By Jon Lane
It’s one more and done for the Yankees, who can accomplish the mission that’s been on Joe Girardi’s back as soon as tonight. I haven’t been in Philadelphia, but Chris Shearn, Joe Auriemma and Kim Jones have done a nice job keeping you plugged in. The crew – along with My YES – are in Philly one more night to either help celebrate a coronation or meet me in the Bronx for Game 6 Wednesday night.
There’s been debate on whether Joe Girardi made the right decision by going with A.J. Burnett tonight in Game 5 on three days’ rest, instead of Chad Gaudin with a 3-1 series lead and the luxury of having a fully-rested Burnett for Game 6 and Andy Pettitte for Game 7 if needed.
This afternoon on WFAN, Mike Francesa said he was against the idea and suggested Gaudin be the guy who gets the ball, telling his audience that Girardi’s message must be, “Hey this is a free game, just have fun,” while adding that Burnett ought to be sent back to New York tonight.
Fans have a problem with that, and they’re right.
Here’s my problem, besides telling Burnett, go home and miss out on a potential World Championship celebration with your teammates. Gaudin hasn’t pitched since working a mop-up inning October 20. He last started a game September 28, pitching 6 2/3 innings of an 8-2 win over the Royals. He’s pitched well since becoming a Yankee (2-0, 3.43 ERA in 11 games, six starts), but before that went 4-10, 5.13 for the Padres and owns a career record of 34-35, 4.50.
Let’s see, Gaudin is someone who you want to trust with a potential World Series-clinching game, especially one who isn’t fully stretched out, over someone you’re paying $82 million, who electrified New York with seven superlative innings in Game 2?
Here’s why you go with Burnett, and (if needed) Pettitte and CC Sabathia all on short rest:
? In four career previous starts on short rest – none in the postseason – Burnett is 4-0 with a 2.33 ERA.
? Jose Molina will likely catch with Jorge Posada on the bench, which means a Yankees lineup without Posada and Hideki Matsui will have to break through against Cliff Lee. Not ideal, but the battery isn’t broken, so don’t break it. Besides, Posada won’t be sitting the entire game, not by a longshot.
? Phillies closer Brad Lidge pitched for the first time in 10 days in a pressurized spot in Game 4. No further explanations are necessary.
? Still worried about Burnett crashing emotionally? If he bombs tonight it won’t be because he imploded. It’ll be because his location is terrible, and Philly’s prolific boppers will awaken and pounce on it. And from where I sit, Burnett’s been at his best when everyone has bet against him.
? Burnett, Pettitte, Sabathia and the rest of the Yankees will have all winter to rest. This is the World Series and in this case you don’t worry about Game 6 unless you have to. You defeat or get beat with your best.
By Jon Lane
Not much you can say about tonight. Cliff Lee was that good. There
was nothing the Yankees could do. The teams from 1927 and 1961 wouldn’t
touch the Phillies’ lefty on this night. Think back to Sandy Koufax
knocking the bats out of the hands of the ’63 team.
“I kept it simple tonight,” said Alex Rodriguez (0-for-4, 3 Ks). “He
kept it even more simple. He threw the ball well. When a guy throws
like that, you tip your cap and move on.”
A-Rod is still batting a healthy .388 in the postseason. Mark Teixeira
(.186), meanwhile, is back on the skids. After compiling five hits in
the final three games of the ALCS, Teixeira went hitless in four
at-bats. He evaded questions on what went wrong, deflecting all credit
“I think Tex is going to be fine. You take tonight out of it. With the
exception of [Derek} Jeter, we didn’t have any good swings at all.”
Any other night, CC Sabathia might have emerged victorious, but he
admitted he wasn’t at his sharpest (113 pitches/70 strikes). For the
fifth time in his playoff career, Sabathia allowed a pair of homers in
one game, the third time to one batter (Chase Utley).
“I felt pretty good,” Sabathia said. “I had three walks but I was behind a lot of guys. It was just one of those days.”
Hughes’ postseason troubles continue. He walked the first two batters
he faced to begin the eighth before getting the hook Both came around
to score. And while Lee put the game away a long time ago, those
insurance runs essentially quashed any hopes for the patented Yankees
“He missed with his fastball a little bit tonight,” said Joe Girardi. “We’ll continue to talk to him. I mean, he’s been great for us all year. He walked two guys and ended up hurting us tonight, but we still believe in him.”
Hideki Matsui on facing Pedro Martinez:
“He’s always had good command and throws a wide variety of pitches,”
Matsui said. “I don’t know what to expect, but what’s going to be
important is to make sure we have a plan at the plate and make sure we
By Jon Lane
Yankees vs. Phillies. Phillies vs. Yankees. Not baseball’s two best teams record-wise, but unquestionably the game’s finest. The 2009 World Series pits baseball’s most storied franchise against the defending champions, a team looking to be the first to repeat since the Yankees from 1998-2000 and the first National League team to do so since the Cincinnati Reds in 1975-76.
Johnny Damon will face his old teammate and friend, Pedro Martinez. Martinez will battle the team he tormented while he worked in Boston – and vice versa. CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee, the two pitchers who competed in the first regular-season game at the new Yankee Stadium when the latter threw for the Indians, will match wits in Game 1 Wednesday night – and both southpaws are at the top of their games.
While it’s not New York vs. Boston, there is no love lost between The Big Apple and The City of Brotherly Love. Giants and Eagles fans hate each other; ditto loyal followers of the Rangers and Flyers. The cities are separated by an hour-plus drive up and down the New Jersey Turnpike.
For many reasons, this World Series is wholly appropriate.
“The fact that we have to go through the world champs to become champs, and they have their chance to defend it. Not too many teams get that opportunity,” Damon said.
Fans, talk-show hosts and scribes from each city aren’t as civil. Celebrity bets have already been wagered, writes Sam Borden. The trash talk has started and will continue until one team is declared World Champions in seven games or less.
To quote Jim Kaat, this is East Coast passion. The teams stand toe-to-toe in terms of firepower, so look for this series to go deep and come down to pitching, where you can make the case the Yankees have the edge in the rotation and especially the bullpen, though it became clear down the stretch and in the NLCS that Martinez still has plenty of magic left.
A snapshot look at the regular season matchup and respective team leaders:
Season Series: Phillies took two of three Memorial Day weekend at Yankee Stadium.
May 23: Melky Cabrera’s walk-off single off Brad Lidge in the ninth won Game 2 for the Yankees, capping a three-run rally that started with Alex Rodriguez’s two-run home run.
“Right now, I’m probably the happiest .200 hitter in baseball,” said Rodriguez, who was batting .204 at the time.
Miguel Cairo (played for the Yankees 2004 and 2006-07)
Pedro Martinez (Who’s your daddy?)
Yankees: Derek Jeter (.334)
Phillies: Shane Victorino (.292)
Yankees: Mark Teixeira (39)
Phillies: Ryan Howard (45)
Runs Batted In
Yankees: Mark Teixeira (122)
Phillies: Ryan Howard (141)
Yankees: CC Sabathia (19)
Phillies: J.A. Happ, Joe Blanton, Jamie Moyer (12)
Yankees: CC Sabathia (3.37)
Phillies: J.A. Happ (2.93)
Yankees: CC Sabathia (197)
Phillies: Cole Hamels (168)
Yankees: Mariano Rivera (44)
Phillies: Brad Lidge (31)
Projected Pitching Matchups
Game 1 (Wednesday, 7:57 p.m.): Cliff Lee (7-4, 3.39) vs. CC Sabathia (19-7, 3.21)
Game 2 (Thursday, 7:57 p.m.): Pedro Martinez (5-1, 3.63) vs. A.J. Burnett (12-9, 4.10)
Game 3 (Saturday, 7:57): Andy Pettitte (14-7, 4.11) vs. Cole Hamels (10-11, 4.32)
Game 4 (Sunday, 8:20): Chad Gaudin (6-2, 3.43) vs. Joe Blanton (12-8, 4.05)
By Jon Lane
As you can imagine, it was bedlam in the clubhouse. Beginning with Hal Steinbrenner, the theme was not only the fact that the Yankees are winners of 110 games, but about how they won them. The character of this team has been remarkable, yet the mighty Phillies, the champs, are their lone roadblock.
The final journey begins Wednesday night, with George Steinbrenner likely to be in the house.
“We’re doing this for him,” Hal Steinbrenner said. “We want to win this whole thing for him. I feel like he’s here. He’s a big part of it.”
It’s a fitting conclusion to the 2009 season: The two best teams fighting for the right to be called champion, or in the Phillies’ case, a repeat champion.
“The fact that we have to go through the world champs to become champs, and they have their chance to defend it. Not too many teams get that opportunity,” said Johnny Damon.
CC Sabathia is ALCS MVP. You can’t argue with that selection, though. The big guy went 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA, allowing nine hits and two runs with 12 strikeouts in 16 innings pitched. Lest we forget that eight-inning masterpiece on three days’ rest in Game 4 that squashed the Angels’ momentum from the night before.
Being the character guy he is, Sabathia deflected credit to Alex Rodriguez and the team’s ability to remain loose through good times and bad. That had him believing from Day 1 that the Yankees were destined to play in the Fall Classic.
“When Al went down, it was going to to make it tough,” he said. “We held it together for awhile until he got back. He made our lineup just that much better, our team that much better. It gave us a lot of confidence.
“It is really not a surprise that we are here. I hate to sound like that, but this is a really good team. Like I said, we get along, we have fun. This is what you get.”
Like Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and a few others, A-Rod will play in his first World Series. Too many Hall of Famers never won a World Series ring, and never had a shot at one.
“I was just in the back with Mark Teixeira talking and a lot of great players have never had the honor to play in the World Series,” Rodriguez said. “So I thank the good Lord for putting me with the greatest organization and 24 great teammates and it feels really good.
“It gets tougher. Honestly, you think about this era with all these divisions and all these championship series and World Series, it’s pretty much more challenging now and it feels good to get in.”
Eight months ago, Rodriguez was a scorned public figure, exposed by his admittance of using performance-enhancing drugs while he played for the Texas Rangers, the tension-filled reaction press conference and the shady company he kept. Then he had a torn labrum in his hip, which threatened to sideline him for the rest of the season.
That actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise. He went to Vail, Colorado, and had surgery, and spent the next few weeks rehabbing in seclusion. Once he returned on May 8, he homered on the first pitch he saw and hasn’t looked back. Despite playing in only 124 games, he still slugged 30 homers and drove in 100 runs, the last three coming on his final swing of the regular season — a home run.
“I wasn’t around for the first month and a half, but I knew that the guys we brought in this year, they were special talents and special people and all of them did a phenomenal job of playing in New York the first year,” Rodriguez said. “That’s something that a lot of people can’t do, including myself.”
Yet there were times he lifted the Yankees from life support this postseason. There were the home runs off Joe Nathan and Brian Fuentes. There’s the 11-game postseason hitting streak, pretty darn good for someone once labeled the ultimate choker. His postseason tally to date: .438 with five home runs and 12 RBIs.
“Alex is an unbelievable guy,” Steinbrenner said. “It was just a matter of time before his ability would break out in the postseason. Nobody works harder than him in the offseason, nobody works harder than him in training and nobody, you’ll find, has more ability than him. It was just a matter of time.”
Joe Girardi made some strange decisions, but he’s the 10th manager to lead the Yankees to a World Series and the 42nd person to play and manage in the Fall Classic (and the first since Ozzie Guillen in 2005).
Keep in mind how all season he had to work through an unsaid win-or-else edict. He knew that’s what he signed up for, and never hid or lost his composure through all the second-guessing. Now he’s four wins from escaping Joe Torre’s shadow once and for all.
“It’s very special,” Girardi said. “I’m extremely blessed to have this opportunity. I feel my life has been one big blessing. The things that I’ve gotten to do, God has really blessed me. But being here as a player and going through that, and the excitement and the anticipation, and then getting a chance to do it as a manager, I’m extremely happy for the guys in that room, for the Boss, his children, all the people that put all this hard work in to put this team together.
“I have that same feeling of excitement. 1996 was the first time for me. You think about all the work that all the people put in to have this opportunity, as a player all the work you put in in the offseason to get an opportunity. It’s much the same feeling.”
“The trials and tribulations that the guys in that clubhouse went through all year is something that you hope you never have to go through in your lifetime again,” said manager Mike Scioscia. “It was a special group in there to keep going. Special group in there to keep bringing Nick’s memory forward every day. Every day we came to the park and he’s still with us. And I’m sure we’ll have a little peace in that as we move forward. Right now this loss, obviously, hurts.”
And so it’s on to the World Series. Six years ago yesterday was the last time the Yankees played in a World Series game, when Josh Beckett threw a complete-game shut out in Game 6.
The Phillies were the National League’s leaders in home runs (224), RBIs (788), runs scored (820) and slugging percentage (.447), and will make the Yankees pay dearly if they continue to squander scoring opportunities. On the other hand, the Yankees represent the toughest competition the Phils have faced this entire year and are a different team from the one that dropped two of three games to Philly on Memorial Day weekend.
But all that is for another day. The Yankees are partying all night while me and dozens of scribes pen the latest round of tales.
By Jon Lane
Disclaimer: The ALCS is not over. Someone this morning asked me if I’m feeling good with the Yankees ahead three games to one. My answer: “No.”
It takes four games to win the LCS, the Yankees have won three. The last two ALCS have had teams with 3-1 leads and both went to Game 7. Two years ago, the Red Sox rallied to defeat the Indians en route to winning the World Series. Last year, Boston came back again, but fell short in Game 7 against the Rays.
Furthermore, Suzyn Waldman had a good line during Tuesday night’s broadcast on the Yankees Radio Network: “We’ve seen plenty of (Angels) rallies here. We saw rallies before the Rally Monkey existed.” I also don’t need to remind you what happened in 2004.
That said, the Yankees bashed the Angels, 10-1, and kept the monkey grounded in Game 4 led by outrageous performances by both Alex Rodriguez and CC Sabathia. If the series had ended last night, writers would have had to make a snap decision on an ALCS MVP. It’s very close between A-Rod and Sabathia. Here’s the breakdown:
A-Rod’s five home runs have him tied with Reggie Jackson (1977, all in the World Series) for the second-most by a Yankee in a single postseason (Bernie Williams clubbed six in 1996). He’s batting .375 with three homers, five RBIs and five runs scored in the ALCS, and .407-5-11, nine runs scored in the postseason. His slugging percentage in the DS and CS, respectively are both 1.000. Absolutely remarkable.
Sabathia, pitching on three days’ rest, neutralized a good Angels lineup over eight innings for the second time in the series, this time allowing only a run on five hits with two walks and four strikeouts. He’s 3-0 with a 1.19 ERA and took another big step towards completely erasing his prior October track record (4-3, 5.45).
It’s a tough call, but Mike Lupica makes his case for Sabathia, of whom he writes “continued to be the kind of star ace pitcher in games such as these that he was
hired to be, that he was paid a fortune to be. And clearly relishes
In addition, Sabathia has matured to where he is now a polished pitcher, says John Flaherty during a Podcast after Game 4.
If the Phillies close out the Dodgers tonight, and the Yankees eliminate the Angels tomorrow or Saturday, it’ll likely be Sabathia against Cliff Lee in Game 1 of the World Series. How’s that for a pitching matchup? But until then, there’s a lot more work to do for the Yankees to win their 40th pennant. Figure on the choice for MVP to be either Sabathia or A-Rod. Who’s yours?
By Jon Lane
I, like many, am still trying to comprehend Joe Girardi’s decision to pull David Robertson after he used 11 pitches to get two clean outs in the 11th inning.
Alfredo Aceves was the eighth pitcher used in Game 3. Girardi also employed eight men, including the starting pitcher in Game 2 as well as Game 2 of the ALDS. All that amounted to was playing with fire and getting away with it, because until Monday the Yankees were unbeaten in postseason play. But on Monday, Girardi finally got burnt, and at the worst possible time. His whole bullpen except for Chad Gaudin was burned with CC Sabathia today going on three days’ rest.
Girardi and pitching coach Dave Eiland cited matchups and declined to elaborate further when presented with the fact that Howie Kendrick, who greeted Aceves with a single to set up Jeff Mathis’ walk-off double, was 1-for-2 lifetime against Robertson and had never faced Aceves. (And in case you wondering, Mathis had never faced Robertson and was 0-for-2 with a strikeout against Aceves.)
“We have all the matchups and all the scouting reports,” Girardi said. “And we felt that, you know, it was a better matchup for us.”
Three at-bats to me doesn’t seem like a concrete body of work to make such a critical decision. These numbers would have worked out a lot better. In the second half, Robertson was 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 21 innings pitched. Aceves was 5-0, but with a 4.65 ERA and 33 Ks in 40 2/3 IP. Robertson’s ERA in the first half was 3.57, while Aceves’ was 2.49. I also don’t need to explain how big Robertson has been since the start of the playoffs.
Oh, Aceves also allowed a run on a hit with two walks in 1 1/3 innings in Game 2.
Aceves made a serious impact as a swingman when he was promoted to the Majors in May, but hasn’t been the same pitcher since another one of Girardi’s strange decisions: when he made a spot start against the Twins on July 9 after Chien-Ming Wang was lost for the season due to injury rather than call up a stretched-out Sergio Mitre to fill the void.
Of course, people are calling for Girardi to be fired immediately. Chill. Girardi’s Yankees won 103 games and own a 2-1 lead in this series, and you know what they say about momentum being as good as the next day’s starting pitcher. Girardi is also not to blame for the Yankees leaving 10 men on base and going 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
A team that scored a league-high 915 runs are 0-for-16 with RISP with 22 stranded in its last two games. The Yankees need to get it going against Scott Kazmir, who has pitched well against them, or another loss evens the series with A.J. Burnett opposing John Lackey on the road in a swing game. I’m not crazy about those odds.
By Jon Lane
CC Sabathia, officially named the Yankees’ Game 4 starter on Sunday, met the media before Game 3 in Anaheim. The big lefty is going on three days’ rest, which he made a habit of last season. This year though, with the Yankees affording the luxury of providing him extra rest down the stretch, there’s a lot more in the tank.
The plan has worked to perfection. Sabathia is 2-0 with a 1.23 ERA in his two postseason starts. While he admitted that when working on shorter rest you may not have your best fastball, it’s about how you approach the game mentally, and Sabathia has said more than once that the extra rest last month left him energized and recharged.
“You know that going on certain rest that you’re not going to have like your best fastball,” Sabathia said. “So you’ve just got to stay under control and make sure your my delivery is good, and make sure I go out there and throw strikes.”
Someone asked on whether Sabathia feels any different the day after pitching in cold weather. He doesn’t citing all those years pitching in Cleveland.
Other comments from the press briefings:
Joe Girardi on Chad Gaudin’s role going forward:
“He’s more of a long guy for us,” Girardi said. “We had him up in Saturday’s game. [David] Robertson was done, and Gaudin was warmed up, so by having Chad down there it allows us to mix and match more in our bullpen, being able to use maybe a couple guys in an inning and not worry if you go extra innings or a long game.”
You can watch Girardi’s full conference here.
Angels Game 4 starter Scott Kazmir was asked about opposing Sabathia, he summed it up by saying he knows he has to be very good, and facing Alex Rodiguez the way he’s been hitting.
“Anyone that’s seeing the ball as good as he is, it’s tough,” Kazmir said. “You know, you can just tell when hitters are comfortable out there. When they start hitting the ball hard to the opposite field, they’re really seeing the ball good and really feeling comfortable out there. So like I said, you’ve got to attack the strike zone and just get them in defense mode. If you get behind hitters like that, especially how good he’s seeing the ball, he’s going to hurt you.”
By Jon Lane
Two crazy, sleep-deprived days defined my Friday and Saturday. I’m not
in California, so most of my Sunday was spent playing catch-up.
The Yankees resume their series against the Angels ahead two games to none. CC Sabathia took over the game, and the town, Friday night, while Jerry Hairston Jr. made his first postseason game a memorable one
to end Saturday’s marathon. And with Sabathia named the Yankees’
official starter for Game 4, the team will be in position for a
shocking sweep if Andy Pettitte outduels Jered Weaver this afternoon.
If what Sabathia didn’t pitch one of the best postseason games in history, it’s pretty close, writes Steven Goldman.
Studs and Duds were aplenty in Game 1 and in Game 2. Thanks to Jonathan Tayler and Adam Spunberg, respectively, for their takes. And thanks to our friends at River Ave. Blues for their hard work and contributions to YESNetwork.com. Ben, Joe or Mike will have a Game 3 recap after the game along with complete coverage from our crew out west.
By Jon Lane
It’s cold (again) and rain – lots of it – is threatening the New York metropolitan area (again), but the Yankees are taking batting practice in preparations for Game 2 of the ALCS.
Courtesy of STATS Inc., the Yankees, Angels and MLB, here are a few nuggets to know and what to watch for.
First and foremost, the weather report: Weather.com’s hour-by-hour forecast pegs a 40 percent chance of showers at 8 p.m. and 55 percent by 9. We were supposed to get soaked last night, but it held off and CC Sabathia was awesome. In the event of a rainout, the current speculation has the teams playing here tomorrow at 4:30 and flying to Anaheim afterwards to play Game 3 Monday at 1 p.m. California time.
Starting lineups: As expected, Jose Molina is catching A.J. Burnett and batting ninth. For the Angels Maicer Izturis (2B) and Mike Napoli (C) are in for Howie Kendrick and Jeff Mathis, respectively.
Pitching matchup: A.J. Burnett (13-9, 4.04) vs. Joe Saunders (16-7, 4.60)
Burnett finished his first season in pinstripes very strong. Since September 18 he has 34 strikeouts and a 1.80 ERA. Joe Girardi this afternoon reiterated why Molina is in and Jorge Posada is back on the bench. “Molina caught A.J. in the last round,” Girardi said. “Sometimes you have to make sacrifices and our players have done that all year long.” Throwing to Molina, Burnett gave up a run in six innings in Game 2 of the ALDS and was 5-2, 3.28 in 11 starts as one-half of this battery. His final six starts of the season were all caught by Molina (3-1, 2.92).
And still wondering why Burnett and not Andy Pettitte is Girardi’s Game 2 starter? He was 5-3, 3.51 at Yankee Stadium and the Yankees were 12-4 in those starts.
Saunders went undefeated over his final eight starts (7-0, 2.55) and the Angels are 42-19 in his last 61 regular season starts, but hasn’t pitched since October 4 (five innings in a season-ending 5-3 win).
Historical precedents: Game 1 winners have won the ALCS 23 out of 39 times (59 percent). Since 1985 and the advent of the seven-game series, 12 of 23 (52 percent) have advanced to the World Series. However, the team losing Game 1 in six out of the last nine ALCS have rallied to win the league pennant. Since 1999, the Bombers have not lost Game 2 of an LCS, going 5-0 in that span. Their last LCS Game 2 loss came to Cleveland in a 12-inning game in 1998.
Stalled: A big storyline coming into the ALCS was the Yankees controlling the Angels’ feared baserunning. The best way to do that is keep the top of their order off the bases. Chone Figgins and Bobby Abreu are two of the Angels’ best players. However, their one-two punch combined to go 0-for-8 in Game 1 with three strikeouts. Figgins is 0-for-16 in the postseason. Somehow the Angels swept the Red Sox in three games, but it’s imperative they get their sparkplug re-ignited.
Throwing out the first pitch: Tino Martinez.
On the Stadium jukebox: Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion,” Metallica’s “Wherever I May Roam,” Jacko’s “The Way You Make Me Feel.”
Highlights from Girardi’s press briefing: Look for roughly a 45-minute time limit for Burnett to sit around in the event of an in-game rain delay. If it gets past that, Girardi will go to the bullpen early. “You have to be smart about it,” he said.
On having any advantage over a warm-weather team at this time of year: “I don’t think it’s such a huge advantage because they do play in cold
weather cities in April. And we were fortunate — two of the teams in
our division (Blue Jays, Rays) that you play early have domes, and one of them is actually in
a warm place. And when we went to Boston earlier it was 80
degrees. It was one of our hottest days, so I really don’t think it’s
much of an advantage.”
Game 3 starter Andy Pettitte is still with the club. The team had not yet decided to fly him west ahead of time.
Back with a lot more later. On the field working pregame, Chris Shearn chatted with Kevin Long, Phil Hughes and Michael Kay.
7:21 p.m. So far, so good for an on-time first pitch. The grounds crew is prepping the field while fans slowly file in. Some reading material while you wait: Chris Shearn does his best Joe (9=8) Maddon.
7:41 p.m. Weather update: Chance of rain downgraded to 10 percent at 8 p.m., 20 at 9 and 30 at 10.
7:45 p.m. Beautiful rendition of our national anthem by NYC firefighter Regina Wilson.
7:49 p.m. Tino Martinez throws the ceremonial first pitch to Jorge Posada.A minute later the Bleacher Creatures applauded A.J. Burnett as he left the bullpen flanked by Jose Molina and Dave Eiland.
7:57 p.m. Nick Swisher salutes the Creatures with a fist pump. Burnett’s first pitch is a strike to Chone Figgins. Game time temperature is 47 degrees.
8:05 p.m. Torii Hunter earned himself a cheap two-out double when he fisted a blooper that landed just inside the right field foul line, but on his next pitch Burnett got Vladimir Guerrero to ground out to short. Nice start for A.J. Sixteen pitches, 13 for strikes.
8:19 p.m. Take away a couple a pitches low and a tad outside, Burnett looks sharp. He froze Kendry Morales on a breaking ball to open the second and needed only nine pitches total to work a clean frame.
8:30 p.m. 1-0 Yankees on Robinson Cano’s triple. Those two-out walks (this to Nick Swisher) kill you every time.
8:46 p.m. The natives were getting restless, but Burnett survived a two-out walk to Chone Figgins to retire Bobby Abreu on a fly ball to center.
8:52 p.m. Derek Jeter – again. HR to right field, the first of the ALCS. 2-0, Yankees. Jeter’s second of this postseason and the 19th of his career. He passes Reggie Jackson and Mickey Mantle for sole possession of third place on the baseball’s all-time list.
9:04 p.m. Teixeira is having an amazing defensive game. First he does his best Henrik Lundqvist impersonation, saving A-Rod from a throwing error. Then he stretches to his left to catch Jose Molina’s throw to first after Guerrero’s swing and miss hit dirt and ricocheted off his leg.
9:07 p.m. Burnett in four scoreless IP: 12 of 15 first-pitch strikes.
9:41 p.m. Good A.J. electrifies an audience. Bad A.J. sucks the life out of it. A bases-loaded wild pitch just tied the game. David Robertson is getting warm. Guerrero’s ground out mercifully ends the top of the fifth, but Burnett threw 33 pitches and started every batter except one with a ball. He’s thrown 90 in the game and Molina is due up second. If we see Posada, that’s the cue Burnett’s night is over.
9:45 p.m. Nope, Molina is batting. Watch Good A.J. return to retire the side in the sixth.
9:52 p.m. Replays show Jeter was safe on his double-play grounder. Another impeccable job by the umpires this postseason.
10:01 p.m. What did I tell you? Three up, three down in the sixth. That’s 105 pitches for Burnett. It’s looking like Joba Time in the seventh.
10:08 p.m. Not a good past two innings for the Yankees. There was the never-ending fifth, and in the sixth Teixeira reached first on a throwing error, but A-Rod flied out and Hideki Matsui grounded into an double play.
10:12 p.m. Burnett is starting the seventh. Hang on a second. Andy Pettitte is yanked from Game 3 of the DS with 81 pitches in 6 1/3 superlative innings and Burnett is still in this game – AND he’s facing a lefty hitter after retiring the righty Napoli. Someone please explain.
10:14 p.m. Phil Coke now coming in to face Figgins. To give Burnett credit, there would have been two out if not for Cano’s error. Burnett gets a nice ovation and responds with a tip of the cap.
10:26 p.m. Joba Time: Loud applause as Joba enters to “Shout at the Devil.” Nice job by Coke rebounding from his walk to Figgins to strike out Abreu, a professional hitter. Joba Chamberlain to face Torii Hunter with two on and two out in the biggest confrontation of the game.
10:37 p.m. Save the Joba to the bullpen debate for the offseason. That was a great job whiffing Guerrero with a nasty slider to leave the bases loaded and the game tied at two. It has been a nail biter, just ask Kate Hudson.
10:53 p.m. The Yankees are morphing into the Twins. A sure inning-ending double play ball is booted by – of all people – Derek Jeter. That would have restored faith in Phil Hughes, whose ALDS ERA was 9.00.
10:59 p.m. Faith restored. Hughes fans pinch-hitter Gary Matthews Jr., but Girardi isn’t fooling around. Mariano Rivera is in the game with two out in the eighth to face Erick Aybar with runners on first and second.
11:01 p.m. Mariano the Magnificent. The Angels have stranded 10 runners and are 2-for-10 with RISP.
11:11 p.m. Figgins can’t buy a hit. Johnny Damon robs him with a stumbling catch to open the ninth.
11:16 p.m. Hey Yankees fans:
Your team led the Majors with 15 walk-off wins and had one in Game 2 of
the ALDS. Teixeira, A-Rod & Matsui in the ninth.
11:45 p.m. Amazing. What was supposed to be a double-play is instead one out and the winning run at second because Aybar straddled the bag and failed to step on it. The Angels are putting Jeter on intentionally for lefty Darren Oliver to face Johnny Damon. Fans are already chanting Damon’s name.
11:53 p.m. Does anyone want to win this game? The teams are a combined 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position and have left 17 men on base (11 by the Angels). Teixeira is 0-for-5 and hasn’t hit a ball out of the infield.
12:01 a.m. From the impeccable timing department: It begins to rain four hours after first pitch and Chone Figgins snaps a hitless streak of 19 at-bats with an RBI single off Alfredo Aceves to put L.A. ahead 3-1. Damon has no arm in left and Aybar can fly, but the throw was closer than you’d expect. Still, this is shaping up to be another galling loss to Scioscia’s Angels unless the Yankees can summon that walk-off magic one more time.
12:11 a.m. Unbelievable.
12:17 a.m. Onto the 12th of an endless game and it’s raining a bit harder. Bellow all the A-Rod superlatives you want, but Aceves and to make it stand and someone has to make it count.
12:22 a.m. Memo to Marte: You have one job. Get it done.
12:25 a.m. He got it done. David Robertson coming in. Chad Gaudin the last man in the pen, just like last Friday.
By Jon Lane
In my postgame feature I wrote about how CC Sabathia is the atypical starting pitcher. I covered the team when David Wells was here and before each of his starts he blasted his stereo loud enough to be heard outside of the closed clubhouse door.
Wells, like many, believe they have to journey deep into the zone and get jacked up to get that extra edge. Sabathia? He’ll mingle and play a few games of RBI Baseball on the old-school Nintendo. Simply chilling out is something Andy Pettitte can relate to.
“There’s no sense in grinding all day long and in here,” Pettitte said. “If you can get locked in 30 minutes or so before your start, it’s usually, for me, it’s the easiest way to do it. And I think that’s kind of how ‘C’ is.”
‘C’ is also a guy who leads a power pitching staff that’s dominated opponents via the strikeout. Last season, Yankees starting pitchers ranked 19th with 618 strikeouts. In 2009, they were sixth with 777. Following Sabathia in Game 2 is Burnett. While he many not keep you at ease like the big lefty, when he’s on, Burnett is electric. And if he’s on, he has the stuff to turn out anyone’s lights.
Sabathia is the perfect guy for Burnett to follow, yet another definition of a staff ace.
“He’s had a huge impact on me,” Burnett said. “I’ve had the pleasure of following him often this year. There ain’t nothing like going after him. He sets the tone, he comes out and he attacks. He has that confidence, too. He’s prepared every fifth day. He works hard in between every fifth day. That’s what you want to see from your fellow starters. You want to see commitment and effort. He’s non stop through the whole season. To be able to throw that many innings and do what he does year in and year out, he’s definitely an ace, number one.”
Again, Burnett can drive you crazy, but he hasn’t melted in “big games” and will be presented with a golden opportunity to give the Yankees a 2-0 series lead before heading west.
Until later today, a day in which the forecast is again ominous, thanks for reading.