Friday, September 25, 2009

Game 154: Empire State Of Mind

The Yankees return home tonight, coming off what was a pretty decent road trip. They got themselves in a 1-3 hole starting with a series loss to the Mariners, but won the last two against the Angels to break even on the six game swing.

This 3 game set in the Bronx will round out the Red Sox final road trip of the season. After dropping the first two against the Royals, the Sox rallied to halve the four game set and these next three against the Yanks will determine if it will be a winning or losing one. It will also determine if the season series between the two teams will be won by the Red Sox or be a wash. It currently sits at 9-6, so if the Yankees win all three, they can square it up.

The tiny superstitious part of me that hasn't been beaten down by studying game theory, years of analyzing market research data and attempting to do objective baseball analysis would rather see the Yankees simply take two out of three than sweep. I guess the fear is that a sweep would make it seem like the Red Sox were due to win some games should they meet in the ALCS.

However, I really hope that one of those two games is tonight. Young Master Joba only has two chances to come up with a respectable start or he might have to face the reality of being left off the postseason roster. His last start in Seattle was downright terrible and even his most ardent supporters need to see something good out of him tonight to regain some confidence in him. Not getting shelled would be nice. Making it though the sixth inning would be a pleasant surprise.

Jon Lester faces the Yanks tonight for the first time since throwing 7 innings of one run ball against them in the Boogie Down back on August 9th. He and Andy Pettitte were locked in a scoreless duel until the 7th inning that night when A-Rod took Lester deep. Victor Martinez answered with a two run homer in the top of the 8th but Johnny Damon and Mark Teixeira countered with solo homers off of Daniel Baaahhhd in the bottom half to put the Yanks over the top.

That night the Yanks completed a 4 game sweep, went up 6.5 games up in the division and they haven't been separated by less than 5 games since. With the margin sitting at 5.5 right now, the Sox have the chance to breach that 5 game barrier.

When the schedule first came out in the beginning of the year, there was certainly the potential that this series could have more direct implications on the outcome of the divison. Nonetheless, there's a good chance some champagne will be popped at some point over the weekend. I'm just glad that the best case scenario for my team isn't celebrating it in the Stadium of the club we're trailing for first place.

Unlike the Red Sox, the Yanks got last night off, slept in their own beds and should be refreshed and ready to go as they open their final homestand of the year. Let's hope for an inspired performance from Joba et al. tonight.

Concrete jungle, where dreams are made of,
There's nothing you can’t do,
Now you’re in New York,
These streets will make you feel brand new,
Big lights will inspire you,
Let's hear it for New York, New York, New York.

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