I wrote most of this last night but wanted to sleep on the decision of who to start tonight. Answer near the bottom.
In a previous blog I mentioned that I wanted at least 4 runs in 6 innings off of Blanton. We achieved that, but I was not happy as we continued our pattern of taking strikes and swinging at balls. When the score was 4-3 in the 8th inning I was concerned we didn’t take enough advantage of our pitching edge of CC against Blanton. Partly because the ump was very inconsistent and I felt gave Blanton a lot more calls than CC, especially with CC’s changeup. Usually a staple of what makes CC very tough as he throws it on any count; CC had a lot of trouble getting called strikes on the changeup. Regardless, the offense should have done more against Blanton.
Because this was the best match up in terms of advantage from a pitchers standpoint, I felt this was a game we should win. Both teams showing a never quit attitude, but once again the Genius Maker is the difference as their closer allows 3 runs and Rivera just keeps plowing along. It really is amazing when you see what other closers due in the postseason and how great Rivera has been. When closers fail games are usually lost and Rivera has been the difference maker.
You have to give credit to Philly as they took advantage of our bad pitches. The hanging curve to Utley was deposited and then in the 8th inning after Joba blew away Werth and Ibanez, he missed with 2 sliders and then came in with a fastball that was supposed to be outside and ended up catching most of the inside part of the plate and Feliz deposited it. They really took advantage of our mistakes and this last one could have been a huge blow especially when I felt that if either slider was close to being a strike the inning would have been over. This is a learning experience for Joba and it shows you simply can’t miss your spots and get away with it very often…even at 95. Of course, if he was throwing 97-98 you can get away with a little more. Joba did get a little lucky against Werth in that he was looking to go away with a fastball and it ended up in a perfect spot up and in and Werth missed it. That reminded me of Lee and how when he missed he was fortunate that many of his pitches ended up in great spots. Against Feliz he was not as fortunate.
After 2 outs and the announcers talking about how good Lidge has been since he straightened himself out, Damon had a fantastic AB. Damon had the count 1-2 and then worked the count full and then fouled off 2 more before hitting a solid single the other way on the 9th pitch he saw. After a ball, Damon showed some real heads up play in stealing 2nd (subtle point was that Texiera was heads up enough to take a strike and allow Damon to steal the base) and then knowing that 3rd base was his for the taking as long as he could be Feliz who caught the ball leaning toward the 1st base side of 2nd. Now, I have to admit when I saw him going my first thought was crap, he thought the ball went into 2nd base as they had not shown the shift was on. But, when Feliz never threw I was thrilled. Kind of makes you wonder who screwed up on their side. If Feliz is taking the throws, the pitcher should be covering 3rd base and Lidge fell asleep. Great sequence for Johnny. After they hit Texiera, and no you don’t intentionally hit a guy hitting under .100 to face ARod, hit was up to Captain Clutch in yet again another classic spot for Alex. I expected sliders as I don’t buy this crap about having Damon on 3rd limited him to only throwing his fastball. You have to get the batter out and your catcher better stop the ball form getting by him if it is in the dirt. The Phillies stuck with the fastball and ARod with a very compact swing turned on the inside pitch and lined a double to left. A group of us were out of our chairs as ARod came through again. While we were in good shape, getting another hit could ice the game. Posada came through with another big hit and this was the final nail in the coffin for this game. Not sure why Posada went for 2nd, but the damage was done and those 2 extra runs were enormous. Posada is a great hitting catcher, calls a good game and has always thrown out runners at a very high rate, but he has to have some of the worst base running instincts of anyone. Add that to his lack of speed and he is one of the worst base runner you can have. Great job though Jorge!
A couple of other notes:
I believe we have been hit 5 times (I may be off here), and 2 of the ones to ARod were intentional in my opinion. I hate the rule that after you get hit, both sides get warned. It pays to “strike first.” I do like that ARod said something and the Girardi went out to make sure that CC came inside and happened to hit someone that he was not going to be tossed. I think the Umps knew that they would only toss someone if it were in an obvious spot. Tex was not hit on purpose. I don’t like that we have been plunked so much and the ARod 2 were BS, but I don’t want to see us retaliate in any way. Let’s just win. Burnett is wild enough where he will probably hit someone anyway.
I feel that Damon should have caught the very high pop up by Victorino in the 1st inning. I think he got a terrible jump and that cost him. A ball that high needs to be caught. I also think that on the 2nd run not only should have he caught that ball, but he also should have kept charging the ball to help his VERY weak throw. He misjudged that the ball carried farther than he thought. If he charges that ball he makes a fairly routine shoe string catch, but even if he couldn’t, at worst it would have been a very short hop where he could then keep his momentum going on the throw home. As the ball reached home plate Posada should have come forward before that last (I think 3rd hop) so that he could just tag Howard out. It was a tough play to stand there and wait for the ball and Jorge should have gone to get it as slow as it was coming. As for Howard not touching home plate, it is what it is, but CC threw to 2nd anyway instead of tagging him so it doesn’t matter. Also, he barely missed it so I could see if the ump thought he touched it.
Cano is absolutely lost at the plate. He is following the taking strikes and swinging at balls routine to an art form. It is a shame because he is a difference maker for us. I get the feeling Girardi may start Hairston at 2nd base against Lee.
With Gardner in CF (I imagine Melky is out), Molina catching, and Burnett hitting, we will have trouble generating any offense so having a punchers chance in Cano hitting a homer may be worth keeping him out there? Tough call, but it may be time to rest Cano for one game just like Swisher.
McCarver has starting to show his age. He has made many wrong comments and just seems to swing and miss often. Just a few of many examples: McCarver made the comment about “not one pitch inside to a lefty” and that was wrong as Utley was pitched inside with 3 pitches. He made the comment about Joba coming out to pitch even though he was already pinch hit for and many items such as this.
While on the announcing, I am very tired of the stating the obvious announcing such as a guy likes good when he is performing well (looks relaxed) and looks indifferent, depressed or distant when performing poorly…even though it is the same look. Even ARod looks different to everyone…the only difference is he is playing much better now. “He looks to be in great control and is locked in” followed by “and the Yankees score their 2nd run of the inning.” J
Girardi managed well and getting CC out after 107 pitches should make him be strong for game 7 if needed
Many people did not want Marte on the post season roster, but he has now pitched in 7 games and been able to get 10 outs against good lefty hitters while allowing only 2 hits and no walks! I have been saying how important it is to have specialists and in the post season it is even more important.
I liked that Posada had his arm around Joba after the Yanks bailed him out. I am sure that was very valuable and should be a great learning experience for Joba. Most likely he will be our closer of the future.
Who should we start tonight?
I have been going back and forth on starting Burnett. I stated that I wanted Burnett on 3 days rest as well as Andy from the start. But, in looking at stats, Andy (from what I have been told) is not good on 3 days rest, but AJ has been. Not sure of the relevance of either stat, but what has some relevance is the situation and the way AJ has pitched at home compared to on the road. AJ has a 3.51 ERA at home and 4.59 ERA on the road. In his 4 postseason games so far he has pitched very well at home with a 1.86 ERA allowing 4 ER in 19.1 innings at home. On his one road start he allowed 6 runs in 6 innings. This gives me great pause in sending AJ on short rest rather than holding him back to be on 5 days rest on Wednesday at home. It also makes them beat us twice at home with our 2 best on the mound. Of course we could still win with Gaudin, Acevas or whoever, but let’s assume we are almost giving that game up. Stat wise, the answer is to probably hold AJ back, but the other factors say to stay with AJ. These other factors are led by the fact that he has prepared to start tonight and holding him back 2 days could throw off his preparation (this is important). You don’t want to take anything for granted and when you have your foot on their throat you want to keep up the pressure and act like you need this game as bad as they do. If we would have lost yesterday, there is no question AJ would be on the mound tonight. No reason to offer any momentum to Philly and “concede” game 5. Again, we might be able to win with Gaudin, but Gaudin does not match up well against this team and has not pitched in a very long time. As poor as he has pitched lately I would actually have more faith in Acevas than Gaudin. Of course, Andy does not match up well either and did not pitch well his last outing.
As you can see, this is a very hard decision and I don’t think it is fair to criticize either one as they both have merits and pitfalls. My final decision would be to pitch AJ as that is what I planned from the start and try to close it out tonight. Also, AJ should be available to pitch out of the pen if needed in game 7 and with the shaky pitching of anyone not named Marte or Rivera, that may be needed. Act like you need every game, because with Lee going and a what could be a shaky Andy, there is a possibility we will need CC in game 7.
AJ, go out tonight and earn yourself the MVP of the World Series; it is yours for the taking!
10 wins under our belt with one more for the big prize!
The Genius Maker tm is a tribute to Mariano Rivera who makes coaches look a like a genius...