AL East Race: Here Come the Yankees

Steve ResnickCorrespondent ISeptember 18, 2007

IconBottom of the ninth, bases loaded, one-run game, 2-2 count.

On the mound is the best closer in MLB history. Up to bat is arguably the game's most physically powerful clutch hitter. Here comes the pitch and...

That was the concluding scene as the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox faced each other for the final time this regular season.

The teams may meet again in ALCS, but I can't imagine it getting much more exciting than it was this weekend.

On Friday, trusted Yankee starter Andy Pettitte took the mound against Boston's rich rookie, Daisuke Matsuzaka. Andy gave up four earned runs in 4 innings, while Dice-K held the Yanks to two earned runs over 5.2 innings.

But it came down the the bullpens.

The much-maligned Yankees' pen came through, as Jose Veras, Sean Henn, Brian Bruney, Luis Vizcaino and Mariano Rivera combined to yield just two earned runs over the final 5 innings. Boston's shaky bullpen, meanwhile, gave up six earned runs in 3.1 innings.

In the end, the Yankees overcame a 7-2 Boston lead with six runs in the 8th inning, which began with back-to-back home runs by Jason Giambi and Robinson Cano.

It was an emotional win for Yankees fans. I watched all four hours and 43 minutes...and I don't think I've ever been as exhausted as I was at the end of this game.

Saturday wasn't quite so fun, as the Sox beat the Yanks 10-1. Yankees ace Chien-Ming Wang surrendered five earned runs in 5.2 innings, while Sox ace Josh Beckett allowed just one in 7.

Derek Jeter homered in the first inning, but the Sox answered with a run of their own—then scored three times in the 6th and four times in the 7th to break the game open.

The "reliable" Yankees bullpen from the night before ultimately gave up five earned runs in 3.1 innings.



The good news: Sunday's was a game that I'd been waiting 20 years to see.

It was Roger Clemens against Curt Schilling—two of the greatest pitchers the sport has ever known. Clemens pitched a gem for the Yanks, giving up just an unearned run in six innings. Schilling allowed four runs in 7.2 innings of work.

The game turned on two plays. The first came with two men on in the eighth inning, when Derek "Mr. November" Jeter jacked a 2-2 splitter from Schilling over the Green Monster. The three-run homer gave the Yanks a 4-1 lead.

The Red Sox answered with a run of their own in the bottom half, leaving the score 4-2 for the second pivotal play of the day:

Bottom of the ninth, bases loaded, one-run game, 2-2 count.

On the mound is Mariano Rivera. Up to bat is David Ortiz. Here comes the pitch and...

Big Papi swings at Mo's legendary cutter and lifts it into shallow center...Jeter is backpedaling under it...he makes the catch! Yankees win 4-3!

This weekend reminded me why I love being a Yankees fan.

When you're used to watching your team win, the loses hurt. A lot. Especially against Boston.

The blowout on Saturday left me with a knot in my stomach. For the first time in 20 years, I actually felt like the Yankees were hopeless—and was ready to give up on the season.

But seeing Jeter win the game for us on Sunday only made me that much more confident.

The Yankees and Red Sox both have big games coming up. As of Tuesday, September 18th, the Yanks are down 3.5 games with 11 left to play.

Will it be easy to win the division?

No, of course not.

Can it happen?


Boston beware: Here come the Yankees.