Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Power Win

The Yankees looked like they were in trouble tonight. Liriano was good, but not sharp with every pitch early. The Yankees had chances in the 2nd and 3rd inning and did nothing with them. Then Liriano went into total and complete lockdown mode. He was about as sharp as you can be, non-Roy Halladay division, from the time he got out of the 3rd inning 1st and 2nd no out jam through the 5th. Spotting his fastball to both sides of the plate, and then throwing sliders and change-ups that looked fastball the entire way and moved at the last second. They were both devastating pitches, and he was devastating the Yankees. If the leadoff runner didn't get on, you felt like you had no chance to build a rally. He was that good. One out seemed like more.

Then Mark Teixeira doubled with one out in the 6th, and for the next two offensive half innings the Yankees flexed their muscles. I mean really flexed them. Rodriguez walked. Cano singled to score Teixeira. Liriano got a big strikeout of Thames, and had a chance to get out of the inning with a 2 run lead intact with 9 outs to go. Posada grinds an at bat and lifts a single over the second baseman's head to score Rodriguez. Still a chance for the Twins to get out of the inning with the lead, and Granderson, who does not hit lefties well, is at the plate. He gets a fastball and rips it high off the tall wall in right center (ball is probably gone in every other park) for a 2 RBI triple. Just like that, the Yankees send six hitters to the plate and turn a 3-0 deficit into a 4-3 lead. I'm not sure if Liriano lost it slightly or if the Yankees were just dialing in. Probably a combination of both. Either way, it was an offensive explosion that changed this game.

The Twins did a good job getting a run back and tying the game immediately. Ideally the Yankees want to shut the door there after a big inning but the Twins didn't allow it. They worked Sabathia, who grinded but did not have anywhere near his best stuff. They took pitches, five guys on base in the bottom of the 6th, and got a big run across. It could have been a lot worse, but Sabathia being Sabathia he got out of it without any more damage.

Then the Yankees delivered the deciding blow. After blowing a big lead in a hurry and immediately coming back to tie it, the Twins needed a zero top 7. They wouldn't get it. Jeter lined out to center, Swisher singled, and then Teixeira got a hanging 3-2 slider and blasted it to right field. Went completely downtown. If Teixeira gets hot, watch out.

The Yankees coming back to win this game was positively massive. As I discussed in the comments section today, Game 1 was big in this series for most team, maybe more than usual. CC grinded, the offense came to life, and the bullpen was lockdown (with one adventure that Rivera stomped on in the 8th. Which is what he does time after time, the man is just amazing. 2nd and 3rd 2 out in a 2 run game, that's a really tough spot to come in to. And he just gets out of it. It really is incredible to watch, and has been for a long time.). All of that amounted to a Minnesota team that looked full of confidence and energy early on taking a tough loss due to a Yankees comeback, something they lead the majors in this season. Minnesota really needs to win tomorrow. The Yankees should be empowered with Pettitte on the mound, and having just beat Liriano look to jump all over and put pressure on Pavano all night. They should play extremely aggressive baseball.

Only one major complaint, outside of some free swinging against Liriano (although maybe he was just that nasty tonight). What Joe Girardi was doing bunting Nick Swisher in the 3rd inning, I just don't know. Between the end of the 2nd and beginning of the 3rd inning, 4 of the last 5 Yankees had reached base on two walks and two singles. They had 1st and 2nd and no out with the middle of the order starting up (Swisher, Teixeira, Rodriguez). Swisher tries to bunt on the first pitch. Not a one or two run game in the 8th inning. A two run game in the top of the 3rd. With a guy who hit 29 home runs at the plate being followed by guys who hit 33 and 30 home runs respectively. I don't know if Girardi put that bunt on, or if Swisher did it on his own. Either way, that is terrible. Not Brett Gardner at the plate, Nick Swisher. Not only is he a power hitter and a run producer, he can't bunt. Giving away an out that early with those types of hitters at the plate and coming up is ridiculous. Especially with Liriano giving up baserunners recently. It wasn't like he had retired 15 in a row before those two guys got on. What might be even worse is that Swisher was no longer bunting and swung away at the second pitch, flying out to right. If you are going to bunt, bunt. I don't agree with it, but at least go all the way whichever route you choose. Don't go halfway. I can't imagine it's easy to bunt one foul then get back into an at bat 0-1. Just don't give away outs early in games with that type of hitter at the plate.

Actually, one more complaint. Two umpires are added in the postseason to, as far as I can tell, make two calls: fair/foul down the lines and whether or not an outfielder catches a ball on the fly. The fact that with these extra umpires they still missed a blatant catch for the 27th out that brought the tying run to the plate in the form of Jim Thome means this situation just needs correcting. By "this situation" I don't mean missing calls like the one tonight. I mean the incredible amount of calls umpires miss in total. I'm not saying it's their fault. That call tonight was a tough call to the naked eye. But all it took was one look at a replay to see it was a clear catch. I'm not sure what the answer is, but change is needed. These blown calls potentially change games, and have been doing so for a long time.

Other than that, really impressive game from the Yankees. Very proud of the offense tonight, getting blanked for five innings and then going bananas. Big opportunity for the Yankees tomorrow. A win, at least for this ALDS, would turn not having homefield advantage on its head, coming back to The Bronx up 2-0. Again, I hope to see an incredibly aggressive brand of baseball early, really trying to put the Twins on their heels early and take the crowd out of the game. Hopefully Pettitte has his typical big game playoff stuff. Go Yankees.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Pat,

To me, these are the types of games that show whether or not you are World Series caliber and for the Yankees the answer is a resounding "yes."

When you can absorb a non-dominate start from your ace and come back and win a game like this it says a lot about your team. You have to figure Sabathia is going to dial in and be at the top of his game in his next start so this puts the Yankees in great position.

It also seems like the Rangers might upset the Rays obviously, and the Yankees never lose to Ranger in the playoffs so it could be another trip to the series against the Phillies for NY.

bandi

Anonymous said...

PF

Bandi's comment says it all, I'd like to add that it's just another typical Yankee playoff win. They didn't play that well, starter didn't pitch that well, and they still won. Not even a little bit surprised over here.

DV

I couldn't quite tell from your post yesterday, but it sounds like you have Clemens higher on the list than Randy Johnson. I would have it other way around, but I'd love to hear your thoughts on it. Also, I think Halladay is really kind of a poor man's Greg Maddux at this point, though once he starts adding to his win total he'll be right there with him.

As for Pedro, we all know where he belongs. Whatever the top echelon is for pitchers he's there with whomever else is deemed appropriate. Whether it's Carlton, Koufax, Seaver and Gibson or guys like Ryan, Clemens, and Johnson, wherever the best pitchers reside, that's where Pedro is. And as great as Halladay has been, he's not there. Not yet anyway.

--the Gunn

Patrick said...

great points on the game last night guys. it was one of those wins that seemed like more than just one win. it carried a little meaning for it, especially directed at the twins. of course it is just one win, and the twins have a chance to take the meaning out of it tonight and even the series. but that is a tough loss for minnesota.

i'm glad you brought up dv's pitching comment from his post gunn. i think anytime you are going to start making distinctions between pitchers at the level of maddux, clemens, johnson, and pedro you are playing a very tricky game. at least distinctions in terms of putting them on different levels. they all had different careers, but they also all had generational careers. they were all top 5 pitchers in the game for a prolonged period of time, and that says something considering they were competing directly against each other. you could have legitimate arguments about all of them, and when you can do that it usually means they are all on the same level. certainly, you aren't separating maddux and johnson from clemens and pedro. this might be a good conversation to really dive into this offseason.

good points by dv on tbs. the camera work was not good. the announcing, despite having a lot of good names and guys whose work as announcers i really like, was not good either. hoping for better performances on both fronts tonight. but i also don't care if it's the same or worse as long as the yankees win.

the gm at work said...

Pat,

Agreed with Bandi. Sabathia did not pitch particularly well, but they still found a way. As many doubts as you had about them all season, you have to feel good today.

Gunn,

It might be because I got to see both Pedro and Clemens firsthand. But I don't think Maddux was flashy enough. And Johnson wasn't consistent enough. Clemens and Pedro have to be top-10 all time, while I consider Maddux and Johnson top-20 all time. Halladay might be approaching that second level. As it took him a while to hit this level, it will be hard to put him into that first echelon unless he's dominating at Jamie Moyer age as well.

I feel like TBS ignores constructive criticism.

That said, we will probably never see a better one-game performance than the Randy Johnson vs. Atlanta perfect game.

Anonymous said...

DV

Just so you know--comparing players and generations and ranking them all is my favorite part of sports. So naturally this is getting my blood flowing, which is good, because Red Sox baseball sure as hell isn't.

I have to admit that I'm prejudiced against Clemens (for obvious reasons) and biased for Johnson because he was half the reason the Yankees didn't win a fourth straight World Series.

Of greater importance is that in this situation steroids matter to me. In fact, the only time I bring steroids into the equation is when we're comparing all-time greats and/or generations. If you didn't used steroids, that's a bonus. If you did, it's a significant demerit. With Clemens, I just can't get steroids out of my head with him. You remember him back in 1996. He was done. Finished. And he had been for four years. In fact, he was in 1993 what Pedro was in 2007. The difference is Pedro accepted his body for what it was and played out the string. Clemens didn't. And now he has to deal with that consequences.

Randy Johnson was electric. Four straight Cy Young Awards. Five in all. He had the outrageous half season in Houston. And while I agree he was more erratic than say Greg Maddux was, he was pretty darn consistent--it's to win 300 games otherwise. Anyway, as Pat said, this is something best left for the winter, but I thought I'd throw that out there.

--the Gunn

PF said...

if 75-29 (.721 WPCT), with a 1.98 era, and a 203 era+ (!) isn't flashy, i don't know what is. that's what maddux did from 92-95 when he won 4 consecutive cy youngs. 4 seasons, total era under 2. i understand you probably meant in terms of "stuff". but "stuff" doesn't mean just throwing hard in my book, or being excitable on the mound, or whatever. maddux's off-speed stuff was as flashy as there is out there, and he was a competitor on the mound. i know where you're going with that comment, but i don't think there is anything that knocks him off that top tier. and obviously it's not like he just had that one short stretch of dominance - he won 355 games pitching the lasdder part of his career in an offensive era. so in terms of the two ways you can have an elite career - a long series of outstanding seasons or a short burst of dominant seasons - he had both covered. he is right there with any of those guys.

i also disagree with you regarding johnson's consistency. from 1990-2005 (16 seasons) he went 253-123 (.673 WPCT), averaging 16 wins a season, with a 3.04 era, 148 era+, and a downright absurd 11.1 k/9 for that amount of time - 3,407 innings to be exact. if that's not consistency, what is? he won 5 cy youngs during that period, including 4 in consecutive seasons where he went 81-27 (.750) with a 2.48 era, a 188 era+, and a 12.4 k/9. so he too had both ways you can have an elite career covered.

i understand you can do both of these things for pedro and clemens too, and that's exactly my point. they should probably all be in a group together.

very tricky to start playing the PED game gunn. i understand you are not saying there is no way the other guys used, just that it is out there that clemens may have, and that impacts your perception. but it's really tough to start doing that. for better or worse, we have to just take it for what it is at face value, because we just can't be sure who did and did not use. that is true even for the most likely and unlikely of candidates.

PF said...

and i say that with an eye towards a time when a lot of red sox fans (yourself included, considering a conversation we had back at that time) who thought, given giambi/pettitte's contributions to the 2003 alcs that maybe the red sox should have had that one too...only to have it come out later that members of the 2003 and 2004 were on the same level as giambi and pettitte. so you it's really tough to start saying this guy definitely did and this guy definitely didn't, because we just don't know. it's not fair (at all to those who didn't use), but we have to try to evaluate these guys on a somewhat level playing field since we just don't know.

the gm at work said...

This is really an irrelevant argument right now and one we should fill our January with once all the free agents have found their new homes. But PEDs are definitely a factor on both sides. And you're making it sound like I'm saying Johnson and Maddux sucked. They didn't. I honestly think they're among the top 20 of all time.

More evidence toward the argument that Pat is the Rasheed Wallace of sports blogging is the fact that over the past two and a half years he has whined and cried nonstop about even the mention of performance enhancing drugs on this blog - and he's discussing it now. Really bringing the A-game during October. I'm impressed. I honestly am. If we can bottle it up and put it in the fridge until January, I'd appreciate that greatly.

What should be at hand right now is that the Rangers are up - again - against the Rays. How does Pat feel about that?

TimC said...

I don't know if PED's should enter a discussion across generations- since everyone used, the relative playing fields are level. Plus, not a soul here believes Babe Ruth would not have stuck every needle available into his oversized biceps and hit 1500 HRs if steroids had been available in his time. Therefore, across generations, players should not get discredited for using roids.

Two exceptions for me. Credit should go to players like Ichiro who are very likely to be clean for maintaining a level of elite performance during such a time. And credit should go against a guys like Bonds or Clemens who artificially extended their elite years thanks to drugs. It is obviously a case-by-case thing and I am trying to put umbrellas over it, but I think it made some sense.

Regarding the here and now, Billy Beane and Theo can go shoot craps during the annual crap shoot. I prefer to point out that some teams win and some teams don't because they make the plays when required. The Yankees have that mentality to block out the BS and make plays thanks to the target on their backs all year and it showed. The beauty of baseball is that one pitcher can make all the difference but it does not look like the Twins have that man.

TimC said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TimC said...

Just did a re-read and what I said makes no sense. A one-line summary: throw out the stats and look at how guys did relatively, factoring in 'roids in that relative talk while not doing so when comparing, say, Ruth to Bonds. Since Ruth basically doubled up all the other guys in his time, he is the best HR hitter, not Bonds, who was great but not so much ahead of the others in his time. That's a simple example but I think it summarizes my thinking.

Anonymous said...

Tim

The second paragraph of your first post is exactly what I was trying to say in mine. If I wasn't clear about it, my apologies, but that's the gist of where I was going with the steroids issue.

PF

You're right about my thoughts on Giambi (though Pettitte's name was nowhere to be found back then). And it's important to know that if Pedro ever came to have used steroids he takes a back seat to the Tom Seaver's of the world just like everyone else. I have no problem doing that.

As for Randy Johnson--I think I said 'erratic' because there's NO WAY anybody who wins 300 games can be inconsistent. But he was wild from time to time and at one point had the reputation as a headcase. That's more of what I meant than anything else. Clearly, a guy who's winning 24 games at 38 is not inconsistent.

On Maddux--he wasn't as fun to watch as Pedro/Johnson/Clemens, and you picked up on that. But there was a reason the guy spent his whole career (especially the last five years or so) in the National League. And while 355 wins is still absurd production, an all NL career certainly had something to do with that. How much is debatable, and while I'm certainly not saying he's not an all-time great, I am saying that his 355 wins in the NL is not as impressive as similar production while pitching in the AL.

--the Gunn

Anonymous said...

The yankees are engineering wins right now. Like it's a science. It's a pleasure to watch.

Bandi

PF said...

gunn -

i was directing those johnson/maddux comments to dv. i thought your analysis of the two pitchers was spot on.