If you didn’t think Sunday’s night loss in the Bronx was devastating at the time, take a look at it now. Because with Boston winning last night and New York losing, that loss now feels like a dozen paper cuts being marinated in lemon juice.
Given the results from last night and a successful conclusion on Sunday, the Sox would now control their destiny. And even with one hiccup in Chicago, they more than likely would enter Friday with a chance to send the season into extra innings. So with everything that went wrong this year – Lackey, Drew, Beckett, Injuries, Middle Relief – the Sox would still be in this thing if Papelbon could have simply channeled his inner Kevin Gregg on Sunday and rang up three outs.
Just in case you care, here are the matchups for the weekend: Friday is a rematch from Sunday with Daisuke going up against Phil Hughes, who evidently is no longer on an innings limit. Saturday might as well be Germany versus Poland as it’s Buchholz versus AJ. And Sunday would be Lackey versus Sabathia ….. not exactly constructive but hell, you get this thing to game 162 and who the hell cares about matchups.
Unfortunately, the Sox have no cushion and it’s hard to imagine the Yankees losing both of these next two. Tonight, they altered their plans for the second time in three days and go with CC to face rookie Kyle Drabek. And tomorrow, they come back with Pettitte to face Toronto’s Brett Cecil. Grasping for straws, the Yanks don’t usually hit guys they have never seen and they have never seen Drabek. And Cecil has cuffed the Yanks all year (28IP, 7 ER). Throw in the FACT that the Yankee’s collective ass is sealed as tight as a ballistic missile submarine right now and who knows … maybe a rise in pressure is enough to sink the ship.
The Sox, meanwhile, trot out Lackey to face Eddie Jackson and tomorrow it’s Beckett dancing with Freddy Garcia. In the event that Boston is still breathing on Thursday, I am guaranteeing Lester will finish off the sweep and get the ball to Daisuke on Friday night. And just so you know, in my dream, Lester gets the ball on Monday afternoon ……. and Lowrie does something special in the 7th inning.
POINTS OF INTEREST:
* Buchholz did an excellent job last night and he now has an honest shot at that ERA title. Felix has Texas, in Dallas tonight, before he gets Oakland at home to end the season. Buchholz closed to within two basis points last night (2.31 to 2.33) and he really needs a small blowup tonight because it would seem like he isn’t going to get any help from Oakland on Sunday. If Felix gives up three runs tonight or even two runs in a short stint, Buchholz should move into the lead as we go to 18.
* Speaking of category wins, it now looks like Beltre will win the doubles chase. With two last night, he moved two up on Longo, who remains out with a bad wheel. Moreover, Beltre needs just two more extra base hits to give him EIGHTY on the season. What a frigging “walk year” he has had.
* Why does Terry Francona still hit Mike Lowell sixth? Play him if you must but why hit him sixth? I like Mike Lowell as much as anyone but he has been AWFUL (9-47 with one EBH this month).
* This probably deserves its own post: My sense is Robinson Cano has sneaked into the lead of the MVP race while Josh Hamilton has been sitting with busted ribs. But take a look at this …. Here is Cano’s slash: .318/.378.530. And here is Beltre’s slash: .323/.368/558. And according to Fangraphs, Beltre has Cano on WAR by a margin of 0.7. Cano has had a great year and his defense has become a real asset but his punk September has hurt his resume. Meanwhile Beltre keeps chugging along. The funny thing here is not that Beltre won’t win, but that he probably won’t finish in the top-3. I’m guessing it will go Cano, Hamilton and Bautista, with Cabrera and Beltre in there at fourth and/or fifth.
* Let me make this clear …. I have little respect for Yankee cheerleader and sideline reporter Kim Jones. You could hand her next Wednesday’s USA Today and I still wouldn’t trust her to say something prescient or informed. But this was one of her tweets from last night: “Yankees season feels oddly, um, tense now. Which just doesn’t make sense.” Jones couldn’t make sense out of a “NL double switch” but leaving that aside, I’ll give her a point for at least identifying a very palpable undercurrent which is sucking the life out of this Yankee season. Yes, the fans are tense. The Brass is tense. The manager seems to be literally shrinking from all the tension. And now the players look tense. Please god, give me a loss tonight because if Sabathia comes up small, even Kim will be able to make sense of it all.