Thursday, September 5, 2013

White Sox Swept, Bring On the Red Ones

It wasn't easy, but the Yankees completed the 3-game sweep of the Chicago White Sox last night.

CC Sabathia appears to have shaken out of his funk: After allowin a run in the 1st inning, he cruised into the 8th, then tired. David Robertson almost blew it, and Mariano Rivera had to come in and get a 4-out save against a team that's been terrible most of the season.

Fortunately, the Yankees got the runs they needed. Robinson Cano hit his 26th home run of the season in the 1st, and the Yankees picked up 4 runs in the 4th. There was no way of knowing that the single run they got in the 7th would make the difference, but it did.

Yankees 6, White Sox 5. WP: Sabathia (13-11). SV: Rivera (41). LP: Erik Johnson (0-1). Johnson thus lost his major league debut, although of the 5 runs he allowed in 6 innings, only 3 were earned. He'll turn 24 in December, so he might have a good future ahead of him. Regardless, the Yankees won't have to face him again until at least next April, and they can be confident that they know how to hit him.

(UPDATE: Johnson was traded to the San Diego Padres in 2016, missed the entire 2017 season after Tommy John surgery, played the 2018 season in Class AA, and his contract ran out. If he never pitches another major league game, he will end his career with a record of 7-10.)


There are 23 regular-season games remaining for the Yankees. They are 8 games behind the Red Sox, 7 in the loss column. Their elimination number for the AL East is 15: Any number of Yankee losses and Scum wins adding up to 15, and the Yankees can't win the Division. But the Yankees are only 2 1/2 games out of the 2nd AL Wild Card slot, though 3 in the loss column behind the Tampa Bay Rays, who've won their last 2 after dropping 7 out of 8 to drop them out of the virtual tie they had with Boston for the top.

If the current standings hold to the end of the season, here's the Playoff picture, with the team having home-field advantage in the series listed last:

AL Wild Card game: Tampa Bay at Texas. Winner faces AL East winner Boston.
AL West winner Oakland at AL Central winner Detroit.
NL Wild Card game: Cincinnati at St. Louis. Winner faces NL East winner Atlanta.
NL Central winner Pittsburgh at NL West winner Los Angeles.

If the Pirates win the Central, it will be their 1st Division title, or even Playoff berth, since taking the NL East 3 straight times in 1990, '91 and '92. Indeed, 1 more win, and they clinch their 1st over-.500 season since that year when George Bush was President... the father, not the son.

Pittsburgh hasn't won a Pennant since 1979, Los Angeles since 1988, Oakland and Cincinnati since 1990, Atlanta since 1999. Boston, Tampa Bay, Texas, St. Louis and Detroit have all won at least 1 Pennant since 2007.

Texas and Tampa Bay have never won a World Series, Pittsburgh not since 1979, Detroit since 1984, Los Angeles since 1988, Oakland since 1989, Cincinnati since 1990, Atlanta since 1995. Boston * and St. Louis have both won one since 2007.


And now, the Red Sox come to town for 4 games. Here are the pitching matchups:

Tonight: Ivan Nova (8-4) vs. former San Diego Padres ace Jake Peavy (11-5).
Tomorrow night: Andy Pettitte (10-9) vs. Felix Doubront (10-6).
Saturday afternoon: David Huff (2-0) vs. John Lackey (8-12).
Sunday afternoon: Hiroki Kuroda (11-10) vs. Jon Lester (13-8).

Tonight's game and tomorrow's are 7:05 starts. Oddly, the next 2 games are both 1:05 starts: The Saturday game won't be on Fox at 4:00, and the Sunday game won't be on ESPN at 8:00.  How long has it been since a Yanks-Sox weekend series had neither a Fox Saturday game nor an ESPN Sunday game?

I don't care. Come on you Bombers! Beat The Scum! Let's bring the AL East title back to where it's up for grabs now!


Hours until the next Yankees-Red Sox series begins: 9. The last regular-season series between the teams, at least for this season, begins at Fenway Park a week from tomorrow. Oh yeah, if you're a Red Sox fan, that's a day you want to play the Yankees: Friday the 13th!

Hours until the U.S. National Soccer Team plays again: 36, tomorrow night, away to Costa Rica, in a CONCACAF World Cup Qualifier. A win virtually assures that the U.S. advances to the 2014 World Cup, but "the Ticos" are no pushovers at home.

Hours until Rutgers plays football again: 50, this Saturday afternoon, their home opener against Norfolk State. This should allow them to bounce back from a bad season opener. They were on the road, against Fresno State, but blew a 2-touchdown 2nd quarter lead and a 7-point last-minute lead, and lost in overtime, 52-51.

Days until the Red Bulls play again: 3, this Sunday afternoon, away to the Houston Dynamo. In their last game, they beat the hated D.C. United 2-1 on a goal by Tim Cahill, but Cahill was then injured, and could be out for the rest of the regular season and even, if the Red Bulls make it (and they still should), at least the start of the MLS Playoffs.

Days until East Brunswick High School plays football again: 7, a week from tonight, on September 12 -- on a Thursday due to Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, falling on a weekend. It's away to South Brunswick. Just 6 weeks. It will be the first game they play without Marcus Borden as head coach since Thanksgiving Day 1982 (a loss to Colonia High of Woodbridge), as he has left the program. (Did he jump, or was he pushed? I don't know.) A new coach has been named: Bob Molarz, who turned nearby Carteret High School, which couldn't buy a win while I was at EBHS, into a team that made the Playoffs 9 seasons in a row and won 3 Central Jersey Group II Championships. He comes to us from the head job at one of our rivals, St. Joseph's of Metuchen, where he coached their first 2 seasons of varsity ball. A great hire.

Days until Arsenal play another competitive match: 9, a week from this Saturday, away to North-East club Sunderland. This week is an international break or "Interlull."

Days until the Devils play again: 28, with the 2013-14 NHL season opener being on Thursday night, October 3, away to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Just 4 weeks.

Days until the Devils play another local rival: 29, with the home opener being the night after the season opener, against the New York Islanders. The first game of the season against the New York Rangers (The Scum, hockey edition) will be on Saturday, October 19, at the Prudential Center. The first against the Philadelphia Flyers (The Philth) will be on Saturday, November 2, also at home.

Days until the Red Bulls next play a "derby": 30, home to the Boston area's New England Revolution on Saturday, October 5. That's the last derby of the regular season.

Days until the next East Brunswick-Old Bridge Thanksgiving clash: 84 (November 28). Just 12 weeks.

Days until the Devils play the Rangers at Yankee Stadium: 143 (January 26, 2014). Under 5 months.
Days until Super Bowl XLVIII at the Meadowlands: 150 (February 2, 2014). Of course, we have no idea who the opposing teams will be. The possibility exists that either the Giants or the Jets could be in it -- or both. To this day, no team has ever played a Super Bowl in its own stadium -- in spite of multiple hostings by Miami, New Orleans and various California teams. Only 2 have done so in their home metro area: The 1979-80 Los Angeles Rams, whose home field was then the L.A. Coliseum, and they lost to Pittsburgh at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena; and the 1984-85 San Francisco 49ers, whose home field, then as now, was Candlestick Park, and they beat Miami at Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, which had a much larger capacity than Candlestick.
Days until the next Winter Olympics, in Sochi, Russia: 155 (February 7, 2014).
Days until the next North London Derby: 191, currently scheduled for White Hart Lane on Saturday, March 15, although due to the nature of the Arsenal-Tottenham rivalry it could be moved to the next day, Sunday, for maximum TV ratings. (It could also be moved from its usual 3:00 PM local time kickoff to an earlier or later one. But it will almost certainly be moved, anywhere from 3 hours up to 25 hours back.) This past Sunday, at the Emirates Stadium, a.k.a. New Highbury, Arsenal ground out a classic "One-nil to The Arsenal" win over The Scum (soccer edition). Spurs spent over £110 million on new players, after selling superstar Gareth Bale to Real Madrid for a world record £84 million -- only for Arsenal, who hadn't yet spent a penny in the summer transfer window and were depleted due to a bunch of injuries, to totally shut down those new signings, and then go out and spend £42 million to buy Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid. So now Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger looks like a genius, Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas and owner Daniel Levy look like idiots, Tottenham's finances are still a mess, and Madrid, as they so often due, exchanged a superstar for a superstar. And the alleged "power shift in North London" has still not happened. And now, Tottenham have to "Beware the Ides of March."

Days until the next World Cup, in Brazil: 280 (June 12, 2014). A little over 9 months.
Days until Rutgers' 1st Big Ten Conference football game: 373, on Saturday, September 13, 2014 -- at home, against our most hated rival, now a league rival for the very first time: Penn State.  Yes, even before the 2013 college football season begins, the 2014 Big 10 sked has been released. I guess that's the difference between the Big East and a real college football league. Anyway, it's just a shade over a full year.

Days until the next Summer Olympics, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: 1,065 (August 5, 2016). Under 3 years.

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