May 29, 2007

Yankees Quick Check: Pitching + Run Support + Defense=Win

Tyler Clippard came through for his seasoned, big league teammates Tuesday night against the White Sox. In return, the defense and the offense chipped in to help him out. This Yankees' season could have been scripted by the late, great, Kurt Vonnegut himself, as this cosmically challenged team found itself fraught with a plague of injuries, poor plays, and silent bats in the lineup. If momentum ends with the next day's starter, the Yankees have stumbled every fifth day with a new, unproven arm sent out to the mound to earn his first major-league win and to keep the team from slipping further down the greased pole that is the AL East standings.

Tuesday night's game represented the prototype game which the Yankees need if they are to get back to .500 and then mount some sort of run at either a wild card berth, or, dare I say it, the division title. There's been a lot written about the talent that's on this team and how eventually these players will begin to play better baseball because "they have to, they're too good." It seems so simple after watching them play Tuesday night that all they have to do is pitch well, play solid defense, and hit in the clutch and their problems will fade away the same way as one forgets a dreadful nightmare somewhere after the time they wake up and before they eat breakfast.

The flip side of this is whether or not the fickle finger of fate decides to torment some other team in their division instead of them. One wouldn't want to see anyone get hurt; but, what if the Red Sox began to slide backwards due to injuries to key members of the pitching staff? What if Big Papi, David Ortiz, fell into a "two for forty nine" batting slump? Things can happen. If Kurt Vonnegut can have theoretically written a "Dead Eye Dick" style script for this Yankee team's unexpected and unprecedented run of bad luck, then some other unseen author could craft a tale of a former underdog team, the Red Sox, which found themselves at the top of the division early in the season, only to find themselves in a rapid skid downward by the All Star Break. It can happen, though this writer would rather see the Yankees get by on their merits, than by capitalizing on unfortunate events which ruin other teams.

My point in all of this is that just as no one could have predicted the karmic catastrophe which befell the Yankees this season, the recipe for extricating themselves from this division standings quagmire seems to consist of fundamental baseball, solid pitching, and timely hitting. Mix some bad luck for their division rivals for good measure.

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