No One Said It Would Be Easy
I guess you could argue that I spoke too soon. It’s not going to be easy, this business of making the playoffs, and of unseating Bosto-n in the east. Bosto-n found another miracle today, for the umpteenth time in the last three years, and won a game they deserved to lose. You could certainly argue the Yankees have done that lately, I know, but they had paid their dues, dearly and in full, early in the season to be able to reclaim some of those wins now. Schilling was again as awful as he could be. Francona did what Torre did yesterday, and yanked him early to give his team a chance. It paid off for him, as it did Torre yesterday.
The Yankees have got to find a way to hang on for five more games. The Sox are finishing up a 13 game stretch in which they play nothing but a smooth, clean sheet of Tigers, Rays, Royals, and Orioles (who are playing worse than anyone right now). Seven miles of bad road, as my old boss Tony Brunetta used to say. And all but three of those games at home. The Sox will not see a kinder stretch for the rest of the season. The bulk of those games are played with the Yanks on a no-days-off west coast trip. If the Sox are going to kill us, now would be the time. So now is when we get tough. Trot Nixon coming back is huge for them. Like last year, he disappeared with a season-threatening injury around the all star break and came back in the nick of time without missing a beat in terms of production. He’s a tough out. These games against Seattl-e are reflective of how difficult this will be. It’s hard to win every game, but everybody is winning right now. The best news for the Yanks is that the A’s and Angels are playing each other. Someone has to lose. The Yanks and Sox will play each other six more times, but you know how that will turn out? Three wins each. Almost always does. You can’t realistically count on making up a lot of ground there.
For the second game in a row, a recently reliable starter completely imploded on the west coast. Yesterday, moose, today Chacon. We were all waiting for the other shoe to drop on this guy, let’s face it. He was so good for so many starts with not a lot of history to back it up. He gutted out his last win, but we I think all Yankee fans were hoping that was the exception and not the rule. What the future will bring; who knows? Right now we don’t know who the real Shawn Chacon is. It’s going to have to be up to the bats.
With all of the Yankees thunder, they don’t have as many tough outs in their line-up as you might think. I don’t mean they can’t hit, score runs, pummel you or beat you down with huge crashing blows. I mean they don’t grind you down and wear you out so much. That stuff comes in handy when the big bats aren’t going on any given night. Jeter is a tough out, Gary Sheff is a tough out, The Ferocious Lion is a tough out, and Giambi (the juiced/cortisoned Giambi) is a tough out. A-Rod, for all of his MVP flash, would not best be described as a tough out, as crazy as that sounds. He can crush you, but he doesn’t battle you or grind you out. Bernie and Posada can get big hits for you, but they are not tough outs at this point. Posada is probably a bit tougher out, but Bernie will get you a few more big hits. Cano is not a tough out, I can’t comment on Lawto-n yet, and Bellhorn has looked worse in every at-bat tonight.
So Gary Sheff sat out the suspension tonight. It cost us. We left five guys on base in the first two innings right where his spot would have been. Torre DH’d A-Rod and Bellhorn played third. The bottom five in the order tonight looked like this: .255, .251, .265, .213, .270. Anyone still wondering why we only had three runs and six hits? This is the point in the season at which every bone in Torre’s body is telling him to rest two starters a night. He’s been doing it every September for ten years. He’s had that luxury. Not this year. If he overplays guys like Bellhorn, we’re going to suc-k wind. Utility means utility. He is a liability at the bat. You want my opinion? Learn all of the Red Sox signs and then cut his a*ss.
I expect to go 3-2 on the rest of the west coast trip. I would be satisfied with that. Sure – you would love a 5-2 road trip, but that’s not realistic. I’m expecting somebody to hang one L on the Sox this week, so I expect we’ll probably come back down 3 1/2. There is some good news, though. Our schedule is a lot easier in September. Loaded with Balt, Tor, and TB. With the way Baltimor-e has played, and with the way we have played against Toront-o, we should win games. I am also going to be stubborn and insist we are due to beat those confounded D-Rays. Bosto-n’s schedule gets very weird in September. My gut feeling is we’ll have a good shot to make a move. But first, as I said – we have to hang on for five games.