When I see tonight’s Yankee game unfold, two different thoughts flash through my mind. On the one hand, I see Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte turn in what we would call vintage performances as the Yanks turned in a crisp two-hour and 22-minute victory.
But on the other, I see the Yanks playing out the season with this win. I see a mediocre team with some star players beating a bad pitcher when they should. I see an overpaid and overhyped team keeping hope alive, falsely, by hanging 5.5 games back in the Wild Card and not really moving forward. I guess it’s all about tomorrow. Whatever they can do tomorrow and the next day and the day after that will determine the real fate of the 2008 Yankees.
Before we jump ahead though, we can look at tonight’s quick game. The Yanks jumped out to a first-inning lead, and they would never look back. The first three Yankees reached base, and while A-Rod again failed to deliver with runners in scoring position, a Jason Giambi sac fly (against a lefty!) and a Xavier Nady single gave Pettitte a 2-0 nothing lead.
In the fourth, the Yanks would plate their final three runs of the game with Derek Jeter’s hitting his 8th home run of the season. That blast would be the 2498th hit of Jeter’s career and his 203rd Yankee home run. With that homer, Jeter tied Roger Maris on the Yanks’ all-time home run list and somehow, only 10 players in Yankee history have more home runs in pinstripes than Jeter, not quite a notorious home run hitter throughout his career.
But while the bats did their job tonight, the story of the game was Andy Pettitte. The lefty went seven strong, allowing one run on five hits, no walks and four strike outs. He threw 62 of 83 pitches for strikes. Brian Bruney threw a crisp two innings to complete the victory.
Clearly, the Yankees needed this game. By winning on Wednesday, they guaranteed at least a one-game lead in third place when they depart Toronto for Baltimore after facing Roy Halladay tonight. They also gained a game on Boston and Clay Buchholz, who was shelled again down in Baltimore.
Was tonight’s game a reprieve or a sign that we shouldn’t quite count the Yanks out? With the Bombers seemingly treading water in the standings these days, it’s easy to believe the former, but it’s always hard to count out the Yankees. Stranger things, after all, have happened.