The Yankees lost another battle to the Red Sox. But if Mariano Rivera had provided a flawless ninth, then the conversation would be different. So with Jesus Montero possibly on his way soon and Jorge Posada all but on his way out, let's answer four questions about where the Yankees stand.
1. Have the Yankees found their playoff formula?
If Rivera nails down the save Sunday night, the talk out of this series is Ro-So-Mo. Rafael Soriano is pitching out of the Steinbrenners' and team president Randy Levine's dreams. Since coming off the disabled list, Soriano is perfect in four innings.
Twelve up. Twelve down. Five strikeouts.
Could Soriano mean to 2011 what Damaso Marte was to 2009? Marte was ineffective all year before pitching lights-out in October.
Joe Girardi is fond of saying that Soriano's addition was like making a trade.
Imagine if Soriano didn't have all his early season baggage and his season had just started with the Yankees.
So far, he has accepted an even more diminished office -- the seventh inning -- and is pitching like an All-Star closer.
2. Why should the Yankees call up Montero?
Montero is destined to arrive in the Bronx in the next three and a half weeks. When the rosters expand, Montero will surely be on the list. Could he be up sooner? Maybe.
The question is where will his at-bats come from? He is unlikely to catch much, if at all. That seemed evident Sunday, when Girardi paused, then hemmed and hawed, trying to answer the question of whether Montero is ready behind the plate.
Montero's bat is closer. He is hitting .289 with 11 homers and 51 RBIs in 350 at-bats. Still, even with Posada benched, it will likely be DH by committee. Against righties, Eric Chavez will receive a lot of at-bats and it will be a resting post for Alex Rodriguez when he returns, and for other regulars.
Against lefties, Montero's opportunity could come as Andruw Jones and the resting stars will take those ABs.
Montero could be better at the major league level than he was in the minors, according to hitting coach Kevin Long. Long compared Montero to Robinson Cano, who is so talented he can expand the strike zone.
In the minors, with wilder pitchers, that can lead to problems because pitches are so far off the plate, a batter can't drive the ball as well.
In the majors, pitchers often only miss by inches, which could allow Montero to drive pitches that might otherwise be called balls.
3. Could Manny Banuelos be a factor?
Yes, he certainly could. He has now started twice at Triple-A and has a 2.45 ERA. He has walked only three batters in 11 innings. The Yankees want to see him control his fastball better, which was an issue at Double-A.
The Yankees have a need for a second lefty in the bullpen. Banuelos may end up being that guy.
4. Should you be worried about CC Sabathia against Boston?
No. Sabathia has been amazing against everyone except for Boston. He is 16-2 with a 2.11 ERA in non-Red Sox games. Versus Boston, he is 0-4 with a 7.20 ERA.
These numbers will only shape the conversation going into Sabathia's next start, not the actual outing.
It is true the Red Sox have to feel confident against Sabathia, but with that lineup, who are they not going to feel good against?
But considering Sabathia's skill and résumé, you don't think he could put up nine zeroes? Of course, he could. Would you bet against CC?