The Yankees finally won a series again, when they beat Detroit three out of four, in a high-energized, beanball-filled set. It seemed like Billy Martin was managing the Tigers again, shades of when he ordered his pitchers to throw at Bert Campaneris' legs in the 1972 playoffs. And was he managing against himself on the Yankees, reminding us of the time he bullied Goose Gossage into throwing at Ranger Billy Sample in his debut spring training game with the Yankees? And the Bombers kept the good times rolling with another series win, beating Seattle this weekend. As for the Mets, they went back to Houston, the scene of the great 1986 LCS, and split a four-game series. And then it was off to Pittsburgh, the scene of . . . The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh? They notched their first road series win against an NL team this year by taking two out of three from the Pirates, but just couldn't manage the sweep. And football is back, if only preseason, so we get to throw that into the mix as well this week. K-Rod is gone, A-Rod is injured, Eli is a bloody mess, Revis was nowhere to be found, but we'll find a winner somewhere . . .
Robinson Cano: With A-Rod out with a barking calf, Cano has taken over the cleanup spot. And he's been doing a lot of cleaning up there. If the Scooter were still alive, there's no doubt he would have wailed, "Holy cow! How about that kid Cano! Unbelievable!" after the second baseman's performance yesterday. All he did was smash a grand slam and then drive in a couple more runs a few innings later. Which was just the icing on the cake of his impressive week. In the seven games, he hit .333 (while walking five times), with four dingers and drove in a whopping 13 runs. Holy cow indeed. Earlier in the year he was Mr. MVP, and now he's stepping it up again - just in time as many of his teammates are on the DL or feeling their age. He's in the prime of his career and the Bombers are going to need him to act like it. His average is up to .325, with 25 homers and 86 RBIs for the year.
Jose Reyes: He's finally fully healed from his oblique issue, and he's off and running. An injured Jose Reyes is pretty much useless. And so is an unhappy Jose Reyes (like the one who was forced to bat third). He's fussy and sensitive like a Chihuahua. And if you poke and prod him he'll bite you. But a healthy, comfortable, happy Jose Reyes is an energetic ball of fire, stealing bases, scoring runs and running like a dreadlocked Forrest Gump. For the week, he batted .483, banging out 15 hits, scored six runs and stole five bases.
CC Sabathia: The big man is undefeated at Yankee Stadium since last season's All-Star break. He won two more games this week, going seven innings while only allowing two runs against Detroit on Tuesday, and in yesterday's downpour, he threw six shutout innings. And he struck out 17 batters in the two games. He's now 17-5, with a 3.02 ERA and 1.22 WHIP. Cy Young anyone?
Curtis Granderson: He should be platooned. He should play left field. The Yankees should have never traded for him. The trade will work out in the Yankees' favor in the long run. Everybody has an opinion about Granderson. With the Tigers in town for a four-game series, the struggling center fielder took advantage of the revenge factor, and starred in the four games against his old team, playing like he had something to prove. He's been working on his mechanics and shortened his swing, and he's reaping the benefits of his adjustments. He hit .350 this week, with a home run, three RBIs, four runs scored and four walks.
David Wright: He's hot. He's cold. He's hot again. He's inconsistent. He tinkers with his swing. From week to week, he changes where he stands in the batter's box like he's playing a game of twister. But ultimately, he's pretty damn good. And he's hitting once again, batting .392 for the week, with two home runs and four RBIs.
R.A. Dickey: The knuckleballer has set the bar so high for himself that Wednesday's outing was almost a disappointment. No one-hit complete-game shutout? Come on, get rid of the bum. I guess we'll have to accept 8 1/3 innings, two runs and six strikeouts. He also added an RBI double into the mix. Reggie Jackson once said of him, "Blind people come to the park just to listen to him pitch." Ok, he said that about Tom Seaver, but if Dickey keeps up his present excellence, sometime soon there will be witty quotes said about him, too. His ERA keeps on lowering, now down to 2.41 (with a 1.16 WHIP).
Mike Pelfrey: Yeah, yeah, yeah, it was against the Pirates, but they're in the major leagues, too, right? Well, kind of, sort of. The enigmatic righty threw eight sold innings vs. the weak-hitting ancestors of the Lumber Company on Friday night, only allowing two runs (one earned). It was his third consecutive non-insane-hand-licking start. So far this season he's been fantastic, then god-awful and now he's pretty good. He's the Sybil of National League pitchers.
Johan Santana: The Mets' ace was a hard-luck loser yet again yesterday. What does giving up two runs mean with that "pathetic" offense? They have no chance to win. In his two games pitched this week, Santana struck out 16 in 16 innings, while only walking two and allowed six runs. He's the first Met since David Cone in 1990 to pitch three consecutive complete games, and the first Met since Jerry Koosman to throw back-to-back complete-game losses. Santana's ERA is down to 2.94, and he has a 1.18 WHIP. His 10-8 record, of course, is no reflection on how he's pitched this season.
Jon Niese: There seems to be a trend here. The Mets starters have been fantastic. Maybe the Yanks and Mets can fuse rosters, with a few of the Amazin's starters filling out the Bombers' rotation. Speaking of Jerry Koosman, the Mets' rookie lefty has been Koosman-like in his debut season. He doesn't throw as hard as the Met legend, but he's starting to approach Koosman's outstanding rookie year in 1968. That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but Niese has been rock solid. He made two starts this week, throwing seven innings on Monday, while only letting in one run, and on Saturday, he made it four games in a row with only one run allowed, though this one was a rain-shortened five innings. His ERA has sunk to an impressive 3.33, with a WHIP of 1.33. He's calm, he's cool - he's almost like Koos.
Austin Kearns/Kerry Wood: Well, these were two deadline deals that have worked out beautifully for the Yanks. All Kearns has done is hit in his short time with the Bombers. He batted .350 this week, with a homer and five RBIs. And Wood has helped solidify the bridge to Mariano Rivera (isn't that an old WWII movie, The Bridge To Mariano Rivera, starring William Holden and Alex Guinness?). He pitched another 3 2/3 scoreless innings this week, and hasn't let in a run in his last seven appearances.
Bobby Parnell: Let's give Parnell a little credit for hitting 100 miles an hour on the radar gun a handful of times this week. He made it all the way up to 102 twice. Of course you still have to throw strikes and get people out, and that he did in his two games, pitching three perfect innings - no hits, no walks, no runs - and striking out four.
Mark Sanchez (first game)/Jim Leonhard/Nick Folk (second game): Against the , the Sanchize recovered from the disaster of having his first pass of the game picked off, which resulted in the first-ever touchdown in the New Meadowlands, and performed with machine-like precision from there on out. He finished 13 for 17, with 119 yards passing, and made it through the game with no blood spewing from his head. Jim Leonhard (an interception and a sack) and Nick Folk (three field goals) were just about the only standouts in the second preseason game, which the Jets won, but it somehow felt like a loss (while the first game kind of felt like a win).
Victor Cruz: A star is born! Local product (Paterson, NJ) Cruz hauled in three touchdown passes, six catches in all, which was good for 145 yards, on Monday night. Sure, it's only preseason and he was playing against the second string in the second half, but the game against the Jets was his Super Bowl, as the undrafted rookie is just trying to make the team. On Saturday vs. the Steelers, Cruz caught two passes, for 30 yards.
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