Posted by: JoeD2133 | April 7, 2008

4/6: Yankees 2, Rays 0

                Wang to Joba.  Joba to Rivera.  Yankees win.

The simplicity of the formula is what makes it so potent, not to mention beautiful.  It has been a long, long time in the Bronx since an owner, a coach, maybe even the players have felt comfortable with the pitching staff in a tight ballgame.  With that said, it has been a relative eternity for the fans.  The three Yankee wins during the first week of this season, however, have come by way of scores 3-2, 3-2, and now 2-0, each time the starting pitcher getting the lead into the hands of rookie phenom Joba Chamberlain, who politely powers the ball into the hands of the surgical Mariano Rivera.

Game over.

So simple, so powerful, and thus, so unbelievably hard to find.  If you’re looking to place a value on such a commodity, just remember this.  The vaunted Yankee offense definitely missed the team plane out of Tampa last week – it has been confirmed – but the Yankees are still winning games.  You don’t need ten runs a night when you can win with two, and you’re not going to get ten runs a night amidst the current, cold weather patterns in the Northeast.  Similarly, and more importantly, you’re not scoring ten runs a night in a five-game playoff series where you’re facing your opponent’s three best pitchers.

Based on the Yankees’ three, consecutive, first round ousters from 2005 through 2007, the value of this formula just went to Pluto… and back.

Again, it has been a long, long time.

                And again, how in the world did Joba Chamberlain fall to the forty-seventh pick of the 2006 draft, into the waiting, outstretched arms of Brian Cashman?

A turning point indeed.

                Back in the Bronx, Part One of the formula went to work yesterday beneath a thick, gray blanket of clouds, which only changed position, it seemed, due to the slow, methodic rotation of the earth.  In much the same manner as those expressionless, slow-moving clouds above, the six-foot-four pitcher from Taiwan towered like a statute on the mound, the only signs of life taking shape when he broke free from the mold to raise his arms high overhead.  Then followed an eerily quiet pause, the Stadium holding its breath in anticipation, and a change in foot placement.  What happened next was the effortless release of pure momentum, as our statute bent at the waist, bent at the knees, and drove his heavy frame toward the plate.

                Each ball traveled fifty of the sixty required feet belt-buckle high, then dove like a targeted missile in the desert, exploding through the lower-half of the zone.  Those hitters unlucky enough to make contact felt the vibrations first in their fingers, then in their hands, and finally up their forearms to the shoulder region, almost like electricity following a conductive chain of metals.

Chien-Ming Wang has become famous because of this Power Sinker, inducing ground ball outs at an uncanny rate since his Major League debut three years ago.  Yesterday, however, he mixed in a biting slider with his heavy sinker, and was orchestrating a no-hitter through four, solid innings of work.  More telling though was his four strike-outs through those same four innings.  If Wang can learn to consistently command a quality strike-out pitch, such as the slider he was throwing at the Rays with ease yesterday, there is no way of knowing what his ceiling may be.  Without such a pitch, he has won more games in the past two years than any pitcher in baseball (38), so you do the math.

As for the struggling offense, A-Rod kicked the tires in the bottom of the fourth inning by sending a booming double to the wall off of the Rays starting pitcher, James Shields, who of course was having the best game of his career versus the Yankees.  One batter later, however, Hideki Matsui decided to replace the tires altogether when he slammed his second home run of the season into the lower deck in right, staking his ace and teammates to an early two-run lead.  Godzilla would finish the day three-for-four, putting to rest for the afternoon any fears that age and injuries have sapped the monster of his ability to terrorize opposing pitchers.

Wang’s lone bit of trouble came in the seventh inning, when he allowed two consecutive singles to Cliff Floyd and Eric Hinske.  Joe Girardi, back in the dugout for the first time in three days due to illness, trotted out to the mound and called for his big gun with decisive fervor.  No way was this two-zip lead going to anyone but Joba, and no way was Joe going to wait any longer, two moral certainties only six games into the young season.

As a reward for his manager’s confidence and faith in his abilities, the kid delivered once again, striking out the first batter that dug in against him, a petrified Wily Aybar, and retiring all five batters he faced on the day.  First and second, no outs, eighth inning of a 2-0 game, Coach?  No problem.  Let me get this thing to Mo, and let’s go home.

And that’s exactly what happened, isn’t it, yesterday in the Bronx?

Joba goes two, Mo strikes out two, Yankees win.

Again, it has been a long, long time.

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