...greatly exaggerated. Greatly.
After Friday night's humbling loss, an interesting last four days:
The Yankees carried a series win against the Detroit Tigers, despite spending much of their time looking like they deserved no such thing. On Saturday, they were getting smacked around, only to come back on the strength of some well-timed hits by some much-maligned hitters. Even the Ol' Whipping Boy, Tony Woe-mack got into the action, slapping a high fastball by Troy Percival to key a ninth-inning comeback. After Woe-mack's clutch (did you hear that? clutch!) hit plated the go-ahead run, Bernabe Williams iced the deal with a three run homer.
On Sunday, they looked impotent against Motown starter Nate Robertson, producing only a single run in Robertson's complete game effort (that on an RBI single by Mt. St. Sheffield). Fortunately for the Bombers, Chien Ming Wang was just a tad bit better, allowing no runs in his seven innings of work, and passing the baton to the two trustworthy relievers remaining in the Yankee pen for a 1-0 win.
If things weren't confusing enough already, over the last two days they've put the smackdown on those unlikely division rivals, the Baltimore Orioles. The Independence Day game was an ugly baby--you can pretend all you like, but all the cooing in the world couldn't make this thing pretty. After projectile-vomiting up an early 6-0 lead, the Yanks posted a seven spot in the eighth inning for the win on Mr. Steinbrenner's birthday. Again, the key hit (a bases-loaded single) was provided by Bernie Williams, against Baltimore closer B.J. Ryan. The rally started with a homer by the late Jason Giambi (resthissoul).
Today's game was more of the same, just different. Yeah, I know, that's a useful description. I mean, more of the same offense, just without the craptastic pitching. Randy Johnson tied the O's bats in knots, while the Yankees' slugged the O's into submission. If you looked, aside from the longballs by Alex Rodriguez, Hideki Matsui and Gary Sheffield, Steroid Boy chipped in a three for four performance, with a homer and two doubles.
Giambi--one of the players we've left for dead--is hitting to the tune of .268/.420/.433. It ain't superstar performance, but that's a useful major league player. Bernie Williams's totals, .259/.345/.381 still imply that the ink is dry on his death certificate. It's hard to push dirt onto his casket while he can still turn on a good high fastball from Troy Percival. Wang, a player who was never supposed to get a chance in the Bronx, has been impressive--at this point, he's the best home-grown Yankees pitcher since Ramiro Mendoza...and climbing. Robinson Cano wasn't supposed to be ready, and was supposed to be bloacked at the keystone. He's handling Major League pitching, he's not lost on defense. The contributions of Wang and Cano are substantial for a farm system that was...you guessed it, dead.
And the Yankees, as a team? They are 4 games out of first place, 1/2 a game from evicting the Orioles from second place. I'll refrain from continuing the death metaphor.
Now, things aren't exactly rosy for the Bombers, either. The rotation is currently being held together with twine and Tanyon Sturtze. Following Jaret Wright and Kevin Brown before him, Carl Pavano is injured. He's got one of those mysterious, horrifying shoulder things, so it's anybody's guess what they get from him for the rest of the season. Right now, it would appear that a Pavano who doesn't eat innings is essentially useless.
But for a shining moment, we can dream that there is hope for this team. We'll worry about the pitching tomorrow.