Somewhere Steinbrenner and Cashman are leaning back smugly. Or relieved. Either way, watching the Yankees beating the Blue Jays by teeing off on the most coveted pitcher formerly on the trade block, had to be pretty refreshing. Supplement that with the Andy Pettitte's first win in over a month, and some long balls from Mark Teixeira, Hideki Matsui, and Johnny Damon...and the Yankees have all but spit out the bad taste left in their mouths from their brutal weekend in the south side.
A lot has been made of the Yankees' record against above .500 teams vs below, but tonight's game brings perhaps a more telling statistic to light: the Yanks' ability to stand up to dominant hurlers. Roy Halladay came into tonight's game sporting a 2.68 ERA, and left with his tail between his legs (after staying in all 9?), making it the first time all season he's lost back to back games.
As good as he is and despite his 0 BB/5K game tonight, his turnaround time for post-DL recovery is nothing to write home about. The guy who monopolized MLB headlines and made "trade deadline" one of the most googled phrases since "Erin Andrews", has let up 21 hits in his last 2 starts.
It didn't look like it was going to be this hard-hitting slaughter ("slaughter" by Doc's comparative standards, anyway) in the early innings, with the first run coming from Johnny Damon, whose ever-productive bat against Halladay landed him on first. A-Rod's non-HR-hitting-yet-still-solid-bat brought him home. When Matsui reached on Kevin Millar's throwing error, A-Rod motored around third and took advantage of the fact he could get away with knocking the ball out of a glove without getting both called out and sentenced to eternal demonization.
The Jays made a gentle but still unnerving comeback bid, when Pettitte loaded the bases with 2 walks and a Aaron Hill's single, but Alex Rios' sac fly was all that they'd get on the opportunity. (Pettitte seems like the easiest pitcher to know when to take out, which is why whenever he hangs around too long, it makes me scratch my head. Basically wears his arm on his sleeve, so to speak. Tonight was the first time in a while I felt Girardi pulled him at the exact, right moment.)
But that was where he stopped making sense to me. I haven't had many Girardi Gripes lately, but putting in Phil Hughes for for 3 outs, then letting Mariano Rivera handle the last 4 seemed a little strange. Especially since Mo was uncharacteristically liberal with his pitch count. But being Mo, he got out of it to bank his 31st save.
And likewise, the Yanks still got out on top. Pettitte still got to taste a small game victory with big game implications (a little like the aggro crag winner on GUTS.) And the Yankees brass got to drink in the comfort that comes from getting to see exactly what they missed out on. Which I'm sure engenders about as much regret as seeing your former flame 80 pounds heavier eating Duncan Hines icing from a jar in a bowling alley parking lot.
Now, if Sergio Mitre can pitch a marginally good game tomorrow, the Powers That Be will have bought yet even more time in their hide and seek match with the 5-man-rotation-elephant in the room.
My first inclination is to not hold my breath on that one, but you never know... I never thought I'd see a player with a harder name to spell than Doug Mientkiewicz, but then I saw who the Jays were sending in tomorrow. So anything's possible.