"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice


When it comes to late-September series in Toronto that carry postseason implications, the Yankees have a mixed history. In 1985, the Yankees entered the season’s final weekend needing a three-game sweep of Bobby Cox’s Blue Jays to force a one-game AL East playoff. They won the first game but lost the second game and watched the Jays celebrate their first-ever playoff appearance. The next day, the season’s final day, Phil Niekro won his 300th game.

Ten years later, the Yankees were the ones celebrating. They swept the Blue Jays to complete a 22-6 September and clinch their first playoff berth since 1981. The image of Don Mattingly pounding his fist on the top step of the Rogers Centre dugout, knowing he was finally getting his chance to play in a postseason series, is ingrained in the memories of Yankees fans.

Tuesday night, Toronto was the site of yet another Yankees playoff clincher. Following Monday’s two-and-a-third degree burn from the Purple Pie Man, there was a sense of confidence and calm with CC Sabathia on the mound. CC was back to his ace-level self, powering through the first eight innings, allowing one run on two hits in that span.

Sabathia was pulled in the ninth inning after putting the first two runners on base and retiring Jose Bautista. With a 6-1 lead, manager Joe Girardi could have summoned anyone to get the final two outs — I’ll be honest, I was ready for any combination of Javy Vazquez, the inimitable Chad Gaudin, even the Meat Tray — but he put one over on those of us who thought he was mailing it in since last Wednesday by calling on Mariano Rivera to close it out. Six pitches later, it was done. If corks didn’t pop, sighs of relief were definitely released.

Two thousand miles to the south, the Rays’ ace, David Price, shut out the Orioles to secure Tampa’s spot in the playoffs and keep them a half-game ahead of the Yankees.

Now the Yankees have a decision to make: Be content with just reaching the playoffs and rest the aging veterans prior to the start of the Division Series, or go for the Division crown and home field? Two games separate the Rays, Yankees and Twins. Only two of those teams will open their first-round series at home.

Girardi has said he wants to win the division. He has four games to prove it. At the very least, though, it’s nice to see that “x” next to the Yankees’ place in the standings.

The Yankees did a great job of plating runners with less than two outs. And none of those runners scored as a result of a hit. While the Yankees did muster two hits with runners in scoring position, five productive outs — three sacrifice flies and two groundouts — and a bases-loaded walk provided the six Yankee runs.


1 Mattpat11   ~  Sep 29, 2010 4:30 am

I'd actually rather just celebrate the Wild Card and rest the guys. We lost the division a few weeks ago, and going full out over the last four games really could be winning the winning the battle but losing the war.

2 Chyll Will   ~  Sep 29, 2010 7:19 am

From last night's game thread:
5. Alex Belth
September 28th, 2010 at 7:15 pm

One run. That’s all the big fella will need, but I sense more to come.

Great call, Spidey!

[1] Agreed. You've already committed to that strategy and technically it's half completed. No sense in backing off now unless you want to admit you don't really know what the hell you're doing... which is still open to discussion.

3 JeremyM   ~  Sep 29, 2010 8:19 am

I'd go full strength tonight (well, other than throwing Javy obviously...) and see how the Rays do over the next couple of days. If they lose both and the Yanks win, I'd go for the division.

4 monkeypants   ~  Sep 29, 2010 8:20 am

1,2) I disagree. There are only four gqmes left, and the Rays can make the division a moot point within two games. So why not try for the division: play the "A" suad for the next couple of games. i fo you overtake the Rays, then go for it. If not, rest all the starters for the last two games.

5 williamnyy23   ~  Sep 29, 2010 8:34 am

[3] That strategy makes the most sense. With an off day Thursday, you might as well play everyone today. Then, if the Rays lose one of the next two, you place added emphasis over the weekend.

I have no problem if Girardi decides to rest a player per game, but if he unloads the entire bench while the division is still in play, it would be inexcusable.

One thing that is kind of scary is it is hard to tell when the Yankees are playing to win by looking at the starting pitcher.

6 Sliced Bread   ~  Sep 29, 2010 8:57 am

The 15-15 Club
Yanks make the playoffs 15 out of the last 16 years, after missing them 15 straight. That's quite the reversal of fortune (including 5 rings) for those of us who went through the drought years.

7 kenboyer made me cry   ~  Sep 29, 2010 9:34 am

[5] Do you really think that Girardi makes a decision like resting team or going full throttle arbitrarily or unilaterally? If you disagree with the strategy, the "inexcusabilty" is determined by , Brian Cashman, Girardi and more, then signed off on by Hal Steinbrenner.

Girardi is the messenger, faces the press, and the wrath of "experts" like our Banterers, but he is never alone in making these type of decisions.

8 rbj   ~  Sep 29, 2010 9:49 am

[6] Yes. Quite a dark period.

9 seamus   ~  Sep 29, 2010 9:58 am

[6] How can I forget! Those were my teen years (or the 80s were anyhow). Things have really changed.

10 Sliced Bread   ~  Sep 29, 2010 11:45 am

[8-9] yeah, I was 15-29 through the drought. Never imagined they'd enjoy a run like this again. Reminds us not to take it for granted, this wonderful playoff thing.

11 Raf   ~  Sep 29, 2010 1:15 pm

Even though there was a playoff drought, at least the Yankees were competitive up until 1989.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver