Thursday, September 27, 2012

CC You In September -- And October

The race is coming down to the wire.  Yesterday afternoon, against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field in Minneapolis, the Yankees needed a good start from CC Sabathia and some hitting.

We got both.  The Big Fella went 8 innings, allowing 2 runs on 6 hits and just 1 walk, striking out 10.  And we gave him the support he needed -- and it was not at all clear that this would happen, as the Twins led 1-0 after 2.  Then came the top of the 3rd.

With 1 out, Chris Dickerson and Ichiro Suzuki singled, and Derek Jeter walked to load the basees.  Robinson Cano doubled home Dickerson and Ichiro.  Nick Swisher singled home Jeter.  Curtis Granderson cleared the bases with a triple.  Brian Duensing, who had replaced Twins starter Samuel Deduno (who left due to injury in the previous inning), uncorked a wild pitch, scoring Granderson.  6-1.

(Nothing but bottles of wine, including champagne, and wild pitches ever gets "uncorked." I'm still not sure how that term came to be used to describe throwing a wild pitch.)

Dickerson added a 2-run homer in the 6th, his 2nd round-tripper of the season.  CC slipped a little in the 7th, to forge the final score, before Cody Eppley closed it out in the 9th -- an inning that featured, if only as a defensive replacement, the return of Brett Gardner at long last, for the first time since April 17.

Yankees 8, Twins 2.  WP: Sabathia (14-6).  No save situation.  LP: Duensing (4-11).

The Yanks take 2 out of 3 from the Twins.  The Baltimore Orioles beat the Toronto Blue Jays last night, to keep pace.  The O's still trail the Yankees by a game and a half, by 2 games in the All-Important Loss Column.  The Yankees' Magic Number to clinch the AL East is 6.  They are also just 1 game behind the Texas Rangers for best record in the AL, and thus home-field advantage through both rounds of AL Playoffs.

The Detroit Tigers now lead the Chicago White Sox by a game in the AL Central.  The Tigers' MN is 7.  The Rangers' MN to clinch the AL West over the Oakland Athletics remains 5.  The Washington Nationals' MN to eliminate the Atlanta Braves and clinch the NL East is 4.  The Cincinnati Reds have clinched the NL Central, and the San Francisco Giants have clinched the NL West.

In the Wild Card races, the O's and A's still lead in the AL.  The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim trail the A's by 2, the Tampa Bay Rays by 3, and the White Sox by 6.  The Braves have clinched 1 NL Wild Card, and the St. Louis Cardinals lead for the other.  The Los Angeles Dodgers and the Milwaukee Brewers are both 3 1/2 games back, the Philadelphia Phillies and the Arizona Diamondbacks are 5 1/2 back.

Last night, the Mets beat the Pittsburgh Pirates, 6-0, and eliminated the Pirates, who made a serious run at a Playoff berth for the first time in 20 years.  Time for a "How Long It's Been," I think.

Also in that game, David Wright collected the 1,419th hit of his career, surpassing Ed Kranepool to become the Mets' all-time leader.  He also got his 1,420th.

To put that in perspective: He could have twice as many hits, 2,840 -- and still have 456 fewer hits than the Yankees' all-time leader, Derek Jeter.

Tonight, the Yankees start a 4-game series in Toronto against those pesky Blue Jays.  Here are the projected starters:

Tonight, 7:07 PM: Ivan Nova vs. Brandon Morrow.  I'm confident.

Tomorrow, 7:07 PM: Hiroki Kuroda vs. Chad Jenkins -- the proverbial kid pitcher that the Yankees have never seen before.  Trap game? I don't think so: His last start was his first in the majors, and he was limited to 64 pitches.  I think we're going to unload on him.

Saturday, 1:07 PM: Andy Pettitte vs. a Toronto starter yet to be named.  I'm confident in this one, too.

Sunday, 1:07 PM: Phil Hughes vs. Henderson Alvarez.  Hughes has been up and down all season; if the Jays can win only 1 game in this series, this will probably be it.

That will close out the Toronto series, and the month of September.  October 1, 2 & 3 is the final regular-season series.  It's the Yankees hosting the Boston Red Sox, and whoever would have thought this series would only matter for one team?

All starts are scheduled for 7:05 PM.  No starters have been announced, but, based on who's been starting when, we can guess the following with some certainty:

Monday: Sabathia vs. Clay Buchholz.

Tuesday: Nova vs. Jon Lester.

Wednesday: Kuroda vs. Aaron Cook.

The Orioles have today off.  Tomorrow, they host the Red Sox for 3, before going to Tampa Bay for their last 3.

With a Magic Number of 6, theoretically, the Yankees can clinch in Toronto.  If we sweep, and the O's drop 2 out of 3, we clinch on Sunday.  If we take 3 out of 4, and the O's get swept, we clinch on Sunday.

Most likely, though, we will clinch the AL East against the Red Sox -- which would be sweet, regardless of where The Scum are in the standings.

Bring it on.

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