The Yankees finished their sweep of the Devil Rays tonight using a selection of rookie pitchers (Darrell Rasner looked good enough to eat) and an outfield of Bernie Williams, Kevin Thompson, and Aaron Guiel. This is where normally I might make a crack about the Rays, but honestly, I don’t have the stomach for it anymore. Hideki Matsui is back and has gone 5 for 10 in his three games since coming off the DL; I could only be happier if he would grow a mustache (work your magic, Sal Fasano!). Or if Bud Selig would create a new fourth outfield position for Melky Cabrera to play.
But with an 11.5 game lead and barely more than two weeks left to play, the drama is long gone from the AL East; the Central is where the action is (and the cluster of mediocre teams in the NL fighting for the chance to be swept by the Mets, but whatever). On that note, there’s good but strange news about Twins rookie phenom Francisco Liriano: he returned from the DL yesterday only to leave the game with renewed elbow pain, and everybody thought he was out for the year – Ron Gardenhire looked like he was about to cry in the postgame interview, and you can’t blame him – but the MRI shows no damage. He may still be out for the season, though, which is too bad and an ill omen for the Twins, because as terrific as Johan Santana is, he’s only one man. Well, maybe one and a half. Just look at those beautiful stats… they’re so shiny…
I was poking around ESPN.com today when, with a shock of realization, it suddenly became clear to me why the Orioles are so hopeless right now: former Mets GM Jim Duquette is their VP of baseball operations. Of course – how did I not know this? I can’t believe I didn’t sense his presence the last time the Yanks were in Baltimore; the plague of locusts should have been a tip-off. “Cautious optimism” is how Duquette describes the vibe at Camden Yards these days. Really? I would have described it as “empty.”
Finally, Jim Kaat retired as an announcer after tonight’s game. He was my favorite, and I’ll miss him – it’s not so much what he says, I realize, though I generally find him intelligent and reasonable, as it is a visceral response to the tone of his voice.
MUSTACHE WATCH 06: No ‘stache news to report, but I did discover today that after “eephus,” the most popular Google search that brings people to this site is “giambi mustache.” Seriously. Clearly there is an underserved market out there for information about baseball player facial hair.