Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Yankees 27 Out From Going For #27

Yankees Tame Wild Wild West

Written by Baseball Digest Online

There were so many story lines in last night’s ALCS Game 4 between the New York Yankees-Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, that it’s hard to know where to begin. The dominant pitching of CC Sabathia. The continued hot streak of Alex Rodriguez. The suddenly explosive offense against nemesis Scott Kazmir. The horrendous display of umpiring by supposed professionals. Perhaps, the incredible bonehead plays by several Yankees that didn’t bite them in the end. Or maybe that Joe Girardi only had to make one pitching change. And of course there was the ridiculous accusation by jealous Angels fans of illegal saliva usage on the part of Mariano Rivera.

All of that did indeed happen last night as the Yankees took a commanding 3 games to 1 lead with a 10-1 blowout of the Halos. Except the game was really closer than that until late and the Yankees did not play a very smart or sharp game. Smart and sharp was CC Sabathia. The big left-hander showed little issue of pitching on three days rest. He struck out just four, but used his defense, which wasn’t tested with any difficult plays. A Kendry Morales solo home run was the only blight on his record. Sabathia threw 101 pitches, only nine in one inning, and allowed a run on five hits in eight innings. He’s 2-0, 1.13 in two ALCS starts and 3-0, 1.19 in the post-season.

Rodriguez homered for the third straight game and is now just one home run behind Bernie Williams (six) for the most home runs in a single post-season. A-Rod wasn’t just about home runs last night though. He doubled, singled, stole a base, and scored on an aggressive play at home plate. Oh, and he had a walk too. Counting the final regualr season game against Tampa Bay, A-Rod has 7 HR and 21 RBI in his last eight games.

A-Rod finally got some help at the plate last night in the person of Melky Cabrera. The Yankees have been beyond bad with runners in scoring position this post-season, but got some big hits last night. Cabrera’s 2-run single in the 4th gave the Yankees a 3-0 lead and his 2-run double in the 9th made Joe Girardi’s decision to bring in Chad Gaudin an easy one. Johnny Damon also contributed an 8th inning, 2-run home run.

Now to get to the crazy parts and there were plenty of them. The post-season has already been marked with bad calls- see Phil Cuzzi and the Minnesota Twins- but last night’s calls were inexplicable.

Case 1Nick Swisher is clearly picked off of second base, but is ruled safe by Dale Evans (insert Roy Rogers joke here). Many have asked why didn’t manager Mike Scioscia argue the call? Simple. Shortstop Erick Aybar, who applied the tag, did not argue the call. The manager has the worst seat in the house, so he relies on his player’s reactions. No reaction, no argument. It will be interesting to see if MLB fines the Angels though for showing the instant replay on the stadium scoreboard to a loud chorus of boos.

Case 2 – It’s hard to say this was a make up call since it wasn’t the same umpire involved. With Swisher on third base, Damon lofted a fly ball to center field. Swisher tagged up and scored what would have been a big insurance run at the time. The Angels quickly appealed, feeling that Swisher had left third base early. Veteran umpire Tim McLelland agreed and the run was taken off the board. Replays showed Swisher definitely did NOT leave early and McLelland was looking out at center field, not at the base runner during the play.

Case 3 - This one was a combination of bonehead play by the Yankees and another bad call by McLelland, who was probably wishing for a “simple” pine tar case like back in the day. Jorge Posada drew a walk in the 5th inning and remarkably stole second base as Hideki Matsui struck out. That should have been the tip-off right there that strange things were to follow.

Robinson Cano hit a laser to center that Hunter bluffed having a play on. Posada fell for it, hook, line, and sinker and went back to the base to tag up. He should have been playing it half way, but instead only ended up at third base despite Cano pulling into second with a double. Wait, it gets better.

Posada took off on contact when Swisher hit a comebacker. Posada was a dead duck and headed back to third as Cano was approaching. Posada ran past the bag while Cano stopped a foot short of the base. Catcher Mike Napoli wisely tagged out both runners for an easy double play. But nothing is easy in these playoffs. McLelland ruled that Cano was safe. In his post-game press conference, Scioscia said McLelland told him he felt Cano was on the bag already. The Halos’ manager was exasperated, but knew he had no argument if that’s what the umpire felt had happened. In his own press conference later, McLelland would admit to blowing both calls.

As if Posada and Cano’s “boneheadedness” was enough on that play, Posada also forgot how many outs there were later in the game after the Yankees turned a double play. His teammates had to quickly get his attention before the Angels scored an easy run from third. And of course, Posada has also lost the count while batting this season.

Gaudin had a nice easy 1-2-3 inning in the 9th and Yankees fans, ready to stone Girardi the night before, could relax. They could also laugh, as Rivera himself did, at the spitball accusations made earlier in the day. And most importantly, the Yankees are just one win away from their first World Series in six years.


With Jose Molina catching A.J. Burnett in Thursday’s Game 5, Joe Girardi may consider going with Jorge Posada as the DH gainst John Lackey. Hideki Matsui has fallen into a 2-11 skid and looked lost last night.

Derek Jeter led off Game 4 with a single, but was picked off, resulting in a caught stealing. Brett Gardner was also caught stealing and is 0-2 in the series. And yes, Jorge Posada is 1-1.

Scott Kazmir was less than stellar last night. The Yankees as a lineup have struggled against Kazmir throughout their careers, but the left-hander didn’t have his control. He lasted just four innings, allowing six hits, four runs, four walks, and threw a wild pitch.

Nick Swisher was limping around after beating hit on the foot by an Ervin Santana pitch.

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