This never felt like a game the Yankees could lose, thanks to a little early offense and CC Sabathia on the hill.
Tonight, the Yankees clinched for some of the same reasons they can hope to play deep into October.
Exhibit A: CC Sabathia
Go ahead and underrate the ace- sure, there are other pitchers who can matchup with him (Lee, Price, Liriano). But there's no one in the league that Sabathia can face that I feel like the other team will have the edge. He breezed through a potent Blue Jays offense in 110 pitches, allowing only 3 hits in eight and a third innings.
Exhibit B: Derek Jeter
I know I've mentioned it, but it's worth repeating: since his September 11 adjustment session with Kevin Long, Derek Jeter has been himself again. He led off with a single and scored in the first. He drew a lead off walk in the third and scored. In the fifth, Gritty Gutty Brett Gardner tripled, and Jeter drove him in on a fielder's choice (an odd fielder's choice in which no out was made). In the 8th inning, Jeter singled again and scored on Arod's bases loaded walk. If Jeter is hot at the top of the lineup, the weakest part of the 2010 offense is suddenly a strength.
Exhibit C: The Defense
There were plenty of negative things to say about the defense the other night when the Red Sox stole 4 bases in the ninth inning off of Mariano Rivera/ Jorge Posada, especially how that matches up with the speed of the Twins and Rays (and to a lesser extent, the Rangers, too). But don't let that distract you from how defensively sound this team is. The Gardner-Granderson-Swisher outfield covers as much ground as any Yankee trio I've seen (probably the next best was Ledee-Williams-O'Neill). The right side of the infield is Gold Glove worthy. The left side of the infield, while it lacks the range of years past, is still solid. Jeter has learned to position himself well, and Arod can still pick it at the hot corner, as he showed again tonight. The weakest arm on the diamond is behind the plate.
Comment of the Game: Yankees2 for calling it.
Play of the Game: Snider's homer increased the Jays' odds of winning by nearly 11%. Thankfully, the Yanks' 5 runs were worth more than that.