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The Imperfect Storm: Long ball salvages messy game

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I don't know what the exact stats are, but it seems that more often than not, rain engenders Mets-like defense and Nats-like offense in the Yankees. It also seems to engender Roy Hobbes-like dramatic blasts on occasion.

The Yankees shocked approximately no one in their 5-3 comeback victory over the Tigers, in a game so symptomatic of the Yankees' standard operating procedure that it could have doubled as the rookie orientation video shown when you get called up.

Even Sterling was marveling at how predictably the game was unfolding amid the mounting storm: "So here we are, Luke French is exactly as billed: non-overpowering lefty with a couple of pitches. And the Yankees are struggling against him." Yep, check. Palpably hittable new arm uses whatever pitches he found lying around to somehow safeguard the scoreboard from any runs.

And this wasn't the only "Yankee Classic" that shone through during the bumpy ride to the win.

A.J. Burnett minds his reputation as being wild about as much as I mind my own moniker. The 6 hits and 3 runs he let up don't even come close to capturing the cesspool of mutability that governed the pitcher's mound tonight. The 5 BB and hit batter come close, though. The fact that less than half his first pitches were strikes come even closer.

But in true AJ-style, he admirably managed to push through, a trait so valuable that it can even forgive an otherwise unredeeming outing.

The top of Detroit's order went to town on A.J. without breaking a sweat. Curtis Granderson, Placido Polanco, Miguel Cabrera, and Marcus Thames all banked 2 hits each and accounted for all of the Tigers' RBIs, headlined with a solo from Granderson in the 5th that put the Yanks in a 3-1 hole.

(The Yankees' offense may be terrifying, but the last 2 teams they've faced have demonstrated that an offense is only as good as the RBIs and both the Tigers and Angels have leveraged the meat of their lineup by capitalizing on their opposition's weakness--a dangerous combination of adaptability and raw power.)

However, when once it was clear the boat had sailed on a chance at winning on defense, the bats did what they could to keep them the Yanks in it. Alex Rodriguez's gaping 0fer in 5 at-bats is as deceptive as AJ's line, as the Yankees' production ultimately came off the bat of a 1B who, without ARod, most likely wouldn't have seen a third of the pitches he did.

And, subsequently, wouldn't have seen the fat heat from Joel Zamaya that Mark Teixeira swiftly launched into the 2nd tier of the stadium, putting the Yanks up 5-3.

Phil Hughes came out for 2 innings of relief, got all 6 outs on Ks--no big deal--and held the Tigers to 3 before the umps finally bit the bullet and gave the green light to a rain delay. An hour later, Mariano Rivera came in to close out the game with a similar seamlessness. Watching this effortless 7-8-9 wrap up, and realizing my marked lack of anxiety, I can't even begin to imagine tinkering with this late inning pitching system. Please.

(Sterling in 3rd inning: "Just so everyone knows, Mariano is 23 for 24. And oooh, I know, he's soooo old, he's done, right? Well, to those people I say this little stat, that taking away that one blown save, his ERA is 1.08. REMARKABLE, Suzyn. Just REMARKABLE.")

And such was the way the Yanks opened up the second half of the 2009 season. Not exactly a bang, but not exactly a whimper. Maybe it was Teixeira's rapt swing that buoyed the Yanks out of danger. But we'd be remiss in overlooking the lasers roped around the park off the bats of Johnny Damon (2-4, who's looked the best he has in a while), Derek Jeter, (2-4, whose pair of hits were as well-timed as his seemingly improving range), Robinson Cano (2-4, standard stuff. Same goes for the 2-4 Matsui).

In essence, every Yankee stayed true to form tonight in the strictest sense of the word. Jorge Posada even went so far as to regale us with his best impression of a kid running out of the ocean with sand trapped in his bathing suit. Yep, check. Out at home by 23 miles. Done.

The ONLY thing in the entire game that wasn't straight out of the predictability handbook?

The Yankees weren't micromanaged.

I can't even that on my computer screen without my eyes blurring. But then again, I'm not discounting the very real possibility that maybe it's easy to run on autopilot in stormy gains. Less trips to the mound.

Whatever the case, despite the routine execution of the rest of the game, this right here was enough to generate a Costco supply of intrigued optimisim. The Yankees just put up their first win of the season's Part II. If they're not gonna manufacture runs, I'm ok with manufacturing wins, instead.