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September 21, 2005

At last, the mountain top
by SG

Since their 11-19 start, the Yankees have played at a 63.6% winning percentage, which would equate to a 103 win season if spread over 162 games. It hasn't seemed like it, due to the hole they dug themselves. However, with tonight's 2-1 win over Baltimore and Boston's 7-4 loss to Tampa, the Yankees find themselves in sole possession of first place, 1/2 game in front of Boston.

Getting there is nice, but staying there won't be easy. The Yankees have 4 games left at home, then hit the road for 7 games. I'm a little concerned about Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield's injury situations, but at this stage they've got to fight through it.

Randy Johnson has saved his best for last this season, and is pitching his best baseball of the season at the time when his team needs him most. There's been a lot of criticism about Johnson's pinstriped tenure, but that can all be erased if he keeps on doing what he's done over the last month (excluding the game where he got ejected, of course.) He was strong today, helped by some stellar defense by the man who should be the MVP in Alex Rodriguez. Today's game was a perfect example of why just looking at hitting when voting for the MVP is foolish and short-sighted. Rodriguez made some very good plays that could very well have been the difference in a 2-1 game. He won't get credit for it in the box score, but anyone who watched the game knows that he made a tangible difference in the outcome, despite not getting a hit and striking out all 3 times.

When a team is going well, people like Bubba Crosby and Matt Lawton contribute when their big players are not. Derek Jeter has been the antithesis of clutch lately, on offense and defense. His bad throws at first are directly responsible for Giambi's back injuries, which is not a good situation. Hopefully he can get that under control, and soon.

The Yankees can't afford to let up now. The wild card looks like it's not going to be a fallback for the AL East runner-up, and Boston will be heading to Baltimore for 3 games before finishing up at home against Toronto and then the Yankees. The next 2 weeks are going to feel like the playoffs.