When you factor in:
1. The results of the two games before this one.
2. The Yankees place in the standings.
3. The calendar.
4. The losses by Boston and Seattle prior to this game.
This contest was as close to “must win” for the Yankees as you can get during the regular season. And, Andy Pettitte came through for New York.
Pettitte did not allow the Angels to take a lead in this game, through six, and then threw a shutdown inning in the seventh after the Yankees took a 3-1 lead. You cannot ask for more than that from a pitcher.
Given Hughes’ learning curves, Mussina’s ups-and-downs, Clemens’ age, and Wang’s issues with pitching on the road, you have to think that Pettitte is the Yankees “Game 1 Starter” and ace for the post-season, no?
One beef on this game for me: Joba Chamberlain is your “Barney Fife Bullet” – meaning he has to stay in your pocket and only be used carefully – and you bring him into a game when you have a 7-1 lead in the eighth? Is the Yankees bullpen that bad that no one else can help get the last 6 outs of a game where you have a 6-run lead?
O.K., sure, I realize that there’s an off-day between this game and the Yankees next series. And, that factors into it. However, if there’s an overall innings limit that the Yankees are applying to Joba this year, it seems like a waste to have him pitch an inning in a situation like this one, no?
Lastly, congrats to Joe Torre – for getting sole possession of second place on the franchise win chart behind Joe McCarthy. That’s pretty impressive. It makes me wonder if Joe wants to keep his job through 2010 to try and get the all-time record. Given his pay-rate, and the perks of being the Yankees manager, I can’t imagine why he would not want to stick around. If the Yankees don’t get a ring this year, it will be interesting to see what happens with Joe and his future plans.