By Sweeny Murti
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*What a relief it was to see CC Sabathia put together back-to-back good starts.  It was a definite concern that he hadn’t been able to hold leads and give the Yankees the type of A-games that they so desperately need in this pennant race.

Sabathia’s fastball location has improved and his slider is much more effective.  And that means he has the ability to put hitters away. After striking out 20 batters over a four-start stretch, Sabathia racked up 21 strikeouts in his last two starts, recording back-to-back 10-strikeout games for the first time in over a year.  This is the ace they need.

*Andy Pettitte has one more start on Saturday, which means he will have a total of 12 starts and maybe around 75 innings heading into the postseason.

Two years ago Pettitte had pitched only 129 innings, his fewest ever heading into a postseason.  He gave the Yankees two very good starts that year.  The hope this time is basically the same as it’s been all yea — that Pettitte simply hasn’t forgotten how to pitch in big games, no matter what the lead-up has been like.

*If Sabathia and Pettitte can really be this good, many around the league seem to think that the Yankees are as good as anybody else in this league right now.  And they are playing much better lately.  As Derek Jeter has said many times over the years, the best teams get to the playoffs, but many times the hottest team is the one that wins.

*Despite a pretty severe slump over the last month and change, Robinson Cano is still the Yankees’ best hitter, and perhaps he just needs to remind himself of that.  Cano had his swing looking pretty good during early batting practice Tuesday at Target Field.  What followed was a 5-for-8 over the next two games, none of the five hits bigger than his two-run double off lefty Brian Duensing on Wednesday afternoon.

The Yankees need a number of things to go their way if they will play deep into October, but Cano’s bat is among the most important.  In last year’s division series loss to the Tigers, Cano hit .318 (7-for-22) including a 2-for-5 performance with a home run in Game 5.  In 2010 he hit .343 (12-for-35) in two postseason series.  Cano’s time is now.  He just needs to remember that.

*Ichiro Suzuki seems to be enjoying his first pennant race in a decade quite well, don’t you think?

*Over the years I’ve seen lefties like Graeme Lloyd and Damaso Marte heat up at the right time and give the Yankees quality postseason innings.  This is what they need from Boone Logan.

*Don’t get caught up in choosing matchups yet.  Get into the postseason, get everyone healthy and just play who’s in front of you.  The 4th or 5th seed in this league is just as capable of winning three out of five as the first seed.  There are no gimmes.

*This train carries losers and winners.  Meet me in a land of hope and dreams.

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