Apparently I wasn’t the only one who watched the Yankees’ hideous 10-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays last night feeling that the Bombers had just bombed in their most important game of the season.
There is Filip Bondy, for instance, in today’s Daily News: “This was a very big game…C.C. Sabathia fell apart in the sixth, lost his radar. Then it got so embarrassing, so silly for the Yanks, that Javier Vasquez hit three batters in a row, and umpire Andy Fletcher didn’t even bother to warn him because it was obvious that pure incompetence was in play, not malice.”
(In his Pinstripe Bible blog, by the way, Stephen Goldman looks back at other recent pitchers who have hit three batters in an inning. Seems that two of them were knuckleballers and one did it on purpose.)
Has there ever been less optimism about a Yankee team that was half a game in front of the division with just nine games left to go? The Yanks are 6-11 over their last 17 games, hitting .237 over that period. As of right now, with Sabathia picking last night for his worst start of the season, the Yankees have no ace in the starting rotation — it’s up to Andy Pettitte to establish himself in that role tonight against the Red Sox.
And with Joba Chamberlain and Javier Vasquez officially having earned pink slips after the season, who can the Yankees trust in the bullpen?
Back on August 2, I wrote about how bewildered I was that Joe Girardi did not take the final game of that Tampa Bay series seriously enough to put his best lineup on the field; a flurry of stories in the New York press argued that it didn’t matter much because, after all, what difference did it make whether the Yankees won the division or the wild card?
Now, it appears that it makes a great deal of difference. With the remaining schedule favoring the Rays, it looks as if the Yankees will have to play the Minnesota Twins in the first round of the playoffs. Minnesota currently has not only the best record in the league (92-60, ,605) but the best home field record (52-25) as well.
What would the difference be in a series with the Twins in the Bronx vs. one in Minnesota? The Yankees are 51-27 at home, and the Twins are 40-35 on the road. It looks to me pretty much like the difference between winning and losing a series.
At what point will the Yankees’ September swoon be compared to the Mets’ collapses in 2007 and 2008? By Monday, we may know…