The Yankees certainly ended this weekend's series with the Red Sox on a high note. Derek Jeter's three-run homer over the Green Monster halted Curt Schilling's masterful night and gave the Yankees the series win. Jeter's eighth inning heroics, and the comeback in the same inning on Friday night, overshadowed some problems that reared their head over the three-game set, however. The top two starters, Chien-Ming Wang and Andy Pettitte, got thrashed on Friday and Saturday and the bullpen offered little relief in either of those games.
The thundering offense of late Friday night may have created a wrinkle of doubt about Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon but the failure of the pitching staff, outside of Roger Clemens, was just as illustrative of problems going forward. If the Yankees make it to the postseason they will be facing good lineups and their pitching has to be better than it was this weekend if they hope to avoid another first-round ouster.
That said, Friday night's eighth inning rally was a reminder of why the Yankees will be a very tough out come October. Okajima has been death on lefties all season but Jason Giambi and Robinson Cano hit home runs and Johnny Damon doubled to chase him from the game before he could get an out. The homers were the first all season by lefthanders against the Red Sox rookie and the evisceration of Papelbon was equally unexpected. It proved that there are no easy outs in the Yankee lineup and A-Rod's game-winning hit was a sign that he's ready to shed that choker label.
And last night's win was full of grace notes that leave you feeling warm and sunny. Roger Clemens looked as good as he has all season which probably means his ligament issues have as much to do with burnishing his image as they do with causing him actual pain and the Jeter homer was a pretty fair impersonation of another Yankees shortstop in Beantown. Not nearly as dramatic a moment, of course, but anytime a shortstop pops one over the Green Monster it makes you think of Bucky and that's not a bad way to end a Sunday night at all.