Is the pen truly mightier than the sword? Last night in Kansas City, Ivan Nova did not have his good stuff, but as my Grandma (admittedly, a Brooklyn Dodger fan who became a Met fan) would say, "It's not just whether you can win when you play good, it's whether you can win when you play bad."
The Yankee bullpen pitched 4 2/3 perfect innings. They faced 11 batters, and got them all out: Boone Logan (3), Rafael Soriano (2), David Robertson (3) and Mariano Rivera (3, for his 32nd save of the season, 591st of his career, 11 short of breaking Trevor Hoffman's all-time record). So Nova was still the winning pitcher (12-4).
As for Danny Duffy, the proverbial "pitcher the Yankees have never seen before," well, maybe that proverb no longer applies. The Yanks pounded him, including a 2-run doubles by Derek Jeter and Russell Martin, and a 3-run homer by Robinson Cano that chased Duffy (3-7) in the 4th.
Yankees 9, Royals 7. So the Yankees have taken another road series, and with a game still to play. This, coupled with the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays splitting a rain-forced doubleheader (Sox took the opener 3-1, Rays the nightcap 6-2), means the Yankees are in first place, half a game ahead of The Scum -- one full game in the AILC, the All-Important Loss Column. There are 42 games left to play for the Yankees, 41 for The Scum.
The Yanks-Royals series concludes tonight, with Bartolo Colon (great comeback story) starting against Bruce Chen (who could use one). Then the Yankees head up Interstate 35 (or, more likely, fly) to Minneapolis to start a 4-game series with the Minnesota Twins. Then it's home to face the Oakland Athletics.
Things are looking up. The bats are working. The pitchers, while not always great, are getting the job done. The defense isn't causing the Yankees to beat themselves.
If the current standings hold to the end of the season, the Playoffs would be:
* AL West Champion Texas Rangers vs. AL East Champion Yankees, a rematch of last season's ALCS -- and this time, the Rangers don't have Cliff Lee.
* AL Wild Card winner Boston Red Sox vs. AL Central Champion Detroit Tigers.
* NL West Champion Arizona Diamondbacks vs. NL East Champion Philadelphia Phillies.
* NL Wild Card winner Atlanta Braves vs. NL Central Champion Milwaukee Brewers -- the current Milwaukee team facing the former one.
Remember, in either League, the Wild Card winner cannot face the Champion of their own Division in the Division Series. But, as we have seen, the Yankees and Red Sox can face each other in the League Championship Series, as can the Phils and Braves (which did happen in 1993, although they were in different Divisions at the time).
Jeter hits 3041 DONE
Rivera saves 591 11
A-Rod homers 626 137
A-Rod hits 2762 238
Magic Number 42 (to eliminate Scum, 33 for Rays, 28 for Jays, a mere 16 for the O's)
Days until Arsenal play again in a competitive match: 3, this Saturday, home to Liverpool, at 12:45 local time -- 7:45 AM our time. I only recognize one 7:45 per day, and that ain't it. But for The Arsenal, I'll make an exception. They beat Italian club Udinese 1-0 in last night's Champions League Qualifier, with the 2nd leg coming in Udine next Wednesday. With injured and suspended players coming back, they shouldn't have much trouble qualifying for the Champions League proper.
Days until the Red Bulls play again: 3. See below.
Days until the Red Bulls play another "derby": 3, this Saturday, at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro. And they next play their CLOSEST rivals, the Philadelphia Union, in their regular season finale, on Thursday night, October 20, at Red Bull Arena.
Days until the next Yankees-Red Sox series begins: 13, on Tuesday night, August 30, at Fenway Park. Under 2 weeks.
Days until Rutgers plays football again: 15, on Thursday, September 1, home to North Carolina Central. Just 2 weeks.
Days until East Brunswick High School plays football again: 23, on Friday night, September 9, at Monroe. Just 3 weeks.
Days until the next North London Derby: 45, on Saturday, October 1, at White Hart Lane. Under 7 weeks.
Days until the Devils play another local rival: 52, on Saturday, October 8, at 7:00 PM, in their season opener, at home, against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Prudential Center. Under 8 weeks. The first game against the New York Islanders is a day-after-Thanksgiving matinee, Friday, November 25, at the Nassau Coliseum. The first game against The Scum isn't until Tuesday night, December 20, at the Prudential.
Days until the Rutgers-Army football game at Yankee Stadium: 87. Under 3 months.
Days until the next East Brunswick-Old Bridge Thanksgiving clash: 99.
Days until the last Nets game in New Jersey: 245, on Wednesday night, April 18, 2012, against the Chicago Bulls, at the Prudential Center. Just 8 months before New Jersey no longer has an NBA team.
Days until the 2012 Olympics begin in London: 345 (July 27). Under 1 year.
Days until Alex Rodriguez collects his 3,000th career hit: 692 (estimated -- adjusted for his current injury). Under 2 years.
Days until Alex Rodriguez hits his 700th career home run: 823 (estimated).
Days until Super Bowl XLVIII at the Meadowlands: 900 (tentatively scheduled for February 2, 2014, although it could end up being moved back a week or 2).
Days until Alex Rodriguez hits his 756th career home run to surpass all-time leader Hank Aaron: 1,434 (estimated).
Days until Alex Rodriguez hits his 763rd career home run to become as close to a "real" all-time leader as we are likely to have: 1,548 (estimated).