That the Yankees have remained in the pennant race is a credit to their patchwork pitching, a staff that has gotten more meaningful contributions from its unheralded mid-season acquisitions than the high-paid additions from the off-season. Last night, it was career minor leaguer Aaron Small (5-0, 3.03) saving Mike Mussina in a 7-4 Yankee win in Seattle. Despite his persistent control problems, Al Leiter has given the Yankees more than they could have hoped. Shawn Chacon has been fortunate, but his ERA is still 1.80. Meanwhile, Carl Pavano, who was never that good to begin with, even before he came to the Yankees, is likely out for the year, and Randy Johnson and Mike Mussina have shown flashes of brilliance but have been mostly mediocre.
As far as their lineup goes, Joe Torre moved Jason Giambi into the fifth spot just in time. He added two more home runs in Monday's win, just a day after he hit two against Kansas City in New York. Few lineups have a more fearsome middle than the Yankees', and that includes the Boston Red Sox. The rivals are nearly mirror images of each other, setting the stage for a September race that will be decided by which milks more out of their pitching staff while letting its blistering offense do the work.
Photo by AP via Newsday