The Yanks season continues to seesaw away, while the Red Sox are boring away behind us with Ritalin-like intensity.
As I'm writing this (no chances to write earlier) Javy Vazquez is making me rip my hair out by the handfull. Surrendering a homer to Miguel Tejada in the first inning is understandable, and predictable for our taterrific pal Javier. Less understandeable is Vazquez's meltdown in the 3rd, featuring 2 bases-loaded walks, and a bases-loaded HBP. Joe Torre didn't help things by bringing in CJ Nitkowski to "relieve". He relieved Javy of some ERA, is what CJ did.
Right now it's 10-5 through 5 1/2 innings. Not impossible, but not likely we'll come back.
Yesterday, the Yanks finally played that doubleheader, slicing up the Devil Rays by a cumulative score of 19-6. Game 1 featured another promising start by the Moose, who's shown some promise in his last two turns (not that he's faced the toughest opposition). Maybe he's finally ready to pitch like he's paid. Another pitcher on the comeback, The Run Fairy, managed a scoreless ninth. Sample size, I still say. Don't send your checks to Billy Connors, Pitching Guru just yet.
The nightcap featured a disappointing Brad Halsey looking shaky against the D-Rays, but getting rescued by two things: a) the Yanks' offense, which put up a seven spot in the second inning, and 2) Tanyon Sturtze(!) who came in in relief of the Admiral in the 4th inning.
The double header win, combined with a rare loss by the Red Sox to the United Confederation of Ichiro! put the Bombers 3 1/2 games up coming into tonight's action. The Yanks will probably need to get some more help from the U.C. of Ichiro! if they are going to keep that buffer in place.
The tendency has been to get depressed because of the Yankees' shrinking lead, because it was so damn big and has shrunk so quickly. But this article by Brother Joe (sub only, I fear) puts things into perspective. To put it another way, if I told you in March that the Yanks would be up by 3 1/2 over the Red Sox in early September, you'd probably say "that sounds about right". If you were a Yankee fan, you'd probably have been pleased with that lead. If you were a Red Sox fan, you'd maybe be a little disappointed, but you wouldn't be shocked. These teams were supposed to stay close this season -- one gets the AL East, the other the Wild Card.
That's where we are right now. The Yanks' July lead didn't really represent the relative talents of these two clubs. This race -- the race we expected in March -- does.
I'll end on a tangential note: is there a player in baseball making himself more money right now than Orlando Cabrera? His overall numbers (.259/.304/.377) don't scream "give me a raise", but he's this year's Shannon Stewart -- the guy that showed up just when the good team got hot. Sure, he's part of the reason, he's hitting decently and throwing up some nice leather, but he's not the whole difference between the team the Sox were on July 30 and the team they became by September 1. He's likely, however ,to get all of the credit come payday.
[UPDATE: I inexcusably didn't include the Link to Brother Joe's article, "A Lesson Learned," when I first published this post.]