Tampa spanked a Scranton-New York mash up 15-8, and that score does not do the game justice. It was 12-0 after four innings. The American League East Champions are entitled to a sleeper after clinching last night.
From this game we should take the following, in decreasing order of importance: nobody got hurt, Bartolo Colon was terrible, and Jesus Montero went three for three with two walks after a couple of ghastly games. The only regulars in the lineup were Jeter, Swisher and Teixeira, and they all came out after the game was out of hand in the fourth. Mad props to the Scranton boys who scored eight runs in the final few frames.
If I didn’t mention it earlier, the Yankees are American League East Champions. Before the season, I thought they had little chance to take the East crown. During the season, they proved me wrong and stayed close to the top, but I still never thought they’d outclass Boston because Boston was murdering them head-to-head. So to win the East so early that the last series with the Sox means diddly squat? Inconceivable.
Happy to be wrong. Hope I’m as bad at prognosticating the Postseason results because I still can’t see this rotation getting it done. To me, we’re in 2004-2007 territory. A great season, a great run differential, but having to throw one bad starter after another in the Postseason. The good news is that in AL at least, looks like everybody is in a similar jam. The Yankees can coast home from here, win a couple of the remaining games, rest players liberally and still pick up the best record in the AL. That’s what they’ll probably do.
But of course, given the fact that they play out the string against Red Sox and the Rays, the Yankees will determine the Wild Card winner. Should the Yankees arrange the off-days for the regulars so that the Rays play Scranton four times and the Red Sox draw the Bronx Bombers for all three games at the Stadium? There are two possible reasons for doing this: 1) The Yankees hate the Red Sox and want to ruin their season as early as possible. 2) The Yankees fear the Red Sox and want to avoid them in the ALCS if possible.
Going out on a limb, I think the first one is purely a fan’s reaction. Yankee fans would love to stick to the Sox, but for the Yankee organization, I hope it’s low on the priority list. If it came down to the last day of the season, and everything else was set in stone, and the Yanks could twist the needle by starting Brackman in the final game at Tampa, I could see that happening. But not some week long choreography.
But the second one deserves consideration. The Yankees are 4-11 against the Red Sox. CC Sabathia has struggled in all five tries against them this year. Of all the teams in baseball, they seem the most comfortable against Mariano. The most able to lay off the cutters outside the zone anyway. As a scaredy cat fan, I think they should do whatever possible to end Boston’s season now so that they don’t have the chance of losing to them in the ALCS.
Luckily, the Yankees are not comprised of scaredy cat fans. When I was a player, I certainly was not upset to see a top team knocked out of a tournament before we had to deal with them. But I also didn’t get too worked up about it one way or the other. If a team wants to consider itself a true champion, they’ve got to have the huevos to take out all comers. Whatever lineup Girardi puts out there should just try to win every game they play, and let the chips fall where they may.
Give guys rest. Line things up for the ALDS. But manipulate the final week of the season to push a floundering team out of the Postseason in favor of an equally good surging team? Pass.