How's that for a pitching line, eh? Just an epic day for non-Yankee closers.
Seriously, between Frankie Rodriguez going Mike Tyson's Punch Out on senior citizens and Pahpelbawn melting down again, I feel like a kid on Christmas morning knowing I have Mariano Rivera on my side. While these other clowns are watching their ERAs and WHIPs continue to rise as they sink back towards mediocrity, Mo just keeps chugging along towards the all-time saves record and the Hall of Fame (Tuesday aside of course).
P.S.- Cue all the Boston fans bitching and moaning and pleading for Daniel Bard to become the new closer. Seriously, I'm begging Terry Francona to make Bard the closer. I don't give a fuck what he did over the weekend, the Yankees fucking OWN that dude. Maybe more than they own Papelbon.
Derek Jeter has one of the most successful and widely recognized children's charities. Nick Swisher honors his dead grandmother before each pitch of an at-bat. Mark Teixeira stayed at home and missed 2 games to be with his wife and newborn son. Francisco Rodriguez beats the shit out of his girlfriend's father in front of the entire team and some of their family members in the locker room.
Which of these things is not like the other?
I mean, I'd be upset too if I had been reduced to a marginal closer at best with a now sub-90MPH fastball and a tendency to walk everybody that steps in the batter's box. But taking those frustrations out on an old dude? Family no less? Now that's just low.
Do I even need to bring up the apples-to-oranges comparison for the Yankees and Mets anymore? Or has that just become too similar to even use as a comparison? Shouldn't it be something more like apples-to-steaming piles of elephant shit? Or do I just let the disgrace that is the New York Mets organization speak for itself?
It's a bit cliche to say, but last night was truly a tale of 2 games. 2 games that showed that while the Rangers are definitely for real, the Yankees are still a better team.
The first 5 innings were all about the Rangers. Cliff Lee was dealing and making the Yankees look awful at the plate, their hitters were pounding Javy and making him pay for his lack of velocity and missed locations, they were running the bases hard, making plays in the field, and looking like an all-around better baseball team. The Yankees looked old, stagnant, and completely outclassed.
But the last 4 innings were a different story. Despite his early dominance, the Yankees did make Lee work for his solid outing through 6 and in the 7th he hit the wall big time. The Yanks started taking and fouling off more pitches from Lee, making him work harder with his diminishing stuff, and finally breaking through on some misplaced pitches. That same patience and feistiness at the plate continued as the game was passed into the hands of the Texas bullpen and the Yanks continued to chip away as Francisco and Feliz spit the bit while the Yankee 'pen went into lockdown mode. It was vintage Yankee baseball: being patient, fighting off pitches, and getting clutch hits when they needed to, taking advantage of other teams mistakes (Granderson & Gardner moving up on the 9th-inning wild pitch), and bullpen guys stepping up to get outs in big spots to hold the opponent down.
The series and especially last night answered 2 of the 3 questions I presented earlier in the week. As far as handling the lefties, the Yanks didn't do that too well. They scratched some runs off of Wilson and touched up Lee after he started to tire in the 7th, but when you're tying a franchise record last night with 17 strikeouts, that's not exactly a good thing. I'm not even going to get into the lineup management. Between injuries, sickness, and Teix staying with his wife and kid, I think Joe did the best with what he had. Maybe the everyday Yankee lineup fares a little better at the plate. Maybe it doesn't.
But the most important answer was the one on how the Rangers would hold up in a high-leverage situation. The Rangers stood tall in the face of pressure on Tuesday night and completely collapsed under it last night, proving that they are still a wildcard when it comes to handling big-time playoff situations. The Yankees have plenty of guys that have been there before and know how to handle these situations, and that's why they won last night. That's also why they have the upper hand on the Rangers should the two meet down the road in the playoffs, and that's why the Yankees still have to be the favorites to win it all.
"... it's Mo and you know he won't have any lingering effects from this outing the next time he steps out there. Dude probably won't give up a run for a month after last night."- Me, 8/11/10
Told ya so. So he gave up a leadoff triple to Elvis Andrus on a crummy pitch? How's sitting down one of the best hitters of the last 10 years, the leading AL MVP candidate, and a first-ballot HOF'er who happens to be 4th in the AL in RBIs in order to preserve an improbably comeback win sound?
"Sleep with one eye oooopen. Grippin' your pillow tiiiiiight... "