The Yankees lost on Wednesday, while the Red Sox nipped Chicago in extra innings. But the Yanks bounced back last night to avoid a sweep in Toronto; Boston had the night off, and the Yankees' lead now stands at 3 1/2 games (four in the loss column). No matter what happens in the Bronx this weekend, the Bombers will remain in first place.
But there is a feeling that the Yanks are increasingly vunerable while the Sox are surging. Internal controversy has engulfed both teams of late; the Red Sox have done a better job of shrugging it off, and not letting it bother their performance. Don't believe me? At least the Sox sound convincing:
"It's been a relentless attitude," Jason Varitek said. "It's just something we developed into. Nobody has panicked. Different people have had to contribute, and it's special when that many people can help."
``I think we've had a very good rapport with everyone the whole season,'' said Wednesday night starter Derek Lowe.
``But in the last two weeks, there have been things going on, things that people love to stir up and see cause some controversy. But we know that the only way to win is to stick together and we've had that mentality all year. The thing that I like about this team is that we don't let anything affect us. It's a great trait for a team to have.''
Joe Torre held a meeting before last night's game. Just the kind of pep-talk that Boss George loves. But Joel Sherman warns today that if the Yankees should collapse in the final weeks of the season, Torre and GM Brian Cashman won't be around next year.
Pedro Martinez goes against Andy Pettitte tonight; Clemens faces Wakefield tomorrow and Boomer Wells will pitch against Jeff Suppan on Sunday. Look for Pedro to exact a measure of revenge tonight.
Derek Jeter will not play in the series. But Luis Sojo might (cough, cough) after Erick Almonte hurt his leg warming up yesterday.