The most telling signs from tonight's Yankees' win have less to do with the stellar play by all (except, perhaps, Jonathan Albaladejo) on the field and more to do with the comments made off of it:
- When asked if this (a 6-1, 1.78 ERA in his last seven starts) is what AJ Burnett signed up for, he responded that it wasn't, and that the press should ask again in October.
- In his postgame interview, Nick Swisher mentioned that he had approached hitting coach Kevin Long on Monday morning asking him for some extra BP because something wasn't right. Whatever Long did, it worked: Swisher had two home runs--one that nearly reached the back row of the bleachers--in Monday's game.
The Yankees, going into this series with Tampa, really only had one absolute, must: don't get swept. A sweep would have Tampa only 3.5 games back of the...well, probably the Red Sox. The Yankees took care of that via their win tonight.
Now, Tampa Bay sits 7.5 games out of the division lead, certainly not insurmountable, but still a sizable buffer. Even if the Yankees lose the next two (and us Yankee fans hope that doesn't happen), they'd still have 5.5 games on the Rays, and be at least a half game up on the Red Sox.
This is a Yankee team that, despite the odd injury or ineffective inning, seems to be getting better as the season progresses.
In his second year as Yankees' manager, and only third year managing over all, Joe Girardi has his team only one game behind the Dodgers for the best record in all of baseball.
It is one thing to be able to make that statement on April 12th.
It is quite another to make it on July 28, after the All Star break and rapidly approaching the trading deadline.