It’s going to take an absurd run to catch the Oakland A’s or Tampa Bay Rays. The A’s coast through the California Penal League to finish the season and while the Rays have it a little bit tougher, they have only three match-ups with the Yankees for the rest of the year. If the Yankees have an absurd run in them, they better start this weekend when the Yanks play the Orioles (also ahead of the Yankees), the Indians (also, also wik) play the Tigers and the A’s and Rays go head-to-head.
After much consideration, the Yankees need to win a bunch and the Rays need to lose a bunch and then the Yankees need to beat the Rays head-to-head. That’s the only way this goes down the way we want it to. So root for the A’s tonight and for the rest of the weekend, and root, root, root for the Yankees, but that goes without saying.
The Yankees took care of their end of the bargain tonight as the lineup bailed out CC Sabathia with a fifth-inning onslaught and the bullpen nailed down the victory with 3.1 scoreless innings. Of all the story lines for the season, the sudden pumpkinization of CC Sabathia is the most perplexing and, for me, the most frustrating. Some might say the injury heap, but I think if we considered which was more likely in December – a lot of injuries or CC Sabathia being healthy and shitty, we’d say the injuries without a blink.
CC will be here for a long time and I’d hate to have this version of him around for the long haul. Not just because the Yanks need him to be their ace, but because, damn, the guy has a great career going and it would be a shame for the bottom to just fall out like that. Anyway, CC was on his way to another depressing loss in a huge game when the revamped Yankee offense seized control. Doubles from Granderson and Reynolds preceded a long homer by Ichiro. Romine, Gardner and Jeter loaded the bases and Cano singled home two to make the score 7-4, and the Yankees held on from there to win 8-5.
“Held on” could have been “romped” but the O’s cut down three Yankee-runners on the bases (Reynolds at third, Reynolds at home and Soriano at home). Reynolds at least made reasonable decisions, but we have to discuss Soriano’s insane play in the seventh.
With two outs and an 8-5 lead, Soriano stole third and Arod followed to second. It’s not “by the book” but replays showed the defensive alignment allowed him to get a good jump and the play wasn’t close, so maybe he just knows what he’s doing? Then he got thrown at home by 15 feet on the next play.
Granderson bunted against the shift to net himself a single, but Soriano wasn’t ready for the bunt and froze midway down the line. Machado fielded the bunt and had no play at first and barely twitched as he looked up to see Granderson fly by. That twitch was enough for Soriano to break for home. Machado flipped to the catcher and Soriano was a dead duck.
Soriano made corn-beef hash out of the play for sure, but the bunt was a dumb play from the get go. Since Soriano didn’t know it was coming, Granderson took the bat out his own hands. He gets a single, but with two outs and first base open, the Yankees would rather have Granderson swing away against a right-hander to break the game open and save Mariano for later in the series. A little signal there from hitter to runner and the bunt scores an important run.
There was one fan in right field who was sure happy that the Yankees didn’t break the game open. As Mariano Rivera entered the game, the YES cameras caught her shaking with joy as he jogged to the mound. “I love you Mariano!” she said over and over again. You could read her lips without any trouble. It was a sweet moment and I couldn’t complain about the blown chances any longer.
Mariano didn’t get any breaks from the ump. Not that he should have, but he usually does get some leeway on the outside edge when a left-hander is in the batter’s box. No matter, a few potential strike threes turned in to ball threes, but he eventually set the side down in order.
Can’t be a winning streak if it doesn’t start after a loss. Right Yogi?