(I can't tell, is he smiling? Courtesy of the AP)
It became very clear to me at around lunch time at the office yesterday that I really didn't give a damn what happened at work for the rest of the day. My mind was already firmly focused on the game and the task at hand for the Yankees, and I wasn't even playing. I imagine that feeling was even more intense in the Yankee clubhouse before last night's game coming off of the dramatic ending on Tuesday night. They had full control over their American League destiny, Hiroki Kuroda on the mound, and a beaten down Fraud Sawx team with a soon-to-be-fired manager as the only thing standing between them and a #1 seed. There was surely no desire on their parts to let this game drag on and they played like it, beating the Fraud Sawx into submission to lock up another division title.
- I can't imagine swinging at 4 of the first 6 Matsuzaka pitches was in the game plan, but that's what the Yankees did in the bottom of the 1st. Not surprisingly, that led to 3 outs and a quick inning.
- The patience still wasn't there in the 2nd, but the results were. Robinson Cano singled, Nick Swisher drew a walk, and Curtis Granderson hit the first pitch he saw into the right field seats for a 3-run dinger and a 3-1 Yankee lead.
- Kuroda wasn't as great as he was mid-season, but he was good enough. He gave up a run in the 1st but settled down after that. His fastball was lively, and he threw enough good sliders and sinkers to keep his pitch count down and get plenty of GB outs through 4.
- The offensive barrage didn't stop after the 2nd, and it was all produced off the bat of Cano. He hit a 2-run home run in the 3rd that looked like he was taking a BP swing, and then another 2-run BOMB in the 5th that looked even smoover. Dude was SPITTING OUT SEEDS MID-SWING!!! 7-1 Yanks.
- Excellent outing for Kuroda; just what you want to see heading into the postseason. His slider seemed to get better in the later innings, he got more Ks, and his fastball velocity stayed up.
- I almost feel bad talking about Cano this much, but he WAS the offense last night. He's the one guy who you don't mind swinging early when he's on because you know he's going to do something good. His 2-run single in the 6th was the perfect example of that and was pretty much the dagger in the Fraud Sawx's hearts.
- I said I wanted the Yankees to keep their foot on the gas in this game, and they did. Up 9-2 after the Fraud Sawx scored another cheapie in the top of the 7th, they responded with a -run bottom half, punctuated by Ichiro's 2-run double to make it 12-2.
- Classy move by Joe getting as many guys involved late as he could. With a 12-run lead it was more than safe enough to do that. Brett Gardner got a hit, Francisco Cervelli got another appearance, and so did Freddy Garcia.
- 2012 AL East champions and #1 seed in the AL playoffs, the New York Yankees. Damn that's fun to write!
- Cano: 4-4. 2 HR, 3 R, 6 RBI, 1 BB. Cano saved the best night of his 9-game towering inferno streak for last, crushing almost every pitch he saw and leading the offensive onslaught last night. Typically when he gets going like this he stays hot for 3-4 weeks. This is still week 2. If he can stay true to past form, he can be a driving force in the division series.
- Kuroda: 7 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, . It was against a depleted Fraud Sawx lineup, but it was still a very good outing for Kuroda. His stuff looked good, he did a much better job of locating everything down in the zone, and he was efficient, all things that are going to be needed for him to be successful in the postseason. Not a lot of strikeouts, but Kuroda is the type of pitcher who doesn't need a lot of them to be effective, and he was very effective last night.
- C-Grand: 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI, 2 K, 3 LOB. It's easy to look past the strikeouts on a night like last night when Curtis hits multiple home runs. Would have been interesting to see him get one more chance to try to tie Cabrera, but I'm more than satisfied with what he did.
- Mark Teixeira: 0-3, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, 5 LOB. Another tough night for Teix at the plate, and he looks really out of sorts after hitting the HR in his first game back. He's got a few days to work on his timing, and at least he looked good beating out a potential DP ball late in the game.
The Yankees will get a chance to get some extra rest before kicking off their 2012 postseason. They earned that right with the win and they'll get 3 days off now before starting Game 1 of the ALDS on Sunday against whoever wins the Texas-Baltimore 1-game playoff on Friday night.