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September 15, 2004

by Larry Mahnken

OK, this is bizzare. I moved my computer into the other bedroom in my apartment, and it appears the floor is on a slight slant. I feel like I'm falling over while I'm sitting here. Weird.

The Yanks have given up 14 or more runs three times in their last 16 games, each time in the first game of the series, but each time they've won the last two games of the series. That probably doesn't mean anything, except maybe it shows the character of this team -- what happened yesterday doesn't really impact how they deal with today.

Javier Vazquez threw 7 scoreless innings yesterday as the Yankees shut out the Royals for the second game in a row... but let's not go overboard here. 17 runs or no 17 runs, these are still the Royals, and shutting them out isn't a glorious feat worth shouting about from the rooftops. Javy pitched well, but not great, not like Moose did on Tuesday. It's not the kind of performance that will get the Yankees crushed like they did in two of his previous three starts, but it's won't shut down anybody in the playoffs. It's a step in the right direction, but it wasn't a special outing.

Still, it's a win, and the Yankees lead by 4 games heading into the weekend. They're in first place now, they'll be in first place Monday, and this weekend is no longer a must-win for the Yankees, it's a must-win for Boston.

Still, this is Boston's chance. The pitching matchups are pretty even this weekend, but if Boston sweeps this series, and especially if they crush the Yankees in this series, they're not only breathing down the Yankees' necks for the division title, they'll have gotten revenge for the "Boston Massacre". No doubt there are fans in Boston hoping for that to happen.

I certainly don't expect that to happen, of course. For the Yankees, this is their chance to prove to a skeptical public that they're still the team that has the best record in the AL. By taking two of three from the Red Sox, who've quite fortunately cooled off recently, they'll send a message to everyone that they're a force to be reckoned with.

* * *

The Blue Jays agreed to move up their Thursday game to Monday so the Yankees could play the Devil Rays on Thursday without having to play a split doubleheader. It doesn't change how the rotation shakes out, but it makes things a little easier going into the second Boston series, not having to blow their bullpen the day before it.

Well, I hope.