Bombers Blast: Zombie Yankees keep grip on AL East


The return of Andy Pettitte and Alex Rodriguez should bolster the Yankees down the stretch.

The Yankees have been playing like zombies for a good portion of the second half of the season, stumbling and bumbling through games — making silly errors, leaving runners stranded in scoring position, giving up runs to subpar hitters. Yet, like zombies, they just won’t die.

They let what had been a comfortable 10-game lead atop the American League East dwindle to a mere game. As hard as those Baltimore Golden Boys have tried with all their late-inning heroics and one-run magic, the best they’ve been able to achieve is a dead heat with the Bombers. Yeah, there was a half game lead here and there when the Yankees were dormant, but that’s just semantics. The O’s, the team of destiny that everyone who has ever driven (quickly) through Baltimore or watched an episode of The Wire is cheering on, can’t quite kill the pinstriped monster.

By all rights, the Yankees should not still be in first place. They have played uninspired baseball that has been difficult to watch at times. Nothing comes easy to this team. They have a relief corps that has been overused and is showing it. The RISP fail has been going on all season long with no real signs of ending. The propensity of starters giving up the long ball continues to bite them. Not to mention the injuries that never seem to stop coming.

This Walking Dead version of the Yankees sure doesn’t look like world beaters, but their cold dead hands stay firmly clenched on first place. That is what should be scary to teams like the Orioles and A’s. For all their ineptitude, New York just won’t die. And now they’re getting healthy.

A-Rod is back in the lineup. Andy Pettitte pitched five scoreless innings on Wednesday for his first win since early June. Ivan Nova looked good in his return to the mound. Even if he is a human error machine, Eduardo Nunez’s call-up adds speed and depth to the lineup. Plus, Brett Gardner may soon be available for defensive replacement and running duties. Lest you think that’s not a big deal, ask the 2004 Red Sox about the importance of a speedy pinch runner in a big playoff game.

While I still don’t see the 2012 Yankees getting far into the postseason, and I’m truly amazed they haven’t fallen in the standings, I can’t outright bury them. Some monsters just can’t be killed.

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