Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Disaster Averted

Its amazing that with the countless superstars and well-known veterans that have played under Joe Torre, two rookies may have saved his job this year. Three weeks after Kei Igawa shutdown the Red Sox to avoid a sweep, unheralded rookie Tyler Clippard did the same against the Mets, helping diffuse the Joe must go rumors….for now, at least.

Clippard showed a lot of moxie holding the Mets at bay in the second. Following another David Wright homer, they had the bases loaded with the extremely dangerous Jose Reyes up. A spot where some other Yankee rookies have folded like a beach chair, Clippard stepped up, struck out Reyes, and blanked the Mets for four more innings, seemingly getting stronger as the game went on.

Offensively, it was the old guard coming through. After Damon broke the tie with a bloop double, Jeter homered to bust the game open. Posada and A-Rod each hit mammoth shots in the subsequent innings. The Yanks were up against it, and they responded.

One night later, another strong start from Chien-Ming Wang, another A-Rod blast, more signs of life from the entire lineup, and suddenly there is hope. You can almost see the sun behind all those dark clouds.

More than just a win, the team played loose and had some spunk. Torre put runners in motion, something he should of done in the Game Five of the fateful 2004 ALCS when Wakefield came in relief, but I digress, and struggling hitters, notably Bobby Abreu and Jason Giambi, looked closer to their former All-Star status.

I admit my statements after Saturday were extreme. The Yanks are not out of the division yet. I am reconsidering not because they won a few games, its how they won. Not to mention I overreacted by how they were losing. They played listless recently, but things can sure change quick in baseball.

By no means is the Sox lead insurmountable given the Yankee deficit and number of games remaining, see the 1995 Mariners and 1978 Yankees, two teams New York knows well, for different reasons. With five more head-to-head games in the next few weeks, the Yanks need to go for four out of five. If they lose these matchups, it sure might be over.

One other interesting note from last was Wang’s pitch sequence. He threw a high percentage of sliders four-seam fastballs, rather than his signature sinking fastball. Wang was far from sharp, but the new look kept Boston just enough off balance to shut them down. I am interested to see if this was a special game plan for Boston, who has hit Wang well in the past, he did not have the feel for the sinker last night, or if he is expandin his repertoire beyond the two-seamer. Something to keep an eye on.


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