Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Just Three More

Just minutes into the bottom of the first inning, Darrell Rasner was poised to make me look like a fool. After a set of impressive performances, Rasner immediately found himself in a struggle, loading the bases without recording an out. Say what you will about the Blue Jays (and I have), but they are no slouches on the offensive side. To escape that inning with only two runs would have been a relief for the Yankees.

But that Rasner; oh, that Rasner. I don’t know how directly responsible a pitcher is for inducing a weak pop-up, but the two next guys did just that, negating the run-scoring sac fly or grounder to the infield. A strikeout later, and he had escaped a monumental jam. Unfortunately, he met a similar fate in the second inning, but this time wasn’t able to exit so gracefully. It was only one run, but it didn’t bode well for the 25-year-old Nationals castoff.

Things went kind of smoothly from there. Rasner threw nearly 60 pitches through three innings of work, but finished the sixth inning at just 104. After a rocky start, he settled in nicely, left with the leader after six, and looked certain for a victory after the Yankees tacked on three insurance runs in the top of the ninth. However, Ron Villone and Octavio Dotel had other plans.

Forced into action because of Farnsworth’s unavailability, Villone promptly put two men on base. Obviously frustrated, Torre yanked him before he could do any more damage, opting for Dotel to face Troy Glaus. The result is what you’d expect from a pitcher who doesn’t, you know, pitch often. It was some low gas, but right over the plate, and Glaus rapped it into right-center for a three-run shot, bringing the Jays to within one. Not even trusting Dotel with the bases empty at this point, Torre called on Mike Myers.

With men on first and second and two outs, the Yankees were still looking for a savior to descend from the heavens and finish this goddamn game. Unfortunately, Mo is still sidelined, so they had to settle for Jose Veras. I nearly had to cover my eyes, completely unconvinced that Veras could retire the final batter. But he accomplished what three others could not and retired the final batter of the inning.

This situation is not going to get any prettier. Bruney is going to need a day off – preferably today – and Villone and Proctor likely won’t be available, as they’ve been working a lot lately. Then again, that’s never stopped Torre before. Tonight’s bullpen is going to consist of Beam, Farnsworth and Veras, though Bruney will likely be available for an inning. This is exactly where the Yankees could have been utilizing the skills of J.B. Cox.

We’re just three away, folks. I’m just begging the Yanks to tally off three straight, because I don’t want to be reliant on the Red Sox to win this thing. It’s always a hollow feeling when you clinch the division during a game you lose.

Additional apologies for not updating the standings in a while. Tonight.