DOGTOWN – The dog days of summer are long gone but it looks like the race for the AL East is going to be a good old fashioned Mike Vick dogfight. The Yankees and Orioles are battling to see who will avoid playing a one-game-playoff against JGClancy’s Oakland Athletics. The Rays looked to be the third dog in the fight, but Tampa has screwed the pooch lately, falling six games back of the Bombers & Birds.
The Yankees have the advantage heading into the final fortnight of the season leading by a game. But the Bombers will face a tough challenge this weekend against the A’s while the Orioles ship up to Boston to face the rudderless Red Sox. A year ago, the O’s won five of seven against the Sox to keep Boston out of the postseason. This year the Red Sox will be looking to return the favor and play spoiler. They’ll play the O’s six more times before the season is out. Time will tell if Bobby V’s dogs have any fight left in them. My guess: probably not.
The Orioles have been a balanced team all season, getting both good pitching and timely hitting when needed. Most people expected Baltimore to collapse down the stretch but Buck has kept up the Fighting Showalter spirit in the Orioles clubhouse, and kept the team in position to make the playoffs for the first time in fifteen years. But they’ll be desperate to avoid that one game playoff that accompanies the wild card berth.
After the tough-looking series against the A’s, the Yanks head to the midwest to take on the last-place Twins for three games before ending the season in Toronto. The Bombers have Andy Pettitte and Nova back in the rotation for the stretch run. A-Rod is healthy and is actually even producing a little bit. And Ichiro is back! The last few games, he’s looked like the 2004 version of himself. He went 7-8 in Wednesday’s double header and added a couple more hits, including an homer in last night’s game. The Yanks are looking good… mostly.
One problem area for the Yankees is their bullpen. The relievers have been overworked and showing signs of fatigue. With injuries to the starting rotation and those left not going more than five innings, the Yankee pen has been working more than a Nike sweatshop employee. Now the cracks are beginning to show. The relievers seem to give up a run an inning now and even the usually reliable Dave Robertson has been hit and miss lately. We’ll see if the bullpen can keep it together for a couple of weeks and long enough to take the division.
Abruptly switching gears to football, the Giants mauled Cam Newton and the Panthers last night in Carolina. Replacement running back Andre Brown had a superb night running for two touchdowns and over 100 yards. If Ahmad Bradshaw doesn’t get back soon, Brown may Wally Pipp him out of a job. Eli Manning had another strong game at QB. He’s thrown for over a thousand yards so far this season and is on pace to crack the 5,000 yard barrier he just missed last year. After a dismal display against the Cowboys in the season opener, the Giants are looking like Super Bowl champions again.
Thats all for now. Summer is officially over. A new beginning tomorrow with…