Tuesday, October 20, 2009
The Yankees came into Game 3 of the American League Championship Series in the drivers seat. 2 games to none lead. 3-0 lead in the game. Andy Pettitte on the hill trying to get Vlad Guererro who is representing the tying run at the plate with 2 outs. Out comes Joe Girardi, the first of many trips he made to the mound, home plate, umpire as well as making walk after move after replacement that just made him look ridiculous. Vlad proceeds to hit a game tying 2 run HR after Girardi trots back to the dugout possibly breaking any rhythm that Andy Pettitte may have possibly had. I'd love to blame Andy, but on this night I'm blaming Clueless Joe.
Sure, Joe lost our DH in the 10th inning when he took Damon out of the game in left for Jerry Hairston Jr. I do understand being concerned about Johnny's arm, but then we lose our DH who is due up 3rd in the next inning thus hindering our lineup severely in a tight October matchup and a chance to take a strangle hold on this ALCS.
The worst blunder of all though, his handling of the pen. He's done it all postseason, trying to matchup and get the right ingredients like a mad scientist. David Robertson who has been one of his best weapons out of the pen down the stretch, was removed from the game in the Bottom of the 11th after retiring the first two hitters with ease and it appeared this game was headed for the 12th. Joey G wasn't having that. Clueless Joe was checking his handy dandy notebook and for whatever reason, after checking his notebook once and than twice he decided to call upon Aceves out of the pen. I'm not killing Ace here, he's been solid all year, a good long man to come in when your starter wasn't able to give you what you want and you don't quite want to go to your big guns yet. However, he's a contact pitcher, you can even say he's pitched to a lot of luck this year having a very low BABIP to help him to his success found out of the pen this year. Robertson is a power, low contact guy who in my mind you would trust more in that spot. Not this Joe, this isn't your everday average Joe, this is Clueless Joe. In comes Ace........Game, Set, Match. Let's hope it doesn't cost this team a trip to the World Series.
By Vinnie Ferrarini
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Watching the game last night, knowing there was impending rain in the forecast, I was just hoping that they would be able to get 9 innings in and not have to experience a suspended game as was the case last year in the World Series between the Phillies and Rays. I was checking the radar all day, hoping the rain would hold off. As it turned out, not only did they play 9 innings, they ended up playing 13 innings and maybe in the process bringing over some of that old mystique and aura over from old Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees jumped out to an early 2-0 lead. Cano tripled in a run, that was the only productive thing he did all night though. Later on he did his best to try and aid the Angels to victory with his glove. Derek Jeter hit his 19th career postseason Home Run, now he stands behind only Manny Ramirez and Yankee great Bernie Williams on the all time list. We all know how skewed that list is though, as the players today have the additional games that players of the past did not have with the addition of the Championship Series and then later on in 1995 the Division Series.
A.J. Burnett was cruising through 4 innings, throwing first pitch strikes and avoiding the pitfalls of the usual problems he falls into. However, in the 5th inning he hit a wall. There he was, seemingly dealing and dominating early on, he now got into trouble with his control again, and started falling behind hitters, walking batters and hit a couple of batters in the process. With 2 outs and a 2-1 Yankee lead in the 5th, Vlad Guerrero was up with the bases loaded and 2 outs. A.J. had two strikes on Guerrero and like he should he tried to entice the free swinging Guerrero with a curve ball down and away, problem was he threw about a 58 footer down and away and it gets away from Molina and a run scores and we now have a tie game. Frustrating, but Yankee fans have become acustomed to this with Burnett. All in all though, Burnett did his job. He pitched 6 1/3 innings and only gave up the 2 runs and once again added to the string of excellent starting pitching the Yankees have gotten this postseason.
In the 7th with 1 out, Cano botches a routine ground out off the bat of Izturis after which Girardi came out and pulled Burnett who left to a standing ovation but then left some Yankee fans scratching their heads when the choice was Phil Coke. Now Girardi mixed and matched all night, by the end of the game Chad Gaudin was a lonely man sitting in that bullpen by himself. Coke came in and walked Figgins to the anger of this Yankee fan in particular. However, Coke did rebound and got Abreu to chase a 2-2 slider in the dirt and he couldn't hold his swing, this was a huge strikeout. At this stage it was another move, as Girardi called upon the lost one, Joba Chamberlain. The Yankees botched the handling of Joba all season from my perspective. After allowing an infield single to Hunter that loaded the bases it was time to face Vlad Guerrero, who despite bad knees and a much slower bat, can still obviously be a threat to get a hold of one and give the Angels a 4 run lead with the pond full of ducks. After Molina and Joba couldn't come to an agreement on a 2 strike pitch and chatted about it, by the way it seemed like Molina spent most of his night running to the mound and trying to make sure both he and the pitcher were on the same page; Girardi marched out and also joined the conference halfway between the mound and home. The meeting worked, Joba threw a slider that Vlad whaled at and missed for strike 3 as Joba pumped his fist and screamed on the mound right before he headed back to the dugout much to the pleasure of starting pitcher A.J. Burnett.
The Yankees defense was shaky on the night. Cano made two errors on routine plays that gave the Angels a chance to cash in, luckily both times the Yankee bullpen managed to work around the errors. Jeter also booted what was a possible double play as well, and all runners were safe. The Yankees behind the pitching of Phil Hughes and Mariano Rivera worked around it and bailed out the poor defense behind them.
In the 11th the Angels plated a run on Chone Figgins first hit of the postseason and all of a sudden the stadium was shocked. Chone Figgins fist in the sky looking into his dugout was screaming in joy, much to the displeasure of this obnoxious Yankee fan. I didn't care too much for Figgins at this moment in time, I wanted so bad to see him standing at 3B in the bottom half of the inning watching another Yankee walkoff. The Angels now had a 3-2 lead and were going to hand over the ball to their closer Fuentes. Fuentes was brought in and had the tall task of replacing Francisco Rodriguez, who came on the scene late in 2002 and helped lead the Angels to their first World championship. Fuentes did have 48 saves on the season, but he did blow 7 saves; including one at the Stadium during the regular season. So by no means was he automatic on the year. Alex Rodriguez came up in the 11th and due to some pinch running earlier in the game, he was followed by speedsters Guzman and Gardner who came on in pinch running situations earlier in the game. It was clear, it was up to A Rod, and the buzz in the air at the New Yankee Stadium felt like those vibes you would feel on those October nights of past. A Rod was down in the count 0-2, but you still had a feeling something good was going to happen. A Rod got an 0-2 fastball out over the plate and with that sweet stroke he has he sent the ball just over the head of Abreu (who for once in his life actually made a halfway decent effort at a ball hit towards the wall) and it just cleared the wall in right to tie the game. It was a magical moment, you truly felt like the ghosts were alive and mystique and aura was happening at the new house in the Bronx.
The Yankee bullpen did their thing. Seven Yankee pitchers in all came through those bullpen doors and although it was not always easy, thanks in part to some spotty defense, they did the job. Another big game for David Robertson; with his new found control, has become a huge part of this bullpen. There were many nerve racking moments, but you just felt, with the 15 walkoff wins during the regular season and the one prior in the ALDS in Game 2 against the Twins, you just knew they were going to find a way to get it done. In the 13th inning, Girardi used his next to last man off the bench to pinch hit for Freddy Guzman. Up to the plate came 12 year veteran Jerry Hairston Jr., finally getting a taste of postseason action after a July 31st deal brought him from the Reds to the Yankees. What a move it was. Brian Cashman took a lot of heat for not dealing for a starting pitcher, but let's be honest, there wasn't much out there. Hairston came up in the 13th and ripped a line drive single into left center. Gardner follows with a sac bunt and Cano was intentionally walked. This setup Melky Cabrera, who got his share of pies to the face during the regular season. He hit a hard ground ball in the hole between 2B and 1B, Izturis got to the ball but foolishly tried to spin and get Cano at 2B as opposed to getting the automatic out at first. The throw to Aybar covering 2B was wide and Hairston turned on the burners in those veteran legs of his. Figgins scrambled for the ball and couldn't pick it up cleanly initially, thus eliminating any chance of getting Hairston at home and in he came sliding across home plate for the win and the recipient of the proverbial pie to the face in another walk off win for the Bombers.
What a night, the ghosts were alive and well and the new house in the Bronx is feeling more and more like home after each passing game, especially the first 4 games it's seen this October where the Yankees are now 4-0 at home in the postseason and their lone road game was a victory once again in dramatic fashion over the Twins to finish off the sweep in the ALDS. However, there is still a lot of work to be done. Do not expect the Angels to go lay down as they head back home for the next 3 games. Even if the Yankees do end up getting by the Angels to win the Pennant, the ultimate goal will be the 27th World Series crown, anything short of that is simply a failure at this point. To this point, they look primed and ready for the challenge. What will happen next this October or even into November at the new house in the Bronx?
By Vinnie Ferrarini
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
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Charlie and Vinnie