KINGS OF THE EAST! Yankees Sweep Sox and Capture Division Title
It's a good day to be a New York sports fan.
Excellent, in fact.
The only downside of the afternoon was that the game times for the Yankees, Giants, and Jets all happened to be the same. But the universe conspired in our favor, with the Yanks' 1-hour rain delay giving me an hour of uninterrupted Gmen QT. Then the Gmen reciprocating by taking a bulbous lead over the Bucs, giving me the green light to devote all my attention to nip and tuck Yankee/Sux series.
And it paid off. At 4:48pm today, the New York Yankees finished a 3-game sweep of their AL East rivals, marking their 100th win of the season, and securing their title as division champions.
The Yankees spent the first half of their season battling a severe allergy to beating the Red Sux. 0-8. It was ridiculous. I just reread my recap of the June 11 game against the Sux (which was the 8th consecutive loss to them. And it was in the Bronx, to make matters worse.)
Tex lines out. End of game.
Grumble grumble. Well, on the bright side, my disappointment has diminished each game. Like last night, I'm not really worried. Just very confused. Kay, yet again, says what I'm thinking for the 3rd time tonight: "It's almost inconceiveable that a Yankee team this good could lose 8 straight games without a win against the Red Sox."
It doesn't really bother me that it's against the Sux. Or that we've gone overfeated against them. It's the loss, period. The thing that bothers me the most right now is the 2 game deficit in the AL East. I'd rather be on top.
...Which I know will happen because I saw a sign today.
On the front half of the truck it said NEW YORK. But the portentious feature is Boston's address. SECOND STREET.
Well, look at that. Maybe I'm not so crazy after all.
So the Second Best Sux lost to us again, leaving the rivals 9-9 at the end of their (regular) season of play. (That number has seriously been governing my life this year. I like to think it's not a coincidence that in the year '09, the Yankees are making their bid at their 27th World Series title...2+7...And do I think it's just a coincidence that we locked up the title and 100th game on 9.27.09?)
Andy Pettitte got the win, but just barely, as the Yanks were trailing 2-1 heading into the bottom of the 6th. Pettitte struck out 4, walked 3 and gave up 7 hits. Not his best work. I don't know how I feel about him yet. If the Yanks face Detroit in the first round, he'd likely be going up against Rick Porcello, and all things being equal, I'd take Pettitte and his long/deep playoff exposure over
Porcello's depth of pitches is a little worrisome--he's got powerful fastball, a paralyzing curve, and a change-up that I've never seen in a rookie before. But I'll cross that bridge when it comes. In fact, if the Twins keep plugging along, we may have to be more concerned about Joe Mauer, less concerned about Justin Verlander.
Today's opposing pitcher wasn't exactly throwing meatballs, either. Paul Byrd, who still hasn't ironed out all the kinks in his time travel machine that would enable him to return to the century that he actually belongs in, held the Yanks to 1 run through 6 innings.
A solo shot from Melky Cabrera in the 3rd put the Yanks on the board, and if I were Melky, I'd contact whoever's representing Bernard Pollard, because I'm pretty sure he's just been earmarked for swift execution in the state of Massachussetts on account of the damage he's done this weekend.
Two RBIs from Lowell in the first 2 innings had put the Yanks at a 2-0 deficit, and after Melky went yard, both sides were stymied for the next 2 1/2 innings. A 2-out rally put the Yanks back in the game off the bat of the current editor-in-chief of Journal of Clutch Hitting, Hideki Matsui, who roped one into left to plate Teixeira and A-Rod.
Thanks to Hideki, the lives of Tim Welke (2nd base ump), Girardi (manager who didn't explode into hysterical fits), and Joe Morgan/Jon Miller/Steve Phillips (ESPN booth who induced my own hysterical fits) were spared.
In the inning prior, Nick Swisher had just hit an invigorating shot that fell just inside the right field foul line. A long fly into center from Cano gave Swish the chance to tag up to third. WHICH HE DID. CLEANLY.
The ESPN booth yammered about this for what seemed like 17 days, informing up that indeed Swisher did not wait for the ball to fall in the glove before taking off for third: "he got caught cheating" was actually how they termed it. Sweet Christ. It's not like he's using a corked bat. Slow your roll, Morgan.
After replaying it to the standard levels of inordinate excess, it was obvious beyond doubt that the ump botched the call. I'm not even just saying that because I'm a Yankee fan. Even the triumvirate of idiots in the booth were providing completely incoherent backtracking analysis:
Morgan: "Well, I guess I could see why he missed the call. But I'm not gonna critize Welke and I'm not gonna criticize myself."
Yeah, it's just too easy.
I was stunned Girardi didn't pitch a fit about this, as he has done a fair amount of times throughout the season over far less egregious crimes. Swisher should have been on third with 1 out. Instead the bases were cleared with 2 out. That was our tying run.
And the 2-run shot from Hideki ultimately voided all this. Well played, Godzilla. Well played.
It didn't, unfortunately, occlude the persistent hemorrhage of imbelic commentary from our esteemed announcers. I can get past the unapologetic Boston bias. It's not like I apply any remote impartiality, so it is what it is.
I'm not as forgiving, however, when I have to listen to them qualifying our offense by attributing its success to the stadium. After Tex hit a solo bomb in the bottom of the 8th to bring the score to 4-2, I hear, "Well, the short porch in right is perfect for him, That's a fly ball anywhere else."
As far as I know, the Sux or any other visiting team can take advantage of that short porch too, no? Just checking.
"They've really held us down in this ballpark," said Second Place Sux manager Francona. "The ball [Mark] Teixeira hits in our ballpark, is a fly ball." I like Francona, but I don't think he's in a position to bemoan home field advantages...
And such was the game. The Yanks celebrated with champagne and goggles. The Second Place Sux shuffled out of the dugout, still no closer to locking up a playoff spot.
And the New York Yankees' magic number changed from 1 to 11...the number of games left to win in the postseason before they capture the 2009 World Series title.