What better way to remedy one of the sloppiest games of the season than with a double header where the games were started by CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett?
Perhaps it’s a microcosm of how this season has gone for the Yankees, but both Sabathia and Burnett turned in stellar outings–though Burnett struggled a bit in the first inning of the second game and had an elevated pitch count.
This was a doubleheader that certainly mattered a lot more to the Rays–who were nominally fighting for their playoff lives–than the Yankees, who are fighting for home field advantage, but you wouldn’t have known that from the way it was played.
In the first game, the Yankees remained deadlocked at 1-1 in a pitchers’ duel until the Yankees scored three runs–two on sacrifice flies–in the eighth. Mariano Rivera did the rest.
In the second game, the Yankees scored eight runs in the third inning, and never looked back. By the end of the game, almost every member of the so-called “A” line-up was sitting on the bench, watching and enjoying the game’s conclusion. The best part? AJ Burnett notching his first win since late July. Wins are horrible indicators of pitching performance, we know, but they’re still counted.
The game took on, as one Twitterer put it, a spring training feel, just lazy baseball with no one paying too much attention. The Yankees haven’t clinched anything yet, so the games are still meaningful, but when the Yankees have a chance to rest guys down the stretch, they will.
Of course, the elephant in the room would be Derek Jeter’s quest to break Lou Gehrig’s record for hits as a Yankee, but as luck would have it, Jeter was held hitless in both games. Jeter did have an RBI on a fielder’s choice and a walk in the second game, but the quest to unseat Lou will have to wait at least one more night.
Still, if you ask Jeter if he’d rather have the hits or the doubleheader sweep, it is, if you’ve watched Jeter at all during the entirety of his career, a pretty easy question to answer.
The magic number is now 16–any combination of Red Sox losses and Yankees victories would give them a postseason berth.
They are 39 games over .500–and I can’t remember the last time a team was this good.
At 89 wins, the team now has matched their win total for all of last year, and there are still over 20 games left to play. If the Yankees just win 11 of those games–that is, go under .500 the rest of the season–they’ll still win 100 games.
If they win 15 more games of the 23 they have left–which they are roughly on pace to do, they would win 104 games on the year–easily the best season since 1998.
Also worth noting: Larry Mahnken of Replacement Level fame mentioned to me that the Yankees are now getting above league-average production at every position.
This is a special team we’re watching.