Based on the numbers, things are not looking too good for the Yankees right now. Earlier today, Clay Davenport’s Playoff Odds Report had the Yanks making the playoffs less than one percent of the time while after tonight’s win, CoolStandings projects them to reach October 1.4 percent of the time. Those are rather overwhelming odds.
But as the Yanks showed tonight, they ain’t goin’ down without a fight. In a nutshell, Moose pitched well, Xavier Nady hit a bomb, A-Rod hit a meaningless home run to tie Mike Schmidt on the all-time list, and some guy out for a month returned to the mound. That’s right; Dan Giese is back. Let’s break it down.
For the Yankees, as we read earlier, pitching is key, and tonight’s pitchers came up big. Mike Mussina, trying for the third time for win number 17, threw 6+ innings tonight, giving up too many hits (10) but striking out eight to minimize the damage. He allowed just one walk and is still on pace to issue fewer walks than the number of games he starts. He has thrown just 24 bases on balls in his 29 starts.
The Yanks’ bats, behind a monstrous Xavier Nady shot off the far reaches of the Tropicana Dome roof, and three runs scored by A-Rod, gave Moose plenty of support. While on Monday in Detroit, they singled the Tigers to death, four of their nine hits off of Tampa on Tuesday went for extra bases. Finally, the Yankees are showing us what they can do on all sides of the ball. They played small ball to score their first run of the game and long ball to put the game out of reach. Where was this all season?
With Mussina’s win tonight, the Yanks will give him a fair shot at 20 on the season. If they keep Mussina on a strict five-day rest schedule, he’s due to make five more starts this year. All he has to do — easier said than done, I know — is win three of those. He’ll face Seattle, Tampa, Chicago, Toronto and Boston, and if he’s going to get to 20 wins this year, he’ll really have to earn it.
Meanwhile, Yankee fans everywhere breathed a sigh of relief as the Yankees
eased Joba back into the bullpen trotted out Joba Chamberlain to pitch out of a seventh-inning jam. Chamberlain retired free-agent-to-be Rocco Baldelli on one pitch, and needed just 18 more — only half of them strikes — to make it through the eighth. He didn’t strike out anyone, and he gave up a walk and a hit in that 1.1 innings of work. But no matter; it’s good to see him back, and it’s good to see the Yanks win a crisp game after Monday’s near-nightmare.