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Archive for October, 2009

October 31, 2009
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NY Yankees
0 0 0 2 3 1 1 1 0   8 8 1
Philadelphia
0 3 0 0 0 1 0 0 1   5 6 0

Oct 31, 2009--Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira celebrate A-Rod's fourth-inning homer Saturday. (Getty)After laying an egg in the first three innings of the game, the Yankee offense, led by none other than Alex Rodriguez, broke out in the fourth inning and never looked back.  Against Cole Hamels, the Yankees couldn’t get anything going as they failed to get a hit until A-Rod’s two-run home run that was initially ruled a double but was overturned after it became the first call in postseason history to reviewed by instant replay. 

Because of the enormity of the play and the subsequent shift of momentum, I now believe without a doubt, that instant replay absolutely needs to be instituted for all playoff games.  Here are my suggestions when using instant replay, which, again, should only be used in the postseason and not in the regular season, except for the boundary calls that are already use in the regular season:

  1. All plays are under review except balls and strikes, which should never be under review.
  2. An umpire in the booth will review any and every close play and will radio down to the umpiring crew chief.  If more time is needed to review the play, two or more umpires will go under the home dugout and review the play as a collective group, similar to how they do now.  I believe that reviewing a play will not take much more time than a manager already takes arguing the call with the umpire.
  3. Each manager has two challenges in a game.  One is for a play where a run is a factor (i.e. home run, close play at home, etc.).  The other call is for anything else in the field, defensive or offensive.  However, if the manager doesn’t win the challenge, he automatically loses his second challenge.  I believe this will discourage a managers from abusing his challenges.

Anyway, after falling behind 3-0 in the second inning, it looked like Any Pettitte’s night would be a short one as he had thrown 51 pitches through the first two frames.  However, I didn’t sense much concern about the early deficit because of the way the three runs were scored.  Yes, the first run was a solo home run to Jason Werth.  But the next two runs came on a bases-loaded walk and a sac fly.  I didn’t think it was much to worry about at the time.

After that inning, Pettitte shut down the Phillies offense as the Yankees found theirs.  A-Rod showed up when they needed it most; Johnny Damon had a huge two-RBI double in the fifth; Nick Swisher had the biggest game of his big-league career going 2-4 with 2B, HR, and 2 runs scored; and even Andy Pettitte chipped in offensively with an RBI single that tied that game in the fifth inning and really seemed to open the flood gates.

Positives:

  1. Andy Pettitte:  Even without his best stuff, Pettitte was able to overcome some early struggles and pitch 6.0 good innings of work to pick up his 17th career postseason win, which is most all time.  He was overpowering, and no one really expects him to be at this point, but when it looked like he was going to get the early hook, he knuckled down and pitched like the competitor he is to pick up the win.
  2. Nick Swisher: After struggling the entire postseason, Swisher had some big hits and brought his bat to the ballpark tonight.  Kudos to him.
  3. Alex Rodriguez:  Despite going 0-8 with 6 K in the first two World Series games of his career, Alex put all the pressure behind him and came up huge.  In Game 3, A-Rod was on base 4 of 5 times with HR, 2 HBP, BB, and 2 RBI.  It was great to see especially after his dismal performance in the first two games.
  4. Joe Girardi:  I thought Joe had his best managing game of this postseason.  He seemed to go more by the flow of the game and less by his notebook of stats and matchups.  I know that at the time he had a three-run lead to work with, but I was a little surprised to see him leave Joba Chamberlain in to face the lefty Chase Utley after Joba got the first two outs of the inning.  I was almost sure that Joe would have replaced Joba with Damaso Marte to face Utley, but Joe stuck with Chamberlain who looked pretty good and threw a perfect 1-2-3 inning.  It made sense in the top of the eighth, however, when Joe pinch hit for Joba with Hideki Matsui who, with two outs, hit an opposite-field home run to give the Yanks an 8-4 lead.  Marte then came in to pitch the bottom of the eighth and struck out Ryan Howard, Werth, who had already hit two solo home runs in the game, and got Raul Ibanez to line out to A-Rod to end the inning.  Then in the ninth, Joe correctly replaced the struggling Hughes with Mo who easily got the last to outs of the game.

Negatives:

  1. Phil Hughes:  While I thought it was a little premature for Joe Girardi to be yanking Hughes in the eighth with one out, no one on, and the Yankees still holding a three-run lead after he gave up a solo home run to Carlos Ruiz, it is clear that Girardi does not trust Hughes at all, and why would you when you have a future hall-of-famer in Mariano Rivera who is as automatic as they come.  Rivera got the two final outs of the game on only five pitches, which, in my opinion, makes him 100% available for tomorrow’s game and Monday’s game, if needed.
  2. Philly fans:  I was shocked when they booed Cole Hamels as he was coming off the mound after pitching 4.1 IP.  Yes, he gave up 5 R on 5 BB, and he hasn’t been very good this postseason, but come on Philly fans—this guy won the World Series MVP not more than one year ago.  Talk about the epitome of “What have you done for me lately?”
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October 29, 2009
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Philadelphia
0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0   1 6 0
NY Yankees
0 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 X   3 8 0

Oct 28, 2009.  Mark Teixeira watches the flight of his home run in the fourth inning Thursday. (Getty)The title of this blog is going to be the most common and most obvious heading that will be in papers everywhere tomorrow.  In Pedro Martinez’s return to the Bronx, he was serenaded throughout the game by the Yankee faithful who saw a very different Pedro than what they were accustomed to in the late 90’s and early oughts.  While Pedro’s fastball now tops out at about 91-92 MPH, as opposed to 94-96 in his hay day, his real great pitch is his change-up.  Anyway, here is Pedro’s line from tonight’s game: 6+ IP 3 ER, 6 H, 2 BB, 8 K, 2 HR.

But the real story was A.J. Burnett who was absolutely lights out and was exactly what the Yankees needed.  Because he was able to get ahead of the batters all night, he could then locate his off-speed pitches, which made him very dangerous to the Phillies hitters. 

Throughout the season, anytime the Yankee offense was sputtering, they were able to rely on their power to get them going again.  So was the case in tonight’s game.  After the Phillies took an early one-run lead in the second inning off an RBI single by Matt Stairs that was barely deflected by A-Rod and trickled into left field, Mark Teixeira tied it with a solo shot into the Yankee bullpen in the fourth.  Hideki Matsui then gave New York its first lead of the game (and of the World Series) with a solo home run in the sixth.  The Yanks added another run in the seventh after some good small ball, and held on for the win.

Unfortunately, Joe Girardi doesn’t trust a single reliever in the bullpen other than Mariano Rivera, and called upon the future hall-of-fame closer to get the final six outs of the game.  Despite struggling a little in the eighth, Mo was able to get Chase Utley to ground into a double play to end the frame.  In the ninth, Mo got two quick outs and then struck out Stairs after Raul Ibanez picked up his second double of the game.  With the six outs, Mo recorded the 38th postseason save of his career.

Positives:

  1. A.J. Burnett:  A.J. was great all night and threw first-pitch strikes to 21 of 26 hitters he faced.  This was key, I believe, as it setup the at bat for Burnett to use the rest of his pitching repertoire.  His line for the night was 7 IP, 4 H, ER, 2 BB, 9K.
  2. Yankee offense: With a now-struggling Alex Rodriguez (0-8, 6 K), the rest of the team was able to support Burnett’s great performance and give the Yankees a much, much needed win.  Hopefully A-Rod will find his groove in Philadelphia because they will certainly need him if they want to get the series back to New York.
  3. Joe Girardi: He made all the right moves tonight, which are sometimes due to luck and others due to just good managing.  I thought calling for a hit-and-run that moved the pinch-runner Gardner over to third on Melky Cabrera’s single in the eighth inning was a gutsy but terrific call, especially after Cabrera faked the bunt on the first pitch of the AB.  Also, pinch-hitting Jorge Posada for Jose Molina after the hit-and-run was a no-brainer, but led to another run.  Lastly, calling on Rivera to get the final six outs was the right call at the time as the Yankees absolutely needed to win this game.

Negatives:

  1. Alex Rodriguez:  After his stellar offensive performance in the ALDS and ALCS, A-Rod is starting to pull off the ball.  Because he can’t hit the inside pitch and is so self-conscious about the inner third part of the plate, he is totally fooled by anything on the outside.  Unfortunately A-Rod set a dubious World Series record after becoming the first position player to record consecutive games of 3K in each game.
  2. Derek Jeter: After getting two quick strikes while trying to bunt the two runners on in the eighth with nobody out, Jeter tried to bunt again and fouled out for the first out of the inning.  Apparently Girardi gave Jeter the bunt sign on the first two attempts, but Jeter decided on his own to bunt with two strikes, which turned out to be a poor decision.  Rarely does Jeter make such a horrible mistake and luckily the Yankees have Rivera to seal the deal.

Other notes:  How weird was it that Mark Grace was interviewing Rivera after the game when Gracie’s D-Backs beat Mo in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series…Before the game began, I was commenting that, should the Yankees lose, the best part of the game came during the pregame when Jay-Z and Alicia Keys performed “Empire State of Mind.”  It was fun to see the players from both dugouts on the top step head-bopping to beat…Ryan Howard also set a dubious World Series record by becoming the first cleanup hitter to get the golden sombrero (4K in a game).

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October 28, 2009
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Philadelphia
0 0 1 0 0 1 0 2 2   6 9 1
NY Yankees
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1   1 6 0

Oct 28, 2009.  CC Sabathia delivers against the Phillies during Game 1 of the World Series. (Getty)Even though no runs were scored by either team in the first inning, the tone was quickly set in that frame as C.C. Sabathia struggled while Cliff Lee breezed through it.  C.C. got two quick outs, but then gave up a walk, a double, and a walk before getting Raul Ibanez to ground out softly to second.  Lee, on the other hand, struck out Derek Jeter, got Johnny Damon to ground out to the pitcher, and struck out Mark Teixeira.  The rest of the game went much like this where Sabathia had moments of domination, but occasionally missed his spots, which hurt him.  Lee, however, never seemed to be in trouble and never once gave up a hard-hit ball, either for an out or a hit.  Here is Lee’s line: 9.0 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 10 SO.

I really felt like the Yankees needed to win Game 1 of this series if they wanted to keep Philadelphia’s confidence at bay.  However, even though the score was so close, the game felt more like a blowout because of the way Lee was pitching.  Now, I believe the Yankees must absolutely win Game 2 if they want to have any chance in the series.  This series has all the feel of 2003 when Josh Beckett just dominated Yankee hitting on his way to winning the MVP and the World Series.

Positives:

  1. Sabathia:  You can’t entirely pin the loss on the guy because Lee was just that much better.  In fact, Lee may be the best pitcher in this series.  I was surprised, however, at how often the Phillies hitters were able to lay off the tough breaking balls in the early going.  Anyway, here is Sabathia’s line: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 6 SO, 2 HR.  While this was a quality start, his two mistakes to Utley were enough as he was simply outpitched.
  2. Damaso Marte:  Marte has sure come on strong this postseason, and I think he has looked better in October than he did at anytime during the year.  After Phil Hughes allowed the first two he faced in the eighth to reach on consecutive walks, Marte struck out Utley (the first time Utley was retired in the game) and got Howard to fly out to right field.

Negatives:

  1. Phil Hughes:  Once again, Hughes’ postseason struggles continued as he wasn’t sharp at all and allowed the only two batters he faced to reach on consecutive walks.  Also, this pretty much sealed a Phillies’ victory when both runners he walked came around to score.  These additional runs, coupled with the two solo home runs Chase Utley hit earlier in the game, gave the Phillies essentially an insurmountable lead with Lee on the mound.
  2. Yankee offense:  Everybody seemed to struggle in this game, with the exception of Jeter who was 3-4.  Unfortunately, the New York media is going to single out Alex Rodriguez for his poor offensive showing in his first World Series game, but I really think the credit needs to go more to Lee who was lights out and improved his postseason record to 3-0 in four starts with an ERA of 0.60.  He is simply amazing.

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2009 World Series CoverageWith a couple moves, Joe Girardi shored up his World Series roster, which begins tonight at Yankee Stadium.  Girardi replaced the third-string catcher, Francisco Cervelli, with a much-needed righty power arm out of the bullpen in Brian Bruney.  He also replaced the speedy Freddy Guzman with a power bat off the bench in Eric Hinske.

There are a few reasons  Girardi did this, I believe.  First, by adding Bruney, Joe is admitting that his faith is decreasing in Phil Hughes who has struggled thus far in the postseason.  Also, Joe believes that there will be some close games that might be determined late.

Second, by adding Hinske, Joe realized that speed will not be as important as power in this World Series.  I agree.  Guzman did nothing in the ALCS and, for some reason, there were very few steal attempts by either team.

Prior to the new roster being released, I was in lockstep with Joe on both moves.  Well played, Joe.

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Well, I just checked the weather and again it doesn’t look pretty.  Like in Game 6 of the ALCS, there is 100% chance of precipitation all day, which doesn’t bode well for the game.  It seems like they will probably postpone Game 1 and start the series Thursday night instead, since the weather is supposed to clear up.

This rainout hurts the Yanks more than the Phillies, I think, because it forces the Yanks to use at least four starters.  While they were probably going to use four starters anyway, they will now have to probably use both Sabathia and Burnett on short rest for Games 5 & 6.  This also forces me to revise my prediction that Sabathia will win three of the games, obviously, if he only pitches in two of them.

Here’s the forecast:

Oct 28, 2009---Weather Forecast (Bronx, NY)

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I accurately predicted that the Yankees and Phillies would wind up in the World Series, although the Phillies won in five games (I said six) and the Yanks won in six (I said seven).  However, despite Jimmy Rollins prediction that the Phillies will win it in five (Five?! Are you serious J-Roll?), I think the Yankees are the more talented team.  I will stick with my original prediction at the beginning of the playoffs that the Yankees will win it in seven.  (BTW, I’m not sure how Rollins expects the Phills to win it in five when Sabathia is going to win three of the games).

Postseason Predictions---Reviewed

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2009 World SeriesAs a diehard Yankees fan, I would love nothing more than to see them play at home in the World Series.  And since this is the first year of the new stadium, which I have yet to see, it would be a perfect opportunity to visit the “House that Steinbrenner Built.”   Except for the cost.  Here is the cheapest package I could find on the eve of Game 1, which includes flights, hotel, and tickets.  (By the way, I chose Priceline.com for the flight because according to their website: “Other sites like Orbitz and Cheaptickets still charge you booking fees on certain flights.”  Thanks, Priceline Negotiator!).  After I look at the eye-popping cost for just a few games, however, I think I would rather stay in my nice warm house and watch it on the big screen in HD for free.

  Price
Inbound Flight $264
Game 1 Tix 550
Hotel–Oct 28 122
Game 2 Tix 550
Hotel–Oct 29 122
Outbound Flight 251
Food 250
Misc Travel 150
Total Est. Cost $2,259

Pricing for World Series Tix

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