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October 8, 2005

Backs to the wall
by SG

You had to figure that if the Yankees were to somehow win the World Series this season, it wouldn't be easy. With a lousy effort last night, the Yankees find themselves in the precarious position of having to win two straight games against a team that's had their number for most of the Joe Torre era.

Randy Johnson pitched terribly, but that's the nature of pitching. If not for his efforts over the last 2 months of the year, the Yankees would not be here. Still, he had nothing and it was obvious when even the outs he got in the first inning were tatooed to the warning track.

When Aaron Small relieved Johnson in the fourth with runners on the corners and no outs and got out it with a K and a nicely turned double play by Robinson Cano, I thought the Yankees could come back. And they did, turning a 5-0 deficit into a 6-5 lead.

Unfortunately for Small, Joe Torre felt the need to get Tino Martinez's bat in the lineup. Tino went 0 for 4, which was a problem. The larger problem was that Tino at first means Bernie Williams in centerfield. Two possibly catchable balls in the sixth turned the 6-5 lead back into a 7-6 deficit.

Tom Gordon came in to start the 7th and was as bad as Johnson, allowing 3 baserunners, although the third was not his fault. After a roped single by Vlad Guerrero and a hit batsmen, Juan Rivera grounded to Alex Rodriguez. Rodriguez noticed that they had a play at second base and threw to Robinson Cano. The play was slow to develop, and Cano had to leave the bag a little bit early after catching the ball to avoid a possible injury. Joe West decided that although the phantom play at second is almost always called due to the inherent injury risk of a sliding baserunner, that Cano should sacrifice his health for the out, and called the runner safe. It was a big play, but not the difference-maker in this game. Joe Torre summoned Al Leiter out of the pen into a bases-loaded, no out situation. Leiter did ok, with a squeeze bunt scoring a 9th run, and the Yankees then trailed 9-6.

We've seen Leiter be relatively effective in short bursts as a reliever, but when asked to pitch longer than an inning he tends to implode. That's what happened in the 8th, as a leadoff triple and an intentional walk put two runners on for Scott Proctor, who gave up two singles and two more runs.

Basically, I've written this team off. I figured they had to win Randy Johnson's game to win this series. It's certainly possible that they can win two straight, although it would seem to only be a matter of time before luck catches up with Shawn Chacon. Even if Chacon comes up big later today(weather permitting), what are the chances that Mike Mussina pitches another good game? I hope I'm wrong, I've certainly been wrong about this team many times before this season.

I wonder if it is a coincidence that the only game that the Yankees have won so far had Bubba Crosby in center? Sadly, I sense that Joe Torre's solution to the team's struggles today will be Ruben Sierra's bat, instead of Crosby's glove.

Maybe we should just pray for rain.