November 4, 2009.
Andy Pettitte is pitching in his 11th postseason with the Yankees. If he wins it, it’ll be his 4th of the year.
Pedro Martinez is pitching his 11th postseason game. If he loses, it’ll be his 4th against the Yankees.
If the Yankees win tonight, their postseason record is 11-4.
And it will be their 114th win of 2009.
The only people who should be worried right now are Phillies fans.
I hope all the people who lamented before Game 5 that they really wanted to win at home, are happy now. You got your wish. We’re here. Instead of being at a parade right now, I’m wringing my hands at my desk, popping Excedrin like they’re peanut M&M’s.
Seven more hours remain until Game 6 of the World Series between the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies is played. Another 11 hours (give or take) before we know whether we’re spending Thursday shrouded in fits of burgeoning hysteria or in a contented hangover.
Pettitte goes on short rest against a well-rested Pedro.
His numbers on short rest:
4-6, 4.15 ERA, 86.2 IP, 86 H, 38 BB, 69 K, 1.43 WHIP
Not that great, admittedly. But who but Andy would you want on the mound tonight? A guy who’s got 17 postseason wins to his name? 5 that have ended series. In this series, he’s 3-0 with a 3.24 ERA in 4 starts.
After the Yanks lost Game 5, my sister and I did the postmortem together and assessed our chances for the following games.
“The biggest difference between the Phils and Yanks right now is that the Phils have to play with a Game 7 in mind. Because that’s the only way they win. They kept Cliff Lee in for a 112 pitches, and now he’s gone if it goes to 7. The Yanks can play like there’s no tomorrow. Because if they do, they’re right.”
Throughout the season, I said that the Yanks were doing as well as they were because they weren’t playing the proverbial cliched 110%.
(Not that I even know what this means. How can you play more than 100%? It’s like people saying, “On a scale of 1 to 10, it’s an 11.” There is no 11 on a scale of 1 to 10. Blech.)
Regardless, the point is that so many games this year ended in walkoffs (15 in the regular season), that the argument could be made that, while exciting, the Yanks had a way of just putting in that little extra to best their opponents.
Sure, the blowouts were there, the hit parades, the home run derbies. But there were games against some of the worst teams in the league that ended in dramatic 1-run victories. Games that the Yanks were expected to offensively dominate.
But they don’t need to. You don’t need to topple the competition. You just need to be better. Whether you’re 11 runs better or 1 run better is immaterial.
It’s easy to look at teams hemorrhaging hits and going on streaks where they score 40 runs in a week, and say that they’re the hot club. They’re the ones who are going to be insurmountable. But it’s deceptive.
This is not to say that the Yanks were deliberately trying to pace themselves. But it is to say that they effectively DID.
Not anymore, though. With 1 or 2 games left in the 2009 baseball season, the Yanks are playing with house money and can go all in.
“Have you ever seen Gattaca?” my sister asked, during our somber Game 5 recap.
“Um. Oh. Yeah. With Halle Berry?”
“Huh? No..you’re thinking of Gothika. Wait, you’ve seen Gothika?”
“Then why did you say–ok, nevermind, the point is, there’s this part in the movie where these 2 guys, who always have these swimming competitions with each other, are like treading water in the middle of the ocean, and one guy says, ‘How did you do it? How do always, always beat me?’ and the other guy says, ‘You know how I did it? I never saved anything for the way back.'”
The Yankees don’t need Game 7. The 2009 baseball season ends tonight.
Put everything in. Andy Pettitte with short rest. Pedro Martinez with long-history. A Yankee line-up whose made a living just-besting their postseason opponents. A fanbase that’s teetered on nerves, anxiety, but always hope.
A team that’s been waiting for this for 9 years.
You’ve taken the field. Now take their spirits.
Never save anything for the swim back.
Because it ends tonight.