They DID say the Yankees were hurt, right? I mean, didn't they just travel across the country after playing 10 games in a row, 2 of which went into extra innings? My dad used to say, "Never look back--they're gaining on you." I'm not sure what this applies to, since I don't know who exactly could have been "gaining" on me when I was under the age of 10, per se, but tonight the Yanks demonstrated in their rout of the Mariners, that they have approximately zero intention of losing ground to anyone on their heels.
Ian Snell got utterly annihilated tonight, giving up 9 hits and 8 runs--unfortunately for him, after his team would record their final out on offense, Snell had no choice but to return to the mound to see what other tanks, cannons, and bombs the Yankee army would subject him to at the top of each inning. Seattle had used up 11 relievers in the past 3 days in a careless lack of foresight that resulted in their shaky hurler with back against the wall, so to speak.
Then there's New York's pitcher at the other end of the spectrum. CC Sabathia was dealing, once again, giving up only 3 hits in 8 IP, and whiffing 10. Another seemingly effortless outing from the brontosaurus who's now taken 5 of his last 6. There are a number of stellar arms in the league, but what separates the best is their ability to summon an inner David Cone and mix raw talent with creative strategy. And that's exactly what CC and the rest of our boys did tonight.
After hurting his ankle in yesterday's 11 inning win, Derek Jeter circumvented the whole issue by simply going yard in his second at-bat. Smart boy. The rest of the offense followed suit--not only did the entire team get on base, but everyone who hit, except for Jose Molina, had a multi-hit game, hghlighted of course by Hideki Matsui's burgeoning hot streak (4-5, 2HRs, 5 RBIs).
And if Sterling's narration was even close to accurate tonight, these shots were being launched to every part of the field in every way possible. I almost expected to see William Zabka march out screaming, "THERE'S NO MERCY IN THIS DOJO."
Although CC made one mistake in the form of a Josh Wilson ding, the early lead gave him a cushion he wouldn't need, and Jeter rest that he would need. And the win allowed the Yanks to reclaim their 6.5 game lead, while continuing to boast the best record in the majors.
Even Brian Bruney, who came in to pitch a perfect 9th, has raised his game of late. Is it possible that the Yankees, for the first time since call waiting was invented, have figured it out? That the brass over on 161st street may have a method to their madness? I'll be the first to admit that the Jerry Hairston, Jr move spun me into frenzied frustration with an official party line of "Why? Why! Why are you categorically averse to a rotation, and chemically dependent on lateral 'depth' acquisitions?"
But tonight, our equivalent of the 50 blank CDs you pick up just because they're in the racks along the line to the cashier at Best Buy, once again validated Cashman's decision: Jerry "Impulse Buy '09" Hairston, Jr., went 2-for-5 with 2 RBIs. Our outfield that's had its fair share of criticisms, ate up every fly ball that sailed through the cavernous Safeco. Our "overrated" round boy demoralized his opponents on merely 105 pitches.
Maybe Cashman et al is like My Cousin Vinny and we're like Stan Rothenstein--we're nervous and angry and ready to wash our hands of him in the beginning of the season because we have no idea what the hell is going on in that pressurized head of his.
But now? We're mowing through these games with a laser-like precision. The Yankees have always been good, but they weren't disciplined, as much as their perennially clean shaven faces might suggest. They used to play like a fantasy team, with each player's individual talent existing in a vacuum and not in concert.
But now they're working with the calculated precision and measured skill of a chess master who's always one step ahead of his opponent.
It's not easy to maintain this level of focus. But then, no one ever said it'd be easy. The Yankees just make it look that way.