So far in this postseason, and especially in this ALCS, the Yankees have found lots of different ways to win. They’ve won handily and in tight games, by proving their might, but also by taking advantage of spotty umpiring and even spottier defense and base-running. In Sports Illustrated this week, Joe Posnanski describes this October as the return of Mystique and Aura, those pinstriped spirits/nightclub dancers that the team once relied on when sheer talent wasn’t quite enough. If the Yankees win tonight, and finish the American League playoffs with a record of 7–1, there will be little doubt that they’ve got something good going on. Which is important, because the World Fucking Champion Phillies are waiting, and they have a good thing going, too.
To get that win, they’ll hand the ball to A.J. Burnett, who was quite good in Game 2, except for that one inning where he was incredibly frustrating. With apologies to A-Rod and Jeter, the Yankees are in this position because they’ve posted a 1.91 team ERA so far in the postseason, and haven’t had a single starter throw a clunker. Burnett’s the most likely to do that — at least until Chad Gaudin is back in the picture — even if he’s also the most likely to throw a no-hitter.
More questions we’d rather not learn the answers to: Can this team keep winning with Mark Teixeira hitting .133? Or with Nick Swisher hitting .125? And if they don’t do it tonight, how nervous will Yankee Stadium be on Saturday night, with two days of 2004 montages and “It’s a series again!” stories preceding Game 6?
Phillies fans looked like they were having a grand time celebrating their pennant-clinching victory at home last night. But where the Yankees do this doesn’t matter in the least. In fact, winning the pennant in Anaheim, in front of their rallying monkeys and thundering sticks, would be every bit as gratifying. The Yankees know better than anyone that you only get a certain number of chances to squeeze the life out of a team. So get to it, A.J.