Thursday, August 30, 2007

Back in the Game

Phew. For a few weeks there, I was extremely concerned that the Earth had spun off into some parallel universe where Kyle Farnsworth was a good pitcher and everything was all licorice and sunbeams. I'm relieved today to learn that's not the case. Kyle Farnsworth still sucks, and apparently just had a run of good luck.

It's not even the two-run homer to Kevin Youkilis that bothers me. That stuff happens. It's the ensuing walk to Jason Varitek, putting the tying run on base. That was classic Farnsworth, not being aggressive, letting his emotions get the best of him. To the good fortune of Yankees fans everywhere, Joe Torre pulled the trigger at the right time and Mariano Rivera was his old dominant self.

Coupled with an Angels win in Seattle, the Yankees' victory over the BoSox pulls them into a tie for the Wild Card, one game back in the loss column. Where everything looked bleak and grim two days ago, suddenly there is hope in Yankeeland. This season has been full of tumultuous, unexpected swings, and this is another one.

The worst of the Yankees' schedule is over. They have four games left against Boston, three against Seattle, and then a lot of weak team (though Baltimore has been worrisome this year). Meanwhile, the Mariners have lost five in a row and have three miles of bad road ahead. The erstwhile home of Ken Griffey, Randy Johnson and ARod still has road games ahead against Detroit, Cleveland, Oakland, Anaheim and the Yanks.

I've been waiting all year for Seattle to show their true colors, and while I may have underestimated them a bit, I still don't think they're much more than a .500 team. Baseball Prospectus's adjusted standings has the Mariners at 66-64. Their PECOTA-adjusted playoff odds currently give the Yankees a 69 percent of reaching the post-season.

Of course, the way this year has gone, anything can still happen. But the Yankees' success against Boston this week, combined with the Mariners tumbling to Earth, has given them a shot again.

It's always nice to see Josh Beckett lose in Yankee Stadium, but he pitched well yesterday. The Yankees eked out a lot of lucky hits and infield singles, and Beckett prevented them from taking advantage of the opportunities that fate handed them. Roger Clemens actually looked shakier than Beckett, but managed to avoid giving up a hit until David Ortiz's monstrous home run in the sixth inning — a frightening reminder that we should still be very, very afraid of Papi.

Alex Rodriguez put another notch in his MVP belt with a solo home run in the seventh that ended up being the decider, as our esteemed leader would say.

The finale of this three-game set is being played today at 1 p.m. in the Bronx. I have no clue why they decided this would be a good time for a weekday afternoon game. I'll be listening at work on MLB radio. I find that listening to big games is more stressful than watching them. Something about not being able to see what's happening for myself, and being totally dependent on the (oft-incompetent) play-by-play man like a blind man relying on his dog.

At any rate, it's Wang vs. Schilling, a match-up that would seem to favor the Yankees.