Offense: They scored enough to win against Brian Burres, a lefty who has given them trouble all year, and put up 20 runs in the other two games. I'd say that's a job well done.
Robinson Cano 6 for 11, 2 2B, 3 RBI, 3 R, HBP
Derek Jeter 6 for 13, 2 2B, 3 R, BB, 3 K
Doug Mientkiewicz 4 for 11, HR, 6 RBI, 3 R, 2 BB, SacB, 2 K
Hideki Matsui 4 for 13, 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 4 R, K
Melky Cabrera 2 for 6, 3 RBI, BB
Jason Giambi 0 for 1, 3 BB, HBP, 2 R
Alex Rodriguez 1 for 11, SacFly, BB, 4 K
Johnny Damon 1 for 8, RBI, R, BB, 3 K
Shelley Duncan 0 for 3, BB, 2 K
Wilson Betemit singled, Jose Molina flew out, and Bronson Sardinha struck out each in their only at-bats, all of which come in the eighth inning on Tuesday night. Alberto Gonazalez also appeared as a defensive replacement in that game, but did not come to bat.
Rotation: Outstanding, with only Phil Hughes falling short of a quality start, doing so by being pulled with one out in the sixth in the opener. Mike Mussina and Andy Pettitte combined to allow just one run in 14 2/3 innings.
Bullpen: The bullpen turned in something of a quality start of its own, compiling this line: 6 2/3 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 7 K. That's a strong outing by a starter, but the pen needs to do better than a 4.04 ERA and a 1.65 WHIP against a team that's laying down on the job, which is essentially what the the Orioles are doing.
Luis Vizcaino struck out two in 1 1/3 scoreless innings in the opener, allowing only a single. One of those Ks came when he replaced Edwar Ramirez with two outs and the bases loaded in the seventh inning of that game. Jose Veras struck out one in a perfect inning on Tuesday night. Ron Villone also pitched a perfect inning in that game. Joba Chamberlian struck out the only man he faced on four pitches in the finale.
I'm being hard on Mo, but despite his not allowing a run and getting the saves in the opener and the finale, he did allow an inherited runner to score in the opener, and allowed four men to reach base in his 1 1/3 innings in the series. That means half the men Mo faced reached base. Over his last three outings, all converted saves totaling just 2 1/3 innings, opposing batters have hit .300/.533/.600 against him with three doubles and four walks. Over his previous 65 innings this season, Rivera had allowed just six doubles and walked only eight men. Those three outings have all come since Mo was hit in the right pinky by an errant Eric Gagne toss in the Boston bullpen on Sunday night, so he has an excuse. Joe Torre may also want to use that excuse to give Rivera, who has worked four of the last six games, a few nights off this weekend. Of course, Mo could have had Monday off had Kyle Farnsworth not stunk up the joint in the ninth inning of the opener, walking the leadoff man with a five-run lead, then throwing a wild pitch and giving up a pair of singles to plate one run and force Torre's hand with two outs in the inning. Earlier in that game, Edwar Ramirez got a huge strike out in relief of Hughes with two out and the bases loaded and the Yanks clinging to a three-run lead, but then passed the same situation on to Luis Vizcaino in the next inning (albeit with two more runs on the board for the Yanks).
Conclusion: The O's have rolled over once again, and the Yanks swept them, as they should have. With an eye toward the postseason roster, Mussina looks to have earned the fourth spot in the rotation that Torre likely would have given him even without so strong a performance. Andy Pettitte shrugged off his recent struggles. Luis Vizcaino and Derek Jeter seem to be over their recent aches and pains. Joba Chamberlain got his first mid-inning appearance out of the way (the next hurdle is to come in with a runner on base). Doug Mientkiewicz is earning a spot and possibly the starting first-base job. Matsui and Melky look to be busting out of their slumps. The Yanks do need their MVP to break his slump, however (a day off might help), and Farmaduke is making an argument to be left off the roster altogether, possibly in favor of Veras or even Ross Ohlendorf, who did not pitch in this series. It will be interesting to see how Torre doles out tryouts to the relievers (my current fear is that Ron Villone will make the roster as a supposedly necessary lefty), and how he rests his big guns (Rodriguez and Rivera especially) over the final ten games. Edwar Ramirez has supposedly already made the postseason roster setting up something like this:
1B - Jason Giambi, Doug Mientkiewicz
2B - Robinson Cano
SS - Derek Jeter
3B - Alex Rodriguez
C - Jorge Posada, Jose Molina
OF - Hideki Matsui, Melky Cabrera, Bobby Abreu, Johnny Damon
IF - Wilson Betemit
Rotation: Andy Pettitte, Chien-Ming Wang, Roger Clemens, Mike Mussina
Bullpen: Mariano Rivera, Joba Chamberlain, Luis Vizcaino, Edwar Ramirez
That's twenty men. Torre has suggested that either Hughes or Kennedy will make the postseason as a long man in the pen (I expect their remaining starts will serve as an audition for that role). That's 21. Here are the six men who I expect to be the top candidates for the final four:
Shelley Duncan - OF
Kyle Farnsworth - RHP
Ron Villone - LHP
Brian Bruney - RHP
Jose Veras - RHP
Ross Ohlendorf - RHP
Note that Veras spent most of the season on the major league 60-day DL, which should make him eligible for the postseason, while the presence of Darrel Rasner and Carl Pavano on the DL should allow Ohlendorf to be added via the K-Rod loophole. I list both of them over Chris Britton and Sean Henn because of both their recent performances and the fact that Torre has singled both out for praise. Of the six above, if Duncan's healthy and can get his stroke back before the season ends, I think he's a no-brainer, as his bat is a big weapon off the bench, particularly as a righty in combination with Betemit and either Giambi or Damon from the left side.