The Yanks beat the Rays in the afternoon game today, 4-2, thanks to good pitching from seven different pitchers and some offensive muscle via Robinson Cano, and in the process secured a postseason spot – not that this had been too much in doubt the last few weeks. Frankly, I wouldn’t mind seeing the Rays get a few wins in this series just to make the Red Sox sweat some more – there ain’t no Schadenfreude like Red Sox Schadenfreude – but as the night game went on, and the Sox lost, and the Yankees were poised to clinch the AL East, the whole enchilada… well, no complaining about that. It was 4-2 Yanks again, thanks to C.C. Sabathia and old pal and pinch-hitting hero Jorge Posada.
It was reassuring to see C.C. Sabathia looks slid after a few disconcertingly unsteady outings. The Big Man went 7.1 innings, allowed two runs, walked 2 and struck out 6. He did exit the game with the score tied at two, the bases loaded, and one out – but that’s what David Robertson is for. He entered and needed just a single pitch to get Ben Zobrist to ground into a double play and end the inning.
The excitement came in the bottom of the 8th, when Nick Swisher doubled, Mark Teixeira walked, Robinson Cano was intentionally walked, and then – somewhat to my surprise – Jorge Posada pinch-hit for The Jesus. You could hear a million Yankees fans, with the Al East title within reach, thinking “wouldn’t it be great if…” – and then he did. Okay, not a grand slam, the most dramatic possible outcome; but a nice two-run single that gave the Yanks the lead, the game, and the division. I don’t know how many more big ABs Posada has with the Yanks, but I’ll bet you can count them on your fingers.
I was one of those people who, before the season started, did not think the Yankees wouldd make the playoffs – I just thought they didn’t have the pitching. I’m not embarrassed by that prediction (unlike, say, my AL Central prediction, which I will aggressively suppress), because the Yankees’ staff, A.J. Burnett aside, has over-performed all year. No one expected Freddy Garcia, Bartolo freaking Colon, or Ivan Nova to be as good as they were- not Brian Cashman, not Joe Girardi, not even Garcia and Colon themselves. The team’s success is a testament to those guys, to the offense, and to the bullpen, with a hat-tip to Girardi – who drives me crazy at times, as all managers drive all fans crazy at times, but damned if he hasn’t pulled another good bullpen more or less out of his ass. Anyway, I thought they’d be good, but not this good, and whatever happens in the playoffs I am happy to’ve been wrong.
So many of this season’s big memorable moments have been about their aging greats – Jeter’s 3,000th, Mo’s 602nd, and now Jorge’s clincher, which while not supremely important – the Al East was not much in doubt – felt like a nice last hurrah. The old guard’s going out in a blaze of glory.
And you know, if the Rays were to win tomorrow…that’ll be just fine.