Apologies once more for the tardiness. The quick turnaround from night game to day game got me. I'm at Angels-Yankees. So let's quickly catch up.
First of all, we have new playoff brackets this morning:
AL: Boston (1) vs. Detroit (3), Texas (2) vs. Yankees (4)
NL: Philadelphia (1) vs. Arizona (3), Milwaukee (2) vs. Atlanta (4)
Notes: The Diamondbacks overtook the Giants for the NL West penthouse, and what's just as interesting is the distance that the Braves are creating between themselves and the Arizona-San Francisco duel. At 69-49, the Braves now lead San Francisco (64-54) by five games in the NL wild-card chase.
That means that the NL West is evolving from a multi-terrain, "The loser could settle for the wild-card spot" race into an old-fashioned, do-or-die competition. You'd still put your money on the Giants to prevail, given their pitching staff, but they just don't hit.
But what do I know? Before the season, I picked the Rockies to win the division and the Dodgers to get the wild-card berth.
-- Off the Yankees' victory over the Angels, I wrote about Ivan Nova, who could wind up being the team's Game 2 playoff starter. As he pitched last night, I wondered, "Where is Nova's highly touted slider?" It turned out that Nova's slider wasn't sliding, so he went heavily with his fastball, generating a multitude of groundball outs.
Joe Girardi said this morning that after Sunday, when Freddy Garcia will start against the Rays, the Yankees will reorganize their starting rotation, paring it down to five. The way I interpret that is, "If Phil Hughes pitches well Saturday, then maybe we'll let him stay in the rotation, and we'll have A.J. Burnett skip a start to 'work on stuff.' Or maybe we'll just put Hughes in the bullpen no matter how he pitches."
-- I'll update here following the Yankees game.
--UPDATE, 5:45 p.m.: And here I am, as promised. The Yankees won, as you probably know, yet most of the post-game questions focused on Mariano Rivera, who gave up a three-run homer to the Angels' Russell Branyan en route to picking up his 30th save.
If you promise not to tell the competition (Promise? OK, good), I'll tell you that I'm going to write about Rivera for my column.
See you tomorrow morning for the Friday Five.