With their double-win over Tampa Bay, the Yanks looked like the juggernauts they are, increasing their lead in the AL East to 9 and all but securing their spot in history as one of the best teams the franchise has put on the field. Yeah, I said it. They are. Don't believe me? Let's review what happened at 161st street today:GAME 1, 1:05: 4-1 W
- Brett Gardner rejoins our lives again, and I don't think anyone celebrated his value more than John Sterling today, after our speedy OF made a catch that was almost cartoonish in its unbelievablility. I thought my sparks were going to start flying out my radio from Sterling's explosive reaction to this: "And I'll just say it, Suzyn. In all my years of watching the Yankees, I have never seen an outfield as good as this."
- CC Sabathia's very CC like performance was troubling for me to watch. His 7IP of 10K ball would have been a phenomenal way for my fantasy team to start Week 1 of the playoffs...if I had remembered to set my roster for today. Instead, my bench line score for the day is beautifully immaterial.
- Which wasn't the only way my fantasy team took a hit. With 3 Rays on my lineup, I'm avoiding checking StatTracker to see the O-fers diluting my BA. Carlos Pena's HBP in Game 1 really encapsulated the day for the Rays' offense: 2 broken fingers after getting hit with a pitch in the 1st. But to make matters worse, he swung so he didn't even get to take a base. "You don't take a 95 mph fastball on the finger and live to tell about it -- or the finger live to tell about it."
- Evan Longoria might have the only production for my team actually, with his solo blast in the 2nd. Carl Crawford, my all-time favorite fantasy mainstay, went 0 for 3, with 2 strikeouts, and even got caught stealing 2nd in the 8th, on a brilliant pitchout from Jorge Posada. You're useless, Crawford.
- Derek Jeter was hitless for the day, but still met another landmark by tying Yogi Berra in the 3rd place spot for most games played. Meh. I don't get any real charge out of this stat. But being the Yankee with the most hits EVER? Unassailably, indisputably awe-inspiring. And we get to be around to witness it. This team never fails to give me goosebumps.
- The game broke open from the 1-1 tie on account of a 3-run 8th. If I were Tampa Bay, I'd petition to have the games they play against the Yankees end squarely in the 7th. Or at least get some kind of hired gun for the 8th innings against NY.
- Elias Sports Bureau tells us that New York is 15-0 when tied after seven innings -- the longest such streak at the start of a season in major league history. That's amazing, and I can't decide whether this is on account of our bullpen, or our offense's refusal to go down without a fight. Either way.
- Speaking of bullpen, concerns over Mariano RIvera's sore groin were significantly alleviated today after he followed up Phil Hughes' scoreless 8th with a perfect inning of his own, striking out 2 to end the 3-hit game and hand the W over to Hughes (who's getting himself a nice potpouri of pitching accolades. For a set-up man, he's got a pretty decent assortment of Ws and Saves.) Douglas Adams pretty much nailed it when he avered the ultimate answer to life and the universe.
- 12 straight bullpen wins. Franchise record. When was the last time we were proud of our bullpen? I love this team.
- Was this the same defense that the Rays trotted out last year in the World Series? They were abyssmal. What is Joe Maddon putting in his coffee these days that he's let the talent on the team fester away this season to this degree? It's like watching the beginning of Mighty Ducks 2, when Coach Bombay is all resting on his laurels after last year's championship, and he doesn't take the time to address the team's needs. Bad Maddon. Baddon.
Game 2, 7:05: 11-1 W
- Jeter goes hitless again. 0-8 with a walk on a day. Three hits to tie Lou Gehrig. 4 to become leader. He's soooo overrated.
- 24 hits in 2 games, outscored the Rays 15-2. This team used to have our number, remember? It's nice how things have changed. Which is another reason why I think we shouldn't worry about the Angels. Very little about this Yankees team is typical this year. All bets are off, we're playing with a new deck.
- Speaking of Angels, the Yanks moved 6 and a half up on them for best record in the AL. This may be the first year I've really assigned any level of import to homefield advantage. While I usually subscribe to the I-guess-it-helps-but-a-good-team's-a-good-team mentality, Greatness's New Home is kind to our team. I want to see as much of that offensive brothel as possible.
- Other concerns milling about the Yankee fanbase have been around AJ Burnett and his softening domination. Today he pitched a 1-run game in 6IP: 4 hits, 3 BBS, 8Ks. "Any time you get to pitch behind that big man, you know, you want to put up his numbers. You just get inspired." Once again, default to the advice from "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy."
- While Andy Sonnanstine didn't exactly give the performance of his career (8 runs, 8 hits, 3 hits in 2 and two-thirds innings, which inflated his ERA to 7.23), I think he may need to put things in perspective just a little: "Definitely today was probably one of the worst days of my life."
- Teixeira has three multihomer games this season, 24 overall. His swing is climbing the charts for one of the most aesthetically pleasing and effective in all of major league baseball.
- Jose Molina(three hits, two walks in Game 2) reached base five times in a game for the first time in his career.
- 9-19 with RISP. I'll take it.
- There were so many substitutions toward the end of Game 2 that I was getting flashbacks of CYO basketball. In addition to the starting 9, the Yankees gave some playing time to Ramiro Pena, Eric Hinske, SHELLEY DUNCAN, and Francisco Cervelli. Remember when Cody Ransom would have been among those names? Despite the fact Pena was the only one to actually get on base of those 4, I love the fact that those are the B-listers on this team, because it says something about how otherwordly our A-listers are.
And A-listers they are. After a brain fart of a game last night, the Yankees bounced back to take both games from the Rays. They're playing like they should be. Like they're not only focused on winning each individual game, but like they realize that a W means nothing if it doesn't support our momentum. That's what they've been doing for the last 2 months: crafting new and incisive ways to buoy their lead and nourish their adrenaline.
Keep your eyes on the prize, Yanks. Eye on the prize.