Big Joe (father-in-law) and I had this one all the way. Regardless of the scores. Big Joe said the Yankees were going to jump out to a quick 3-0 lead just to stick it to Bosto-n when they looked up at the scoreboard. Then Giambi clipantricated the ball off the warehouse. And what do you know; 3-0. Then they started piling on, and all was well. Small throws strikes. That’s step one. You play for a team that kills the ball. Just throw strikes. You are going to win most shootouts, if that what it comes to. We also knew how the Bosto-n game was going to end. Bosto-n was losing 4-1 when we sat down to eat some stuffed shells and chicken parm. “Big Joe,” I said, “Don’t kid yourself. This one’s not going to end well.” There were some striking things about that game, though. First, the look on Clement’s face when Catalanotto’s ball went out. And Trot Nixon’s body language when it went out. Those guys genuinely looked scared. But we knew what was coming anyway. Acc calls me when it was 4-3 Jays. The idea that the Red Sox would lose never crossed our minds. We knew how it was going to go. I told Acc and Big Joe that it would be Ortiz with a bomb in the eighth to tie. But I thought it would go 12 or so, with a walk or something closing the deal. The other striking thing about that Sox game is the relievers they used. This was a game they simply could not afford to lose, and who do they bring in? Mike Meyers and Jonathan Papelbon. This, apparently, is who they are trusting their season to. So we can expect to see those guys when things get weird for Bosto-n this weekend. I have to feel good about that. Their only (sort- of) dependable reliever is Timlin, who is the de facto closer, but he is by no means dominating or lights out. He can be shaky. And when was the last time you saw a team go out and get a guy just to face one team for four games? I have to admit, it’s a good move. Theo Epstein is trying to get his team into the playoffs. He traded for a guy for one weekend. In any case, I have a feeling Bosto-n at some point is going to have the same feeling that I had last year when, at key points in playoff games, my season was resting in the hands of Esteban Loiaza, Javy Vazquez, and Kevin Brown. The “how-did-it-come-to–this” moment.
The good news for the Yankees is that they can’t complain about how they’re going in. They’re going in with most of their key guys hitting well, relatively healthy, and their key relievers rested. Our middle relief is no prize, either, but at least we have Flash and Mariano. Mo being the guy with the star next to his name. And we have Sturtze, who has pitched well at times, and at least has been on the team all year, unlike the Red Sox guys. And the reality is that we have six starters throwing the ball well. If you go with four starters in the playoffs, Randall, Moose, Wang, Chacon, then you have Small available for middle relief, and potentially Jaret Wright. Not bad. The starters have pitched well of late, except for Mussina, but he tends to get up for big games in Fenwa-y. Wang has pitched very well, and deep into games. Randall has been great against the Sox this year. David Wells is a big game pitcher who does exactly what the Yankees (and the Red Sox, for that matter) hate. He throws strikes, and he’s got that big, looping lefty curveball. The problem is he does not look healthy. He has come up short lately in some big spots, and if his back is balking, or if his body is cranky, his performance suffers and he starts hanging balls. Wakefiel-d, as the BPS has said so many times, is a slightly better than 50/50 guy in his career. The numbers make no mistake about it. He has been a killer his last few games, so he’s due to have a tough one. It can come at any time. And Schilling. Well, if he doesn’t have an 8-run lead, he hasn’t exactly been the legend that he is in his own mind. The play-in game would be Chacon vs. Arroyo. I like that matchup. Although he got hit hard against the Sox last time, Chacon has been great his last few games. And I’m certainly not afraid of Bronson Arroyo, who has struggled big-time lately. The other choice would be Clement on 3 days rest. As I overheard one old guy on the street saying to another today, “This ain’t gonna be no Derek Lowe vs. Kevin Brown.” Amen.
Do I think it’s going to get to the play-in game? Sure I do. Going to Fenwa-y, the land of magical make-believe for the Red Sox, and winning two of three is a stretch. But the reality is this. The Red Sox need to beat the Yanks three out of the next four. Nothing less. Or else they don’t win the division. And looking at the Red Sox man for man; they have no certifiable ace starter, nobody lights out in the bullpen, and they are wholly dependant on two guys to come up with exactly the miracle they need at exactly the right time. With that said, I don’t think they have what it takes to beat the Yankees three of four, with one at the Stadium, to knock them out. One man’s opinion.
So let’s take it one step further. Clevelan-d is in the driver’s seat. All they need to do is win two of three from the White Sox and they’re in, because somebody is going to lose two of three in the East. Credit to Ozzie Guillen, he says he’s going to play his starters, because he wants to be fair to the Red Sox and Yankees. All I know is that if I were him, I wouldn’t. But the BPS is sticking with its prediction. Clevelan-d loses two of three. So then what? According the ESPN “Hunt for October,” the following applies:
Any one-game tiebreakers would be scheduled for Monday, Oct. 3, with times to be determined. Here’s where each tiebreaker matchup would take place:
East: Boston at New York
• New York at Cleveland
• Cleveland at Boston
NOTE: If three clubs finish the season with the same winning percentage and one team will be a division winner and another will be the wild card, the games will be played as follows: The two teams tied for the division lead will play the one-game tiebreaker, with the winner being declared the division champion. The losing team will then play the club from the other division for the wild card.
The interesting part there is the note. If Clevelan-d loses two of three, and nobody sweeps the Yanks/Sox series, the Yanks and Sox will have to play for the division, with the loser playing the Indians for the WC. Which I guess would push that game to Tuesday. If that’s the case, the Indians are going to lose. They aren’t going to beat the Bosox at Fenwa-y, and by that time the Yanks would have to lose their fourth game out of five games to not get in. I have to believe that isn’t going to happen. The BPS predicts that the Yanks beat Bosto-n at the Stadium on Monday, Mo redeems himself, and Bosto-n beats Clevelan-d the next day in beantown.
So let’s talk about the MVP. As I’ve said, I don’t have a real strong opinion. I’m okay with either guy. And plus I think it’s all moot, because I think the anti-Yankee bias is going to give it to Ortiz hands down. It won’t even be close. You heard it here first. But I thought that the talking heads on ESPN were getting a bit excited about the “How do you not pick Ortiz stuff”. Couple of things. Their numbers are very similar. A-Rod’s BA is 22 points higher. OBP is 27 points higher. Ortiz has 17 more RBI, but A-Rod has more runs scored, more total bases, and more hits. And he’s got speed; he steals bases (20), he’ll go first to third, score from second, and we’ve all heard the argument that he plays gold-glove defense, while Ortiz plays no D. So why Ortiz? Well he always seems to have a miracle in his pocket, and his team depends on him like no other team depends on one guy to continuously bail them out. And we’ve all seen those stats that show from the 7th inning on with a chance to tie or take the lead, Ortiz leads the world. But here’s the catch. The award isn’t MDP (Most Dramatic Player). A game is nine innings. It doesn’t matter when you get the winning hit. I did not realize until recently – A-Rod actually has more game-winning hits than Ortiz. Ortiz’s are just later in the game, more dramatic, and play better as highlight clips for ESPN. When I saw that, I decided. A-Rod. I realize I have no credibility because I am a Yankee fan, but that also goes for every Yankee-hater that is screaming for Ortiz.
So it looks like Giambi and Ortiz both ate their wheaties (vitamin B12 – right) today. Ortiz better be careful. If he keeps it up at the rate he’s going with the HGH, he’s going to have to start changing his uniform every inning.
Four games to glory. Starting on Friday at Fenwa-y. It’s on.