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May The Best (Running) Team Win

By Dustin Racioppi
9/26/09

There are amazing things happening with the Yankees right now that fans haven't seen in years — a small ball running game to complement their powerhouse lineup and a series win over their bete noir, The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Alex Rodriguez and the Yanks terrorized and humiliated Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek last night by swiping seven — yep, seven — bases on him. Mr. Rod had three of those. What hip problem? (King Emmanual also went off for a home run and four RBI in the 14-hit attack.)

Even more amazing than beating the Sawks at the Stadium to bring the AL East title magic number to two, is that the Yankees just returned from a West Coast trip that included a series win against those pesky Angels. And it seems the Bombers took a page from the Halo's winning playbook by being aggressive on the base paths. That just doesn't happen with the slugging Yankees. But this year is different. We've got Brett Gardner who may be one the most dangerous late game threats to any team in the league. He gets on base and if he doesn't steal the base outright, he scares you enough to give him the base he wants (See: Mike Napoli's throw to third baseman Chone Figgins. It went to left field and Gardner scored on a stolen base attempt).

This running game the Yankees are showing is just another wrinkle in their plan to beat teams. They have the power in their lineup that may be the best in baseball (Phillies may rival), and it gives fans a good feeling heading into the postseason.

If we could just get this whole pitching thing straightened out. Sure, the atrocious duo of A.J. Burnett and Joba Chamberlain reversed course in their respective last starts, but can we see a couple more of those before we start naming the first round starting rotation? Both of these guys have been flat out bad lately. Ok, for a long time. In a short series there's no room for error.

It's going to take all three of these weapons the Yankees have — power, great base running and solid pitching — to get deep into October. All three have shown up in the last few days. Let's hope the trend continues, because if it does, Joe Girardi might have to change his number to 28 next year.

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