• October 7th @ The Tigers

    Posted by on October 7th, 2006 · Comments (15)

    By the time that Lidle, in relief of Wright, was knocked out of this game in the 5th inning (with no one out), this game – and the Yankees season – was over.

    Not even pithy T-Shirts or select Pacino movies could get the Yankees to the ALCS this year.

    Five days ago, about this ALDS match-up, I wrote:

    I know that some might see this match-up as the 2003 World Series all over again – facing a young and care-free rags to riches team, with pitchers that throw hard, and they play in a big ballpark, with crafty manager, etc.

    But, the Marlins in 2003 were peaking towards the World Series. The Tigers limped into the post-season.

    That sounded smart. After all, the Tigers only won 19 of their final 50 games this season. I was wrong. I should have listened to a friend of mine, who told me (on that same day) that, according to the BP keys to post-season success, it would be the Tigers over the Yankees in the ALDS.

    In terms of recent Yankees post-season failures in the ALDS, this ALDS loss is not as painful as 1995 – but, it’s just as bad as 1997 or 2002. In terms of overall recent Yankees post-season failures, this series loss is not as painful as 2004 – but, it’s just as bad as 2003.

    Yup, in many ways, this Yankees October was 2003 all over again. The “no-names” beat the “big-names” and they stuffed it down their throats in the process.

    Watching Jeremy Bonderman cruise through the first 5 innings today, on only 40 pitches, against “Murderer’s Row & Cano,” really drilled the Yankees problem home, to me. Working the pitcher, playing for deep counts, etc., is only successful against bad-to-average pitching. It does not work against good, great, or hot pitching. When you face pitchers who can pound quality strike after quality strike, you better start stringing together some singles for a rally – because you’re not going to get that fat and/or cookie pitch to blast for extra bases. Go ask Sheffield, or Giambi, or A-Rod about that.

    Lastly, there will always be a part of me who will wonder if this game would have been different with Wang on the hill for New York – and Mussina pitching Game 5. At the least, if Wang could have kept the Tigers off the board for the first three innings, or so, maybe it would have kept the crowd out of the game for a while and their energy would have not been something for Bonderman and the Tigers to feed from in this contest. As it was, between the Yankees going down in the first on seven pitches, the Ordonez homer in the second, and the Pudge 2-out RBI in the fourth (after the A-Rod error), the Motown faithful were rocking before this game hit the fifth inning.

    On the whole, for those in Yankeeland, this game was as ugly as Jeanie Zelasko’s freckled cleavage.

    Congrats to the Tigers. They won, fair and square – and in convincing fashion. I hope they win the ALCS now – because I’m not interested in seeing the A’s win and then having to listen about how smart Billy Beane is, all winter. And, since it looks like the Mets have a good shot at making the World Series, I want the team that beat the Yankees to beat the Mets in the World Series. That will keep the Mets fans quiet after this October.

    Pretty sad that this is what’s left for a Yankee fan to root for, huh?

    October 6th @ The Tigers

    Posted by on October 6th, 2006 · Comments (25)

    It’s not over yet, but, Martha Wash is looking for her sheet music.

    Randy Johnson was not a total bust tonight. Some ground-ball hits early hurt. And, those two two-out RBI hits in the 6th killed his night. But, he could have been worse. Nonetheless, even if the Big Unit went eight today and only allowed 2 runs, it would not matter, because…

    Kenny Rogers, the worst post-season pitcher in the history of baseball, held the Yankees to zero runs over 7 2/3 innings pitched. During this time, Rogers made New York batters go 0-17 with runners on base – and 0-8 with runners in scoring position.

    Having Kenny Rogers do this to you in October is like allowing Jessica Simpson to beat you in a game of Jeopardy!

    The only bright-side to this course of events is that it lends towards the line of logic that suggests “Well, if Kenny Rogers can do this tonight, maybe Jaret Wright can do it tomorrow?”

    Actually, if Wright can go a solid 5 tomorrow, Proctor should be good for two and Farnsworth and Rivera can chip in one inning each. But, the Yankees still need to score some runs to force a Game 5 back in New York.

    Lastly, if this does not happen, we will have to start to consider the thought that the Yankees are the Atlanta Braves of this century. That may sound mean…but, when you make the post-season every year for the last 6 years and get zero rings in the process, you probably deserve whatever label people hang on you.

    October 5th vs. The Tigers

    Posted by on October 5th, 2006 · Comments (25)

    I told you that the Tigers would show up to play for this game. I also warned you about Guillen and Zumaya.

    As much as I want to say that Mussina did his job today – going seven on 93 pitches – the wild pitch and 2-out hit allowed in the 5th and the 0-2 triple in the 7th were big mistakes.

    Now you have a situation where it’s a best two-of-three and the Tigers have the homefield advantage. The game tomorrow night, for Randy Johnson, is “must win.” And, if the Yankees lose tomorrow, they have to think about bringing Wang back a day early to pitch Game Four.

    When Matsui led off the 9th today with a single, and Torre had Melky pinch-run, I questioned that move. Cabrera is faster than Godzilla. But, Miggy Cairo is 37 for 44, over the last 3 years, in SB attempts. If ever there was a “Dave Roberts 2004″ situation for the Yankees – this was it. Get Cairo in there and take a shot at second base – or, at the least, take a shot at second once there were two outs and Damon was up.

    Lastly, where have Sheffield, A-Rod and Cano been these last two games? O.K., Sheff did have an RBI in Game One. But, Cano and A-Rod have been invisible.

    Over the last two games, Alex Rodriguez has whiffed 4 times where 3 of them were looking. For a guy who was seeing the ball great in September, all of a sudden he’s lost at the plate again. Maybe Torre needs to move him down in the line-up some more?

    October 3rd vs. The Tigers

    Posted by on October 3rd, 2006 · Comments (16)

    Abreu-cadabra!

    Just about every time this game started to look closer than it should be, along came Bobby Abreu. And, that Jeter guy had a pretty good game too. (At the rate Derek is going, his Yankeeography is going to have to be a two-parter.)

    I thought that Worm Killer Wang pitched better than his final numbers read. That double by Polanco was barely fair. Take that out of the Tigers rally against him and it’s a whole different line-score in this game for Wang.

    Two sightings from this game to note:

    1. Tanyon Sturtze in the Yankees dugout. So, where was Carl Pavano?

    2. FOX showing Patrick Ewing in the stands during the bottom of the 2nd inning. That is one large man. Imagine if he went for baseball instead of hoops. As a batter, how would you like to see a seven-foot, 250-pound, Ewing taking toe to the pitching rubber with his extra long wings and looking downhill at you?

    This was a good win for the Yankees. If they lost this game, given Johnson’s condition and the questions around Game Three, a loss tonight would have made Game Two “must win.” It’s nice not to have to deal with that kind of pressure this early in the post-season.

    Lastly, the Tigers did not look scared or tense tonight. They sure did not look like a team that just choked up a division. I expect them to show up tomorrow and play tough. The Yankees should expect that as well.

    October 1st vs. The Blue Jays

    Posted by on October 1st, 2006 · Comments (1)

    OK, so, Tom Verducci was wrong. But, he came close, eh?

    I’m more impressed that Jeter and Cano have become the first middle-infield teammates in modern baseball history to bat .340+ in the same season.

    And, thanks to the Royals today (or, should I say pretty boy Fernando Rodney?), I get my wish – and the Yankees open up the post-season with the Tigers.

    Sometime tomorrow, I’ll do some analysis on the ALDS for the Yankees – now that we know who they will play.

    In the meantime, Yankees fans should get their rest now. There’s going to be a lot of late nights over the next few weeks to come.