Week 26: September 24-30, 2007
Record for the Week: 4-3, 52 RS, 40 RA
Overall: 94-68, AL Wild Card; finished 2 games behind Boston in the AL East
09/24 -- Toronto 4, Yankees 1
The Jesse Litsch Experience neutralizes the Yankee offense. Detroit wins, to stay in the picture.
09/25 -- Yankees 6, Tampa Bay 7
The team survives five innings of control-impaired Kei Igawa (no runs, two hits, five walks), only to get butchered when Edwar Ramirez and Brian Bruney take over in the sixth. Alex Rodriguez grand slam squandered when Bruney surrenders a grand slam of his own to something called Jorge Velandia.
09/26 -- Yankees 12, Tampa Bay 4
Chien Ming Wang gets his 19th win, Cano ropes in five RBI.
09/27 -- Yankees 3, Tampa Bay 1
A little more like we thought it would be--Phil Hughes ends his regular season on a high note, outdueling Scott Kazmir in Tampa. If he's on the postseason roster--and they really don't have enough talent available for him not to be--I hope someone reminds Torre of how much better he performed on the road than at home. Joba Chamberlain helps out, and more importantly pitches on back-to-back days. With the super-extended playoff schedule, that means that he should be available a whole lot over the next month.
09/28 -- Yankees 9, Baltimore 10
Sobering game of the week. Mike Mussina makes like the previous three starts never happened, getting lit up for six runs on 11 hits in five innings, but it's another Yankee oldster, Mariano Rivera, who kills the Yanks' chances of winning in the ninth inning. Alex Rodriguez's 54th homer is wasted.
09/29 -- Yankees 11, Baltimore 10
Bronson Sardinha gets his first major league RBI, opening the flood gates in a 10-run fourth inning. Good thing, too, 'cause Andy Pettitte ends the season on a sour note, allowing nine runs in five innings and driving his ERA for the season above 4.00.
09/30 -- Yankees 10, Baltimore 4
The Yankees finish the season with a CB-radio send off score.
Player of the Week: Play it again, Alex. That's Rodriguez with the .389/.542/.778 week, and 10 RBI. Derek Jeter (.409/.417/.818), Johnny Damon (.481/.481/.704) and Shelley Duncan (.308/.400/.615) are other batsmen who helped themselves this final week of the season. Among the pitchers, Phil Hughes and Jose Veras deserve honorable mentions.
Dregs of the Week: This is a Melky Cabrera specialty, I guess, the lost week. All week long, what the Melkman contributed with a bat was two walks, a single, and a double, good for .095/.167/.143.On the pitching side, Andy Pettitte, Mike Mussina and Mariano RIvera were serious disappointments.
Story of the Week: Clincher week was kind of a dud--fortunately, Torre agreed with the conventional wisdom about trying to catch the division leaders, and spent the week testing and prodding his troops to see who makes the playoff roster. An odd, unconfirmed, story has Bronson Sardinha making the cut, which is both curious and strange. The bullpen is just a guessing game at this point--so I won't guess, and will wait to comment until after the official annoucement comes down.
Now, I know it sounds snotty to say that clinching a playoff berth isn't exciting--it is, specially after what the team went through early in the season. But I'm ambivalent about the Wild Card. To me, the only thing the Yankees really won last week was the chance to try and win next week and onward through the month. I'm thankful we're here--it was a fun and bumpy ride--but the Wild Card isn't a "something". I'm not alone in feeling this--I recently had some correspondence with a Rockies fan who disapproved of the idea of buying Wild Card merchandise or the franchise hauling up a "2007 NL Wild Card" banner. Considering that this guy's team just pulled off a miraculous September charge for the postseason, what excuse do Yankee fans have?
The real story of last week wasn't in Yankeeland, it was in Flushing, where Mets fans lived out a baseball nightmare over the last couple of weeks. It was amazing how the idea of a season-ending meltdown took hold so early in New York's imagination, and proliferated like a virus. I know right now I should be a big ol' jerk of a Yankee fan and let the schadenfreude fly--Mets fans certainly seemed inclined this way at mid-season, when they were flying high and the Bombers were mired near .500. But I can't. It's horrible what happened to them, and ugly. The Phillies played amazing baseball, and showed a lot of heart, but the Mets didn't lose the division against the Phillies--they lost it by being unable to handle the Nationals, and the Marlins, in the last week of the season.
Willie Randolph didn't deserve this. While he's looked fundamentally unhappy the entire time he's managed this team--I remember Willie as a smiling type during his playing days--in managing this team down the stretch, he did the only thing he could do: remain true to himself. You can't play the role of the screaming lunatic in September, not after spending the last two-plus years as the calm, sullen guy who doesn't raise his voice. It doesn't ring true.
Earlier in the year, I said that if the Yanks fired Joe Torre, it was change for change's sake. Torre, after all, was the same guy that he'd been all along, brought the same things to the table that he did when he was hailed as a genius--it just wasn't working, just then. The same thinking applies to Randolph. Anyone who wants him fired now better have wanted him fired last season, better have argued against the extension the Wilpons gave him. 'Cause he's the same guy now that he was then.
Back later in the week with more movie reviews, and September in Review.