Yankees’ Ability to Keep Up With Red Sox in AL East Has Been Major Surprise

Yankees' Ability to Keep Up With Red Sox in AL East Has Been Major Surprise The fire that is the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry was stoked a bit on Tuesday night, as both teams took issue with some pitches that hit some batters rather than the strike zone.

The Yankees came away with a win, and the AL East race grew even tighter. That has fans thinking about this Yankees team and how surprising it is that they're right there with the Sox after five months of baseball.

Are you surprised by how well the Yankees have played in 2011?
–Tom, Carlisle, Mass.

Indeed very surprised. I knew their lineup was as good as anyone's, but I just thought the pitching would be there biggest problem. Going into the season in search of a fourth and a fifth starter and ending up for most of the season with Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon is amazing to me. I never imagined they would have so many injuries to their pen and then have other guys step up the way they have. Having watched the Red Sox every day be as good as they have and to then realize the Yankees have played as well all season is very much a surprise to me.

Who was your favorite non-Red Sox player?
–Karen, Worcester, Mass.

I would say Cal Ripken. The streak to me represents so much. He went to work every day. Even when he did not feel good or was hurt. Every day he was there. Showing up is half the battle and he showed up every day. I always like the way he carried himself and without question, he was a class act.

I think he was kind of the end of the "Oriole Way," The last player who came from that instructional thought process who lived it and carried it out based on the teachings of his dad, Cal Sr.

Cal is now a colleague at TBS for the postseason. He and Dennis Eckersley have shared the studio in the postseason since I have been doing games.

Josh Reddick has not been the same at the plate over the past few weeks. What do you see as the problem?
–Nick, Sunrise, Fla.

I don't think it is too much of a concern. I don't think he was going to continue to be a .400 hitter at this level. I think advance scouts in the majors make adjustments and see weaknesses pretty quickly and then after a few weeks, the scouting reports get implemented and now it is on Reddick to make adjustments to counter what they are doing. It is a process for a young player that we have play over and over again. Come up hot and then all of a sudden cools and now their confidence is a tad shaken. Right now he is seeing a lot of breaking balls he did not see in the first month.

Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon week is special. It seems to really affect all of you who host.
–Kim, Westerly, R.I.

Very true. Most do not visit the Jimmy fund clinic, as we do, and have been fortunate to not have their children go for cancer treatment. It's hard when you meet the kids and know how they were just living normal lives one day and the next they were stricken by this horrific disease. I am always amazed at the strength of these children facing chemo and all that they do with a smile on their faces. The stories every year are different. Everyone's personal battle is different and they are always willing to share their stories in efforts to help gain finances for cancer research to help others.

I am also in awe of the doctors and nurses at the clinic. We put baseball players on a pedestal but really to me the real heroes are caregivers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Red Sox Nation has always stepped up and I am hopeful they will again in 2011.

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