Saturday, August 8, 2009

October in August (Postgame Notes 7-8 August 2009)

So this is what October feels like, eh?

For a baseball purist, or any fan of pitching, tonight was manna sent from heaven.

If anyone told you that today's game wasn't a big game, they'd be lying--while it may not have been as big (at least for the Yankees) as last night's was, it was still big. Win, and the Yankees assure themselves of at least a series split and now Boston cannot, no matter what, come out of this having gained any ground on the Yankees.

Furthermore, tonight was a chance for AJ Burnett to prove that the Yankees didn't make a mistake in signing him to pitch a big game, though his two previous starts in Boston would have seemed to indicate otherwise. He had a real chance to deliver tonight.

And deliver, Allan James Burnett, did.

Holding Boston to just one hit--the first batter of the game on a play that probably should have been made--Burnett went 7.2 innings, which has a further benefit in that since Phil Hughes only pitched to one batter, he can probably pitch tomorrow.

The problem was, as well as Burnett pitched, Josh Beckett matched him step-for-step.

And so they dueled.

That the game became a battle of the bullpens should be no surprise to fans of either team, but the caliber of the relief pitching on both sides was mostly extrodnary.

The Red Sox used their entire bullpen; the Yankees five men, and it came down to a rookie making his major league debut only since Terry Francona had no other options, to break the scoreless tie.

Otherwise, tonight's game may have gone on forever.

There's thus nothing really to say about the offense--both teams had chances and couldn't capitalize, but it has more to do with the quality of the pitching than anything else.

So, you there Yankee fan, take it and enjoy it.

This is what October feels like--the atmosphere, the quality of play, the unfathomable-ness of a loss.

It's been a while, now, since there was October baseball in the Bronx, but the way these Yankees are playing, they may well be unstoppable.