No margin for error. So now all you Yankee fans know what it's like to be "gulp!" average. It hurts doesn't it?
It's not so fun to pretend you have players that only a payroll of only $60 million can buy, is it?
Let us understand what this status means. Absent A-Rod and Posada for now, absent any meaningful contribution from either Hughes or Kennedy (I honestly, out of the blocks, would have settled for one of two), absent any meaningful production out of Cano or Giambi, the Yanks simply cannot lose a game llike last night's: a solid start (1 run, 7 innings) from Wang, timely hitting late from Matsui, and an appearance from Fanrsworth, Joba and Mo. For the nest three weeks or so, there will be too many 7-1 and 9-3 games, too many 5-0 deficits by the third inning. Too many times the Yankees are simply outslugged, outpitched, outran, outcaught, outfielded.
If the Yanks get a solid start (2 runs or less through six, 3 runs or less through 7) from Wang, Moose, or Pettitte, or if they have a lead after six and give the ball to Farnsworth, or if they lead late and give it to Joba and/or Mo, they simply have to win.
One key: In the space of two weeks, the catching situation has gone from Well-at-least-we-have-Molina to Molina-at-.205-is-killing-us. When the bats are cranking, Molina, in for Georgie, is content to move runners over in the eighth hole, call his game and throw base stealers out. Now? When he came to bat last night, Kenny Singleton noted his 0-for-11 and pronounced him "due."
Uh, no. David Ortiz at .205 is "due." Albert Pujols at .205 is "due." Jose Molina at .205 is . . . Jose Molina, another dead spot in an order that recedes, some nights, to Jeter, Abreu, Matsui and six other guys leaving the tying run at third yet again.
The one saving grace is the so-far mediocrity of the American League. As of last night, with about a fourth of the season played, 11 of the league's 14 teams were jamed between 18 and 24 wins. Unless the Red Sox or maybe the Angels slam it in gear (and don't bet against either) 95 wins appears to be the ceiling.
Say, 92 for the Wild Card.
74-50 from here on in.
As Rocco Lampone said to Michael Coreleone: Difficult. Not impossible.
Or rather, turn it around.
Not impossible. But (in the team's current composition) difficult.