• October 17th Vs. The Angels

    Posted by on October 18th, 2009 · Comments (14)

    Has one player ever hit three homeruns over a span of four consecutive post-season games as clutch as the three opposite field homeruns that Alex Rodriguez has hit between Game 2 of the 2009 ALDS and Game 2 of the 2009 ALCS? Three hits? Maybe. But, three homers? I doubt it…

    It’s A-Rod’s World this October and the rest of Yankeeland should just be happy living in it…so far…including this Yankees fan.

    It would have been a disaster to lose this game. You don’t want to be in a spot where it’s 1-1 in the series and now it’s a best three out of five with the Angels having home-field advantage. Plus, it’s just a heart-breaker for the team that loses this game.

    Maicer Izturis…welcome to the club.

    Now, for some miscellaneous observations…

    I have to wonder, if Chone Figgins picks up that ball in the 13th inning, if Jerry Hairston Jr. is able to score?

    You know George Steinbrenner is MIA when Joba Chamberlain shows up to pitch in a post-season game sporting a soul patch.

    Upset about that “DP” which Derek Jeter hit into during the 5th inning that really wasn’t a “DP”? Well, that custom-breaking albeit technically-correct call by second base umpire Jerry Layne in the 10th inning on the DP attempt off Jorge Posada’s grounder sort of offsets that blown call on Jeter, no?

    Think Frankie Cervelli and Chad Gaudin are going to catch any flack on the plane ride to Cali about being the only two Yankees left behind in this game?

    A. J. Burnett did a good job in this one – sans the 5th inning where he lost it. But, Joe Saunders pitched a better game. Something to consider if these two meet-up again later in this series.

    I really thought the combo of David Robertson and Jorge Posada, pitching to Vladimir Guerrero in the 13th inning with runners on second and third with two out, had “wild pitch, run scores” written all over it…as it was playing out. Glad that feeling was proven to be nothing in the end…

    Just like in Game One of this series, the Yankees win this one with help from Angels mistakes. But, I’m not going to make the mistake of telling Yankees fans that their team got lucky in the post-season twice, two days in a row…

    So, I’ll just close with: Two wins down, two to go.

    Comments on October 17th Vs. The Angels

    1. Tresh Fan
      October 18th, 2009 | 2:47 am

      First of all I just want to say I was sweating bullets when Damaso Marte got called into the game. Anyone else?

      The Yankees have now played 5 games this post season and are 5 – 0. Pretty good. Maybe someone can look up the other teams that have done that and how they fared?

      Things definitely look bright for the Yankees right now. This is the closest they’ve been to the World Series since…..(don’t say it! don’t even think it!)

    2. peteynice
      October 18th, 2009 | 2:51 am

      I disagree that the Yankees were “lucky” tonight. Saying the Yankees were “lucky” implies that Garden Grove deserved to win, but were somehow “unlucky”. Let’s say A-Rod struck out and the Yankees lost 3-2. Would the Angels not have been “lucky” to win the game? They scored a run on a wild pitch and another on a poor throw (even by his low standards) from Damon.

    3. Evan3457
      October 18th, 2009 | 3:37 am

      OH, NOEZ!!
      Another lucky winz!!
      That’z two of tehm!

      ALCS scoreboard: Lucky 2, Yanks 0, Angels 0. Series still tied as we head to Anaheim.

    4. MJ
      October 18th, 2009 | 8:48 am

      @ Evan3457:
      LOL!
      Actually Evan, most of the Yanks’ 103 regular season wins weren’t really wins so, in fact, the Yanks missed the playoffs ths year, having been eliminated in mid-June when they lost two of three to the Nats.

    5. October 18th, 2009 | 10:11 am

      I was trying to think of a polite way to say this, but, I can’t. So, let me preface what I’m about to share with an apology for my lack of tack and inability to phrase this in a softer manner…

      Anyone who doesn’t recognize the Yankees received and took advantage of lucky breaks in the first two games on this ALCS and those breaks were the difference in winning and losing these contests, in my humble opinion, has their heads stuck in the sand and their rear ends stuck high in the air.

      And, any Yankees fan who wants to gloat, and/or pound their chest, and/or strut around like a peacock, claiming that these two victories are some sign of Yankees greatness is just proving the stereotype that Yankees fans are an obnoxious lot of uncouth and boorish wannabe-elitists.

      But, that’s just my observation on this matter. Yours may differ and I respect everyone’s right to have their own opinion. And, I’ll let this comment stand as my only contribution to this discussion.

    6. #15
      October 18th, 2009 | 10:29 am

      Unless there is a really great team in the mix, the playoffs always have a big slice of chance (call it luck if you prefer) in them. The Yankees are a stud stater and at least one strong outfielder away from being great. That said, they ground out two wins in tough conditions against a muti-dimensonal opponent that got decent pitching outings. I’ll take that any time. I do like the number the Yanks have done on the 1 through 6 hitters on the Hollows…. 8/50 for a .160 BA. Three cheers for the scouts. All said, the Yankees look better than the Gels. Vlad looks largely lost. Figgins has been pretty much contained. Abreu has been marginalized or pitched around. Same with Hunter. aside from a flair double. And… drum roll please….. The Yankees still have the Hammer in the bullpen. Angels? Not so much. Tex gets rolling and this could be over in 5 games.

    7. 77yankees
      October 18th, 2009 | 10:36 am

      What team in history hasn’t won by taking advantage of breaks somewhere along the way?

      Maybe we can nullify that 2004 ALCS loss because in extra innings in Game 4, Tony Clark’s double with Ruben Sierra on first bounced into the seats when anyone would have scored on it with 2 outs?

      I mean, a win is a win. Let’s enjoy what was probably the most exciting Yankee win since July 1, 2004.

    8. JeremyM
      October 18th, 2009 | 10:38 am

      I don’t think it’s fair to categorize the first game as “luck” because one team played crisp and mistake-free baseball while the other team didn’t. Really, I have no problem saying the Yankees got some breaks, but I don’t know that lucky is the right adjective. If one team makes plays and the other doesn’t (although last game was certainly sloppy all around), I don’t think “luck” has anything to do with it.

      If the Angels played mistake free baseball last night, would the Yankees have won? Well, clearly not, but that’s baseball. Do I feel like the Yanks are world beaters right now? Certainly not, and the bats better warm up. But I’m still going to enjoy the win and feel better about where things are heading.

      And A-Rod, wow. I was really happy for Hairston too, nice to see a guy who’s been around that long have a big moment. I’m not sure what Figgins did on that last play either, but it likely would’ve been a tough play either way. It would’ve taken a perfect throw I think, and in those conditions that would’ve been tough.

    9. Raf
      October 18th, 2009 | 11:18 am

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      Anyone who doesn’t recognize the Yankees received and took advantage of lucky breaks in the first two games on this ALCS and those breaks were the difference in winning and losing these contests, in my humble opinion, has their heads stuck in the sand and their rear ends stuck high in the air.

      But that’s the thing, that’s the way it has always been, for the most part, whether it’s Jeffery Maier, or Joe West, or

    10. ken
      October 18th, 2009 | 11:24 am

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      It would have been a disaster to lose this game. You don’t want to be in a spot where it’s 1-1 in the series and now it’s a best three out of five with the Angels having home-field advantage. Plus, it’s just a heart-breaker for the team that loses this game.

      I thought going in to last night that it was not must win for the Yanks. We expected a tough series from the LAA’s. No reason to be surprised about a split in the first two games. Both of these teams are resilient and can quickly get over tough losses. 1-1 going to game 3 in LA would have favored neither team.

    11. ken
      October 18th, 2009 | 11:27 am

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      I was trying to think of a polite way to say this, but, I can’t. So, let me preface what I’m about to share with an apology for my lack of tack and inability to phrase this in a softer manner…

      Sorry, Steve. I respectfully disagree. Just think about this: until our bull pen settled down in the 2nd half of this season, how many playoff games over the past 3-5 years like this could our pitching have ever allowed us to win in the 13th inning? Answer: None.

      Bottom line: good pitching allowed Yanks to hang in there until hitting/breaks/etc won the game. No shame there.

    12. YankCrank
      October 18th, 2009 | 11:48 am

      Oh Alex Rodriguez, you’re a God damn stud. :)

    13. sanair
      October 18th, 2009 | 1:47 pm

      Steve wants the Yanks to beat their opponents. We just want the Yanks to win.

    14. Evan3457
      October 18th, 2009 | 1:53 pm

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      I was trying to think of a polite way to say this, but, I can’t. So, let me preface what I’m about to share with an apology for my lack of tack and inability to phrase this in a softer manner…

      Anyone who doesn’t recognize the Yankees received and took advantage of lucky breaks in the first two games on this ALCS and those breaks were the difference in winning and losing these contests, in my humble opinion, has their heads stuck in the sand and their rear ends stuck high in the air.

      Let me be as honest.

      If one begins with the premise that Brian Cashman is an idiot, and everything he does is doomed to fail, then one must inevitably look for reasons why this team’s success is not based on merit, not based on the fact that this is a very good team (not flawless, just very good) but instead based on:

      1) the facts that the teams they’re beating aren’t good
      2) the teams they’re beating are just quitting, not trying,
      and finally, when all else fails
      3) luck.
      =============================
      It is not luck, but a residue of the design of the Angels that their closer is not the all-world, nigh-unbeatable (for the Yankees, anyway) K-Rod, but instead the much less reliable Brain Fuentes, with a 1-run lead to protect, with two slap-hitters due next, who made an poorly thought out, atrociously-executed waist-high, outer-third mediocre-speed FB to the Yankees’ hottest hitter. It is not luck that A-Rod hit it far. It IS lucky, perhaps, that he hit it the part of the new park that’s a little closer than it was in the old, thus preventing Abreu from reaching it for a game-saving catch.

      On the other hand, the Yanks hit two solo HRs last night. If the Angels hit one anytime earlier, they win the game. Were the Yanks lucky that the Angels didn’t hit any HRs? Or is that a residue of the design of the teams, in which the Angels dominate the “smallball” stats, but the Yankees hit 70 more home runs than the Angels did, that the Yanks won a game in which the Angels had two sac bunts to the Yanks one, had the only steal of the game, went 2nd-to-home twice on singles, and scored a run on a wild pitch, had the only two hits with RISP, but the Yanks hit two solo home runs?

      Why weren’t the Angels lucky enough to hit any HRs in the first two games?

      ============================================
      Granting that the Yankees were lucky in the game-ending play, in that Izturis made both a serious mental in trying for the DP when he should’ve been thinking get an out, ANY out, in that spot, and then luckier when he made a terrible physical error to boot, didn’t the Angels get some luck as well when:

      1) A.J., in the 5th, hit Figgins on a 2-2 count with a low curve, walked Hunter, and with Vlad up, threw a wild pitch to tie the game? Weren’t they at least lucky that the weather was so cold AJ couldn’t command his curve most of the night?
      2) In the 7th inning, Cano booted an easy grounder that should’ve been an inning-ending DP?
      3) The normally ultra-reliable Jeter booted an easy grounder that should’ve been an inning-ending DP?
      4) In the 11th inning, when Figgins’ gets a high curve from Robertson, which he then does a good job getting to, and gets and inside-out handle-hit blooper to drop over 3rd for the go-ahead run?
      5) In the 13th inning, when Cano starts yet ANOTHER rally for the Angels by misplaying a 2nd grounder?
      6) And, overall, throughout the game, by the Yankees’ hitting going 0-8 with RISP, weren’t the Angels lucky the Yankees hitters didn’t come through in the clutch anywhere?
      ===================================
      I’m not saying the Yanks havn’t had some luck so far this postseason. Just about every team that wins it all catches some breaks along the way. I can’t think of one that doesn’t..

      In 1977, weren’t the Yanks lucky that John Mayberry stayed out all night on a bender on the night before game 4 of the ALCS, and lucky that Herzog didn’t have the heart/fressos to bench him for that game, and that Mayberry struck out twice, once with 2 on and 2 out, and dropped an easy foul pop, keeping an inning alive, and allowing the Yanks to add another run, before Herzog did pull him?

      Weren’t the Yanks lucky in game 5, when Herzog took out Paul Splittorff, a man Reggie Jackson was having trouble hitting in that period of time (26-95 .279 for his career, but only 4-25 in 1975-1977 with 1 HR and 2 RBI. He didn’t even fact him at all in 1976, Earl Weaver benched Reggie the only time Splittorff pitched against the O’s that year.) to bring in Doug Bird, allowing the Yanks to PH Reggie for Cliff Johnson, and producing a pop fly blooper into short center that Amos Otis was playing too deep to reach, scoring the Yanks’ 2nd run? Weren’t the Yanks lucky that George Brett threw a ball away in the 9th, giving them an important insurance run? Weren’t the Yanks lucky the Royals went 6-34 with RISP for the whole series, inasmuch as they hit .278 with RISP for the season as a whole?

      In 1978, weren’t they lucky that the adhesions in Catfish Hunter’s shoulder were popped at just the right moment for him to recover, allowing him to pitch well for the 1st time in two years and stabilize the rotation for the stretch drive? Weren’t they lucky that Jim Beattie came up and pitched well to stabilize the #4 slot in the rotation? Weren’t they lucky that the Red Sox had injuries all over their roster in the 2nd half, that Zimmer kept running Butch Hobson out there with an elbow injury to throw games away left and right, giving the Yanks a chance at their miracle comeback in the pennant race?

      Weren’t they lucky that Lou Piniella made two plays in the blinding sun of Fenway that he had no business making, because he couldn’t actually see the ball on either until the last moment? That Rick Burleson, a very good baserunner by all accounts, for no reason anyone understands, threw the breaks on after Jerry Remy’s single to right, stopping at 2nd when he almost surely would’ve made it safely to 3rd, thus preventing his from scoring the tying run on Jim Rice’s ensuing deep fly to right? That Bucky Dent broke his bat during the fateful at bat in the 7th inning, and had to use Mickey Rivers’ bat to hit his Fenway HR just over the Monster? Weren’t they lucky the game was at Fenway, inasmuch as that ball is just a flyout at the old Stadium?

      Weren’t they lucky when the World Series turned for good because Bill Russell decided to deliberately drop a line drive to try to get a cheap DP, but instead threw the ball near enough to Reggie Jackson so that Reggie could bump-and- grind it away for a run-scoring error?

      Weren’t the Yanks lucky in 1996, when Dean Palmer threw away a grounder in the 14th inning that scored the winning run in game 2 of the ALDS? That Jeffrey Meier interfered with Tony Tarasco, and kept him from catching Jeter’s flyball that went for a game-tying HR in the 8th inning of game 1 of the ALCS? That Braves’s Mark Wohlers decided to hang a slider, his 3rd-best pitch, to Jim Leyritz allowing him to turn the World Series for good and all, with a game-tying three-run HR, when Leyritz was nowhere close to catching up to his fastball?

      Weren’t they lucky that, throughout the postseason, the back of the pen (consisting of Nelson, Weathers and Lloyd, who had a 4.79 combined ERA in over 200 innings that year in the regular season) went nuts in the post-season, and gave up only 4 ER in 26 2/3 innings for an ERA of 1.35, thus allowing Torre to conserve Mariano and Wettleland for only the most critical innings?

      Look, I could go on and on and on like this, but my time and your pixels are too valuable to waste mentioning The Phantom Strike That Wasn’t to Tino in game 1 of the 1998 World Series, all the close calls that went the Yanks’ way that Sox fans grumble about to this day in the 1999 ALCS, and, of course, Timo Perez’ incomprehensible baserunning in the 6th inning of game 1, followed by Valentine’s decision to leave Leiter in to throw his 21st pitch of the 9th inning of game 5 (and his 142nd pitch of the game) thus allowing Luis Sojo’s 97-hopper up the middle to win it and wrap up the series.
      ===========================================
      I think, Steve, that you have forgotten how close so many of the post-season games were in the Dynasty years; how many of them turned on one key AB, or one lucky play. It is an illusion to think that the Yankees simply rolled over all comers in those years, every game, every series. Yes, there were some uncompetitive games, yes, there were quite a few series that look one-sided if you just read the final score in games.

      But I remember being on the edge of my seat through most of those games. I was brought up on the legend of the Yankee Dyasty from 1921-1964, and how most of those title winners piled up runs against even good NL teams, and overwhelmed them. I kept wondering how that Modern Dynasty team kept winning series despite hitting so poorly with RISP, how many rallies they didn’t cash in on, and how the pitching was able to squelch even offensive powerhouses like the Orioles, the Rangers and the Indians for entire series, even so-so or erratic relievers like Lloyd, Nelson, and Weathers.

      If the breaks the Yanks are getting can be attributed to luck, they can also be attributed to the fact that they teams they’re playing are not really good enough to be champions. (This is not true of the Angels, they just haven’t played like champions so far, although this may change.)

      If the Yankees win it all through “breaks” and “luck”, (and they’re a LONG way from that, what with the Angels having three at home, and even if the Yanks get through that, they’ll find the Phillies waiting, most likely) that will simply mean that no other team in the post-season tourney deserved to win it more than they do, and like it or not, they will be the champs.

      To sit there and pick at each win of the post-season, attributing each one mostly to luck, and to ignore things like the Yanks’ starters pitching 5 straight good/great starts, and having a combined ERA of 1.62 in 33 1/3 innings, the Yankees’ relievers pitching having an ERA of 1.53 in 17 2/3 post-season innings so far, and hitting eight home runs to none for their opposition through the first five games is just cherry-picking what you think is important and not important, and seriously deficient evaluation of the games played so far.

      Power pitching and power hitting have historically been the dominant factors in the post-season; always have been. There are exceptions, but they are few and far between. Yanks have out-homered their opposition 8-0 so far, their pitchers have K’d the opposition hurlers 52-36 (about 3 K’s per game more). Those are iron facts, and though they may change, comprise a key reason the Yankees have outscored their opposition by a total score of 23-10 through five post-season games.

      Finally: I am not gloating. I am not taking anything for granted. My chest is not out; my head is not in the sand. This series can turn in a hearbeat. The Angels, back in their home park, can get hot with RISP at any moment, and turn this into a nightmare. This series is nowhere close to over.

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