The Yankees finally return home from the worst roadtrip in recent memory, including four walk-off losses, two blown saves by Mo, a 1-3 record in extra inning games, and a 2-5 record in one-run games. Brutal for YFs to watch for sure. And yet things are undoubtedly looking up - Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner have returned to the lineup looking every bit as surprisingly-productive as they've been all year, A-Rod's two home runs on Saturday give hope that he may be on the verge of another late-season power-surge, and the Yanks somehow continue to maintain the best record in baseball, though barely.
But by far the most important development over this ugly stretch was the re-appearance of a healthy and effective Pettitte, who returned yesterday looking like he hasn't missed a beat from what was turning out to be his best season ever before he went down in July.
Certainly there is plenty to nitpick with this team as evidenced by the past two months of barely-.500 baseball: a very thin rotation, a village left on the bases nearly every night (punctuated by a bizarre inability to bring runners in from third with less than 2 outs), and continued underperformance from key spots, most notably the Captain. But if anything is clear from the past ten days it is that Girardi and Cashman have taken solace in the fall-back option of the wild-card and have been managing to first get this team healthy for October and only second to win the division. Every key player with a bump or bruise has gotten an extra day off – yesterday both A-Rod and Teixeira were held out of the line-up – and the Yanks return for their final homestand of the season probably feeling healthier across the board than they have in a while. As for the collective bruised ego accumulated over the past 10 days, it's hopefully nothing that a series-win against Tampa Bay won't cure.
Everyone knows that good teams make the playoffs and hot teams win them. Now that the Yankees look more or less whole again, it would sure be nice if they turned up the temperature.