It took a five-run 8th inning last night by Tampa Bay, but the Yanks are--for the moment--in sole possession of first place, by a half game. While the Red Sox were losing to the Devil Rays, the Yanks were riding the left arm of Randy Johnson, and the brought-back-from-the-dead bat of Matt Lawton to a tight, tight victory, 2-1 at the Stadium.
I'd doubted we would get here. But now that we are, the problems haven't gotten any simpler. The Yanks are still banged up, the pitching is still a question mark, the bullpen beyond Mariano Rivera and Tom Gordon is utterly suspect (and the dynamic duo aren't quite the sure thing they were last season, either). The defense is still bad.
But at this point, we'll enjoy first place while we can. Tonight, the Yanks complete their four-game set against the O's. The Orioles have lost the last three in a variety of painful ways--the walkoff, the slugfest (in which they lost their best player, Brian Roberts), and now the pitcher's duel. They have to want out of Yankee Stadium, bad.
As Alex pointed out at Bronx Banter, since the Red Sox are idle, the Yanks will finish the Orioles series either tied for first or a game up on Boston. Mike Mussina goes against Bruce Chen, just to make things even more pivotal.
New notebook piece at BP, this time about the Devil Rays. Since we're done with Tampa for the year, I get to give my boy Jorge Cantu his props, and take the Rays brain trust down a peg, if that's possible. Check it out.
Toronto's got next, at the Stadium. Can't guarantee much coverage, or any postings this weekend, because La Chiquita and I are walking down the aisle (figuratively speaking--we're actually getting hitched someplace that has no aisle). I'm sure you'll get along fine without me. Wish me luck, and go Yanks!