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July 6, 2003

by Larry Mahnken

Massacre averted.

After two days of disaster, the Yankees got back at the Red Sox with a good all-around game. Sure, they stranded several runners, but they put seven runs on the board, and most importantly, when they needed someone to come out and pitch a good game, Andy Pettitte came out and pitched a GREAT game. The Yankees have stretched the lead back out to three, and will head to Cleveland in first place by at least two games, four if they can beat Pedro tomorrow afternoon.

These games are always magnified, and Yankees and Red Sox fans want to place more importance and significance on the result of one or two games than is really warranted. Anyone who thinks that the Red Sox, as great as their offense is, will score 20 runs versus David Wells and Roger Clemens on a regular basis is as foolish as someone who thinks that Andy Pettitte can regularly hold this offense down to a single run. None of these games has been fully representative of the true abilities of these teams, who are, in fact, very close to each other. Anyone who tries to use the result of one game or series to prove otherwise has an obvious agenda.

Speaking of having an agenda, a lot of Yankees fans have enjoyed pointing out that the Yankees have 32 games left against Baltimore, Tampa Bay, Cleveland and Detroit, while Boston has still to play Oakland and Seattle. Well, that's true, but Boston has 31 games against the scrub teams themselves, and the Yankees have 6 games against Oakland and Seattle as well.

Looking at the schedule the rest of the way, the Yankees do have an advantage, at least based on the current records. The advantage becomes even larger when you look at how the schedule is constructed. The Yankees and Red Sox both have very easy schedules in September, and easy schedules are better for holding onto a lead than for making one up. The Red Sox August Schedule is brutal, particularly when they have to play at Oakland the day after finishing a four-game/three-day series against Baltimore at home. Boston has faded in August the past few years, and was put away by the Yankees at the beginning of September. It's very possible that they'll be in a similar position when the Yankees come into Fenway on August 29th.

The All-Star rosters were announced today, and not a single Yankees pitcher was selected. It probably would have helped if all of the Yankees had voted, as some reports are saying that only half of them did.