Monday, September 8, 2008

Yankees Defeat Red Sox to Advance in the Playoffs

New York fans everywhere wish the title of this post pertained to the pinstriped debacle that play in the Bronx. While the title of the post is true and accurate, it pertains to last night's AAA playoff game between the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees and the Pawtucket Red Sox. The game was scoreless in the bottom of the 10th inning when Sandy Duncan hit a 2 run walk-off home run to win the game, and the series.

Why is this important here? Two reasons. First, I just hate to miss an opportunity to tease Yankee fans. The news of their major league franchise is not good. The title of the lead article on the Yankee's web site says "Mussina, Yanks endure setback in playoff hunt". Excuse me? A "setback"? They have just lost 2 out of 3 games to the (get this) Seattle Mariners! With the Blue Jays going on a tear and winning 8 straight games, the Yankees are now in 4th place in the AL East and 4th place in the Wild Card. I am afraid there is no playoff hunt for the Yankees this year, therefore, there is really no setback.

Now, where was I? Oh, yes, the real reason the AAA playoff game mentioned above is of interest is that the starter for Pawtucket last night was Bartolo Colon. How did he do, you ask? Well, he simply pitched 7 2/3 shutout innings, only needing to throw 84 pitches, struck out 3, allowed only 2 hits and walked nobody. Hmm, I think he's ready. The tentative plan calls for Colon to pitch one of the double header games this Saturday against Toronto. Beyond that, I'm not sure what the Sox will do with him. My guess is they'll try to give most starters an extra day of rest leading up to the playoffs, and will use Colon to help make that happen. If he's hot, he could sneak in to the playoff roster, we'll see.

And speaking of Toronto, their 8 game winning streak included a 3 game sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays. Toronto is truly doing everything they can to help the Sox. Can we call them our "wing men" (get it - Blue Jays, wings?)? This is the Ray's very first taste of the September playoff hunt, and many people have been wondering how they'd hold up. They were terrific in August, and steady all year, but in September they are now 1-5, and find themselves clinging to a 1 1/2 game lead over the Red Sox. And, they kick off a 3 game series tonight in Boston, where they have lost six straight times this season. Yes, their back are against the wall. Time to fight, or take a step back.

Paul ByrdThe Red Sox, in contrast, are 5-1 in September, and are doing what a playoff contender needs to do. They are winning. Last night's 7-2 victory over the Texas Rangers was their 6th straight series win. That's how you enter the playoff hunt. Paul Byrd has turned out to be a very nice pickup by Theo Epstein. Byrd now has earned 4 straight wins for the Red Sox and has simply been steady and reliable. Big Papi and Jason Bay both provided home runs, and the Sox had an all-around solid night.

Coco Crisp has been getting hot, and if he keeps it up, he'll get more playing time this post-season that he did last year. But, Coco has to remember that Manny Ramirez is no longer in left field. In the 6th inning last night, Joaquin Arias sent a soft line drive to shallow left center field. Both Crisp and Jason Bay took off in hot pursuit. With Manny in left, Coco know he is the only chance the Sox have of getting that out, and that is how he went after that ball. However, Bay actually had a better angle, and a good jump. They both arrived at the same time, and nearly collided, Jason making the catch and tumbling safely away. The look on Crisp's face said, "where'd he come from - oh yeah, that ain't Manny out there any more".

Jason BaySo, tune in tonight when Jon Lester sets the tone for the main event. With the Rays sending Edwin Jackson to the mound, I like the Sox' chances in this one. Tomorrow, Scott Kazmir faces off against Daisuke Matsuzaka. That is a tough match-up, one I'll be watching in person (weather permitting). Then, the two teams wrap it up with Josh Beckett against Andy Sonnanstine. Lester, Dice-K, and Beckett? Well, you can't ask for more than that. This is the time to grab a piece of the lead!

(Photos Courtesy of ESPN)


Suldog said...

I read that headline, and I thought, "Is Rooster off his nut? What the hell is this about?"

The boys are looking better and better. Then again, it IS Texas they've been playing. We'll see the real goods tonight.

(I sure hope it's good. Anyone pinning their hopes for the fall and winter on the Pats sure had a huge bummer yesterday.)

Rooster said...

LOL - I figured the headline would make people do a double take. It is perfectly true, within the context of the AAA playoffs.

The great thing about the Sox is that their depth continues to contribute. They don't need to rely on just the starting 9. And, getting hot is September is perfect!

I hated seeing Brady go down. Real bummer there!

Peter N said...

The headline intrigued me too. But watch what you wish for. The Jays have been our "friends" recently, but we still have 7 (gulp!) games with them. And with Burnett and Halladay, who might pitch on 3 days rest against the Sox on Sunday, they're the toughest team who will NOT make the playoffs. In ALL of baseball. Nice post again, Rooster! Lester was amazing...I hope Daisuke has his control button on tonight. First place smells sweet.

Peter N said...

I added yur blog in my "follow" list, even though I really don't know exactly how it works. Hello to Sul!!

Rooster said...

Peter - it is fun to see the Blue Jays beating all the teams we need them to beat. I just hope they get all their wins out of the way and are ready for a small losing streak by the time we play them. Then they would truly be our friends.

I'm going to the game tonight, hoping to see a win! Dice-K has a touch opponent.

I'll have to check out the "follow list". I saw on the dashboard that I now have a follower. Thanks! Once I figure it out, I'll add oyu too.