Yankee Fans Collectively Exhale
A baseball season is long and all 162 games are of equivalent value....but didn't last night's game feel great? I know, I know, a game is a game and teams rarely actually "need" to win one in early August, but yesterday's victory sure felt important. If it wasn't a big deal for the players (which is doubtful considering the competitive nature of professional athletes), then it certainly was for the fans. Consider today's headlines....
"Bombs Away: Yanks finally crush Sox" - NY Post
"Yanks' First Win Against Boston is a Big One" - NY Times
"Yankees Fans Saved From Having to Endure More Annoying Self-Congratulatory Facebook Status Messages by Friends from New England" - Me
While getting over that "winning one" hump was terrific, the harsh reality of weighted scheduling is that the Yankees and Red Sox still have nine more games to play against each other (exactly 1/6 of their remaining games).
If the Yankees can just eek out four or five of those nine they will be in fine shape to win the division, because they are a much more consistent squad against the rest of baseball than the Sox are. The Red Sox are 62-45 right now. Against the Yankees and the Baltimore Orioles, the Sox are 19-3. Which means against everyone else, they are just one game above .500.
This weekend's three remaining games....
Tonight: The Yankees' toughest pitching match-up comes tonight. The Red Sox are throwing perennial Cy Young contender Josh Beckett. While Beckett has not been great against the Yankees in two starts this year, he has the potential to be masterful any day. Also, A.J. Burnett, our starter, was absolutely demolished in early Yankee-Red Sox action. While Burnett has been pitching very well lately, the Red Sox figure to still cause him issues. His best games are when he keeps his pitches down, and Boston is an extremely adept low-ball hitting offense.
Tomorrow: This should be our easy win. Boston is pitching Clay Bucholz of "flash-in-a-pan" fame, and we've got the big man, C.C. Sabathia. There is no excuse for losing tomorrow. None.
Sunday: With Andy Pettitte facing Jon Lester, all we can do is hope. Pettitte has been much more reliable since the All-Star break, but he still hates pitching at the new Stadium (and the new Stadium hates him). Meanwhile, Lester has produced 11 Quality Starts since May 21.
NOTE: Make sure to check back every Wednesday for Pinstripe Politics, your source for that gray area where the Yankees and society converge. Also, check in with the BNN on Fridays for The Yankees, Unobstructed, our weekly Yankee opinion column.
For more of Graham Kates' sports writing, check out his True/Slant blog "Coaches in the Crosshairs" (www.trueslant.com/grahamkates).