The Yankees put forth a workmanlike effort in their 7-2 victory over the Twins in Game One of the ALDS on Wednesday. As we head toward Game Two tonight in the Bronx, River & Sunset takes a closer look at the subplots to watch.
It's all about Allan James
As in Allan James Burnett, who will finally give us some true insight into whether or not the Yankees made a mistake in bringing him aboard this winter. We certainly didn't learn much during the regular season, a dizzying mix of strong starts and Matt Holliday-level pukefests.
This will be Burnett's first postseason start. An amped-up personality by nature (he watches the ultra-violent 300 before every game he pitches), Burnett will need to keep his adrenaline under control, especially in the early going. Perhaps for pregame he should forego 300 in favor of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants? You know Swisher has the DVD in his locker.
We'll know right away tonight if we get Good A.J. or Evil A.J. The tip-off will be if he gives up six runs in the second inning.
I'd stay away from Mr. Posada today
Joe Girardi's decision to have Jose Molina catch Burnett has provided the The Hills-esque gossip in Yankee Universe. Jorgie Boy hasn't handled it too well, which is understandable when you take into account that he's insane. Molina, aka The Big Panda, is lying low on the issue, as in lying face-down playing dead in a darkened corner of the Yankees clubhouse since Wednesday night.
When a reporter gently poked Panda in the belly to see if he had spoken with Posada, he mumbled this while on his stomach.
“We haven’t had much time to talk. We really don’t have much time in the playoffs. We have love for each other. I don’t think there’s anything wrong about all this. I think Jorgie just wanted to play, you can respect that.”
I love how he says they haven't had time to talk. They were off Monday and Tuesday, played a nine-inning game on Wednesday, met with the press three or four times...and that's it. Nobody on Earth has more time than a baseball team during the postseason. All you have is time. It's like being in a really awesome prison.
Here's the actual translation: Panda is scared for his life.
Is the Yankees bullpen good...or scary good?
It's all starting to point toward a seventh-inning bullpen role for Joba Chamberlain from here on out. I still think it's incredibly premature to say Old Joba is back just because he got four outs over two appearances. The guy only threw like 10 pitches.
Though maybe that's the point. Let's say that Joba can simply throw the switch when it comes to his starter-to-bullpen mentality. This would tell me two things: a) Joba should absolutely, undoubtedly be Mo's setup man in 2010, and b) The Yankees have a bullpen this postseason that can stack up against any team...ever.
Put it this way: If Joba-Phil Hughes-Mo are all rolling, this team will not be beat this month, barring some starting pitching breakdown of Chien-Ming Wang-esque proportions.
I miss Wang
Not pertinent to the series, or even really the team's future in general, but warrants mentioning.
A-Rod may be ready for his close-up
So he got his mojo back on Wednesday, knocking in a couple of runs, even as he witnessed his girlfriend subtly caressing Jay-Z's thigh all night.
As an aside, I said this on Twitter yesterday, but I'll mention it again. What could Kate Hudson and Jay-Z possibly talk about over the course of an entire baseball game? How awesome piles of money are? Does that really cover 3.5 hours of ground? Sadly, I would not know.
But back to A-Rod.
The stage is set for him to bust out in a big way. The RBI Monkey (which is the polar opposite of the Rally Monkey) is off his back. He's playing in a postseason series, but it's not against the Red Sox or Angels. The two hits give him some slack with the fans, who will be 100 percent behind him tonight.
Most of all, I think he's convinced himself of this "I'm just having fun now" angle, which will serve him quite well. A-Rod has always had that look in the playoffs like he's trying so hard that his head's about to explode. I didn't see that all year, and I didn't see it Wednesday.
This could be his Bonds-in-'02 breakout.
Are the Twins checked in emotionally here?
I certainly didn't get that vibe on Wednesday. They looked like a challenge early, but after Derek Jeter's homer, the air quickly left the Twinkie balloon.
It reminded me of the Peter McNeeley-Mike Tyson fight in 1997, Iron Mike's first bout out of the can. McNeeley came out of the corner in round one like a madman, desperately trying for the early knockout. Once it didn't happen, he just waited to be floored so he could star in soul-destroying pizza commercials.
The Twins had a great September and then that instant classic one-game playoff with the Tigers. With no Justin Morneau and a pitching rotation of nobodies and freaking Carl Pavano, aren't they the classic case of we're-just-happy-to-be-here?
In other words, the Twins are the Peter McNeeley of the 2009 MLB postseason. Now's the time for the Yankees to make like Tyson.
Well, minus the rape-iness.