By Jon Lane
Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira were named AL Gold Glove winners this afternoon. Jeter’s range improved from last season and Teixeira was a godsend at first base, making plays not seen in the Bronx since Tino Martinez followed in Don Mattingly’s footsteps.
The duo shared their thoughts through the Yankees in separate statements:
“I’ve said it time and time again, playing championship-caliber baseball starts with pitching and defense, and I think those two components were certainly the foundation for our success in 2009. I’ve always taken a great deal of pride in my defense, and being honored with a Gold Glove is an accomplishment I will never overlook.
“I also want to congratulate and recognize Mark Teixeira on his well-deserved achievement.”
“Solid defense is the most underrated component of winning baseball, but it is something I have always taken pride in. Winning a third Gold Glove means a lot to me, especially when good defense helped our entire team reach the ultimate goal of a World Championship.”
Other AL winners include Torii Hunter (OF), Ichiro Suzuki (OF), Evan Longoria (3B), Adam Jones (OF), Mark Buehrle (P), Joe Mauer (C) and Placido Polanco (2B). National League winners will be announced tomorrow.
By Jon Lane
Now what? It’s time to party. The Yankees completed a virtually endless 2009 baseball season by capturing their 27th World Championship. We scribes never stop thinking about what’s next, that’s the nature of the Hot Stove season and you know Brian Cashman is already drawing up an offseason blueprint, but today is a day for the players, their families and everyone in the organization to bask in the glory.
The Core Four of Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera have done this four times (today makes five), but for Alex Rodriguez, it’s his first in 16 seasons. For A.J. Burnett, it was winning without the pain of rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. For Jerry Hairston, it was the first time in his 11-year career he played in postseason games and was in left field the night the Yankees clinched.
This may have been Hairston’s final shot at a winner, and for youngsters like Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, Melky Cabrera, Brett Gardner, Francisco Cervelli and Ramiro Pena, this may be their only chance to enjoy the experience. Yes they play for the Yankees and not the Pirates, Nationals or Royals, but there was also nine years between World Championship.
Before the parade, Steven Goldman asked questions the rest of us will be asking quite often this weekend. But for today, Chris Shearn, Joe Auriemma, Kevin Sullivan and the rest of the YES gang are in lower Manhattan. Stick around for many great photos and videos from the festivities.
By Jon Lane
A.J. Burnett now owns two World Series rings, though there’s no doubt No. 2 is sweeter. He was a member of the Marlins team that won it all in 2003, but was out most of the year after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
November 4, 2009 was Burnett’s finest moment. Well, almost.
“I have two kids and I’ve got a beautiful wife,” Burnett said, “but besides that they ain’t nothing that beats this right here.”
Some days he drove you crazy. Others he was an adrenaline surge. All put together, Burnett had a fine first season in the Bronx, the first of a five-year pact that will pay him $82 million. Burnett is so, so talented, you always want more from him, but a 13-9 record with a 4.04 ERA isn’t too shabby. There were times Burnett was electric enough to make citizens stop and stare in awe: 7 2/3 shutout innings August 7 against the Red Sox and one run allowed with nine strikeouts in seven frames in Game 2 of the World Series.
Burnett had a bad Game 5, really bad, but his Game 2 saved the Yankees from being in deep trouble and a city from near-total panic.
“Nobody can take that away from me,” Burnett said of his 3-1, Game 2 win, his World Series debut. “I had a rough one my last time out, but I had 24 guys in there telling me, ‘You know what, if it wasn’t for you, we’d be coming to Philly in a big hole. I’m glad I could help out and be a part of something this special.”
Burnett was always an interesting interview. He was soft-spoken, sometimes blunt, always honest and had good insight on the most standard of cliches. On July 22, Burnett defeated the Baltimore Orioles to put them alone in first place. At the time, though, the AL East was long from being decided, especially with Boston due in town for that big early August series. The Yankees were 0-8 against the Red Sox and the questions were accumulating. Burnett was asked why it’ll be different and whipped out one of sports’ oldest cliches, albeit with a different spin.
“We’re going one game at a time right now,” Burnett said. “That’s the big difference as opposed to looking ahead and worrying about who’s coming into town or where we’re going. It’s just one at a time.”
While drenched in champagne, I asked him how and why that philosophy worked so well.
“Nothing mattered to us,” Burnett said. “We knew we had another game. No. 2 [Derek Jeter] over there would always come in and say, ‘Oh, we got another game today.’ And that was it. We’re a humble team that no matter what happened the day before, we had another game. That’s all that mattered, one at a time.”
Ticker-tape parade Friday at 11 a.m. beginning at Broadway and Battery Place, and ending with a ceremony at City Hall where Mayor Mike Bloomberg will present the team with keys to the city. It’s open to the public, but details are forthcoming about a limited number of tickets that will be made available for those wanting to get inside City Hall Plaza. Fans who can’t get a ticket can watch the ceremony on a giant TV screen that will be set up near City Hall Park.
By Jon Lane
Of course, there’s uproar over the fact that the Yankees actually lost a game, this one Game 5 to the defending World Series champions, and Joe Girardi’s decision to start A.J. Burnett on three days’ rest instead of Chad Gaudin.
Take your imaginary scale and place it in front of you. Then weigh these options in a potential World Championship-clinching game: Burnett or Gaudin? Gaudin or Burnett?
I addressed your comments in my previous entry – great feedback, by the way, so keep it coming. Girardi’s over-managed at times and has made some strange moves, but I stand by him in this case. You win and lose with your best. Burnett didn’t lose that game because he pitched on three days’ rest. He lost because he’s an enigma and the Phillies were bound to bust out. I also refer to what Robin Roberts told a Philly reporter before Game 5: In his days starting on as little as 24 hours rest was nothing.
Yep, the Yankees are in serious trouble, just like when they were ahead 3-2 against the Angels in the ALCS after losing Game 5 and everyone had flashbacks to 2004. Chill. The Yankees took two of three in Philadelphia against the champs and have two chances to win it at home. They still need one win to win it all and have Andy Pettitte – owner of the most series-clinching wins in history – likely going in Game 6. You’ll take that, right?
Short rest or not, you like the Yankees’ chances, even against the amazing Pedro Martinez. Pettitte is 4-6 with a 4.15 ERA in his career working on three days’ rest. The last time he did it was 2006 in Houston (1-1, 3.79.).
Last I checked Burnett was 4-0, 2.33 prior to Game 5. Studying the numbers helps one make a decision, but in the big picture they mean nothing.
Here’s yet another reason why it’s not 2004 – or even 2003. The Yankees’ winning percentage at home was a league-best .704. They outscored opponents by 101 runs and hit 136 of their 244 home runs in the new place. You’d also have to go back to September 11 and 12 (Orioles), and June 17 and 18 (Nationals) for the last times they lost two straight at Yankee Stadium.
If the Yankees wrap it up Wednesday night, Derek Jeter, Johnny Damon and Alex Rodriguez are, for my money, the team’s top MVP candidates. Jeter’s double-play grounder in the ninth was one of the final nails of Game 5, but he’s still batting .364 in the World Series. Damon is batting .381 and his two stolen bases in Game 4 is another part of Yankees lore. And since starting his first Fall Classic 0-for-8 with six strikeouts, A-Rod homered in Game 3 and totaled four RBIs in Games 4 and 5. One more big hit in Game 6 can seal it for the Yankees’ third baseman.
What Rodriguez is doing is more remarkable considering that Mark Teixeira has been terrible. Teixeira is 2-for-19 with seven strikeouts, including his game-ender as the tying run Monday night. In the postseason, Teixeira is batting .172 (10-for-58) with 16 strikeouts.
More troubling is Robinson Cano’s .167 average, which is tied with Nick Swisher for the team low, and his ridiculous struggles with runners on base have continued (1-for-10, one RBI). Swisher was benched for Jerry Hairston Jr. in Game 2. As one reader suggested, does Girardi gulp and bench Cano, a .320 hitter in the regular season, for Ramiro Pena, added to the World Series roster on Monday?
I wouldn’t, but Bill Madden reminded us of 1978 when the little-known Brian Doyle replaced the injured Willie Randolph late in the season and batted .438 against the Dodgers.
Chase Utley is the Phillies’ MVP to date; his five home runs is tied with Reggie Jackson (1977) for the World Series record. But despite the Game 5 win, the Phillies have issues.
If Martinez can get them through Game 6, the big debate in Philadelphia is who starts a Game 7: Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels or J.A. Happ? Hamels has taken some unfair flack for his “I can’t wait for it to end. It’s been mentally draining. At year’s end, you just can’t wait for a fresh start.” (Disclaimer: He said this after saying he’d want the ball in a potential Game 7.) However, the city – and reportedly Brett Myers – is down on him and, let’s face it, Hamels has been hideous. Happ hasn’t started since September 29 (more perspective to the Burnett-Gaudin debate).
Lee would pitch on two days’ rest, but Thursday is his scheduled throw day, so my guess is the Phillies got with their ace left-hander and empty the bullpen from there.
Furthermore, who’s Charlie Manuel’s closer? Ryan Madson started the ninth inning of Game 5 with Brad Lidge on the bench. Madson got it done, but barely. Neither inspire confidence in big spots.
By Jon Lane
Pedro Martinez is certainly a polarizing figure. One day after his entertaining rant,
during which he recalled the altercation between he and then Yankees
bench coach Don Zimmer during Game 3 of the 2003 ALCS, Zimmer told the St. Petersburg Times,
“Pedro is full of crap. It’s what, six years later? If Pedro wants to
be a big man, I don’t care what he says.” He did, however, soften his
stance during an interview with the New York Daily News. “I was definitely wrong and Pedro didn’t do nothing,” he said.
was my favorite line from yesterday: “I might be at times the most
influential player that ever stepped in Yankee Stadium.” I recall
sitting in the bleachers on September 14, 1998 when he squared off
against Orlando Hernandez. Pedro and El Duque each struck out nine
batters, except Pedro gave up three runs to Duque’s none. Duque went
the distance in a 3-0 win, but that didn’t douse the enthusiasm of a
large contingent from Pedro’s native Dominican Republic who took over
the front row, and proudly waved their country’s flag. That was years
before the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry was re-ignited and Martinez found
himself on New York’s most hated list.
Speaking of influential, Jay Z and Alicia Keys are performing on the field to a slew of flashbulbs.
of influential and inspiring, Derek Jeter was named the winner of the
Roberto Clemente award for commitment to community service.
Chat with you right before first pitch.
Former Yankees outfielder and current YES Yankees analyst Paul O’Neill
throws out the first pitch. Those familiar chants of “Paul Oh Neill!”
echoed around the Stadium, along with loud boos for Philly’s starting
7:57 p.m. A.J. Burnett warming up to Marilyn
Manson’s “The Beautiful People.” Awesome. First pitch 7:59 p.m.
(strike). Game time temperature 52 degrees.
8:04 p.m. A
clean 12-pitch first for Burnett. For Yankees fans’ sake, Bad A.J. must
stay away. For now they’re getting a thrill taunting the heck out of
8:14 p.m. Pedro in the first: Three up, three down, two strikeouts. He’s come to play.
Ladies and Gents: Bad A.J. Throws 25 pitches, a few in the dirt, and
follows up Raul Ibanez’s ground-rule double that Johnny Damon could
have caught by serving Matt Stairs’ RBI single to left. Of course,
Ibanez was immediately waved home to give the Phillies a 1-0 lead.
8:42 p.m. Wow.
Ibanez’s great diving catch robs Robbie Cano and saves a run. The good
news is the Yankees are making Pedro work (20 pitches in the second as
of this writing).
9:02 p.m. Burnett at his best is
electrifying. At his worst he puts 50,000-plus to sleep. There’s never
middle ground. As far as “rhythm” between Burnett & Molina, even if
there was a DH in Philly, I think you’re seeing the end of this
9:05 p.m. BIG strikeout of Ryan Howard with
two on and two out; Burnett deserves credit there. Howard is 2-for-14
(.143) with eight strikeouts lifetime against the Yankees’ right-hander.
9:29 p.m. Life
for the Yankees and life in this once-quiet stadium thanks to Mark
Teixeira’s moonshot to right field. Walking the concourse, fans were
going through the motions. Just like that, one swing from Texieira
snapped out of it. The bomb also awakened the Pedro haterizers.
He drives you crazy, but Burnett somehow gets it done. He erases a
one-out double by No. 9 hitter Carlos Ruiz by retiring two good hitters
Jimmy Rollins (strikeout) and Shane Victorino (pop up to third). The
latter was on the first pitch, which at 86 total pitches affords him at
least the sixth inning.
9:54 p.m. Memo to Johnny Damon:
Why swing at the first pitch with Derek Jeter on second, Pedro’s pitch
count in the 80s and the Phillies’ pen warming up? Fans in front of me
waved their hands in disgust after Damon’s pop up landed in Ryan
Howard’s glove. Golden opportunity to forge ahead wasted.
10:08 p.m. A-Rod
is 0-for-7 in the World Series. There are people planning to wait on
hold for two hours for a one-minute platform telling their favorite
host that he and not Nick Swisher should have been benched.
10:12 p.m. The
Yankees needed another big hit. Leave it to Godzilla to deliver. The
Yankees face a major decision on whether to bring him back for another
season. Matsui may have to compromise if he wants to stay.
At 97 pitches I wondered if Burnett had enough for one more inning
(last week in SoCal he did not). Needed 11 pitches to retire the
Phillies in order, with two called strikeouts, this time he did. His
night is done (108 pitches). Despite what Joe Girardi said before the
game, expect Joba Chamberlain to be the bridge to Mariano Rivera.
I was wrong. Rivera is warming. He’ll go for the six-out save.
Jorge Posada pinch-hitting for Molina with runners on first and second
and no one out in the 7th. Pedro was lifted (107 pitches) and left,
head down, to loud boos.The Yankees going for the kill.
3-1 Yankees after Posada drives one home. Still nobody out with the top
of the order coming up. Unless the Yankees blow it open, Rivera is
locking this one down.
10:41 p.m. Still wondering why Jeter was bunting, especially with two strikes. Made no sense.
10:48 p.m. More
controversy thanks to the clowns in blue. First base umpire Brian
Gorman and the band of idiots failed to see that Damon’s line drive was
not caught by Howard. It bounced, which is why Howard threw to second
in the first place. It was ruled a double play that ended the inning.
Yet another terrible call, but the bad karma started with Jeter’s
decision to bunt. Remember that if the Phillies get to Rivera.
11 p.m. It’s been discussed to exhaustion, but what Rivera did
to escape the eighth inning, no other closer that participated in the
2009 postseason gets done.
By Jon Lane
It’s definitely not a stretch to say that the weather is a tad better than it was 25 hours ago. At that time the game was postponed, we were scurrying to piece together information, and I ended driving home on the Northern State River.
A different story this evening one hour before Andy Pettitte throws the first pitch of what could be an American League-pennant clinching game, which would be the 40th in Yankees history. Two things I noted yesterday was Pettitte being one win from becoming baseball’s all-time leader in series-clinching wins (his four is tied with Roger Clemens, Catfish Hunter and Dave Stewart). Yesterday was also 13 years to the night when Pettitte out-dueled John Smoltz in a 1-0 victory in Game 5 of the 1996 World Series, a win that gave New York a 3-2 win and set the table for its first World Championship in 18 years.
What more historical karma? Twenty-three years ago tonight, Mookie Wilson’s grounder ate Bill Buckner and gave the Mets an improbable 6-5 win that tied the 1986 Fall Classic at 3-3. Watching batting practice earlier, these Yankees had that all-business aura about them, yet kept each other loose. Robinson Cano was at the dugout steps exchanging small talk when Derek Jeter tapped him on the helmet with his bat.
The Angels are taking BP now. As I’ve written previously, there is no quit in Mike Scioscia’s team. If the Yankees can pound Joe Saunders earlier, it would certainly give everyone a chance to catch their breath. But don’t count in it. Three out of the five games played in this ALCS have been decided by one run – with Games 2 and 3 needing extra innings. I’m anticipating another pitcher’s duel. Saunders is a 16-game winner who gave up two runs in seven frames in Game 2. Pettitte is 6-2 with a 4.14 ERA in 12 LCS starts and 6-1, 3.95 in 10 starts as a Yankee.
Given how the 2009 season has played out, a close game benefits the New Yorkers. Besides their league-high 57 wins at Yankee Stadium (4-0 in the playoffs), they own 22 postseason walk-off wins. After winning 15 of the walk-off variety in the regular season, the Yankees have two in the playoffs, one coming on a home run.
Of course, all this means nothing; the game has to be played. But I’m one of many who has played the mystique and aura cards while telling stories (my colleague Chris Shearn is a firm believer in karma.) When you think you’ve seen enough, Alex Rodriguez takes Joe Nathan and Brian Fuentes deep to rescue the Yankees from certain defeat.
Let’s see what develops tonight. Back with much more, starting with Bernie Williams throwing out the first pitch.
7:50 p.m. Playing on the Stadium jukebox during a montage of Yankees highlights: The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Tonight,” The Black Eyed Peas’ “Tonight’s Gonna Be a Good Night.” Think Stadium Ops want the Yankees to get it done this evening?
8:10 p.m. Chuck Mangione with a beautiful rendition of our national anthem. Mangione also played the anthem the day Dave Righetti threw his no-hitter on July 4, 1983. Thanks to Bill Stimers (aka “Bill the Baker” and longtime friend of George Steinbrenner) for that nugget. (There’s that karma thing again.)
Meanwhile, Bernie Williams walked to the mound to an incredible ovation to throw out the first pitch.
8:19 p.m. Andy Pettitte warming up to “Welcome to the Jungle.” The new house is stoked.
8:21 p.m. First pitch a called strike to Chone Figgins. Game time temperature 58 degrees.
8:26 p.m. Man on a mission: Pettitte pitches a clean first throwing 12 pitches, nine for strikes.
8:37 p.m. An eventful bottom of the first ends with a thud. Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez stroke back-to-back two-out singles (the latter extended his postseason hitting streak to 11 games). Jorge Posada, however, ended the threat with a fly out to right field. The Yankees are batting .216 (16-for-74) with runners in scoring position in the playoffs.
8:41 p.m. Swishlicious! Nick Swisher executes a 9-9-3 double play, capitalizing on yet another Angels baserunning blunder, this time when Vladimir Guerrero got caught too far off first. Now Nick Swisher has to start hitting.
8:46 p.m. 0-0 after 1 1/2. For fun facts and figures, meet Joe Auriemma At the Bat.
8:55 p.m. Swisher just gets under a Saunders 3-2 pitch and flies out to left. He’s now 3-for-30 (.100) in the postseason.
8:59 p.m. Big spot for Johnny Damon: Bases loaded, Saunders needing a breather and that galling RISP postseason stat.
9:03 p.m. Unreal. A ground out to first on the second pitch Damon sees. Saunders has thrown 38 pitches, yet the Yankees have stranded five through two innings and there’s no score. That RISP average? It’s now .213. The Yankees may be the cardiac crew, but they cannot continue to blow these golden opportunities.
9:05 p.m. The Jeff Mathis now has eight hits (five doubles) this postseason. The Yankees might rue the day they failed with runners on base.
9:15 p.m. 1-0 Angels on Bobby Abreu’s run-scoring single. Pettitte is pitching well outside of the Mathis double. He needs help from his offense.
9:23 p.m. Hmmm …. A fly ball to deep right that did NOT carry out of this ballpark?
9:33 p.m. Pettitte razor-sharp in the fourth with two called strikeouts (with help from plate umpire Dale Scott on a low-and-outside Strike 3 to Guerrero). It’d be a good time for the offense to break through. Swisher is due up second.
9:38 p.m. Swisher with a base hit to left. First and second with nobody out. Now or never.
9:48 p.m. Breakthrough and redemption. Damon strokes a two-run single to center field.
10:00 p.m. The good news: Yankees chase Saunders, put up three runs and Posada faces Darren Oliver with the bases loaded. The bad news: A double-play grounder ends the inning. You can’t squander chances to break the game open in the postseason, folks. Think of it like a football team stalling in the red zone and settling for field goals.
At this rate you’re getting Pettitte for seven and Mariano Rivera for two.
10:13 p.m. Game 6 attendance: 50,173, the largest ever at the new Yankee Stadium.
10:25 p.m. Big spot for Guerrero, who went yard of Pettitte in Game 3.
10:27 p.m. Guerrero has something left, lofting a pitch about four inches from the ground into right for a double. It’s second and third with two out for Pettitte with Joba Chamberlain warming up.
10:32 p.m. Pettitte squeaks out of the sixth after deflecting Kendry Morales’ comebacker and throwing the first for the final out to put the Yankees nine outs away from their 40th AL pennant. He’s thrown 91 pitches through six innings and could be done for the night. Cabrera, Jeter and Damon are due up. An insurance run or three
won’t hurt, especially the way Chamberlain and Phil Hughes have looked in the postseason.
10:43 p.m. Here’s why this game is far from over: The Yankees have left nine men on base and ended the sixth when Mark Teixeira grounded into a double play. Failing to break it open against Darren Oliver is cause for concern.
Pettitte’s out to start the seventh, BTW.
10:49 p.m. Pettitte leaves to a well-deserved standing ovation with a runner on and one out, and tips his cap, after throwing 99 pitchers in 6 1/3 innings. Chamberlain in relief. Two years ago this is a security blanket. Not so this year (seven hits, 2 2/3 innings).
11:02 p.m. Yankees are six outs away thanks to a Joba well done. A-Rod leads off the seventh with a single. He’s my choice for ALCS MVP if the Yankees get those last six outs.
11:08 p.m. Rivera warming up to work two innings. Good move. Meanwhile, Posada grounds into his second double play.
11:11 p.m. Make that the Yankees are six Mariano Rivera outs from their 40th AL pennant and a date with Cliff Lee and the Phillies here Wednesday night.
11:24 p.m. Inopportune time for Rivera to allow his first earned
run in a postseason home game since October 22, 2000 (Game 2 of the World Series against the Mets). It sliced the
Yankees’ lead to 3-2 before Rivera recovered to retire Kendry Morales.
Three outs to go.
Give credit to these Angels. They don’t quit. Ever.
11:36 p.m. The Angels have heart, but they are careless and probably threw away their season. First, Howie Kendrick dropped Morales’ throw after he fielded Swisher’s sacrifice bunt. Melky Cabrera put down a sacrifice that was to move runners to second and third, except Scott Kazmir threw it 10 feet over Kendrick’s head, allowing a valuable insurance run to come home.
11:44 p.m. Well, Teixeira made one loud out, but it got another run home to give Rivera a three-run lead. Is the game over? No. But I like those odds.
11:55 p.m. Rivera working the ninth needing those last three outs. Yankees fans are ready to party. And as I write, Kenrick grounds out to first. Two to go.
12:01 a.m. Gary Matthews Jr., pinch-hitting for Mike Napoli, strikes out and the Yankees win their 40th American League pennant. They begin their first World Series since 2003 Wednesday night when CC Sabathia opposes Cliff Lee in this building. More from the clubhouse coming later.
By Jon Lane
First pitch: 6:07 p.m.
Pitching matchup: A.J. Burnett (13-9, 4.04) vs. Nick Blackburn (11-11, 4.03)
Still a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms in the evening, but
there’s plenty of blue sky and a perfectly cool and crisp late
Throwing out the first pitch:
Reggie Jackson. About an hour ago Chris Shearn conducted an exclusive
interview with “Mr. October” for a Stadium Spotlight to be posted
later. Also on tap are chats with David Robertson, Chad Gaudin and
Francisco Cervelli, and Shearn’s pregame Off the Wall Vlog.
of Cervelli, he was taking ground balls at third base during batting
practice, telling my colleague Joe Auriemma it’s to “keep my hand
active.” He’s the third catcher on the Yankees’ DS roster for a reason.
You never know.
A bit of news: Dr. Marc Philippon, who
performed the hip surgery on Alex Rodriguez, told reporters he doesn’t
expect A-Rod to need another surgery this offseason.
Other pregame chatter: Joe Girardi discussed
the DH debate, the mood of the clubhouse in light of “Molina-gate” and
A.J. Burnett’s chances tonight. Ron Gardenhire also explained why Carl
Pavano has been great for the Twins. Yes, that Carl Pavano.
Tonight’s Lineups: Molina batting ninth
Back with much, much more later
6 p.m. Reggie, looking dapper wearing a fedora hat, jacket and tie, bounced a pitch to Jorge Posada. See, he got to catch?
6:14 p.m. Burnett
needs just 14 pitches to work through the first inning, ending with a
punch out of Jason Kubel after issuing a two-out walk to Joe Mauer. A
microcosm of good and bad A.J. – he retired the first two batters on
five pitches and needed nine to get through Mauer and Kubel.
That’s two scoreless innings in the books for Burnett-Molina. With a
runner at second and two out, Molina draped his left arm around Burnett
to provide instructions. The next pitch Matt Tolbert grounded out to
second. There is something about Molina’s ability to reach Burnett,
knowing exactly what to say and how to say it. We’ll see if this keeps
6:53 p.m. Burnett catches Mauer looking with a runner
on first to end the third, a nasty breaking ball that’s his best of the
game to this point. That was a .365 hitter he sent to the bench shaking
The Burnett-Molina connection breeds great karma. 7:10 p.m. Matt
Tolbert’s single was to give the Twins a 1-0 lead … or so it seemed.
Nick Swisher caught Carlos Gomez rounding too far off second base and
he fired a strike to Derek Jeter, who tagged Gomez out right before
Delmon Young touched home plate. That’s the biggest play of the game,
but the Yankees have to get something started offensively. Nick
Blackburn has held them hitless through four innings, allowing only a
7:32 p.m. Burnett after five innings: no runs, two
hits, four walks, two hit batsman, five strikeouts – in other words
he’s been A.J. Burnett. He’s thrown 73 pitches – 25 in the fifth – but
is backed up by a deep and rested bullpen. Provided the Yankees solve
Blackburn, you’ll see Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes and Mariano Rivera.
Theme of the game so far: Burnett/Molina’s and the Yankees’ ability to do damage control.
7:40 p.m. Robinson Cano ends Blackburn’s no-hitter at 4 2/3 IP with a single to center.
Brendan Harris, of all people, triples to left to put the Twins on the
board, though a better left fielder makes the play. Burnett’s thrown 96
pitches after six, and David Robertson and Damaso Marte were warming
up. I’d be very surprised if he comes out for the seventh.
Posada pinch-hitting and gets a loud ovation. Burnett’s night is done.
He gave it a ride to deep left center before Gomez caught it on the
8 p.m. Meanwhile, it’ll be Joba Time in the seventh.
8:06 p.m. Huge spot for Mark Teixeira here. He’s 0-for-6 in the Division Series.
Make that 0-for-7. Teixeira teases a grand slam and pops a 3-2 pitch to
left for the second out. What do you know? Huge spot for A-Rod here.
Mr. October Version 2009 delivers: RBI single to left scores Jeter,
ties the game at one and chases Blackburn. A-Rod is 3-for-7 with three
RBIs in the ALDS.
8:21 p.m. Twins 3B Matt Tolbert with a strained left oblique, day-to-day.
Here’s why Phil Coke was brought in with two out in the seventh:
Lefties hit .195 against him and Jason Kubel was 0-for-4 with two
strikeouts. Make that 0-5, 3 Ks.
8:47 p.m. A Tweet from
WFAN’s Sweeny Murti: “I think this is setting up beautifully for a
Posada walkoff Bot 10, and AJ giving him a pie!”
Brendan Harris, yes Brendan Harris, is 2-for-2 with an RBI as an injury
replacement. His hit-and-run single has runners on the corners with two
out and Hughes in trouble.
8:57 p.m. Ridiculous. The Twins grab the lead on a walk and two singles by their 7-8-9 hitters all with two out.
9:02 p.m. There’s hope Yankees fans: 15 walk-off wins and 28 in their last at-bat, including those three games in May.
9:09 p.m. Great play by Harris. He’s supposed to beat you with his glove, not his bat.
9:28 p.m. Teixeira ends an 0-for-7 slump by leading off the ninth with a single. A-Rod at the plate. Very interesting ….
9:32 p.m. A picture and decibel levels are worth thousands of words. TBS cameras had a shot of Ron Gardenhire with a look that read, “You have got to be kidding me.” That run off Rivera in the eighth looms large, but the Yankees have new life.
9:49 p.m. Runners on the corners in the 10th. This is what happens when you walk the No. 9 hitter with two out.
9:52 p.m. Alfredo Aceves dodges a bullet. Mauer leads off the 11th if it gets that far.
10:03 p.m. Nathan throwing error, Brett Gardner hesitates, then takes off, still beats the throw to third. Unbelievable. Now they’re putting Jeter on to set up the double play. Gardy’s also pulling Nathan for the left-hander, Jose Mijares.
10:09 p.m. Buzzkill.
10:19 p.m. Twins in business because Damaso Marte stinks, but it could have been worse. Left field umpire Phil Cuzzi completely blew a call that would have given Mauer a leadoff double.
10:22 p.m. Bases loaded and nobody out, but Twins would have had the lead if not for Cuzzi.
10:26 p.m. After Delmon Young lined out to first, Gomez grounded to Teixeira, who threw to home for the force, and Harris flied out to center. Awesome performance by David Robertson, though he has Cuzzi to thank.
10:30 p.m. Teixeira walk-off HR ends an epic. He’ll get his first taste of pie. Back later with so much more.
By Jon Lane
Currently playing on Sirius 7: The Spinners’ “Games People Play”
It’s the morning after the Yankees’ 7-2 Game 1 win, a game the Yankees played with their usual never-say-die fervor. Alex Rodriguez was provided with his first chance at October redemption and Wednesday night he delivered. And all involved are confident this won’t be a one-hit (or in A-Rod’s case two-hit) wonder.
“Everybody makes a big deal [out of him], but Alex is a great teammate and it shows on the field,” said Joba Chamberlain. “He plays with everything’s got and always goes about his business.
Derek Jeter, Joe Girardi and CC Sabathia met the media in a formal press conference setting. While Sabathia did what’s expected of an ace, he too entered Game 1 with a shady postseason track record and his 6 2/3 innings of two-run (one earned), eight-strikeout performance was what the Yankees envisioned when they signed him. In short, Sabathia did exactly what he was supposed to do, writes Steven Goldman.
In A-Rod’s case, it’s taken a lot longer for he of greater stature to cash in when it truly matters. Many have been quick to dismiss and even boo Rodriguez upon every failure, but not this season, and that’s been refreshing.
“We don’t listen to it, so if somebody said that I don’t think too many people were talking about it in the clubhouse or reading it,” Jeter said. “He seemed like he looked pretty comfortable all yer. When he came back he seemed like he got better and better as the season went on, but I think a lot of times people read a little too much into final statistics.”
Chris Shearn was on location last night and hard at work, providing a pregame video blog and a Game 1 wrap. The Yankees work out today at 1 p.m. with Girardi and Game 2 starter A.J. Burnett speaking at roughly 2:15. I’m not there today, but YESNetwork.com will keep you plugged in leading up to my return trip to the Bronx Friday night.
Now playing on Sirius 23: L.A. Guns’ “Electric Gypsy.” Some serious cheese.
By Jon Lane
Derek Jeter’s two-run blast to left tied the game at two in the third inning. The homer was Jeter’s 18th in the postseason (10th in the DS), tying Reggie Jackson and Mickey Mantle for third on the Yankees’ all-time list.
Jeter is baseball’s record holder in postseason hits (155), singles (129), at-bats (497) and runs scored (88) along with a .312 career average with 18 homers and 51 RBIs. If you ask him what brings out his best during the postseason, he’ll provide his best Jeff Spicoli impersonation: “I don’t know.”
“I don’t know what else to say,” Jeter said. “I failed a lot as well, you know. Sometimes you’re going to fail. What you try to do is when you’re in those situations you think of the times you had success. I don’t think you can be afraid to fail, but you just try to have fun. That’s all I try to do is have fun because we’re playing a game.”
Nick Swisher has been on the receiving end of many Jeter clutch hits. It’s safe to say he’s enjoying the view from the other side.
“It’s pretty impressive,” Swisher said. It’s almost like he takes it just like any other game, but it seems like once those lights hit in the postseason, it’s ‘Jeter Time.’ There’s just something about him. Every accolade he’s got throughout his career is very well deserving. Finally being on the good guys’ side of it, it’s nice to have him on your team.
“For him to hit that home run to tie the game was huge. That was a big boost for us and we all followed in on that.”
CC Sabathia, without his best stuff, held the fort while pacifying a few cynics who cried over his shady October past. For a $161 million price tag, Sabathia won 19 games his first season in New York but entered 2-3 with a 7.92 ERA in five career postseason starts and a 10.93 ERA in losing his last three. He was touched for two runs on four hits in the third, but then retired 11 of his next 12 batters. His 113th and final pitch induced Denard Span to fly out to right for the second out of the seventh before he left to a thunderous ovation, a decibel level that jumped up a few octaves with a tip of the cap. The big lefty’s outing wasn’t pretty – two runs (one earned) on eight hits with a hit batsman, wild pitch and eight strikeouts – but during this time of year you’re never judged by style points.
“I was able to hold them down,” Sabathia said. “It got a little sketchy there I guess in the third, but I was able to come back and put up zeros like I have all year. And these guys have been scoring runs all year. That’s what I talked about [Tuesday], not try to do too much and let these guys take over the game.”
By Jon Lane
ton of money – $423 million to be exact – were spent on people after
the Yankees’ 13-year postseason streak ended last season. The result
was 103 wins, first place in the AL East and home field advantage
throughout the playoffs.
Now begins the quest for the real
payoff: World Championship No. 27. It’s quiet here at Yankee Stadium
right now. The Twins are taking BP and the stands are empty given the 6
p.m. start and the majority of fans about to file out of work. But
Derek Jeter and Reggie Jackson are in the house, Mother Nature spared
us precipitation (but not wind) and this place will rock moments before
CC Sabathia throws the first pitch.
Sabathia is earning $161
million of the $423 million. He delivered, winning 19 games and
emerging as a top AL Cy Young Award contender. Starting tonight,
however, it’s his job to start becoming a champion, to carry the
Yankees on his broad back en route to a championship, to halt a 4-13
postseason skid under Joe Torre from 2004-2007. Casting a large shadow
is Sabathia’s postseason track record, 2-3 with a 7.92 ERA in five
career starts, the last five runs allowed in 3 2/3 innings in Game 2 of
last year’s Division Series.
“I think maybe just trying to go
out and do too much,” Sabathia said on Tuesdsay. “Trying to go out and
throw shutouts and throw no-hitters and things like that instead of
going out and doing the same things I’ve done during the regular season
which is throwing strikes early in the count.”
Tonight marks a
new beginning not only for Sabathia, but for Alex Rodriguez (you know
his recent postseason past). Keep it here to see what develops.
P.A. announcer Paul Olden is introducing the Twins’ non-starters. Carl
Pavano was greeted to loud boos – and this place is about half full.
Mere minutes from first pitch. CC Sabathia got a nice applause. Also
with the team and in uniform, injured players Chien-Ming Wang and
6:11 p.m. Not a good beginning as Denard
Span laces a leadoff double to left-center. The Twins may be tired, but
that adrenaline can do wonders, especially with the way this team has
played for the past month.
6:18 p.m. Sabathia throws 22
pitches, but keeps the Twins off the board by retiring their No. 3 and
4 hitters and stranding Span at third. Biggest pitch of the inning: a
1-2 punchout of Joe Mauer, a .365 hitter, after Span advanced to third
on a passed ball.
6:31 p.m. Alex Rodriguez’s first at-bat
came with a runner on second and two out. He filed out to right and is
eight for his last 57 postseason at-bats (.140) since 2004.
2-0 Twins on Michael Cuddyer’s two-out RBI single, which preceded an
Orlando Cabrera single and Mauer double, with Mauer scoring on Jose
Posada’s second passed ball. Sabathia has allowed six hits, his pitch
count is at 64 and he’s been was up in the zone. It’s still early but
worry is already setting in, as are the voices of CC’s postseason past.
Brian Duensing, meanwhile, has been razor sharp, holding the Yankees hitless since Derek Jeter’s leadoff single.
Leave it to the captain to set the ship back on course. Jeter’s two-run
blast to left ties the game at two. The homer was Jeter’s 18th in the
postseason (10th in the DS), tying Reggie Jackson and Mickey Mantle for
third on the Yankees’ all-time list. If I were in the old Stadium, I’d
feel the building shake.
7:22 p.m. A-Rod’s second at-bat: Swinging strikeout. Now on an 8-for-58 (.138) skid.
7:30 p.m. Some nuggets from Tyler Kepner, the outstanding beat writer for the New York Times:
Posada is the first catcher in 10 years with two passed balls in a
division series game. (Varitek in 1999); A-Rod has stranded 40
consecutive runners in the postseason.
7:32 p.m. From the
Nobody Talks About It Because He’s Not A-Rod Department: Hideki Matsui
has six hits in his last 29 postseason at-bats (.207) since 2006.
Swishalicious! Nick Swisher’s two-out double scores a hustling Robinson
Cano from first to give the Yankees a 3-2 lead. That’s Swish’s second
postseason RBI and third double in this his 11th game.
Breakthrough! A-Rod delivers with an RBI single that scores Jeter and
knocks Duensing out of the game. 8-for-58 slide over. Forty consecutive
stranded runners in the past. Feel the power of Kate Hudson!
8:11 p.m. That
Matsui stat is also in the past. Godzilla crushes one to Monument Park
off Francisco Liriano to make it 6-2 Yankees. It’s a shame about
Liriano. He was one of baseball’s rising young stars before Tommy John
8:16 p.m. Duensing’s line: 4 2/3 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 HR, 1 WP, 79 pitches/59 strikes.
Since Sabathia allowed two runs on four hits in the third, he’s retired
10 out of his next 11 batters. He’s at 95 pitches and will probably go
another inning. This is what aces do. Even when not at their best, they
find a way to get the job done.
8:47 p.m. Sabathia
departs to a thunderous ovation after retiring Denard Span on a fly
ball to right and throwing 113 pitches in 6 2/3 innings. Phil Huuughes finishes the frame with a strikeout of the pesky Orlando Cabrera following a 10-pitch at-bat.
9:06 p.m. A-Rod tonight: Two hits, 2 RBIs. To quote my colleague
Chris Shearn, “He stinks.” For one night, seriously, A-Rod has the
majority of haterizers off his back.
9:21 p.m. Enter Joba Chamberlain to a rousing ovation with runners on the corners, two out in the top of the eighth and a 7-2 lead. He needed two pitches to retire Delmon Young and end the inning. I’m not going there.