Friday, September 4, 2009

Giving No Ground

After our two rivals last met 10 games ago, my good friend Dave was not yet ready to concede the division. There was plenty of time left, the Sox were mathematically alive and the Yanks had some tough games left on the schedule.

Fair enough.

But at some point, the Rogue Nation has to be wondering what it's going to take to catch the Bombers. The Red Sox have won 8 of their last 10 games and gained exactly nothing in the AL East standings.

Frustrating, isn't it?

Jorge Posada became the seventh Yankee to hit 20 homers this season in a 10-5 victory over the Blue Jays in Toronto Thursday. The Yankees remain in first by 7-1/2 games, their magic number dropping to 22.

The Yankees joined the 1996 Orioles, 2000 Jays and 2005 Rangers as the only teams in major league history with seven players with at least 20 homers -- and Derek Jeter has 17, meaning the Bombers have a chance to make it eight. For the season, the Yankees (86-48) have hit 210 homers and have a good shot at surpassing the team record of 242 hit in 1994. This is just an awesome display.

Meanwhile, the victory was the Yankees' seventh straight, giving them five winning streaks of at least seven games this season. The last team to accomplish that was the 1998 Yankees, who won 114 games in the regular season and, of course, went on to win it all. Good luck catching us, Red Sox fans. It appears this machine isn't going to slow down a lick.

Posada was the offensive catalyst in this game, going 4-for-5 with four RBI. His two-run homer in the ninth off Jason Frasor broke open what had become a tight game and ensured the Yankees would win this one with Phil Hughes and Mariano Rivera both unavailable.

Alex Rodriguez went 2-for-4 with two RBI and also homered in the ninth. A-Rod has a 12-game hitting streak, going 20-for-47 (.426) to raise his batting average to .276.

The Yankees jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead, giving spot starter Chad Gaudin a cushion that he would come to need.

With one out, Johnny Damon walked, Mark Teixeira singled and A-Rod walked to load the bases. Hideki Matsui drove them all in with a single to right that Travis Snider booted. Posada followed with a single to left to score Matsui.

And when Melky Cabrera singled in Matsui in the fourth, the Yankees had a 5-0 lead and seemed on their way to an easy win.

But Gaudin, who has made one start and four relief appearances since joining the team in early August, just didn't have enough gas in the tank. After pitching three scoreless innings, Gaudin began to tire in the fourth, allowing three runs.

He ended up going 3-2/3 innings, allowing four hits and three walks. Alfredo Aceves (10-1) finished the fourth, preserving a 5-3 lead and pitched two more innings for the victory.

The offense, meanwhile, showed no letup, answering with two in the fifth on RBI singles by A-Rod and Posada, before putting the game away in the ninth.

And all Red Sox fans could do is watch the Yankee post up yet another win.

Rogue Nation, are you ready to waive the white flag yet?

Runners In Scoring Position
5-for-13 (.385)
343-for-1,260 (.272)
First Half
217-for-819 (.265)
Second Half
126-for-441 (.286)
Since A-Rod's Return May 8
278-for-987 (.282)
Vs. Red Sox
36-for-163 (.221)

Up Next
Friday at Blue Jays, 7:07 p.m., YES
Joba Chamberlain (8-4, 4.38 ERA) vs. Roy Halladay (13-8. 3.13)

Thank goodness it's September, otherwise the bullpen would be in trouble with Joba's schedule abbreviated joke of a start. After he comes out after three or four innings, the Yanks will have Jonathan Albaladejo, Michael Dunn, Edwar Ramirez, Mark Melancon, Phil Coke and Hughes available. David Robertson and Brian Bruney have pitched two straight days and Damso Marto, coming back from injury, closed out Thursday's game.

Halladay, meanwhile, has lost three straight for just the third time in his career. I'd say the Yankees were in big trouble, except the Jays have long ago laid down for dead, meaning the Yankees actually have a shot.


Dave said...

Yes, it is extremely frustrating. But the Sox still have three more with the Yanks. And until the math says different, the Sox are still in it.

Aviv said...

By the time we get to that last Yankees-Red Sox series Sept. 25-27, the math will say different.

Jason said...

does it really matter who wins the division?

NZ said...

Dang, I thought starting a 43 year old and a man with a 6.28 ERA, both new to the AL, would work out for the Sox!

Aviv said...

This year, it does a bit. The wild card team appears set to play the first round against the Angels, which is not a fun task. Plus, both teams have been very strong at home this season: Yanks 45-20 and Sox 45-21. That's not to say the wild card team can't win the World Series. We've seen that once or twice before. But it is a tougher road.

Besides, I'd be remiss if I didn't slag on the Sox and Rogue Nation at every opportunity.

Dave said...

Well, the division matters to the Yanks, who can't seem to tame the Angels to save their life.