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Game 101: "You have to outthink and outsmart your competitors."

Even when the Yankees play like they're interviewing for jobs as Muppet Babies, their post-ASB charm seems to come through for them. Last night's game against the Rays was an unmitigated mess, but fortunately for them, the Red Sox managed to outdo them, allowing the Yanks to hold on to their 2.5 game lead.

They got a handout, an undeserved one with ace CC Sabathia going up for them. Tonight their defense can't afford to be so lax, as they send Joba Chamberlain (6-2, 3.86) to the mound to face Matt Garza (7-7, 3.68) and his wicked 2-seamer. If Joba pitches the way he has in his last two starts, he will have made quite possibly the greatest headway with his critcs since the start of the season. (Of course, it may be all for naught on account of whisperings about cutbacks in the IP department, but semantics.)

Garza, (who, for some reason, I feel is due for a control-issue-evening), is coming off an even more disarming outing (CG, 9Ks), so tonight will likely be decided by how well each pitcher can keep the batters guessing. Both the Rays and Yankees aren't hurting for power (last night's Yank no-show notwithstanding), and it will be a question of whether Joba's slider can stymie the offense for the third consecutive time, whether Garza will continue to collect Ks like a freshman collects Absolut ads, and whether either pitcher is clever enough to impress the two most productive lineups in baseball.