Sunday, October 18, 2009
I would like to start off by thanking Maicer Izturis for his 13th inning error last night. Those of us who had a morning walk for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, are grateful for the little bit of sleep we got last night.
It was Izturis' throwing error that allowed Jerry Hairston Jr. to score the game winning run in the Yankees 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The victory game the Bombers a 2-0 advantage in the best of seven ALCS.
Hairston led off the inning with a single to center off Ervin Santana. Not bad for a guy who had been sitting on the bench for 12 innings. Brett Gardner sacrificed him to second base, so Mike Scoscia opted to walk Robinson Cano to set up a double play situation. Melky Cabrera did indeed hit the ball on the ground, but it was far enough in the whole between first and second base that Izturis should have gotten the sure out at first.
But the Halos' second sacker ignored one of the golden rules of baseball and spun towards second, firing a wild throw in the the general direction of shortstop Erick Aybar. The ball bounded towards the foul line where third baseman Chone Figgins was in the proper back up position. But the Yankee killer couldn't get a handle on the baseball, allowing Hairston to score the winning run uncontested.
Hairston, who was acquired in a trade deadline deal, leaped into the high five of teammate Jorge Posada before all of the Yankees poured out of the dugout and on to the field. Starting pitcher A.J. Burnett, who allowed two runs in 6-plus innings, finished his night with a pie to the face of the Yankees utility man.
The odd play ended a roller coaster, nail biter of a game after five hours and 10 minutes. The Angels took a 3-2 lead in the 11th off Al Aceves when Gary Matthews Jr. drew a lead off walk, moved to second base on Aybar's sac bunt, and scored on Figgins' single.
But with closer Brian Fuentes on, the Yankees newest Mr. October, Alex Rodriguez, came through again. After taking two straight strikes to start his at-bat, Rodriguez slugged a solo home run over the outreached glove of right fielder, and former teammate, Bobby Abreu to tie the game at three apiece. It was A-Rod's third home run in five post-season games.
Burnett and Angels starter Joe Saunders had locked into a good pitcher's duel. The Yankees took a 2-0 lead on Cano's RBI triple in the 2nd and Derek Jeter's solo home run in the 3rd. It was Jeter's 19th career post-season home run, the third highest in baseball history.
Burnett's fastball was popping catcher Jose Molina's mitt all night and his off-speed stuff was nasty. But it was a little too nasty in the fifth inning. Izturis led the inning off with a double and two batters later scored on an Aybar single. Burnett got in further trouble when Aybar stole second and the right-hander hit Figgins on the foot with a stray breaking pitch.
Bobby Abreu fouled out for the second out, but Burnett walk Torii Hunter to load the bases and threw an extremely wild pitch on an 0-2 count to Vlad Guerrero to tie the game at 2-2. Burnett finally escaped the inning when Guerrero grounded out to Jeter.
The Yankees blew several opportunities to score during the night, bouncing into three rally killing double plays. The Angels couldn't take advantage of three Yankee errors- two by Cano and one by Jeter.
Mariano Rivera, who recorded a four out save in Game 1 on Friday, came back to throw 2 1-3 scoreless innings in Game 2. Remarkably he needed just 25 pitches to do so.
Vlad Guerrero had a very poor night at the plate, leaving eight men on base.
David Robertson earned his first post-season victory with 1 1-3 scoreless innings.