Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Young Homer Puts Season On Arm Of A.J.

First cliche of the day - the Yankees have their backs to the wall. That's because Monday night, the Detroit Tigers' Delmon Young snapped a 4-4 tie in the 7th inning with an opposite field home run to give the Tigers a 5-4 victory. For the second straight night the Yankees rallied against Jose Valverde in the 9th inning, but came up short. So what do we know going into tonight's Game 4.

A. The game rests on the arm of A.J. Burnett. He can a hero or a zero. He came up with a huge game in the 2009 playoffs and he'll need to again tonight to send the series back to New York.

B. CC Sabathia was affected more from Friday's rain out than Justin Verlander. While Verlander wasn't sharp early, he dominated in the middle innings. Sabathia was off from the start. As good as he looked in the first two innings on Friday, that's how bad he was last night. Which plays in the next item...

C. Home plate umpire Jerry Davis was horrendous. His strike zone favored Verlander. Whether this was a case of seeing pitches from a lefty or righty differently or home field umpiring, Davis squeezed Sabathia and stretched the zone for Verlander. The proof is in the pudding via Brooks Baseball. Check out the pitch FX from the game.

D. Rafael Soriano was public enemy number one in New York at the start of the season. But after returning from the DL he pitched lights out baseball. That was until he surrendered Young's home run last night. Back to New York's Not Most Wanted list.

E. The Yankees big guns look more like water pistols. Mark Teixeira (1-11), Alex Rodriguez (0-10), Robinson Cano after Game 1 (1-8), Nick Swisher (2-12)

F. If indeed this is Jorge Posada's last hurrah, he's going out on top as an individual. The much maligned DH has been the most consistent Yankee through the first three games, going 4-8 with four walks (.667 OBP). Yes, he made a bad base running mistake in Game 1, what else is new, but he's shown that he should be moved up in the lineup for the remaining games.

G. Joe Girardi has done a horrible job of managing the series. He seems to be managing to not make a mistake, but he's made a bunch. Some examples - Bring in Luis Ayala in for the second straight day in Game 2. The Yankees were down 4-1 and could not afford to fall any further behind. But instead of bringing in one of his shut down relievers, he brought Ayala, who became less trustworthy as the season went on and had done a terrible job in Game 1. Sure enough the Tigers scored what proved to be a huge insurance run in the 5-3 win.

Girardi also left Sabathia in too long last night; clearly you don't want to go to the pen too early, but the left-hander's goose was cooked in the 5th inning. Yet Girardi sent Sabathia back out for the 6th and didn't pull him until he had given up another run.

Girardi made a smart move by flip flopping Cano and Teixeira in the lineup prior to the start of the series, but he's made no adjustments to the lineup to ride the hot hands.

H. Derek Jeter is overmatched against hard throwers. Though he has four hits in the series, Jeter has looked horrible against the power pitching of Max Scherzer, Jose Valverde, and at times, Verlander.

I. The Yankees are in big trouble.

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