I would have pinch-hit Russ Johnson for Giambi in the 8th tonight. That just goes to show what I know!
This was a very big win this evening. We’re talking Yankees Classics material. Just on the level of game excitement for a standalone Yankees contest, it deserves to go into the YES Network rotation.
However, there are other factors as to why this victory is very meaningful. Right on the surface, it’s an important win because it allows the Yankees to keep pace with everyone else in the AL East – as they all won tonight. Secondly, it takes the O’fer-trailing-after-eight-this-season monkey off the Yankees backs. Also, the game-winning homer has to be seen as a positive for Giambi.
That’s three things that most people will think about when they weigh this win. But, for me, the reason why this “W” is so important is because of what an “L,” instead of the win, would have meant tonight.
If the Yankees had lost this game, it would have been painful – perhaps one of the most stinging losses of the season to date, considering how close the game was, etc.
It would have been one of those losses that keeps you up at night and results in you still being in a pissy mood the next morning – and for most of that day. And, in my mind, had the Yankees lost this game, it would have made tomorrow’s game “Must Win.” And, that status would not be just because of another possible game lost in the standings – although that’s still a bad thing. It would have been “Must Win” because, as a team, the Yankees could not afford to lose two of three to the Pirates after playing like living fecal matter in the 12-game road trip before this series. It also would have been “Must Win” because New York has it’s ace going for them – one Mr. Randy Johnson.
But, now, even if the Yankees lose on Thursday – and, that’s still possible (as the Bucs’ Perez is very tough) – New York would have still won this series. And, that’s what the Yankees need to do now: Win every series. And, that’s why this was a big win.
This game also could be the one that becomes the win that everyone points to later as the point that turned the season around. While it’s way too early to hang that label on this game, I did find what Torre had to say about the game in the YES post-game coverage to be interesting:
“If this game doesn’t pick us up, I don’t know what game will.”
This is worth noting going forward. If the Yankees do turn it around now, then this is the game to point at (in terms of being a positive trigger). But, on the flip side, based on Joe’s words, if New York does go out now and loses something like 5 of their next 8, then maybe it is time to start thinking about next year – because not even a game like tonight can turn around this team.
The next two weeks will tell us all we need to know about this team – and, this is now possible as a result of the win tonight which sets up the upcoming games to be a good proving ground.
Tonight, indeed, was a really useful win.