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September 16, 2005

by SG

When luck appeared to finally catch up to Aaron Small, courtesy of a two-out three run homerun off the bat of Johnny Gomes in the bottom of the fifth inning, it looked like the Yankees were on their way to a loss they could not afford.

Seth McClung had stifled the Yankee offense through five innings, allowing just one run. However, the Mega Super Optimal Lineup had other ideas in the sixth. Hideki Matsui singled and Bernie Williams walked. Jorge Posada hit another single that loaded the bases for Robinson Cano, who's been spectacular and awful at times.

Cano hit the first grand slam of his career, to continue what's been a torrid September.

In May, Cano hit .253/.273.398 for an OPS of .670.
In June, he hit .310/.343/.520 for an OPS of .863.
In July, he hit .319/.331/.466 for an OPS of .796.

Then came an August that was awful, .207/.252/.261 for an OPS of .513.

In September, Cano is now hitting .455/.478/.659 1.137.

His hitting in the 8th or 9th spot has helped strengthen the weakest part of a potent Yankee lineup. One of the posters had asked that we discuss the Yankee lineup, and I personally love the one that Torre has been running out there right now.

Jeter, SS
Rodriguez, 3B
Giambi, 1B
Sheffield, DH
Matsui, LF
Bernie, CF
Posada, C
Cano, 2B
Crosby, RF

The one issue is Bernie in CF, but with Sheffield hurt it's defensible. With Sierra not doing much since his return from the DL, Crosby's defense makes up for his bat, 3 hits yesterday notwithstanding. He'd be better in center, but Bernie can't play RF I guess. The main thing is putting your five best hitters up as often as possible, alternating lefties and righties, and getting baserunners on for Sheffield and Matsui, who seem to be great at driving them home.

And for those who want to talk about Alex Rodriguez as unclutch, that tie-breaking two run homerun in the sixth seemed to be pretty clutch.

So despite losing 11 of their first 16 games with Tampa, the Yankees salvaged some dignity by sweeping them when they needed it badly. With Boston falling to Oakland last night, the Yankees are just 1 game out in the loss column for the AL East lead.

Next up are three games at Toronto, fronted tonight by the rejuvenated Randy Johnson. I've certainly bashed Johnson a fair amount here, but since he started throwing a bullpen session between starts he is now 3-1 with a 1.27 ERA, and has looked absolutely dominant for the most part. With Boston playing Oakland, this could end up being a good chance to pick up more ground against them.