Monday, September 28, 2009
100 Wins. 9-9 on the season against Boston after starting 0-8, including this SWEEEEP. Playoffs. AL East. Homefield advantage.
This has been an awesome regular season, no two ways about it, and celebrating while Boston trudged off the field was priceless. Hideki Clutch-zilla Matsui had the big hit to give the Yanks a 3-2 lead, and the pen, as usual, held the fort. When Ellsbury grounded out to Mariano to end the game, I started shouting in the garbled language of celebration, and I heard at least four other people shout from apartments on my street. Outside, someone listening on their car radio yelled "Fuck Boston!"
I love this team, and I think we're going to win the World Series. Granted, anything could happen in the playoffs; I know nothing is guaranteed. But unlike the past few Yankee teams, these guys always find a way to win. And despite the ridiculous abilities of our line-up, it's usually the pitching that carries the heavy load.
Saturday, against a shaky-looking Dice-K, the Yanks went 0-13 with runners in scoring position. We could have knocked him out of the game as early as the 4th inning, but bad luck and impatient hitting kept undermining our chances. Last year, it would have been one of those immensely frustrating losses that became more irksome the more you thought about it. This year, Sabathia dominated, and a solo shot by Cano in the sixth was all we needed for the win.
That's how the World Series teams from '96-'00 did the job, and barring a total breakdown, this club should beat all comers in the playoffs. Once we hit our stride after the All-Star break, we went 9-1 against the Sox and 3-1 against the Angels. We swept the season series with Minnesota 7-0, and posted a near-perfect 5-1 against Detroit. We took on the best and worst of their starters, and found a variety of ways to win. If we can avoid meltdowns from CC and AJ (the former has been rock-solid, and we just need to cross our fingers with the latter), there's no reason that success can't continue.
And then again, the playoffs are wild, and strange things happen. Still...I'm cautiously optimistic.
Some good stuff:
*Robbie Cano got his 200th hit of the year. He and Jeter are now the only SS-2B combo in history to both have 200 hits in the same season. They're 3rd and 7th in AL batting average, respectively. Cano is .001 percentage points away from 5th. The Silver Slugger Award is in play for both (Jeter should win it going away).
*Teixeira hit his 38th home run yesterday, putting him one behind the injured Carlos Pena for the league lead. Two more in the final week, and he likely ends up as the HR and RBI leader in the AL, and 2nd behind Mauer in slugging and OPS. And he's probably leading the Gold Glove race, too. That's an MVP resume, any way you look at it. We're still probably looking at a close second, but his candidacy keeps getting stronger.
*CC earned his 19th win on Friday, and will probably have a chance to become MLB's only 20-game winner on Thursday against Tampa. He's quietly crept up in the ERA standings too; with a 2.04 second-half ERA, his season number is 3.21, good for fourth in the AL. Like Teix, there's at least one guy (Greinke) whose numbers are so spectacular that they'll keep him from the big award, but he's justified his paycheck in a big way since the break.
*A-Rod moved closer to 30 home runs and 100 RBI over the weekend. He's now at 28 and 93 with six games left. He'll see at least one day off in that stretch, so he'll need a 3-4 RBI game to give himself a chance.
These stats are semi-meaningless, but it should make the last week interesting while I slowly get more and more nervous for the playoffs.
In football news, the Giants won easily in Tampa. It looked a lot like a Yanks-Rays game; a stadium featuring many empty seats, with New York fans possibly outnumbering (and definitely out-shouting) the Florida contingent. 24-0 was the final score; the Bucs managed a grand total of one first down in the entire game. Also, I'm starting to develop a sports crush on Steve Smith. Has there ever been a single passing play where he wasn't open? He's about as good a slot receiver as you'll find in the entire NFL. And it occurs to me that I don't even have a clear idea of what he looks like, so here's a picture:
The next two weeks bring Kansas City and Oakland, and it would take a small miracle to keep us from starting the year 5-0. Come week 6, though, we head down to N'allins, and that team is an absolute offensive juggernaut. Both teams could be undefeated, and the Saints will be coming off a bye week. That's an old fashioned tester, if I've ever seen one.
That's all for today. Sorry if the content was a bit bland today. I'm still riding the wave of yesterday's excitement, and I'm trying to my brain in order before the playoffs leave me completely unhinged. Take it away, Swish.