Thursday, November 5, 2009


Andy Pettitte staired down Old Man River and defied the odds stacked against pitchers going on 3 days rest in the postseason. With Joe Girardi getting grilled about his decision to use a 3 man rotation in the Series, his plan came to fruition, as the Yanks rode the back of an ol' reliable horse. Pettitte tossed 5.2 innings of 3-run ball, with only Ryan Howard's 2-run shot in the 6th marring what was otherwise a brilliant pitching performance, but by then, the Yanks held a 7-3 lead and seemed to be perfectly in command of their 27th World Series Championship.

Hideki Matsui, perhaps in his last game as a Yankee, went out in style, earning the Series' MVP honors. Godzilla was a one-man wrecking crew, destroying Pedro Martinez and JA Happ for 6 RBIs on a 2-run bomb, a bases loaded single and a 2-run double. Matsui finished the Series 8-13, hitting .615 with 3 HRs and 8 RBIs, despite not starting 3 games in Philly.

Mariano Rivera, the Rock of Gilbraltar of the Yankee bullpen for the past 14 seasons, came on to finish this one, as the Phillies and Jimmy Rollins never "figured him out". Mo was the only reliever in the postseason who did not blow a game for his team. Ryan Franklin, Joe Nathan, Jonathan Papelbum, Jonathan Broxton, Huston Street, Brian Fuentes, and Brad Lidge all blew critical games for their respective teams. Yankee fans have been spoiled for a long time with Mariano, and one day, we'll all have our wake up call when the greatest reliever of all time won't be trotting out to "Enter the Sandman".

The "Curse of The ARod" has been lifted. Unlike the "Curse of the Bambino", which lasted 86 years, ARod's curse only lasted 5 years. Since ARod joined the team in 2004, when the Yanks had their epic collapse against Boston (largely due to Joe Torre's incompetence), the Bombers haven't even sniffed the World Series. But this postseason, ARod put the Yankee offense on his back and 3 times helped tie or put the team ahead in the 9th inning. I guess I can stop being an ARod apologist, as he's finally earned his due.

So the "Core Four", Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Pettitte and Rivera, finally earned their elusive 5th ring, after racking up 4 rings in 5 years between 1996-2000. I'm sure they never anticipated it would take this long, and perhaps later, had doubts if they would ever ascend to such heights again, but here they were, enjoying the fruits of their labors and entrenching their status as baseball immortals.

When these great ballplayers have finished out their careers, will we ever see the like of their talent and will to win again? Somehow, I highly doubt it.

Yankees Postseason: Mission Accomplished - 27th WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

WS Game 5 - Has Girardi Blown This World Series?

Joe Girardi roled the dice and decided to start AJ Burnett on 3 days rest - terrible move, Joe. Up 3-1 in the Series, Girardi tried to go for the kill, but instead he might have killed the Yanks chances at a 27th championship. Burnett got lit up for 5 runs in 2+ innings, and was down 3-1 after before recording an out. In a word, he was horrendous. Chad Gaudin easily could have given the Yankees that same performance, and nobody would have thought any less of Girardi.

Apparently, Girardi didn't write a list of pros and cons before deciding on Burnett on short rest. I'll do it for him.

Pros: AJ asked for the ball; go for the kill and end the Series quickly; AJ's past record on short rest
Cons: AJ is horrendous on the road; by starting AJ on the road, the Yanks lineup had Swisher batting 5th and Jose Molina in the lineup without Posada and Matsui; that lineup was facing Cliff Lee, who dominated the Yanks in Game 1; how about the fact that they were facing Cliff Lee, thus making their chances to win slim in the first place? And last but not least, if AJ lost, which he did, it now impacts Game 6 and 7 because Andy Pettitte and CC Sabathia are going on short rest, as well.

Hey Joe - that Cons list is pretty long. Now the Yanks must entrust their season on the shoulders of Andy Pettitte, who historically does not have great numbers on short rest, and most important of all, is a 37-year old man who hasn't done it in 3 years.

Thoughts on Game 5:

- Everyone of Utley's HRs have come on a pitch right down the pipe - how do the Yankee pitchers keep missing so badly?

- AJ, great job hitting Shane Victorino - couldn't you have hit Utley?

- Has anyone seen Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano? Absolutely horrendous performance in the World Series. At least Tex looks like he cares out there. Cano looks like he's playing in the Dominican Winter Leagues without a care in the world.

- Phil Coke, just go home. We won't need you the rest of the series.

- If Tex got on in the 9th inning, there was no way they were pitching to ARod. Introducing your 5th place hitter - Nick Swisher. Game over anyway.

- With 2 batters, the Phillies tied 2 records: Utley tied for the most HRs in a WS with 5 and Ryan Howard tied the record for most strikeouts in a Series with 12. When does the Yankee staff and coaches wake up and realize maybe they should pitch around Utley and go after Howard?

Yankees Postseason Record: 10-4
World Series: Yankees up, 3-2

Sunday, November 1, 2009

WS Game 4 - ARod's Heroics Give Yanks 3-1 Series Lead

The Yanks led 4-2 for most of the game as their lineup began to take a siesta, but things began to look grim as the momentum changed towards the Phillies. Chase Utley and Pedro Feliz both hit solo shots to tie the game at 4 and Brad Lidge retired the first 2 Yanks out in the 9th with Phil Coke warming up in the bullpen. But Johnny Damon started the improbable rally when he battled back from an 1-2 hole to single to left field on a full count. With Mark Teixeira at the plate, Damon stole second and took off for 3rd when no one (Brad Lidge) covered 3B. Feliz was covering second because of the shift.

Thankfully for the Yanks, Lidge plunked the hyperventilating Teixeira with the next pitch, thus setting the stage for an ARod-Lidge rematch. Earlier in the season, ARod took Lidge deep in back-to-back games. With Damon on third, it appeared Lidge wanted to stay away from his sharp slider, and after getting ahead of ARod on a fastball, ARod didn't miss the second one. He ripped it into the LF corner to knock in Damon with the go ahead run, allowing Mariano Rivera to begin warming up in the pen and hushing the rather obnoxious Philly crowd. Jorge Posada knocked in 2 insurance runs with a single to left center to give the Yanks a 7-4, although he continued his baffling runnig mistakes when he was thrown by 30 feet at second to end the rally.

Things began quickly for the Yanks. Derek Jeter singled and Damon doubled to lead off the game. Tex knocked in a run when Ryan Howard robbed him of a potential double and Posada knocked in the 2nd run with a sac fly. Meanwhile, ARod was plunked for a 3rd time in the Series, leading to a warning for both teams before CC Sabathia even threw a pitch.

Phillies starter, Joe Blanton, 0-3 lifetime with a career ERA over 8.00, settled down to retire 11 straight Yankees. The Yanks touched him up for 2 more runs in the 5th on RBI singles from The Captain and Damon after Feliz tied it up at 2 for the Phillies in the 4th.

Sabathia, pitching on 3 days rest, battled all night. He escaped a 2 runners on, no out jam in the 5th, retiring the heart of the Phillies order, and appeared to be cruising till he gave up a 2-out, 1-2 count HR to his nemesis, Chase Utley. It was Utley's 3rd HR and 4th extra base hit off Sabathia in the series. Out went Sabathia and in came new Yankee hero, Damaso Marte, who retired Howard on a fly ball to LF. Marte is pitching a la Graeme Lloyd in the 1996 World Series when Lloyd dominated Braves lefty hitters Ryan Klesko and Fred McGriff.

The Yanks brought in Joba Chamberlain in the 8th, and for 2.5 batters, Joe Girardi appeared to be a genius. Joba struck out Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez before going up 1-2 in the count to Pedro Feliz. After falling behind 3-2, Joba laid a fat fastball over the plate that the weak-hitting Feliz crushed into the LF seats, sending Citizens Bank Park into bedlam. The sharks smelled blood in the water as it appeared the Phils were going to perform another of their postseason comebacks.

But ARod had other plans, and with the 3 run lead, Mo came out and retired the shell-shocked Phillies on 8 pitches, including Jimmy Rollins for a 2nd straight night, despite his proclamation that the Phillies "had him figured out".

The Yanks will send AJ Burnett to the mound tomorrow on 3 days rest against Cliff Lee, who absolutely dominated the Bombers in Game 1. Nothing would be sweeter than watching the Yanks clinch this series in front of the arrogant, ignorant, and clueless fans of Philadelphia.

Yankees Postseason Record: 10-3
World Series: Yanks up, 3-1

Saturday, October 31, 2009

WS Game 3 - Pettitte is Double Threat in Yanks Win

It appeared that Andy Pettitte was about to be blown out by the Phillies in the 2nd inning. He was touched up for 3 runs, including a solo shot to Jayson Werth, and left 2 men on base when he struck out the greasy-haired Chase Utley to end the long inning. Pettitte, however, settled down after that, only allowing another solo shot to Werth in the 6th inning after the Yanks bats finally woke up.

The Yanks rally began when ARod lofted a shot down the RF line that hit a camera. Initially called a double, the umps reviewed the replay and correctly called it a HR that brought the Yanks to within 1 run in the 4th. The Yanks would tack on 3 more runs in the 5th to chase Phillies starter, Cole Hamels. Pettitte tied the score at 3, knocking in Nick Swisher with a single. That is not a misprint - there was an actual Swisher sighting tonight, as he led off the inning with a double. He also homered in the 6th for his 1st dinger this postseason. Joe Girardi should bench this guy more often.

Johnny Damon also had a 2-run double in the 5th. The Yanks scored their other runs on a Jorge Posada single and a pinch-hit HR from Hideki Matsui. Pettitte only lasted 6 innings, but he gave a gutsy performance, allowing the Yanks to get back into the game. The Yankees only had 8 hits, but fortunately, Philadelphia only managed 6 of their own.

Joba Chamberlain and Damaso Marte gave the Bombers bullpen hope when they retired 6 straight batters. Marte struck out 2 batters. With a 4-run lead, Girardi opted to start the 9th with Phil Hughes, which is a good call, since the Yanks need him to get things right. Hughes retired his first batter before serving up a solo shot to Yankee killer, Carlos Ruiz. In came Mariano Rivera, who just needed 5 pitches to end the game, including retiring loud-mouth Jimmy Rollins on a weak pop-up.

Thoughts and observations on the Series:

- Melky, Tex and ARod are hitting .100 in the series, while Cano is even worse at .091. ARod was also hit twice and walked tonight, so at least his OBP is over .300.

- Let's hope Ryan Howard continues to sleep walk through this series.

- How do the Yanks continue to walk Rollins who owned a .296 OBP during the regular season? He's walked 4 times already in the Series.

- Pettitte's RBI single was the first RBI by a Yankee pitcher in the World Series since 1964, when Jim Bouton recorded one in Game 6.

- Let's hope the Phillies keep smacking their gums while the Yanks keep playing hard-nosed ball. I know my buddies from Philly have kept their text messages to a minimum themselves these past 2 games. My phone was blowing up in Game 1.

Yankees Postseason Record: 9=3
World Series: Yanks up, 2-1

Thursday, October 29, 2009

WS Game 2 - AJ Comes Up Huge in Win

AJ Burnett may have earned his "true" Yankee title tonight, winning his first postseason game in Game 2 of the World Series with the Bombers down one game to none. AJ tossed 7 brilliant innings, striking out 9 Phillies in the Yanks 3-1 victory. Burnett allowed a run in the 2nd inning on an RBI single to Matt Stairs, but should have surrendered no runs. ARod should have knocked it down, if not field it cleanly, to bail AJ out of the inning after Raul Ibanez sliced a 2-out double into the LF stands. AJ though, was dealing, as he started 22 out of 26 batters with first pitch strikes. He only walked 2, one intentionally. This was the AJ the Yanks envisioned when they signed him to a 5 year, $82.5M contract.

As well as AJ pitched, Pedro Martinez was nearly just as brilliant. He pitched 6+ innings, allowing 6 hits and all 3 Yankee runs while striking out 8. Pedro allowed his 3rd run in the 7th, and probably shouldn't have came out for the start of the 7th after tossing 99 pitches through 6. Like CC Sabathia last night, Pedro only made 2 real mistakes - solo HRs to Mark Teixeira and Hideki Matsui. Chan Ho Park allowed the 3rd run to score on a Jorge Posada pinch-hit, RBI single in the 7th.

The Yanks had a chance to do some real damage in the 7th, but the usually reliable and clutch Derek Jeter pulled one helluva bonehead play. With 2 strikes, including one which he took right down the middle, he attempted to bunt, fouling it off and striking out for the 3rd time. Johnny Damon then ripped a liner at Ryan Howard that was ruled caught, though replays showed it hit the dirt, and Posada was doubled up to end the threat.

Joe Girardi didn't waste any time in bringing in Mariano Rivera for the 2-inning save. Mo got into a little trouble in the 8th, putting runners on 1st and 2nd with the dangerous and greasy-haired Chase Utley coming to the plate. Mo got him to bounce into a double play, although replays appeared to show Utley beat the relay throw to first. A makeup call? If it was, thank you, Brian Gorman, first base umpire.

Mo wasn't done with the theatrics though. After striking out Howard to saddle him with the Golden Sombrero, he retired Jayson Werth on a soft liner to Robinson Cano before allowing Raul Ibanez to lace a double to left center. That brought up the ancient Matt Stairs. The Canadian Clubber, however, struck out as the Yanks tied up the series.


- ARod is now 0-8 with 6 Ks. Let's hope this is just an aberration.

- Tex and Godzilla: Thanks for showing up again.

- Replacement Jerry Hairston went 1-3 and now has half the hits of Nick Swisher in 30 less at bats. Did Hairston earn another start against lefty Cole Hamels in Game 3?

- There's been much debate about Jose Molina catching in the place of Jorge Posada, but you cannot argue with AJ Burnett's results with him behind the dish. Molina also nailed Werth at first base on a pick off in the 5th inning, saving Burnett some valuable pitches. He also walked against Pedro and his spot in the order allowed Posada to come in and knock in a huge insurance run. Girardi looks like part genius for at least a day.

- 8 strikeouts against Pedro? Really?

- Johnny Damon went 0-4. He looks terrible this postseason despite his 2 dingers against the Angels.

- How is it the Yanks have walked Jimmy Rollins twice and he always seems to be in a full count when this guy's OBP was .296 this season? Can they please bear down on this guy and keep him off the base paths in front of Utley and Howard.

- Shane Victorino, you look like an idiot with the little league batting helmet.

- It's just a 5-game series now, with 3 games in Philly.

Yankees Postseason Record: 8-3
World Series: Tied 1-1

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

WS Game 1 - Yanks Never Show Up

Someone forgot to tell the Yanks the World Series started, as they were laughed out of the Stadium in a 6-1 drubbing to the Phillies. Chase Utley, supposedly hobbled by foot and hip injuries, took CC Sabathia deep twice and Cliff Lee mowed through the Bombers lineup like they were just another weak-ass National League team.

Some thoughts on the game:

- What the hell happened to the Yankees bullpen? Once considered a huge strength this season, they have all but disappeared since the ALCS. Phil Hughes looks petrified, as does Phil Coke. Only Damaso Marte and Mo Rivera have looked good in the postseason. David Robertson, strangely enough, finally made an appearance, but he allowed a 2-run single to Raul Ibanez that broke the game open in the 8th. And Brian Bruney? Let's hope we've seen the last of him this series.

- What the hell happened to the Yanks bats? Derek Jeter was his usual self, going 3-4. The rest of the Yankees though, were a combined 3-28. Lee had 10 strikeouts as his shutout was ruined in the 9th by loud-mouth Jimmy Rollins throwing error. ARod and Tex were horrendous, going 0-8 with 5 Ks between them. Nick Swisher continues to look absolutely useless with a bat in his hand. He had 2 pop ups and a strikeout. The bottom third of the lineup went a combined 0-9. Terrible. Where was Bernie Williams when you need him, to step out repeatedly to break the pitcher's rhythm? Not one Yankee walked tonight.

- Sabathia wasn't great, but he still had a solid effort on the mound. He held the vaunted Phillies offense to 2 runs in 7 innings, striking out 6 while allowing only 4 hits and 3 walks. He had 2 mistakes - 2 pitches to Chase Utley. He was up 1-2 and 0-2 before Utley battled back to hit his 2 solo shots. This is the same Utley that struck out 110 times this year, right?

The Yanks need to come out tomorrow and take Pedro Martinez behind the woodshed. However, despite the big advantage that the Yanks seem to have on paper against Martinez, I'm predicting a game where Martinez dances in and out of trouble, stranding 9 runners and allowing only 1 run in 6 innings. I think the Yanks failure with RISP will finally catch up to them in this series. The Yanks are going to need and capitalize on their scoring chances. The Phillies can put a lot of runs on the board quickly (as evidenced by the Yanks bullpen collapse), and it looks like the Yanks relief corp is in complete disarray.

Another reason the Yanks appear to be in trouble - the Phillies look quite comfortable and totally unfazed by being in Yankee Stadium, unlike the Angels or Twins who needed a change of shorts. It's either going to be a dogfight or a quick series, and the Yanks better wake up before it's too late.

Yanks Postseason Record: 7-3
World Series: Down 1-0

Monday, October 26, 2009

ALCS Game 6 - Yanks Finally Swat Aside Angels

The Yankees finally vanquished the annoying Anaheim Angels, winning Game 6 of the ALCS and will face the Phillies in the World Series, starting Wednesday. They won 5-2 despite Jorge Posada's best attempts to sabotage the game at all costs. The game's dumbest player went 0-5, leaving 10 men on base, hitting into 2 double plays and failing miserably twice with the bases loaded. He wasn't the only culprit of the game though, but he was by far the worst. The Yanks put 20 men on the base paths, but only mustered 5 runs. 2 of those runs came in courtesy of the Angels horrendous defense.

Fortunately for the Yanks, the grizzled veteran, Andy Pettitte was on the mound, as he picked up his record 16th postseason win. They also had the great Mariano Rivera to finish up this game and toss aside a team that had no business being on the same field as the Yankees. Joe Girardi wasn't going to fool around in the 8th inning - he went straight to Mo to record the game's final 6 outs. Mo did surrender his first postseason run in a home game, but struck out Gary Matthews, Jr. to end the game, and series, in style, as the Yankees celebrated their accomplishment.

Thoughts on the game and the series:

- Mike Scioscia is a fraud. For all the flak Joe Girardi received, Scioscia made just as many puzzling moves. He should have removed Saunders after 3 innings. Clearly, Saunders was walking the tightrope, stranding the New York National Guard on the base paths. It was a matter of time before the Yanks broke through. It came in the 4th. His use of Kazmir was bizarre, too. Let's not forget his removal of John Lackey in Game 5 or removing lefty Darren Oliver to bring in righty Kevin Jepsen to face Robinson Cano. And why, oh why, would you continue to bat Chone Figgins in the leadoff spot.

- Other fraudulent Angel players: Choney, of course. He must have cost himself millions with his utterly horrendous performance in the playoffs. Bobby Abreu, Torii Hunter, Kendry Morales and Juan Rivera all belong on that list, too. Where the hell were they? Let's not forget Brian Fuentes. If he were the Yankees closer, I would have died of a stroke in mid-May.

- Angels pitches had 9 walks in Game 6. Smells like this team needed to change their underwear.

- Boston Red Sox should be embarrassed they lost to this Angels team. This was by far the worst Angel team that has made the playoffs. After Lackey, they had no pitching whatsoever.

- Another double for Jeff Mathis. He had 5 in the series. He only had 8 all year. Unbelievable.
- Tex had 2 hits and a sac fly. Hopefully, he's heating up in time for the World Series.

- There was a Nick Swisher sighting at the Stadium. And I'm not talking about his great defensive play doubling up Vlad Guerrero at 1B on a line drive. Swisher singled and scored the 2nd run. He still sucks. He is 4-32 in the playoffs. What does he have on Girardi?

- What happened to the Angels hard-nosed style of play? Their defense stunk, their base running was atrocious, and for a team that relies on speed, I can't recall any major stolen base that led to big run in the whole series.

- Kudos to Erick Aybar - you finally look like a man when you shaved your head instead of looking like Manny Ramirez' little girl.

- Girardi, are you nuts for bringing in Joba? Pettitte must have thought you were crazy when you went to take him out of the game. Thank God the move paid off.

- CC had a great series, but ARod's was better. ARod deserved the MVP, if not co-MVP.

There's just a maximum of 7 stressful games left. My heart can't wait.

Yankees Postseason Record: 7-2
ALCS Series: Yankees Win, 4-2