Monday, June 04, 2007

A Yankees turning point in Boston?

On April 20, the Yankees' season fell into a pit when Joe Torre tinkered too much with his overused bullpen, Rivera honked and the Redsawx clawed back from a 6-2 deficit to a 7-6 win to start a three-game sweep and a seven-game losing streak for the Yanks. Since then, the Yanks have struggled to win consecutive games and have not won consecutive series.

Last night, the Yanks finally turned the tables on the Squawks: bonking a 4-0 lead, falling behind 5-4, blowing TWO chances to score with a runner at third and less than two out, but still coming from behind to win against the two Redstanx pitchers who have beleaguered the Yanks the most, Hideki Okajima and Jonathon Papelbon. A fine win on a number of levels: (1) the Yanks took their fourth in the last six against the RedSawx, which means that the Sawx lead the season series only 7-5 and shows the Yanks can beat the best team in baseball; (2) the Yanks received big hits from A-Rod and Posada, but also from Robby Cano who seems to be getting his stroke in order; (3) the Yanks popped both Okajima and Papelbon; (4) although they had one awful defensive honk (Bobby Abreu again), they made three fine defensive plays - Cabrera robbing Pena of a triple in the third, Abreu running down Pedroia's sinking liner in the 8th and, most importantly, Posada's block of home plate that prevented Lugo from scoring in the 6th.

The Yanks are neither dead nor far from it -- instead they're somewhere in between. They still stink in close games (3-10 in one-run games, 2-7 in two-run games), the bullpen is questionable (time to dial down the use of Proctor and use Bruney and Farnsworth more), the outfield defense is shaky even with Cabrera out there, and now they've lost both their Gold Glove quality first baseman and their DH for no less than two months each.

They still have Cano, Cabrera and Abreu liable to work upward to their normal hitting ranges, they now have Wang pitching well again, they get some slack in the schedule because they won't play the RedSax for a couple of months. So there is hope that they can reach the playoffs, especially because the Yanks are just 6 back in the loss column for the wild card and the Tigers won't go 133-29. To do that, they need to win series after series after series, not just isolated series against the RedSax or random stiffs in the schedule (like going 5-1 against the Rangers). That opportunity begins tonight in Chicago, where the WhiteSax have all four of their top starters (Buehrle, Garland, Vazquez, Contreras) slated to face two rookies (DeSalvo, Clippard) before Wang and Moooooooose.

Time to get turning in that turnaround.

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