquez has started six times and produced this stat line: 39.2 IP, 25 H, 13 R, 37 K, 12 BB, 2.95 ERA, 0.93 WHIP. (This doesn’t include his relief appearance against Boston.) I know what you’re thinking — he’s been doing this against patsies, and his one bad outing came against the best team he faced last month, the Minnesota Twins. You’re free to think that. All I know is that I trust him an awful lot more than Burnett at this point.
But back to the game. Derek Jeter led off the game with a big home run to left (his 24th lead-off home run, tying Rickey Henderson atop the Yankee list), and after the Astros took the lead back with single runs in the second and third, the Bombers answered back with five runs in the third, highlighted by Jorge Posada’s opposite field grand slam into the bleachers in right. Much has been made of Posada’s dislike of his current DH role, and some have cited it as a possible reason for his recent struggles, but he looked comfortable enough on Saturday.
Posada’s home run was a milestone of sorts, the 250th of his career, which prompted the obligatory graphic listing the top totals in Yankee history. Posada sits tied with Graig Nettles at #7, soon to be passed by Alex Rodríguez, who’s four behind in the ninth spot. What’s surprizing about the list, though, is that Jeter is in tenth place. He hit his second home run of the game in the sixth, a three-run shot to right, bringing his career total to a respectable 232. Also of note, Jeter now has 3,001 career base hits — but only if you count the 175 he’s gotten in the postseason. With 2,826 hits, the Captain is bearing down on hallowed ground.
Finally, a quick look at the team in general. When I wrote my recap of the pork chop game back in late May, I pointed out that the Yankees were about to start a sixteen-game stretch against a group of mediocre teams. In my head (but not in print), I was hoping for twelve wins out of those sixteen. As it stands now, with only Sunday’s game remaining from those sixteen, the Yanks have won eleven of fifteen and sliced their deficit in the East from 4.5 games to only one. Wouldn’t it be cool if they got that extra win on Sunday and pulled into a tie for the lead? We can only hope…