Beat writers don't play the "sweep or die" card very often, but they have in spades for this series.Ken Davidoff:
Big-picture usually dominates this column. No game, or series, exists in a vacuum - at least, before September. But this week at Yankee Stadium, we're tossing the big picture in the garbage.
The Nationals are so horrible that a Yankees loss to them is virtually inexcusable.
I try hard never to talk about must wins unless games truly are must wins or to apply weighty proportions to games in June. However, I will say this: The Yankees can't just win a series against Washington starting tomorrow. Anything less than a sweep is abject failure.Pete Abe:
It’s tough to say the Yankees need to sweep. The Nats do figure to show up, after all. But winning two out of three won’t be satisfactory against this team.
In 21 series this year, the Nationals have "only" been swept seven times. Not doing something that only one out of three teams that has faced them this year have been able to do would be an "abject failure"? Remember when the Pirates top prospects lost to Manatee Community College? It's still baseball, guys. I understand the temptation to demand a sweep, but as last night goes to show, it only takes one bad pitch (especially in the New Yankee Stadium) to turn a game around.
After last night's loss, the Nationals' record is 16-46. A wining percentage of .258 is a lot closer to .333 (1-2) than it is to .000 (0-3). As you might expect is the case with any historically terrible team, their Pythagorean record (23-39, .370) indicates that they have been somewhat unlucky in their run distribution, meaning that their current wining percentage sells them a little short.
Tonight the Nats send their best pitcher, lefty John Lannan to face Chien Ming Wang. Even if Wang turns in by far his best performance of the year, the Yanks could very easily lose.
If the Yankees won two out of every three games, they would finish with 108 wins. Taking two out of three in this series is not a failure... it would improve their winning percentage on the year. Let's not get ahead of ourselves. As CC said after the he notched his sixth win of the season last night, "This is the big leagues, you can't take anyone lightly."