Sunday, May 20, 2007
10.5 games and counting
When I wake up tomorrow morning and check out the standings in the Boston Globe, my beloved Boston Red Sox will be 10.5 games up on Baltimore, 10.5 up on the Yankees, 11 games ahead of Toronto and 12 games in front of Tampa Bay. It will be May 21 and tomorrow night's game at Yankee Stadium (the start of a three game set) will be the 44th of the Sox' season. It's way too early to start popping the champagne and thinking about playoff matchups but I for one can't help but feel a little strange about how things are going.
The Sox took 2 of 3 from the Braves this weekend-the first interleague action of the year-while the Mets (thanks Bee Rock) won 2 of 3 against the Yanks. Baltimore and Tampa Bay as usual look like also-rans rather than contenders while the Blue Jays and Yankees are enduring an almost comical string of injuries to assorted players. A three game set with the Yankees in the end of May usually doesn't mean all too much but in this case I think it's time to kick 'em while they're down. We all know the Yankees aren't as good right now as they most likely will be in the coming weeks and months. Sweeping this series would put the Yankees 13.5 games back. That's fun to write, let alone dream about. 2 out of 3 would make them 12.5 back before Memorial Day. A little history lesson: the '78 Sox were up 14 games on the Yankees and somehow managed to choke (Bucky Dent) and lose the division to the Yanks (pre-Wild Card). Fast forward to 2007 and you'll find two different teams: the Sox are the front-runners this time as well but they're not the overachievers. This Sox team is stacked. Great starting pitching, very solid lineup and good bullpen. The 2007 Yankees are looking older by the day, unless you're focusing on their revolving door set of local little league pitchers that get to dress up as big leaguers and get knocked around for a few starts.
I know what you're going to say. Yes, Clemens is coming back. But as discussed before (scroll down), he probably won't make that much of a difference to this old and flawed team. And yes, the Sox will undoubtedly endure some injuries because this is baseball. Josh Beckett just went on the DL earlier this week with another tear on his right middle finger (the 7th time in his career that he's been on the DL for hand ailments). The Sox started two AAA pitchers on Saturday and Sunday and split the games. Hopefully Beckett will be back soon and everything will be hunky dorey but for once we have some pitching depth. This isn't the Sox of my middle school and high school days where it was Pedro, Wakefield and a cast of assorted clowns. Schilling is still pretty reliable, Wakefield has been great (which you can't expect all season), Tavarez has been very good for him and Dice-K is quickly becoming a stud MLB-style.
The Yankees have never been down 10+ games in the Torre era (1996-present). Get used to hearing that stat consistently as these two teams seem to be headed in opposite directions. It's time to step on the Yankees throats (like they did to us in last August's brutal five game sweep at Fenway).