Monday, September 17, 2007

In their rivals' heads?

Buster Olney parroted the conventional wisdom Saturday when he wrote in his ESPN column (insider subscription only) that the Yankees were in the RedSux' heads and Exhibit 1 was the Yanks' startling comeback against the best of the Redstiff bullpen -- Okajima and Papelbon. Then the denizens of Ratway went out and whupped the Yanks. But yesterday, the Yanks did it again as Jeter banged a three-run homer off Schilling and Mo squeaked out a save despite a dead arm that he incurred while warming up in the bullpen because an errant toss from the neighboring RedSax 'pen plunked Rivera in the right elbow. Are the Yanks in the Redhos' heads? The Monk says no -- not after Beckett put on his best show of the year against the Yanks on Saturday, not after DiceK tightroped his way through nearly 6 innings on Friday, and not after the close games in the Stadium in late August where the Redgarters' starters pitched better than they had against the Yanks in April-June.

Here are some key facts and figures from the Yanks-Sawx series this year, which the Yanks won 10-8.

1. Quantity: The Yanks are the highest-scoring team in baseball, but the Redarses reached the 10-run plateau three times against the Yanks, the Yanks maxed out at 9. Scoring margin favored the Beanheads, not the Yanks.

1a. Quantity: In the first seven games between the teams at the rat-infested puke-green pit of baseball idiocy, neither scored less than five runs in any game. Indeed, the Yanks held the Sawx under five at the ratden once -- yesterday. The Sax turned that trick twice -- Saturday and yesterday. Note that the Stiffs have the best ERA in the AL, and the second-best in all of baseball; the Yanks are a pedestrian 8th in the AL -- that's what happens with too many Moosepatties (18-9, 16-0 losses). The Yanks are the second-highest scoring AL road team (Tigers), the Beacon Hill fatboys are second in home scoring in the AL but only 7th in home ERA.

2. Quality: The porous Yankee pitching staff had SEVEN quality starts in the 18 games against the Stucks, all by Pettitte/Wang/Clemens; Bawstin put together just TWO quality starts against the Yanks. Yes, you read that correctly. Baastin has 79 QS in 150 games, its 77/132 rate against all others would put it second in the AL, the 2/18 against the Yanks helped drop the Redbutt QS rate to sixth, below the putrid White Sax. The Yanks are worse = #8. Against the Yanks, the Rawsaxs had a 5.25 ERA and a .273 BAA compared to the overall 3.85/.248; the Yanks had a 5.39/.286 compared to 4.48/.269 -- a much larger deviation for the fatboys.

3. Missing in action: the Yanks won four of five over the last two series with Bastun whilst fatboy 1 sat out with an oblique strain. The Crimsoncracks won five of six from the Yanks early in the season while the Yanks paraded Proctor and Farnsworth to the mound in crucial innings, started such future Koufaxes as Chase Wright and Jeff Karstens, and didn't have a fully healthy Wang.

4. Drama: The Sawx pulled off four late-inning comeback wins, all at the Rathole -- the first three games of the teams' meetings and the Saturday game in Beanville in early June. They cracked Rivera once. Unlike last year when they could barely touch him, the Yanks have popped Papelbon twice -- two losses and one blown save; he has three of each this year. A-Rod won his battle with Papelbon twice with the game on the line -- Friday and June 3.

5. Trends: The Yanks have won four straight series against the Sux -- two in Bastun, two at the Stadium, and nine of 12 in those sets after starting out 1-5. I've noted previously that the Yanks slow start viz. the Beanheads is a trend, not an aberration -- it's happened in three of the past four years. Unlike the 2004 team, these Yanks actually won two series in the Beanpot; that team won zero.

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