Two more steps to take…8 more wins!
ARod did it again! Good for him and good for us and shame on all the Yankee fans that booed him. That HR to right was vintage ARod showing tremendous power to RF and like many of you; it got me out of my chair! Posada had a great game as well. Obviously his HR carried out (he had under spin which helped it clear the wall), but he also was in on two really big plays. The obvious one was the play where Jeter was heads up, although he had no chance at first so he really didn’t have a choice, and threw home (on a bounce I might add) where Posada easily grabbed it and threw an absolute bullet strike to 3rd that made it very easy for ARod to tag out Punto. Great throw by Jorge and an incredibly exciting play for us and excruciating for Twin fans. (The heck with them when they started the Jeter sucks chant, I lost respect). BTW, the 3 Yankees in on that play are the 3 Yankees that are carrying us offensively as well! The other play was on the key strike out Joba had when he bounced the slider and Jorge did a great job of shifting his feet and body so that he turned in toward home plate (the way you should) and he blocked the ball by having it drop straight down (the way you should) and he picked it up and made the throw for the 3rd out in a crucial spot in the game.
The spot just referenced was an interesting one for Girardi. Pettitte only had just over 80 pitches and was not showing any signs of tiring yet, but Girardi showed great confidence in Joba (and of course Hughes and Rivera) by making the move with one out in the 7th. I have to admit that I don’t think I would have made the move there as I would have waited for Andy to either start missing or laboring or if Andy let a runner on, but it was definitely an aggressive move that is not a bad move either. If Joba had pitched more in the pen and been better this year it would have been more obvious, but for a guy who some thought wouldn’t make the postseason roster, I think I would have felt a little more comfortable with Pettitte. Of course, after Joba hung a slider and allowed a double many people were starting to 2nd guess. I do like that Girardi made a move (and even if it didn’t work it was not a bad move) and was not afraid to make a move that could have easily been 2nd guessed. I wasn’t complaining at the time, but I did ask for a pitch count on Pettitte because I was a little surprised. Joba was able to pitch his way out of it…with some help from Jorge.
Pettitte really pitched well. I thought he and Posada called a great game and they moved the ball over the place and really worked great together.
Sometimes teams don’t score because of good pitching and sometimes it is because of bad hitting (the same is true for scoring a lot as sometimes it is good hitting and not bad pitching), I thought this was a case of good pitching. Conversely, I thought while Pavano pitched pretty well, the Yankees had opportunities with some bad pitches and did less than they should have (although Pavano pitched well). It was the type of game where if the Yankees hit well they would have scored 3 runs in 7 innings (in this case instead of 2) Might not seem like much. but the difference is an ERA of 2.57 or 3.86. Next time someone throws out the cliché’ that “good pitching always beats good hitting” just mentally roll your eyes and understand that this is not always the case. What happens when a good pitcher gets beat; was it because they didn’t pitch well or was it because the team hit well? Cris carpenter was one of the best pitchers in the NL this year, but STL didn’t win because they (or he) didn’t pitch well??? So every time the opposition doesn’t score it is the pitcher and every time they do score it is the pitcher??? Don’t buy into that. Sure, if a guy has nasty stuff and is painting the corners all day, you can say that it will be hard to score much off of that guy, but there are always pitches to hit and if you are hitting well you will hit them.
So folks, who do you have more faith to pitch the 8th inning in the next series; Hughes or Joba? It is a fair question. Hughes has not had good command and for some reason he is only throwing fastballs. I know they shifted his curve to a harder curve, but I think they made it slightly to fast. Either way, he can’t just throw 94-95 MPH fastballs all the time…Sure if he can spot it every time he will be effective but he needs to work in his breaking ball. I thought Girardi made the no brainer decision to go to the Genius Maker with 2 outs in the 8th with Mauer up. This was the classic confrontation we were all waiting for. Their big gun against ours; this would be the key moment in the game, our old warrior against their young gun…The first pitch was away and the next pitch buzz sawed the bat out of Mauer’s hand and for the most part ended the game. Great moment and fitting for the Genius Maker, the greatest closer of all time. I hope he can continue!
A few other notes:
1 IP, 4 hits, 3 ER 2 BB and 0 k’s.
That is really great to see. Of course we don’t want to see that from the Yankees. No, this was not Joe Nathan’s line either. This was none other than the line of Jonathan Papelbon…couldn’t happen to a nicer guy! Credit Anaheim for taking down a good team and sweeping them; much more impressive than what we did. This Angel team is very good and their offense is solid top to bottom. They don’t have much of a bench except for pinch running, but their starting team is very solid. Our team is a slightly better than theirs across the board, but the differences are small and in a 7 game series anything can happen. I think our bullpen is better and our lineup has more greatness, but they are very consistent. They also mounted that comeback with 2 outs and nobody on against Boston. They play like we do and the game is never over.
I would like to see Gardner play a lot more in CF and I think the Yankees should look at the Minnesota series and recognize they don’t need Hairston on the team, he will never be used unless as a pinch runner and you might as well keep Guzman on the team as he is faster than Hairston and a better OF for defensive situations. Hinske is the other guy on the bubble, but I could see where he might have to pinch hit at some point (perhaps for a CF’r and then Guzman plays defense). Marte did not get the job done, but I would keep him on the roster as he might be needed and even the threat of the lefty can make a difference (he is a good lefty regardless of what he just did).