13 September 2005

Blue Comes Thrue

Wow. What an absolute TOTAL NY Post title that one is. Terrible job by me. But, in a weird way, that's OK. I'll take it.

So by way of explanation, Jonathan Papelbon last night earned his first major league victory pitching three innings of hitless relief against the Blue Jays going into extra innings, saving the game for us and allowing David to be David once a-friggin-gain, pulling out a victory we never should have had to question. I call Papelbon "Blue," as in, from Old School, "you're my boy..." I followed Papelbon on this blog from his season's start in AA, so I'm taking a completely unearned measure of pride in his success. It's great to see.

Coming on in the 9th, Papelbon got a 1-2-3 inning on a K and two popups, wonderfully jamming both hitters and hitting his spots early and hard. The splitter, when he did go to it, didn't get any swings, but was biting hard enough to at least aid the effectiveness to his fastball, which had that late life we've seen on it in past appearances. In the 10th he worked around a Corey Koskie walk and snuck a fastball in on Vernon Wells- very similar to the spot of his game-tying HR off Timlin- which, off the bat, absolutely looked gone. Then Manny took a "Three Stooges" route to the ball, caught it, and my heart resumed beating no longer than 25 seconds later.

Finally, in the 11th, in the most pivotal at-bat of the game, Blue went 3-2 on Eric Hinske and made a beautiful pitcher's pitch- 95 MPH on the outer black- getting an over-anxious swing and attempt at pulling the ball, resulting in an easy groundout to Graffanino. If Papelbon loses Hinske there, a runner on with no out is a bad situation, even with, at that point, the lead.

The rest of the inning was easier, and on the last batter- 2B Aaron Hill- Papelbon appeared to shake Varitek off a number of times. I noticed it and found it odd, and as soon as Remy saw it, he jumped in to confidently point out that Varitek had HIM do that, to give the batter a second thought. In other words, that presumably Varitek was calling the fastball with 2 strikes, as the splitter had been in the dirt all night, and that Papelbon still wanted to throw it. Then, you throw the fastball anyway. Hey, it worked.

As for Ortiz... I could elaborate on his mighty God-like prowess, but it'd be redundant. Just take this post and pretend I wrote it here. It still works! The man is unSTOPable!

Finally, I think it's time to start doing MAGIC NUMBER updates and refreshing the BP odds where applicable. This, of course, does not mean I've assumed anything- I just think it'd be silly not to have some fun with it. And anyway, I don't really buy all that superstitious pessimism anyway.

So now, the MAGIC NUMBER (and for those unaware, the MAGIC NUMBER is the number of wins by Boston and losses by New York, combined, in any fashion, it would take to clinch the division- i.e., 15 wins by Boston and 2 losses by New York... you get the idea...) stands at:

...and here's the up-to-today AL East Divisional Odds:

Chicago_______88.167% ^
Boston________84.252% ^
Los Angeles___59.063% v
Oakland_______40.935% ^
New York______15.745% v
Cleveland_____11.832% v

So as you can see (via the chincy little arrows I have after the percentages), Chicago, Boston and Oakland's chances of winning their divisions went up, and Los Angeles, New York and Cleveland all dropped.

In fact, LA's plummeted while Oakland's skyrocketed due to their respective loss and victory last night. In addition, Cleveland's rather slim divisional hopes took a pretty strong hit by losing to Oakland last night. New York lost a tick with Boston's victory as they stood idle.

Between them, the Red Sox and Yankees play 33 games before their final 3 game showdown at Fenway- 16 for the Sox, 17 for the Yankees. Seeing as the Sox' magic nubmer is 17, if the number of wins by Boston and losses by New York during these 33 games equals 17, the Sox will have clinched going into said series. If not, they'll have to win to beat the Yankees.

Here are their remaining series:

@ TOR (2) 1-1
vs. OAK (4) 2-2
@ T.B. (3) 2-1
@ BAL (3) 1-2
vs. TOR (4) 3-1

@ T.B. (3) 1-2
@ TOR (3) 2-1
vs. BAL (4) 3-1
vs. TOR (3) 2-1
@ BAL (4) 2-2

New York has the edge in ease of schedule because they don't have to deal with Oakland, while Boston does. If, for Boston, you figure they go .500 on the road the rest of the way, split with a good Oakland team (even though they handle them well in Boston), and play to their home success against Toronto, you see a pretty conservative 9-7 through those 16 games.

This would mean that if this record held for Boston, and the Yankees lost more than 7 over their next 17, the division is sealed up before the final three game series. I would have them (pure speculation) losing only 7 games, going 10-7, and thus forcing them to either sweep Boston on the road, or be eliminated. Of course, a lot of these things can go either way- a sweep one way or the other for either team, at this point, would be enormous.

Should be fun and interesting.

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