Monday, September 24, 2012

Ten Games to Go

After 2 straight fantastic extra-inning wins over the Oakland Athletics -- a team with a pretty good shot at one of the American League's Wild Cards -- surely the Yankees could pull off another comeback yesterday, could they?

"No, Mike, they couldn't. And don't call me 'Shirley.'"

Hiroki Kuroda did not have his best stuff yesterday, and the A's led 3-0 after 2 innings. In the bottom of the 4th, Robinson Cano singled with 1 out, and Nick Swisher hit his 22nd home run of the season. Curtis Granderson and Russell Martin singled, and Raul Ibanez -- remember, he's 40 -- came through again, with a double that scored Grandy.  Eduardo Nunez brought Martin home with a groundout. That made it 4-3 Yankees.

But the A's tied it in the 5th, and took a 5-4 lead in the 6th. That was the final score.

The Yankees stranded:

* Derek Jeter with a leadoff walk in the 1st.

* Jeter again on 1st in the 3rd.

* Ichiro Suzuki on 2nd and Robinson Cano on 1st in the 5th.

* Ibanez on 2nd and Jeter again on 1st in the 6th.

* Swisher on 1st in the 7th.

* And Curtis Dickerson on 2nd with 1 out (following his pinch-run for a leadoff-walking Martin) in the 8th.

WP: Jerry Blevins (5-1 -- that's Jerry Blevins, not Jerry Blavat, the Philadelphia disc jockey known as "The Geator with the Heater," making him, more or less, Philly's Cousin Brucie). SV: Grant Balfour (20). LP: Kuroda (14-11).

Finally, though, the Baltimore Orioles lost, to the Boston Red Sox.


So, with 10 games left in the regular season, the Yankees are 88-64, 1 game ahead of the Orioles. The Tampa Bay Rays, theoretically, are still in it, but they're 5 1/2 back, 6 in the loss column, and they've got only 9 games to go. Their best bet is for one of the Wild Card spots. The Yankees' Magic Number to clinch the AL East is 10.

True, we could be in much better shape, but I'd rather be a game up with 10 to play than a game down regardless of how many are left to play.

In the AL Central, the Chicago White Sox lead the Detroit Tigers by 1 game. The Pale Hose's Magic Number is 10.

In the AL West, the Texas Rangers lead the A's by 4. Their Magic Number is 7.

In the NL East, the Washington Nationals have clinched a Playoff berth, and their Magic Number to win the Division is 6, as they lead the Atlanta Braves by 4 1/2.

In the NL Central, the Cincinnati Reds have already clinched. They have 92 wins, tied with the Nats for the best record in baseball.

In the NL West, the San Francisco Giants have clinched.

For the Wild Cards: In the AL, the O's and A's lead, with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 2 1/2 games behind the A's, the Rays 3 1/2 back, and the Tigers 6 back, with all other teams eliminated; in the NL, the Braves and St. Louis Cardinals lead, with the Milwaukee Brewers 2 1/2 behind the Cards, the Los Angeles Dodgers 3 back, the Arizona Diamondbacks 4 1/2 back, the surging Philadelphia Phillies 5 back, the collapsing Pittsburgh Pirates 6 1/2 back, and the San Diego Padres 9 back, with all other NL teams eliminated.

If the current standings hold to the end of the season, the A's would visit the Orioles for the Wild Card game; if the A's win, they would face the Yankees in the Division Series (since they, as Number 4 seed, can't play Texas, the Number 1 seed, in the ALDS because they're in the same Division), and the White Sox would play the Rangers; if the O's beat the A's, the O's would play the Rangers, and the Yankees would play the White Sox.  Either way, the Yankees would have home-field advantage in the ALDS; but, being 2 games behind the Rangers for best overall record, the Rangers would have to lose their ALDS for the Yankees to have HFA in the AL Championship Series.


The Yankees are now starting a series in Minnesota against the Twins:

* Tonight, Andy Pettitte starts against Liam Hendricks.

* Tomorrow night, Phil Hughes against Esmerling Vazquez.

* Wednesday afternoon, CC Sabathia against Samuel Deduno.

Then they go off to Toronto to face those pesky Blue Jays. No further starting pitchers are listed, but based on the rotation thus far, presuming no further injuries, and presuming Girardi doesn't see anything in that damn binder of his that makes him change his rotation... and also presuming that you don't much care who the opposing Toronto and Boston pitchers are...

* Thursday night: Ivan Nova -- although with the way he started on Saturday, we may not be sure of that.

* Friday night: Kuroda.

* Saturday afternoon: Pettitte.

* Sunday afternoon: Hughes.

Closing the season at home, against Boston:

* Monday night: Sabathia.

* Tuesday night: Nova.

* Wednesday night: Kuroda.

If the Yankees have to play the Wild Card play-in game, Hughes would probably be the choice, as it wouldn't be the next day, Thursday, so Friday would give him 4 days' rest. If they don't have to play it, Hughes may throw anyway, since it would be "his day," to keep him fresh.

The dates for the Division Series are not yet set, but the Yankees, if they don't have to play the Wild Card play-in game, could probably set up their Division Series rotation as follows:

Game 1: Sabathia.

Game 2: Kuroda.

Game 3: Hughes.

Game 4 (if necessary): Pettitte.

Game 5 (if necessary): Hughes.


Days until Arsenal play another competitive match: 2, this Wednesday, home to 3rd-division side Coventry City in the Capital One Cup, the new name for the Football League Cup. (It had been the Carling Cup since the 2003-04 season.) Then, this Saturday, home to fellow London club Chelsea, the defending European Champions League winners. Yesterday, Arsenal nicked a late goal to forge a draw away to the defending Premier League Champions, Manchester City. If Arsenal can beat Chelsea, it will be a good sign that a title run can be made.

Days until East Brunswick High School plays football again: 4, this Friday night at 7:00, home to Monroe. After losing their 1st 2 games 34-0 to South Brunswick and 41-0 to Sayreville, EB went to North Brunswick last Friday and won, 14-0 -- at least, according to the Home News Tribune. Note to self: Have glasses checked.

Days until the Red Bulls play again: 5, this Saturday night, home to Toronto FC. This past Saturday night, they went up to Foxboro, Massachusetts, to play their real rivals, the New England Revolution. In spite of a bogus sending-off of Connor Lade, the game was scoreless after 90 minutes. Then injury time (or stoppage time) began, and, in the 91st, Joel Lindpere scored to give Metro a stunning victory -- or so it appeared. This was Gillette Stadium, where strange things always seem to happen to the Red Bulls, and the ref still hadn't blown his whistle in the 95th minute, and Darrius Barnes picks a fine time to score his first goal of the season. 1-1. Bogus as hell. The Red Bulls are now 3rd in the MLS Eastern Conference.

Days until the next Yankees-Red Sox series begins: 7, a week from tonight, at Yankee Stadium II.

Days until Rutgers plays football again: 12, a week from this Saturday, home to Connecticut, time still TBA. RU shocked Arkansas in Fayetteville in front of 72,000 last Saturday night, 35-26. (I don't know if that's the biggest crowd Rutgers has ever won in front of. I know they've played in front of bigger crowds at Penn State, Notre Dame and Texas, and lost.) They are now 4-0 in the Kyle Flood era. Greg who?

Days until the Devils play again: 18, opening the season on Friday night, October 12, away to the Washington Capitals. If, that is, the lockout is resolved soon and the schedule doesn't have to be rewritten. But it looks like this is going to take a while. The home opener would be the next night, against the Boston Bruins.

Days until the U.S. National Soccer Team plays again: 18, away to Antigua & Barbuda (yes, that's one country), in a CONCACAF World Cup Qualifier. (That's the region that encompasses North America, Central America, and the Caribbean nations.) Then, the following Tuesday, we play Guatemala at Livestrong Park in Kansas City, Kansas, home of Sporting Kansas City.

Days until the Devils play another local rival (again, presuming the lockout is settled without the schedule getting rearranged): 23, on Wednesday night, October 17, the 3rd game of the season, the 2nd home game, at the Prudential Center, against the Rangers, the 1st meeting between the teams since Adam Henrique put The Scum in their place. The 1st meeting with the Philadelphia Flyers will be on Thursday night, November 1. I'd say the game will be at the Wells Fargo Center in Philly, but that's dependent on the arena's name not being changed... again. The 1st meeting with the New York Islanders will be on Saturday night, November 17, at the Nassau Coliseum. Barring a big change, there will be only 3 seasons left at the Coliseum -- and possibly only 18 more Devils-Islanders games, unless the Isles build a new arena, move to the Barclays Center, or somehow make the Playoffs in the next 3 seasons.

Days until the Red Bulls next play a "derby": 33, against the Philadelphia Union at PPL Park in Chester, Pennsylvania, on Saturday afternoon, October 27, in the regular-season finale.

Days until the 1st Nets game in Brooklyn: 38, on Thursday, November 1, against the now actually crosstown Knicks. A little over 5 weeks.

Days until the 2012 Presidential election: 43. Just 6 weeks. Register to vote... and on November 6, vote!

Days until the next North London Derby: 54, on Saturday, November 17, at the Emirates Stadium. Under 8 weeks. The return fixture will be on Saturday, March 2, 2013, at White Hart Lane.

Days until the next East Brunswick-Old Bridge Thanksgiving clash: 59. Under 2 months until our annual Turkey Day beatdown by the Purple Bastards.

Days until Alex Rodriguez collects his 3,000th career hit: 342 (estimated around September 1, 2013). This is taking his recent injury into account. Under 1 year.

Days until Super Bowl XLVIII at the Meadowlands: 496 (February 2, 2014). Under 17 months.

Days until the 2014 Winter Olympics: 501 (February 7, 2014).

Days until the 2014 World Cup in Brazil: 62(June 12, 2014). Under 22 months.

Days until Alex Rodriguez hits his 700th career home run: 721 (estimated, around September 15, 2014). Under 2 years.

Days until the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: 1,411 (August 5, 2016). Under 4 years.

Days until Alex Rodriguez hits his 756th career home run to surpass all-time leader Hank Aaron: 1,467 (estimated -- I'm guessing around the end of 2016, around September 30).

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: 1,679 (estimated -- estimating 28 home runs a year, taking his recent injury into account, I'm guessing around April 30, 2017, at age 41). Under 4 1/2 years -- if he can.

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