Offense: Much like the last series against Boston, the Yankees scored just 4.33 runs per game (it was 4.67 in the previous series), but the Sox only allow 4.04 runs per game, so that's above average. The offense disappeared in the middle game against 19-game winner Josh Beckett, but came from behind to deliver wins in the other two games.
Derek Jeter 5 for 14, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 3 R
Robinson Cano 3 for 12, 2 solo HR, 2 K
Jason Giambi 2 for 6, 2B, HR, RBI, R, 2 BB, HBP, 3 K
Doug Mientkiewicz 2 for 3, R
Melky Cabrera 0 for 10, 2 BB, R, GIDP, 3 K
Alex Rodriguez 1 for 11, RBI, BB, HBP, SB, 5 K
Hideki Matsui 1 for 7, 3B, RBI, 2 BB, 2 K
Jose Molina, Alberto Gonzalez, and Bronson Sardinha were each 0 for 1, though Molina executed a sac bunt, and Sardinha scored a run as a pinch runner but also hit into a double play in his only major league at-bat thus far. Wilson Betemit appeared as a defensive replacement, but did not come to the plate.
Rotation: Go figure baseball sometimes. Chein-Ming Wang and Andy Pettitte, the two aces of the Yankee staff, posted this combined line in the first two games of this series:
9 2/3 IP, 18 H, 10 R (9 ER), 0 HR, 5 BB, 8 K, 2.38 WHIP, 8.38 ERA
Meanwhile the other four men starters combined to do this in their most recent turns:
24 2/3 IP, 11 H, 4 R (2 ER), 0 HR, 13 BB, 13 K, 0.97 WHIP, 0.72 ERA
In other words, Clemens good, Wang and Pettitte bad. That said, the good showings from the rest of the rotation are a very good sign. The big question is if Clemens and Mussina especially can do it again the next time around.
Bullpen: Awful. The pen allowed nine runs and 20 baserunners in 10 1/3 innings. Torre's mismanagement of his enlarged relief corps in the middle game didn't help, nor did the Joba rules, Luis Vizcaino's sore elbow and back, or Kyle Farnsworth's stiff neck. With the exception of Vizcaino, Villone and Henn, you can take my designations below with a grain of salt.
Vizcaino pitched a perfect eighth, needing just ten pitches, seven strikes, to retire the side while striking out one in the opener. I have to lower my standards after that. Edwar Ramirez struck out two of the three men he faced in the middle game, but he walked the middle batter and was inexplicably pulled after sixteen pitches. Joba Chamberlian gave up a double and a solo homer, but no other base runners while striking out three in two innings and stranding that leadoff double by Hinske. Ross Ohlendorf came into a bases-loaded situation and walked in a run. He then gave up a solo home run in the next frame, but those were his only two base runners and he struck out the other four men he faced.
Mariano Rivera walked two, hit a third, and gave up an RBI double while protecting a two-run lead in the finale. On the series he allowed five baserunners in his two innings, though he did convert both saves and struck out two. Ron Villone walked the only man he faced. Sean Henn faced four batters and retired none of them, giving up a pair of singles and walking two while allowing three of his four inherited runners to score. Jose Veras was perfect in his first inning of relief, but gave up a pair of singles in his second frame, necessitating an intentional walk to Ortiz, plating a run, and prompting Torre to call on Henn in a vain attempt to get the third out. Brian Bruney struck out Bobby Kielty with the bases loaded to stop the bleeding after Henn and Veras on Friday night, then worked a perfect seventh, earning the line-up card from Torre after the game. He then gave it all back the next day by giving up an RBI double and a walk before picking up a strikeout and prompting Torre's second call for Henn.
Farnsworth did not pitch, nor did Chris Britton.
Conclusion: Saturday's game was a disaster on all fronts, while Friday's game was a stirring comeback, but both were sloppy. Sunday's game felt like a postseason win with plenty of gutty performances to go around and all of Torre's decisions paying off. The only thing that was really consistent in this series, however, was the shakiness of the bullpen. Heck, even Joba gave up an earned run. Still, the Yanks have nothing but cupcakes left on the schedule, are no longer distracted by hopes of winning the division, and merely have to keep pace with the Tigers who are three games behind in the loss column. That should give Torre an opportunity to sort out the pen and rotation. Here's hoping it also gives Melky and Matsui time to solve their problems at the plate. If not, I just might find myself in favor of starting Mientkiewicz at first in the postseason with one of those two taking a seat each day.