October 2009

World Series Game 2



World Series!!!

Well, I first want to say I didn’t get the chance to blog about Game 1 (circumstances were not allowing me to–science tests stink!)


I guess it wasn’t worth blogging about anyway because it was not an overly exciting game; it was just Cliff Lee mowing down the Bronx Bombers in a 6-1 Yankee loss.


But Game 2 was a different story.


On Thursday night, the Yankees sort of broke out a little bit and topped the Phillies 3-1 in the second game of the World Series, evening the Fall Classic up at one game apiece.


Coming into this game I had heard so much trash talk about A.J. Burnett. Some people were even going as far as saying, “Hey, I wonder what Mike Mussina is doing tonight,” implying that Burnett was going to have a poor outing.


Well, he certainly shut every one of his naysayers up.



A.J. Burnett struck out 9 in his World Series debut 

The lanky right-hander went seven strong innings, giving up only one earned run on just four hits. Burnett walked two batters, one of which was intentional, and struck out nine Phillies.


The only run Burnett surrendered was an RBI single off the bat of Matt Stairs in the top of the second. After that it was basically the “A.J. Burnett Show,” because he really gave the fans quite a pitching performance.


The turning point (I would say) was in the top of the fourth inning when Jayson Werth was picked off on a snap throw by catcher Jose Molina. Burnett’s numbers after the pickoff were somewhat better than what he was putting up before it.


I also have to give Burnett a lot of credit for getting ahead of the hitters. 22 of the 26 batters he faced saw first-pitch strikes. It’s obvious when Burnett gets ahead of the hitters early in the count, he has a lot more confidence in his pitches and he is able to command and locate a lot better.


Many folks were quick to write Burnett off in Game 2, some even saying he would not pitch well before the game began. But he came out dealing like he was playing blackjack in Vegas.


And after the game Burnett said it was the most fun he had ever had on a baseball diamond. Well, I guess when you pick up your first career postseason win and it comes in the World Series at Yankee Stadium…what could be more fun than that?


Keep in mind the Yankees did not buy Burnett to be good. For the amount of money they spent on him, they bought him to be really good. And that’s exactly what he was last night. 


Burnett was opposed by “The Yankees’ son,” Pedro Martinez. The hated opposing hurler received boisterous chants of “Who’s your daddy” during warm-ups, long before he even toed the rubber.



Fans let Pedro have it 

But it’s not like Martinez was terrible. In fact, he was dealing, too.


The former three-time Cy Young Award winner pitched six innings and gave up three runs on six hits. He walked two and struck out eight.


Martinez really only made two mistakes, a pitch he left down for Mark Teixeira to crush for a solo homer in the bottom of the fourth and a curve ball down and in that Hideki Matsui was able to get a hold of and hook for another solo homer in the bottom of the sixth.


The Yankees were able to scratch one more run against Martinez on an RBI single from Jorge Posada in the seventh, but looking at the big picture, Martinez did give the Phils a quality start, going at least six innings and allowing three runs or less.


Martinez gave his team a chance to win and that’s the truth. He pitched very well.


Pedro thanks God after his quality start 


Both game two starters were just on last night and that was evidenced in what the cleanup hitters on both sides did. Both Burnett and Martinez were able to baffle the number four hitter in the lineup all night long.


Alex Rodriguez, who came into this series swinging a bat so hot it was probably on fire, was put away on strikes three times in game two. Martinez buckled his knees with probably the nastiest breaking ball he threw all night, striking A-Rod out looking in the bottom of the second.



A-Rod is 0-for-8 so far this World Series 

And then there was Ryan Howard, who completed the “golden sombrero” with four strikeouts last night. Burnett was able to figure out Howard, who smacked 45 homers in the 2009 regular season.



Ryan Howard struck out four times last night 

Rodriguez is now 0-for-8 in the World Series while Howard is just 2-for-9. Both teams have (so far) done a masterful job of containing the cleanup hitters.


Martinez had a lot of fun with the press conference after the game, stating that if he played for the Yankees, he would probably “be a king over here.”


A king? Well, I don’t know about that, Pedro. Yes, if he had started his career with the Yankees, of course history would be a lot different. He would probably be looked at as a hero and a special player (like he is in Boston).


But it would also be different if Babe Ruth began his career on the Yankees and went to the Red Sox and won all the Championships for them instead of the Yanks. What’s your point, Pedro?


At any rate, I am glad my initials are A.J. right now; I’m very proud of Burnett, he represented our initials extremely well with his Game 2 dominance. (Even though he is Allen James and I am Anthony Joseph…well, we both use our initials, anyway!)


Game 3 will be played Saturday night in Philadelphia. Andy Pettitte will make the start for the Yankees against Cole Hamels.


Pettitte, the winningest pitcher in postseason history and the winner in game six of the ALCS for the Yankees, will look to put the Yankees ahead in the Fall Classic. The veteran lefty has given the Yankees quality in each of his three postseason starts and owns a record of 2-0 this October.


Hamels on the other hand has been struggling greatly, posting an ERA of 6.75 this postseason. He has surrendered five homers in the ’09 playoffs and opponents are batting .328 against the southpaw. Hamels has not even pitched past the fifth inning in any of his starts this postseason.


Looks like the odds are favoring the Yankees in Game 3, but I would not count Philly out. Game 3 could be the best game we have seen yet and I can only hope the Yankees pull through.


The Yankees could make it a very Happy Halloween for the fans on Saturday night, if they come away with a Game 3 win in Philly.


Before I wrap things up, I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed Jay-Z and Alicia Keys’ performance of Empire State of Mind” before game two last night. They both did great, but…where was Alicia Keys’s Yankee apparel? Jay-Z, all his background singers and his band had Yankee gear on. What gives, Alicia?


Jay Z and Alicia Keys performed before Game 2 of the World Series 


Not that she didn’t look very pretty (in fact beautiful) in that purple outfit, but come on! Show some pride in the Yankees!!! At least put on a Derek Jeter jersey…I mean…all the girls love Jeter!


Well say your prayers, Yankee fans. We’ll need them for the rest of this series. Three more wins until we reach “Baseball Heaven.” 


“Our Father, who art in the Bronx, baseball be thy name. Thy Kingdom come, World Series won, as the Yankees did in ’77. May God be with the Yankees. Amen.”  


Are the Gods shining down on the new Yankee Stadium...?

ALCS Game 6

“If I can make it there, I’ll make it….anywhere.”



Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and Derek Jeter come together after the clincher 

Well, it may not have been as dramatic as 2003, when Aaron Boone slaughtered the game-winning home run in the bottom of the 11th inning of Game Seven of the American League Championship Series to beat the Red Sox, but I’ll take it.


Last night, the New York Yankees clinched the American League pennant by defeating the Los Angeles Angels 5-2 in Game Six of the ALCS and will now make their 40th World Series appearance.


For the first time in six years, we Yankee fans know what it’s like to be going to the fall classic. And it feels WONDERFUL!


As for ALCS Game Six…


Well, Yanks’ starter Andy Pettitte looked awesome in the first two innings, but ran into some trouble in the top of the third. Ex-Yankee Bobby Abreu knocked in the Angels’ first run in the frame with an RBI single to give the Halos a quick, 1-0 lead.


I loved Abreu when he was a Yankee (and I still love him) for that reason; in a key situation when the team needed a run, he could always deliver. And that hasn’t changed. Abreu is still one of the best timely hitters in the league and he showed it in the third inning of Game Six.


He could never play the wall very well, but I still think Abreu was probably the best right fielder the Yankees had since Paul O’Neill. I still love you, Bobby.


The Angels’ 1-0 lead didn’t last very long as the Yankees came storming back in the bottom of the fourth. (Now to be honest, I didn’t think the game was moving along nicely and up until the fourth really was not a good game. I actually turned the Giants/Cardinals game on for a little while (which didn’t end well) but eventually made my way back to the Yankees)


The Yankees had been leaving runners on base through the first three innings, but finally stopped it and broke through. With the bases loaded, Johnny Damon pounded out a two-run single to put the Yanks’ ahead.


Later in the frame, Alex Rodriguez drew a bases-loaded walk to score Derek Jeter, giving the Yankees a 3-1 cushion.


Pettitte cruised throughout the rest of the game, finishing the night with a quality start: 6 1/3 innings, one earned run on seven hits, a walk, and six strikeouts. Typical for Pettitte, who is probably the Yankees’ best big-game pitcher. He has given the Yankees length and quality in each of his three postseason starts.


Joba Chamberlain also lent a hand, tossing 2/3 of an inning after Pettitte departed without allowing a run. I have to say, Chamberlain has not been bad this postseason, save for Game Three when he gave up the go-ahead run, but other than that, he has been solid.


Joe Girardi was not messing around, however; in the eighth inning, he called on Mariano Rivera to get a six out save. In my opinion, it was probably the best thing to do. There might be some fans that disagree, but a two-run lead against the Angels in an elimination game…he had to go to Mo.


Girardi had taken so much heat for the pitching decisions he made in games three and five (three when he took David Robertson out for Alfredo Aceves; five when he left A.J. Burnett in after a leadoff single in the seventh inning with a two-run lead) so really he had to do it.


The Sandman actually scuffled a little bit in the eighth, much to my surprise. Rivera gave up a run on an RBI by Vladimir Guerrero, making it 3-2 in the middle of the eighth.


But some costly errors by the Angels (Howie Kendrick dropped a ball on a bunt by Nick Swisher and Scott Kazmir lobbed the ball over the head of Kendrick on yet another bunt by Melky Cabrera) allowed the Yanks to plate three more runs, holding a 5-2 lead over the Angels going into the top of the ninth.


Down by three runs, top of the ninth, facing Rivera…you pretty much do not stand a chance. See you next year, Angels.



Derek Jeter celebrates his seventh pennant, the Yankees 40th World Series appearance 

Rivera mowed down the Halos in the ninth and the Yankees celebrated their 40th pennant. The happiest feeling a team and their fans can have, other than winning the World Series.


Champagne spraying, glee on the faces of the Yankees, happiness, and a pennant. A great way to end the ALCS.



The ALCS at a Glance



The Yankees beat the Angels in 6 games in the '09 ALCS 

The Yankees’ 2009 ALCS win marks the 40th time they have won the pennant. The Yankees have made it to the World Series more than any other team in baseball. The Dodgers have the second-most World Series appearances, reaching the fall classic 21 times.


With their ALCS win, the Yankees have finally gotten past the Angels, who had beaten and eliminated them in the playoffs twice before (2002 and 2005–both of those were in the ALDS, however)


Andy Pettitte captured his 16th playoff victory in Game Six. He is now the all-time postseason wins leader, breaking the tie of 15 with John Smoltz.


Pettitte also has the most playoff innings pitched, tossing a mind-boggling 237 1/3 innings. Smoltz is also second to Pettitte on that list with 209 innings pitched.


With the Game Six win, Pettitte has now pitched in five games which have given the Yankees a postseason series victory. That sets a new record and he is of course in first place in postseason wins (16) starts (38) and innings (237 1/3)


CC Sabathia won the ALCS Most Valuable Player Award for his record of 2-0, ERA of 1.13 and his 12 strikeouts in the 16 innings he pitched in the final round before the World Series.


The Yankee ace only allowed nine hits over those 16 innings pitched and just three walks. The Bronx Bombers have won all three of Sabathia’s playoff starts.


Sabathia is the first MVP of the ALCS since Mariano Rivera, who earned the honor in 2003. Game Six winning pitcher (Pettitte) won the award in 2001.


The last time the Yankees won a Game Six of a championship series was in 2000 when they defeated the Seattle Mariners in Game Six of the ALCS.


The Angels committed nine errors in the ALCS. The Yankees committed three.


The Yankees outscored the Angels 33-19 in the championship round.


Alex Rodriguez had nine hits in the ALCS, including three home runs. Overall this postseason, he has 14 hits, five homers, and 12 RBIs.


This will be Rodriguez’s first career World Series appearance.


Rivera now has 37 career postseason saves, which is of course the most by any closer all-time. (I think it’s safe to say Mo has put the record so far out of reach no one is going to be able to look up at it, let alone break it!)


Rivera did give up a run in the eighth inning of Game Six–that marked the first time he has given up a postseason run at home since the 2000 World Series.



Well, Yankee fans. It has been an incredible season. From steroid scandals and spring training to the 22-4 loss to the Cleveland Indians in April; from walk-off wins, winning streaks, and pies in the face all the way through the glorious, victorious summer months.


The Yankees turned the dog days into days where the beat other teams like dogs.


From winning the AL East in front of the Red Sox at home to winning the AL Pennant in front the Angels at home. It has been a wild ride.


And it’s not over yet!


The Yankees will face the Phillies in the '09 World Series 


The Phillies present a huge challenge to the Yankees in the World Series. They are the best-of-the-best in the National League and they certainly aren’t a pushover. They have a potent lineup, with players like Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Jayson Werth.


It’s not going to be easy, but hopefully it will be fun.


The Yankees did play the Phillies during inter-league play this year, losing two out of three to their World Series opponents May 22-24.


The Phils beat the Yanks 7-3 in the first game, but the Yankees edged them in game two with a dramatic comeback and a 5-4 walk-off win. Game three belonged to the Phillies, as they won 4-3, but the Yanks put up a good fight in that game; they tied the score when it looked like they had no chance.


The last time the Yankees and Phillies met in the World Series, the year was 1950. The outcome? The Yankees swept the Phillies in four games.


While I don’t think it will be a clean sweep in 2009, I have a good feeling the Yankees will win. I could picture the Yankees accomplishing something similar to what they did in the ALCS; possibly winning it all in six games.



The Marlins beat the Yankees in 6 games in the 2003 World Series 

The Yankees have a totally different team this year than they did the last time they reached the World Series in 2003. In fact, most of the players from the ’03 squad are gone and some are even retired!


The 2003 ALCS was our World Series that year. I really think the Yankees were so exhausted from those marathon games (and maybe the physicality and fight) with Boston and having the ALCS go to seven games that they didn’t stand a chance in World Series vs. the Florida Marlins.


The pitchers were worn out, the hitters were flat–2003 was not our year. But 2009…well, it could very well be our year, no questions asked.   


Whatever the case, things are looking up on this day and it is a beautiful day to be a Yankee fan. I am so proud and my heart is overjoyed that my team has reached the World Series and we may very well be the last team standing…


I will be back after Game One of the World Series with some thoughts, highlights and analysis.


Until then, Go Yankees!!!


By the way: Let’s do some real damage…! (No Phanatics were hurt in the making of this blog)



Will the Yankees whack the Phillies in the '09 World Series...? 


ALCS Game 4

After Monday’s ugly loss, the Yankees bounced back very nicely.


The Yankees won Game Four of the ALCS, 10-1 


In a one-sided squadoosh, the Bronx Bombers crushed the Los Angeles Angels 10-1 on Tuesday night. Another wild and crazy game, to say the least but the Bombers got the better of it.


The biggest story from this game: we all found out CC Sabathia used to have an imaginary friend named Danny growing up…just kidding. FOX did a lousy job with that one.



CC Sabathia tossed eight strong innings on three days rest 

But in all seriousness, Sabathia was an absolute monster, throwing extraordinarily well on just three days rest. It was the first time this year he took the mound on short rest, but I expected nothing less from him. It was a sheer display of power pitching from the Yankee ace.


The reason I expected Sabathia to do well was because the day before, Yankees’ pitching coach Dave Eiland had him throw in the bullpen. In his session, Sabathia’s fastball was topping off at 96 mph, they say. The big man even went as far as saying he could pitch yesterday!!!


That would be just crazy, pitching on two days rest. But who knows, it may have worked!


In any event, Sabathia went another strong eight innings, and gave up just one run on five hits. He walked two and struck out five. He nearly made an exact copy his performance from Game One on Friday night. The big lefty certainly contained the Angels.


The Yankee ace was also extremely economical, tossing only 101 pitches on the night.


“I didn’t feel any different at all, I felt good,” Sabathia told the media after the game.


“We still got a little ways to go and I never had any doubts about me being able to perform on this stage but I feel great and hopefully I can keep it going.”


Sabathia made one mistake, a pitch that Kendry Morales was able to turn on and take out for a home run in the bottom of the fifth. Although he was a force for the Halos, hitting 34 homers during the regular season, it was only Morales’s first postseason homer.


Backing Sabathia was Alex Rodriguez, who is just on an absolute tear this postseason.


Alex Rodriguez has five homers this postseason 


A-Rod is having a renaissance of sorts and is doing unbelievable, mind-numbing things this month. His assault on the month of October continued in Game Four, as he went 3-for-4 with another home run and two RBIs. He also drew a walk and scored three runs.


A-Rod is now batting .407 in the postseason with five homers and 11 RBIs. Remember when he was “Mr. April” in 2007, hitting 14 homers that month? Well, he is acting the same way in October 2009.  


“I think for me it’s just being comfortable all year,” Rodriguez said. “That final game of the regular season when I homered twice was huge in terms of momentum.”


Bernie Williams hit six homers in the 1996 playoffs, the most ever by a Yankee in a single postseason. Rodriguez is right behind him and could easily overthrow Williams for that record.  


Also leaving the yard today was Johnny Damon, who hit his second home run in as many games. His bat came alive today, which is a good thing for the Yankees.


What also struck me as odd about his home run was the history. It was five years ago this very night that Damon smacked a grand slam home run and a two-run homer in the same game at the old Yankee Stadium in Game Seven of the 2004 ALCS.



Johnny Damon homered on the anniversary of his big 2004 ALCS game seven 

The Red Sox came back from a 3-0 deficit and beat the Yankees in the ’04 ALCS (as most of you painfully remember) but they won Game Seven in large part due to Damon’s homers in that game. It was just strange that he hit another home run on the same night five years later.


Who says there are no baseball gods…?


Melky Cabrera stepped out of his slump, going 3-for-4 with four RBIs, a walk, and a run scored. I had mentioned yesterday that he was killing us, but he snapped out of his little funk tonight.



Melky Cabrera came out of his slump with four RBIs in game four 

Mark Teixeira had a hit tonight, albeit it was only one in five at-bats tonight. But he continued to play his stellar defense and he did hit the ball very hard. So I am not worried about Teixeira down the stretch here. 


Nick Swisher did not have a hit tonight, but at least he did something productive drawing a walk and getting hit by a pitch. He would have scored a run if he was not called out on yet another horrible call from the umpire.


Tim McClelland, tonight’s third base ump, said Swisher left too early on what would have been a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning. OK, first off, the replay clearly showed that he left the base after the ball was caught by Torii Hunter. Next, McClelland was not even looking at Swisher…how would he know if Swisher left too early??!!


Well, the Yankees were given two other calls in the game.


Tim McClelland made some bad calls in game four. 


Swisher was picked off at second base in the same inning but called safe; another botched call from the umpires. Then later, the Angels had a double play at third base, but somehow Robinson Cano was safe when he was tagged off the base and Jorge Posada was only ruled out.


It was a crazy play coupled with few absolutely horrible calls. I have to say, the umpiring in this series has been horrendous. 


“In my heart I thought Swisher left too soon and I thought Cano was on the base. The replay showed that Cano was out and I knew Posada was out. I got it wrong,” McClelland said to the press after the game.


Well in all fairness to the Angels, it wasn’t fair to the Angels. In the postseason, the umpiring should not be this bad! Some people are even saying this is the worst umpiring they have ever seen. It certainly has been sketchy, that’s for sure.


Well, tonight was a whirlwind. It’s good to be up 3-1, but I think everyone has to keep in mind that the series is not done. 2004 (I know for me) is not far from my memory; I will not be content until the last out of the next game the Yankees are leading. The Angels are certainly capable of winning ballgames, so until we win the next game, I am not at ease.


A.J. Burnett will take the hill in Game Five on Thursday night and face  Angels’ Game One starter John Lackey. If the Yankees win, they have a one-way ticket to the World Series.


If they don’t win it Thursday, Andy Pettitte will take the mound Saturday night, probably against Angels’ Game Two starter Joe Saunders.


However, there is an enormous amount of pressure on the Halos; they are now facing elimination for the first time this postseason and the Yankee bullpen is rested. Sabathia made it so that the tired Yankee ‘pen got a day of rest and with the off day tomorrow will be all-systems-go Thursday.


The Yanks’ big guns (Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, Mariano Rivera) will all be well-rested before Game Five. So looking at it from the outside, even if Burnett only goes a serviceable five innings, they have the stuff to get through the rest of the game.


Before I leave, I’d like to give a shout-out to Bob Sheppard, the Yankees’ longtime Stadium announcer. It was Sheppard’s 99th birthday today, God bless him! He has not been working at Yankee Stadium this season, due to a hip injury and he has also suffered from laryngitis.



Happy Birthday, Bob Sheppard!!! 

Sheppard is known as the “Voice of God” at Yankee Stadium and he is a very special member of the Yankee family. We love you, Bob! If we make the World Series, it will not be the same without you!


Well, good night for us Yankee fans. Hopefully we follow with a win on Thursday. And if we do…hang onto the roof, because we’ll be heading to the fall classic!


See you after Game Five.


Until then, Go Yankees!!!    

ALCS Game 3

Why oh why? That was all I could say after today’s game.


In another nail-biting ALCS game, the Angels beat the Yankees 5-4 in 11 innings. Not such a great day to be a Yankee fan, or me in general.


I’ll start with one of the most horrible decisions Joe Girardi has ever made. David Robertson was pitching FINE! WHY would he pull him for Alfredo Aceves??!!



Joe Girardi made a questionable decision in game three 

Robertson made two quick outs in the frame, knocking Juan Rivera and Kendry Morales down first. Then, for no apparent reason, Girardi came out and pulled Robertson for Alfredo Aceves, the same pitcher who blew the lead in the 11th inning of game two.


What was he thinking?


Aceves gave up a single to Howie Kendrick and then the eventual game-winner to Jeff Mathis, who ripped a double to end the game.


Talk about a punch in the gut.


I know for me personally, this game hurt. I had a horrible day today and I wanted the Yankees to pick me up with a win. This morning I had seen an ex-girlfriend of mine (which didn’t make me happy) and later on during my ride home, another car almost hit me on the highway.


So for me, it was one of those “F.M.L. days.”



The Angels won game three of ALCS 

As for the good that came out of the day/game, I was pleased with a number of things the Yankees were able to do. First off, Derek Jeter. The Captain took Jered Weaver deep for a leadoff homer in the first inning, getting the Yankees off on the right foot.


It was Jeter’s 20th career postseason home run and he is now two behind Bernie Williams on the all-time postseason home runs list. The Captain is just doing his thing, that’s basically it. He knows how to perform when it matters and his leadoff homer was just another example of that.



Derek Jeter hit his 20th potseason homer in game three 

And then there was Alex Rodriguez, who continued his assault on October with another home run in the top of the fourth. It was his fifth career home run off Weaver and his second homer in the ALCS.


A-Rod has been awesome; a clutch hitter and a player who is helping to carry the team.


Alex Rodriguez has five homers off Jered Weaver 


Johnny Damon finally broke through with a postseason homer, crushing his first ’09 playoff home run in the fifth, again off Weaver. The homer gave the Yankees a 3-0 cushion.


Weaver was pulled after five innings because the Yankees hit him so hard; I had actually said, “The Yankees turned the dream Weaver into a nightmare.”


It made sense; they really gave him a hard time.


I was also happy with Andy Pettitte, who tossed a quality start for the second straight game. The lefty went 6 1/3 innings and gave up three runs on seven hits. He walked one and struck out two.


Really he only made two mistakes, one to Kendrick and one to Vladimir Guerrero. Kendrick took Pettitte deep in the fifth while Vladdy touched him up in the sixth. Other than that, I was happy with his performance.


I also have to hand it to Mariano Rivera, who was like Houdini being able to escape a huge jam in the 10th inning. The Angels had the bases loaded and one out, but with some help from Mark Teixeira was able to get out of it unscathed.


Now…back to the bad.


As I noted before, Girardi’s decision just did not make any sense whatsoever. Robertson’s numbers against Kendrick were barely anything (1-for-2 lifetime with one strikeout) so why in the love of God would you pull him? Especially since Robertson made two quick outs.


It made no sense. What was he thinking? John Flaherty of the YES Network said “Girardi has some explaining to do.” He has got that right.


Another unfortunate occurrence for the Yankees was their caught stealing in the eighth. Brett Gardner came in to pinch-run for Hideki Matsui, but was thrown out by 11th inning’s hero Mathis. I have to hand it to the Angels–they had Gardner scouted and they executed a good play. It was just bad for us.


Jorge Posada came up next and smashed a solo home run. The Yankees could have had two runs on the round-tripper, but great job by Posada tying the game. It was a big time home run in a key situation and it kept the Yanks in the game.


Plus, that homer was Posada’s 11th career postseason long ball.


A lot of folks will probably be quick to destroy Joba Chamberlain, as he gave up the go-ahead run in the seventh. But in all fairness, Chamberlain had been very good in game two and in the ALDS, so I am not quick to jump on his back.


Phil Hughes gave up some runs in game two of the ALDS vs. the Twins and I don’t remember anyone jumping on him. So I will not blame Chamberlain for his hiccup. He gave up a run, it happens. Just hope it doesn’t happen much more.


I also have to point out Nick Swisher and Melky Cabrera. Is it just me, or are these two really not doing much of anything?



Nick Swisher and Melky Cabrera left 12 men on base in game three 

In today’s game, Swisher left five men on base while Cabrera stranded seven. That’s not very productive if you ask me; both of their bats are just asleep and they need to wake up if the Yankees plan on winning.


Teixeira hasn’t been hitting either, he needs to break out of his slump (he was 0-for-3 today with two strikeouts) but at least he made up for it a little bit with his defense. Like I said, he helped Rivera of that precarious situation in the 10th with his D, but like Swisher and Cabrera, his bat needs to come alive.


Not to make it seem like I am bashing Swish, Melky and Tex; all three have done wondrous things this season to make the Yankee offense click. But when they aren’t clicking, the Yankees do not win.


There’s only so much Jeter and A-Rod can do.


Well, it’s difficult to win extra inning games on the road, and just as the Angels were victimized by it in game two, the Yankees were today. But that doesn’t mean the series is over for the Bronx Bombers.


Tomorrow night, the Yankees will send CC Sabathia to the mound to pitch against Scott Kazmir. The Yankees’ ace will be starting on three days rest and it will be the first time he is taking the mound on three days rest this year.


I don’t think it will affect him; Sabathia has been so dominant all year, what’s another day of rest? I have a feeling he’ll go out and do as he’s been doing all year.


Well, it was a tough loss, but keep your heads up, Yankee fans. The series is not over. The way I see it, it’s only just begun. And the Yankees will still be playing with a lot of confidence tomorrow, especially with Sabathia on the hill.


I’ll be back after Game Four with more highlights and analysis.


Until then, Go Yankees!!!  

ALCS Game 2

Wow. It seems I have been saying that a lot throughout this postseason.


Once again mystique and aura visited the Yankees at their new home as the Bronx Bombers defeated the Angels 4-3 in 13 wild innings in Game Two of the American League Championship Series.


It was one of those marathon games that just carried on and on, and was seemingly never-ending, but the Yankees once again came out on top. The game began at 8:00. Five hours and 10 minutes later, it ended.


I had been saying all night that when the Angels made mistakes, the Yankees cashed in. It didn’t seem to be working both ways. And really the story of the 2009 Yankees at home: other teams cannot beat them in the seventh inning or later in a tied or one-run game.


Winning at home in the late innings has been the story of the Yankees’ season and with the win, the Yankees maintained home-field advantage in the ALCS.


Miscues and the Winning Play



The Yankees won a thrilling game two of the ALCS 

Game Two was defined by missed opportunities on both sides. In plenty of instances, both the Yankees and Angels had chances to score runs and make big innings.  The amount of men left on base was just absolutely ridiculous.


The Angels stranded 28 runners on base, eight of them left on by Vladimir Guerrero, who seemed to be striking out in key situation after key situation. He was free-swinging, and struggling greatly with runners in scoring position.


The Yankees left 20 men on base, missing so many chances to win late in the ballgame. Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez both missed chances to end the game past the ninth inning, but wound up stranding a combined five runners on base in what could have been game-winning situations.


Errors also became a problem for both teams.


Robinson Cano committed two errors, mishandling what looked like two easy, routine grounders. Derek Jeter also committed an error, which cost the Yankees a double play.


The Angels committed three errors in game one, and in game two they added two more to the list. Both were throwing errors, one on Chone Figgins, the other on Maicer Izturis.


In all fairness to both teams, the weather was a huge issue; playing in 47 degree weather and in the pouring rain is difficult any way you look at it.


But Izturis’s error cost the Angels big time.


In the bottom of the 13th, the game tied 3-3, and Jerry Hairston on first base after a leadoff single, Melky Cabrera tapped a grounder out to second. Izturis fielded the ball, trying to turn a double play. He gunned the ball toward Erick Aybar covering the base, but the ball sailed away on an errant throw, allowing Hairston to turn on the jets.


Hustling as hard as he could as the ball trickled in between short and third, Hairston scored the winning run. A long night’s journey into day complete and a 4-3 game two Yankee win.


“When he first hit it, I thought it would go through for a hit, Jeter told the press after the game. “You have to give Jerry a lot of credit for running hard.”


I know it would probably be classified as a walk-off win, but in reality it was more like a “run-off win.” One of the craziest, sloppiest games I have ever seen and the second walk-off Yankee win of the postseason (the first walk-off came in Game Two of the ALDS; Teixeira of course won the game with a home run)


Because he scored the winning run, Hairston ate the pie-in-the-face.


Mark that the 17th walk-off win for the Yankees in 2009 and the first time the Bombers won the game on an error since June 12 when Luis Castillo of the Mets dropped a pop up allowing Teixeira to score for a Yankee win.


Not to mention the Yanks are on a six-game winning streak, including the win in Tampa Bay on the final day of the regular season. 


Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez


Derek Jeter hit his 19th career postseason home run on Saturday night 


Cano started the Yankees’ offense in the game with an RBI triple to score Nick Swisher in the bottom of the second, but one of the two moon shots in the game came in the bottom of the third.


Jeter smacked a solo home run to right field to put the Yankees ahead, 2-0. It was his second home run this postseason and his 19th career postseason round-tripper.


He now sits by himself in third place on the all-time postseason home runs list, putting Reggie Jackson and Mickey Mantle behind him.


So now the all-time postseason home runs list looks like this: Manny Ramirez (29) is the all-time leader, Bernie Williams (22) is in second place, and Jeter (19) is now in third. Jackson and Mantle (18) are now tied for fourth place.


I don’t know if there has ever been a better hitter in the postseason than Jeter. But right now Rodriguez is pushing him.


Alex Rodriguez homered in the 11th to tie game two at three 


With the Yankees down 3-2 in the bottom of the 11th, Rodriguez came to bat against Halos’ closer Brian Fuentes. Quickly falling behind in the count to 0-2, A-Rod smashed a wall-scraping, solo home run to tie the game. It was his third home run this postseason and all three of his homers have tied the game in the seventh inning or later.


Rodriguez seems to have a flair for the dramatic these days, and as I said a couple weeks ago, I think he learned the Heimlich maneuver–he is not choking, he is coming up big time in clutch situations.


Rodriguez has now knocked in a run in each of his last six postseason games, dating back to the 2007 playoffs.


When A-Rod went down 0-2 in the count, I was thinking game three. I felt that if Rodriguez did not reach base or hit a homer, the Yankees were heading out to Anaheim with the series tied, 1-1.


Hitting behind Rodriguez were Freddy Guzman and Brett Gardner, both of whom are very speedy but have virtually no pop. Plus, they’re both rookies. But the veteran slugger Rodriguez came up huge, once again proving that he is exorcising his postseason demons.


Congrats to both Jeter and A-Rod. You are both amazing players and clutch postseason hitters. And perhaps one of the two could be ALCS Most Valuable Player. I wouldn’t bet against it!


A.J. Burnett and the Bullpen



A.J. Burnett tossed his second straight quality start in game two 

The Yankee pitching had a tough act to follow, what with CC Sabathia tossing eight strong innings of work in game one. But for the most part, A.J. Burnett held his own, tossing his second consecutive postseason quality start in game two.


The lanky right-hander went 6 1/3 innings and allowed two earned runs on just three hits. He walked two and struck out four.


In the first four innings of the game, Burnett was basically set on cruise control; his fastball was dancing all over the place and his breaking ball was exploding through the strike zone. Nine of the first 10 batters he faced saw first pitch strikes.


Once he got to the fifth, things got a little tight for Burnett, as he allowed two runs in the inning. Aybar knocked in a run with a single in the frame while Burnett tossed a wild pitch, allowing Aybar to score.


The fifth may have been little stiff for Burnett, yet he still was able to get out of the inning with limited damage and come out and toss a quick sixth inning. Burnett’s teammates were so proud of the performance he gave them.


“A.J. threw tremendous,” Jeter said after the game. “Pitching sticks out and ours was good. We missed a few opportunities but our pitching really picked us up.”


Burnett was also pleased with how the game played out and expressed his happiness with his team in the postseason.


“I’m just happy to be a part of something special,” he said to the media.


“I am happy I am a Yankee. Afterward I was thinking a lot about the wild pitch and I expanded a little too far. But we’ve been saying all year that we’re a team that doesn’t quit and we didn’t quit tonight.”


The Yankees have now won the last five games Burnett has pitched, including his final three starts of the regular season.


I have to say, although Burnett is wild, he is so effective. He hit two batters in the fifth and of course walked two in the game, but the fact that he is wild doesn’t make him any less good at times.


In the fifth, Burnett hit Kendry Morales in the inset of his back foot. Yet Morales almost swung at the pitch! Jose Molina actually had to appeal at third base to see if he went around. Even though he can lose it a little bit, he still throws even the best hitters off their offensive game.


Burnett kept his team in the game, but the Yankee bullpen also deserves a lot of credit for how they pitched.


The Yanks’ ‘pen (seven relievers were used) tossed 6 2/3 innings and gave up one run on five hits. Together they walked three and struck out six.


The Angels scored their run off the Yankee bullpen in the top of the 11th. Alfredo Aceves gave up an RBI single to Figgins to score Gary Matthews, Jr. That gave the Halos a 3-2 lead, but the Yankees quickly answered the run on Rodriguez’s homer in the bottom of the frame.



David Robertsin earned the win in relief, his second postseason victory 

Aside from that hiccup, the bullpen pitched very nicely. David Robertson, the Yanks’ eighth pitcher, was awarded the win. It marked his second postseason victory this year.


“Just to win that game…wow!” Robertson exclaimed after the win. “It was nerve racking, but I was happy to be able to get some outs.”


Robertson pitched 1 1/3 innings, including a scoreless top of the 13th to earn the win.


It was another game with thrills and chills and yet another dramatic win in the Bronx. It’s not like we haven’t seen enough of it this year, but last night’s marathon was one of the best (and worst) I have ever seen.


I am just glad the Yankees were able to pull that out against a tough Angel team that never stopped battling. They fought and fought…but like I said, it’s tough to beat the Yankees at Yankee Stadium in a close game in the late innings. Not many teams have beaten them in close games in the Bronx.


Tomorrow afternoon the Yankees have a chance to take game three from the Angels.


Andy Pettitte will look to keep the Yankees hot and will face Jered Weaver. Pettitte is 6-1 lifetime in the ALCS and 15-9 lifetime in the postseason. Meanwhile Weaver owns a 2-1 career postseason record and has pitched very well at Angel Stadium. Nine of his 16 regular season wins came at home.


Well, it was an unbelievable game two. Hopefully game three will be as action-packed and fun as its predecessor. I’ll be back after game three with more highlights and analysis.


Until then, Go Yankees!!!


ALCS Game 1

Last night the Yankees jumped over yet another hurdle.


Before game one of the American League Championship Series, all we had been hearing about were CC Sabathia’s poor career numbers in the postseason, Alex Rodriguez’s inability to perform in the playoffs, and all of the Yankees’ struggles vs. the Los Angeles Angels.


But it didn’t matter to them.


The Yankees went about their business like they have been doing all year, beating the Halos 4-1 in game one of the ALCS.


Let’s start with the obvious: Sabathia pitched like a machine, dominating the Angels over eight strong innings of work. He allowed only one earned run on just four hits, walked one, and struck out seven.



CC Sabathia tossed eight strong innings in game one of the ALCS 


Sabathia won game one of the ALDS and game one of the ALCS, becoming the first Yankee to accomplish the feat since Orlando Hernandez in 1999.


The Yankee ace now has 21 victories this year, combing both his regular season and postseason wins.


“That was a great feeling to have the Stadium rocking,” Sabathia told the media in the press conference after the win. “I don’t really show a lot of emotion, but it came out of me there.”


Before each of Sabathia’s eight strikeouts, the Yankee faithful would boisterously chant “CC,” and he also noted his appreciation for the fans’ overwhelming support.


“Eh, he did alright,” Derek Jeter modestly joked after the game when the media asked him what he thought of Sabathia’s performance.


Before his last two games, Sabathia was 2-3 in the postseason with a bloated 7.92 ERA. In his last two October starts, the big man is 2-0 with a 1.23 ERA. Not to mention he has recorded 15 strikeouts in his last two games while only allowing one walk.


The Yankee ace seems to be rewriting his postseason history.


The only run Sabathia allowed was an RBI single off the bat of Kendry Morales which scored Vladimir Guerrero in the top of the fourth.  


The Yankees on the other hand cashed in on the many mistakes the Angels made.


In the bottom of the first, the Yankees put a run on the board quickly with a sacrifice fly by Rodriguez, jumping out to a 1-0 lead.


After game one of the ALCS, Rodriguez is now batting .462 this postseason with two homers and seven RBIs. How’s that for no production in October?


Then Hideki Matsui popped a fly ball toward the left side of the infield, almost right in between third baseman Chone Figgins and shortstop Erick Aybar. The ball dropped right in between the two of them, allowing Johnny Damon to score, much to the disgust of Angels’ starter John Lackey.


Erick Aybar misses a pop up that cost the Angels a run 


Charge that an error on the Angels but neither player ever really called for the ball. It seemed as though both of them just expected the other guy to get it and in the end they both looked like a couple of deer in the headlights.


“I saw him standing there and I thought he was going to catch it,” Aybar told the press after the game. “There was no communication.”


Figgins said that one of them should have called for the ball, and it was an honest mistake by both players.  


A costly mistake by the Angels, one of the three errors they would commit in the game. It’s strange; in all five games of the 2005 ALDS, the Halos only made one error. Last night they made three. It was not like them.


The Yankees would score their third run in the fifth, as Damon busted out of his 1-for-12 postseason slump and led off the inning with a double. After a walk to Rodriguez, Matsui drove in Damon with a base hit to left field.


Rodriguez would be put out, however, running through the stop sign set by third base coach Rob Thomson and getting nailed at home on a play at the plate.


The next inning, Melky Cabrera worked a walk and reached second on an errant pickoff throw from Lackey. Jeter then poked a sharp liner up the middle that got by Torii Hunter in centerfield, allowing Cabrera to score and it gave the Yankees their fourth run.


Charge two more errors on the Angels in the sixth.


In the ninth, who else but “The Hammer of God” (Mariano Rivera) came in and shut it down. After allowing a leadoff walk to Morales, Rivera got the last three outs in the ninth to wrap up game one and secure a Yankee win.



Mariano Rivera has 36 postseason saves, good enough to be called the all-time leader 

It marked Rivera’s 36 save in his postseason career, as he continues to further cement his postseason numbers. He is the all-time postseason saves leader with 36, and the guy behind him (Dennis Eckersley) has 15.


I’m pretty sure Rivera put that record so far out of reach that no other closer in baseball history will be able to touch it.


I also loved how Joe Girardi was joking around with the home plate umpire Tim McClelland when Rivera came into the game.


As Metallica’s Enter Sandman was blaring through the Yankee Stadium speakers, Girardi went out to inform the umps of the defensive changes (Damon came out of the game, Cabrera moved to left field, and Brett Gardner came in to play center field) and of course to let them know Rivera was coming in.


“It’s Rivera,” Girardi told the umpire.


“Who?” McClelland asked.


“Some new guy that just made it,” Girardi kidded.


“Oh, just got called up from Triple A, right?” McClelland joked.


I thought the banter between the two about Rivera was amusing. Everyone knows Rivera is probably the greatest closer in the history of the game, and for Girardi to kid around with the umpire the way he did, it was funny.


I think the Yankees may have set the tone for the ALCS with the win last night. Game one is extremely important to win and the Yankees went out into the “frozen tundra of Yankee Stadium” and did what they have done all year.


I also think the Yankees do not need to fear the Angels after last night. The Yankees know they can beat them when it matters. They have now won three of their last four vs. LA and if you count the final game of the regular season, the Yankees are on a five-game winning streak.


The Yanks have gone on these winning streaks all year, sometimes reaching eight or nine wins in a row. They only need seven more postseason wins to be called World Series Champions.


Tonight (if the weather holds out) the Yankees will play game two of the ALCS.


A.J. Burnett will make his second postseason start and face Angels’ left-hander Joe Saunders.


A.J. Burnett will start game two of the ALCS 


Both starters had respectable season records and pitched extraordinarily well during the regular season. Burnett went 13-9 while Saunders posted a record of 16-7.


In his last start on Oct. 9 in game two of the ALDS, Burnett went six innings and gave up one earned run on three hits. The walks were a little bit of an issue (he allowed five free passes) but he struck out six in a quality start.


Not only that, but Burnett beat the Angels the last time he faced them on Sept. 23, dominating them with 11 strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings while only allowing two runs.


Saunders did not pitch in the ALDS vs. Boston and has not thrown since Oct. 4 when he pitched five innings in Oakland. He does however pitch well in the cold weather, as he is a career 10-1 with a 2.51 ERA in April and 12-4 with a 4.31 ERA in September and October.


When you think about how long it has been since the Yankees have won a World Series, consider how long it’s been since they’ve won an ALCS game. Not since game three of the 2004 ALCS (beating the Red Sox 19-8) have the Yankees been victorious in a Championship game.


That seems like a lifetime ago; I was a senior in High School the last time the Yanks won an ALCS game. I am now a senior in College and they finally won another.    


Well, hopefully the Yankees and Angels get their game in tonight. If the Bombers win game two, things will be looking very good for the Yankees. If they go up 2-0 and take the series to Anaheim, I think the Yankees just might be headed to the fall classic.


The 2009 Yankees do not seem like the type of team that would collapse if they go up by two games, especially if the Angels are going to see Sabathia twice more in the ALCS.


We’ll see what Burnett and the Bronx Bombers can do tonight. The Yankees have a rested bullpen, a confident offense, and a game one win under their belts already.


I’ll be back after game two with more highlights and analysis.


Until then, Go Yankees!!!

Fear Itself



The Yankees will face the Angels in the 2009 ALCS

With Game One of the American League Championship Series looming and the Yankees in a position they haven’t been in since 2004, the Bronx Bombers are set to square off with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Friday night.

And I have to admit, I am a little scared. But I suppose as a wise man (namely F.D.R.) once said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” 


The Yanks eliminated the Twins in the first round of the playoffs twice before in recent years (2003-04) and history repeated itself in 2009. The Yankees also had the Twins’ number during the regular season, beating them seven times without losing.


It’s safe to say the history vs. the Twins proved that the edge went to the Yankees in the ALDS. But the Yanks’ history vs. the Angels for the ALCS…not so much in their favor.


In 2002, the Halos took care of the Yankees in four games in the ALDS while in 2005 they took out the Yankees in five games. Not to mention the Yankees are 44-56 vs. the Angels since 2000 and have only won four season series against the Halos since 1987.


The Angels have not been very kind to the Yankees in the past, that’s for sure.


Consider this: in 2002, the Yankees took game one of the ALDS from the Angels, but after that totally disintegrated. Andy Pettitte had one of his worst postseason starts in game two, and in game three Mike Mussina was beat up and smacked around, blowing a 6-1 Yankee lead.


The Angels had all the momentum after game three, just lit up David Wells in the fifth inning of game four, and went on to knock the Yankees out of the playoffs in the first round. It was also the first time the Angels won a postseason series and they went on to win the World Series in ’02, beating the San Francisco Giants.


There’s no questioning the fact that the Angels just walked all over the Yankees in 2002.


In 2005, the Yankees relied heavily on old and injured players, along with a little bit of an inexperienced outfield. After trading victories in the first two games, Randy Johnson gave up five runs in the first three innings of game three.


The Yankees made their way back to a 6-5 lead, only to have it squirreled away by relievers Aaron Small and Tom Gordon. The Bombers obviously lost game three.


Game four was a thriller; the Yankees won by scoring two runs in the seventh inning with RBI singles from Derek Jeter and good, old Ruben Sierra. Then it was time for the decisive game five.


In the final game, Mussina followed the lead of the Big Unit in game three, allowing five runs in three innings. Plus, center fielder Bubba Crosby collided with right fielder Gary Sheffield, costing the Yankees big time. Bad defense hurt the Yankees in game five and they were never able to catch up.



Bubba Crosby collided with Gary Sheffield, an error that cost the Yankees in 2005 


I’ll never forget the words after that series ending, 2005 ALDS game five loss; one of the announcers said something like, “The Yankees’ $hundred million payroll comes up just a couple bucks short.”


I hated that quote. It infuriated me.


But in all honesty, the Angels outplayed the Yankees in the ’05 ALDS. They outscored them 25-20, out-hit them 46-42, and the Yankees made six defensive errors in that series. The Angels only committed one.


I hate to say it, but the Yankees had no business winning that series.


In 2005, the Yankees were knocked out of the playoffs by the Angels in the ALDS 

If you check your calendar though, it’s 2009, not 2005. And only 11 players from those 2005 rosters remain with the Yankees and Angels.    


Along with the history, there are still numbers standing in front of the Yankees. Jeter has a measly batting average against two of the Angels’ four starters; against Scott Kazmir, Jeter owns a lifetime batting average of .111. Against Jered Weaver, the Yankee captain is .118.


That’s not very good, especially considering Jeter is the leadoff hitter, or “table-setter” for the Yankees.


And then there’s CC Sabathia, who will be making quite a few starts in this series since the Yankees have opted to go with a three-man rotation. If skipper Joe Girardi sticks with his idea of a three man rotation, Sabathia would pitch games one, four, and seven. (Game four he would be throwing on three days rest)



CC Sabathia will pitch on three days rest for the first time since 2008 

I think if the Yankees lose this series, everyone will jump on Girardi about the decision to go with a three-man rotation. It will be under heavy scrutiny, no matter what.


Sabathia is 0-2 with a 6.08 ERA vs. the Angels in 2009 and is 5-7 with a 4.42 ERA vs. LA lifetime. That’s not a promising sign, if you ask me.


But also think about some of Sabathia’s numbers against individual hitters. Gary Matthews, Jr. (one of the Angels’ key players) is 5-for-26 lifetime vs. the Yankee ace with 10 strikeouts. Vladimir Guerrero, another hitter who makes the Angels go, has not hit Sabathia well. Guerrero is just 3-for-15 lifetime against the big lefty.


Sabathia is also 7-2 with a 3.17 ERA at home this year, which is good because the Yankees have home field advantage in the ALCS. If the series reaches a game seven, he would make the start at Yankee Stadium.


Game two starter A.J. Burnett is 2-2 with a 4.43 ERA in six career starts against the Angels, and the last time he faced the Halos on Sept. 23, the tall, lanky right hander went 5 2/3 innings and allowed two runs while fanning 11 batters.


There’s a stat that works in the Yankees’ favor.


The Angels will most likely send Joe Saunders to the mound for game two. Although Saunders has not pitched since Oct. 4 (the last day of the regular season) he went 7-0 with a 2.55 ERA in eight starts after coming back in August from a shoulder injury.


Even though the Angels have dominated the Yankees in the past, the Yanks’ hitting has done some good work against the Angels in the past, too.


Although Jeter has not had much success against the Angels’ expected game three starter (Weaver) Alex Rodriguez has dominated him. In his career, A-Rod is 5-for-15 with four homers off Weaver. And Girardi should keep Eric Hinske in the back of his mind, as Hinske is 4-for-11 with a homer off Weaver.


A-Rod has four career homers off game two hurler Jered Weaver 


Game three will take place at Angel Stadium of Anaheim with Pettitte starting against Weaver.


Pettitte struggled this year, going 0-2 with a 7.84 ERA at Angel Stadium. Not good, especially since game three is in Anaheim. The Yankees also need to watch out for Mike Napoli, Erick Aybar, Guerrero and Matthews, who all own averages well over .300 lifetime vs. Pettitte.



Andy Pettitte is 6-1 lifetime in the ALCS 

On the bright side, Pettitte is 12-10 with a 4.70 ERA against the Angels in his career, six of those wins coming in Anaheim. Oh, and by the way, he is 6-1 with a 3.92 ERA in the ALCS. Pettitte is what everyone says he is: a big game pitcher in the postseason.  


Kazmir is expected to start game four and is 2-1 vs. New York this year, but the only loss came after he was traded from Tampa Bay to Los Angeles. He will obviously be facing Sabathia, in accordance to the Yankees’ three-man rotation.


Scott Kazmir is 2-1 vs. the Yankees this year 


So despite some negativity in history and numbers that work against the Yankees, there is some positive history and numbers that work for the Yankees.


This year the Angels and Yankees split the 10 games they played against each other; the Yankees won five against the Angels and vice-versa.  


But I’m sure Girardi and his Yankees are not thinking about the past or the history between their team and the Angels. They are focusing on the task at hand, which is beating the Angels and then reaching (and hopefully winning) the World Series.


It’s going to be tough. The Angels and Yankees were the two best teams in the American League all year, so I think it’s only fitting that they meet in the ALCS. There’s more margin for error in this series, it being seven games and all. But still, I hope to see the Yankees come out on top when the smoke has cleared and the dust has settled.


After all, the Angels finally stopped their playoff losing streak vs. the Red Sox, beating them in the ALDS. Maybe now it’s the Yankees’ turn to stop their playoff losing streak vs. the Angels in the ALCS.


“To be honest, I think they look down on us. They have had their way with us for some time and now we have something to prove to them. It’s not the other way around.”–Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman


Looks like even the Yankee management knows what’s at stake here.


Well, see you Friday for ALCS Game One (Weather permitting; Friday’s forecast for the Bronx: a high of 45 degrees with an 80% chance of rain…I hope they can get this game in!)


Until then, Go Yankees!!!

ALDS Game 3



The Yankees Celebrate their ALDS sweep


“Right on, Tex!” Alex Rodriguez said to Mark Teixeira as the Yankees were celebrating after their clinch of the ALDS.

“That a boy, Al!” Teixeira loudly responded as they poured champagne over each other’s heads.


Yankee fans, our team has finally gotten over the hump of the first round of the playoffs–an obstacle we haven’t been able to hurdle since 2004. The Bronx Bombers completed a three-game, ALDS sweep of the Twinkies Sunday night, beating them 4-1.  


And now the Yankees will advance to the ALCS to play the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The winner of the ALCS will earn a one-way ticket to the 2009 World Series.


Game Three was yet another exciting game; thrills and chills for both Yankee fans and Twins fans alike.


It started out as a certified pitcher’s duel. Andy Pettitte and ex-Yankee Carl Pavano were both dealing, making it through the first five innings without allowing a run.


The Twins broke the scoreless tie in the sixth with an RBI single to score Denard Span, giving the Twins a 1-0 lead. I’ll admit, I was upset and not in the right frame of mind, considering how well Pavano was pitching. I thought it could be a one-run game and the Yankees might fall.


But then came the top half of the following inning.


Coming into this series, Rodriguez had been crucified by the media for his performances in playoffs past. Well, he had a dramatic homer in game two, a pair of RBIs in game one, and in the seventh inning of game three, a game-tying, solo home run over the baggie in right field of the Metrodome.



Alex Rodriguez smacked a solo homer in the seventh inning of game three 

Talk about silencing your critics and coming up big in yet another clutch situation.


Following Rodriguez later in the inning was Jorge Posada, who delivered a solo homer of his own to give the Yanks a 2-1 lead they wouldn’t give up. Posada would later help pad the Yankee lead with an RBI single in the ninth and Robinson Cano also contributed to the offense, knocking in the Yankees’ fourth run later in the frame.


I think the biggest play (or non-play) for the Twins came in the bottom of the seventh and for the second time in two games, they made a costly base-running mistake. 


In the seventh, Span tapped a soft liner that looked to be going up the middle for a run-scoring base hit. Derek Jeter managed to scoop the ball, keeping all his wits about him. Running from second base, Nick Punto blew the stop sign from his third base coach, passing third base and dashing his way home.


Punto slipped on the turf on the baseline between third base and home, got up, and raced back toward third. Jeter gunned the ball to Posada at home plate, Posada snapped-threw the ball to third, and after all that, Punto was tagged out by Rodriguez.


Nick Punto was nailed at third, thanks to a heads-up play by Derek Jeter 


Score that crazy play 6-2-5.


Much like the play on Friday night where Carlos Gomez overran second base and was tagged out before Delmon Young scored, it came back to burn the Twins. They shot themselves in the foot again. It was (by far) the biggest play for the Yankees and the worst thing that could have happened to the Twins.


With that play, I can safely say this: Derek Jeter is hands down the most fundamentally sound player in the game of baseball and probably the most intelligent. Jeter maintained perfect control of the situation, never panicked, and got the job done. That’s why he’s the leader.


The Yankees once again got some great pitching in game three, receiving their third straight quality start.


Pettitte tossed 6 1/3 innings, giving up one run on three hits. He walked one and struck out seven. The pitching in this series is great sign going into the ALCS against a tough Angels team; every pitcher who started for the Yankees gave them a good chance to win.


Not to mention the Yankee bullpen in the ALDS; basically everyone outside of Damaso Marte (and maybe Phil Hughes in game two) did their job. The Yankees’ bullpen is looking solid for the next round.


I also have to give a lot of credit to Ron Gardenhire, the Twins’ manager. After the game, Gardenhire noted the strength of the Yankees, his happiness for them, and how much he enjoys watching players like Jeter and Rodriguez play.


It was such a respectful gesture from the Twins’ skipper; he was a gracious loser and didn’t seem to hold contempt for anything that happened in the ALDS. I admire Gardenhire for that and have a newfound respect for him.


Gardenhire said, “I tip my cap to the Yankees.” Well, I tip my cap to you, Mr. Gardenhire. You are truly a classy manager.


Now we go on to face a very live Angels team, who just swept the Boston Red Sox. The series will begin Friday, Oct. 16 at Yankee Stadium. Get your popcorn ready, because there will be a show!


The Yankees and Angels are both on fire, so the ALCS is looking to be an interesting series. As I have been saying for weeks, I hope the Yanks can pull through!


As for the sweep…


The ALDS at a Glance



The Yankees swept the Twins in the ALDS 

The Yankees outscored the Twins 15-6 in round one.


The Yankees hit six home runs in the ALDS; the Twins did not leave the park.


Alex Rodriguez batted .455 with two home runs and six RBIs in the ALDS.


Both of Rodriguez’s home runs tied the game in the seventh inning or later.


The Yankees beat the Twins 10 times (including the playoffs) this season without losing once. Six out of their 10 wins came at Yankee Stadium.


Johnny Damon went 1-for-12 at the plate with a walk in the ALDS. (I think he needs to work with Kevin Long in the batting cage before the ALCS begins. Just saying.)


Derek Jeter hit his 18th postseason home run in game one, which tied him with other Yankee legends Reggie Jackson and Mickey Mantle for third place on the all-time postseason home runs list. (Mantle, Jackson and Jeter sit in third place behind Bernie Williams and Manny Ramirez, who are in second and first place, respectively)


Mark Teixeira’s game-winning home run in game two was the 11th postseason walk-off win for the Yankees. The Yanks have the most postseason walk-off wins in baseball history and it was the first extra-inning, game-winning home run since Aaron Boone’s solo blast to defeat the Red Sox in game seven of the 2003 ALCS.


Teixeira’s homer also left Yankee Stadium unbelievably quickly, in only 2.88 seconds to be exact. That was the shortest amount of time a ball took to leave the park at Yankee Stadium this year. A screaming line drive if you ask me!


The Yanks’ ALDS win was their 45th postseason series victory in their history.


Notching the save in game three, Yanks’ closer Mariano Rivera now has 35 postseason game saves. Guess who leads that category all-time? (If you guessed Rivera, you’re right! in second place is Dennis Eckersley with 15 postseason game saves)


The Twins left a total of 34 men on base in the ALDS.


Game three of the ALDS was the final baseball game that was played at the Twins’ venue, the Metrodome. The Twins are moving into a new Stadium, Target Field, in 2010.


The last time the Yankees swept the ALDS, they went on to sweep the World Series (which took place in 1999)


Anyway, that does it for this series. We need to brace ourselves for impact, because the Angels are a tough team. But I believe in the New York Yankees. They do not give up!


I’ll be back after game one of the ALCS for more highlights and analysis.


Until then, Go Yankees!!!

ALDS Game 2



The Yankees capped a comeback to beat the Twins Friday, 4-3Wow. WOW. That’s pretty much all I can say. Just another instance in my life when I am speechless.


Game two of the ALDS was one of the craziest games I have ever witnessed and that is definitely saying something as a lifelong baseball fan. It was most likely the craziest (Yankee) playoff game since game seven of the 2003 ALCS.


Tonight was one of those games where I just kept saying to myself, “I can’t believe what I just saw.” I said it several times during the game.


A lot of craziness, but the Yankees won, 4-3 in 11th outrageous innings. One hell of a win, for sure!


There’s so much I can say about this game, but I’m going to start with Alex Rodriguez.


In one of the biggest at-bats of his career and the game on the line in the bottom of the ninth, the Yankee slugger delivered a mammoth, game-tying, two-run homer to knot the game at three.



Alex Rodriguez is 4-for-8 with a Homer this postseason 

I’m sure not many people expected it, but like I said on Wednesday, I think A-Rod learned the Heimlich maneuver. It was a pressure situation and he did not choke! He did what he was brought here to do–hit big time homers in pressurized, late-game situations. And he did not disappoint tonight.


You can look at some of his other big time homers as a member of the Yankees. The walk-off grand slam vs. Baltimore on April 7, 2007, the walk-off tater to beat Cleveland on April 19, 2007, but this was different.


Tonight was postseason. And against Joe Nathan, a closer who slammed the door 47 times during the regular season. And that home run…was a bomb!


Rodriguez has been excellent these last two games, driving in five runs and going 4-for-8. That’s better than we have probably ever seen him in the playoffs, certainly the best we’ve seen him since before they blew it in 2004 (I still don’t want to talk about that!) 


“When I came back in May I felt I was off to a new start and it was great to have Mark Teixeira there,” Rodriguez said to the press after the game.


“It just felt really good, we needed it, and nothing’s changed. This is the way we have been playing all year. It was a lot of fun and I am doing the best I can.”


Rodriguez also drove in the Yankees’ first run in the bottom of the sixth with an RBI single to score Derek Jeter, answering the Twins’ run they posted in the top of the frame.


Alongside Rodriguez with some big hits tonight was Mark Teixeira.


Not only did “Big Tex” smash the game-winning, walk-off homer in the bottom of the 11th inning, he kept the Yankees alive in the ninth with a double to set up A-Rod’s glorious homer.


Mark Teixeira receives a pie to the face from Friday's starter A.J. Burnett  


Without Teixeira, the Yankees would obviously be going to Minnesota with the series tied 1-1, so it’s safe to say he did his job tonight. At the beginning of the season, I heard some fans say Teixeira has never had a big at-bat in his life.


Well he answered those fans, coming up big time tonight in a clutch situation.


Now onto A.J. Burnett, who was pitching in his first postseason game of his career. I have to say, he looked a little off tonight, but still managed to turn in an acceptable outing and a quality start.


The lanky right-hander went six innings, giving up an earned run on only three hits. The walks were a little much, he walked five, but he also struck out six. Burnett’s breaking ball and fastball both looked great tonight, hopefully a sign of good things to come from him.


I also have to hand it to reliever David Robertson. The young man out of Alabama was “Harry Houdini” tonight, getting out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the top of the 11th. He got the win and deserved it. An awesome showing from him and most of the bullpen tonight.  


Now that I’ve examined the good of this game (and it was a good…great game) I have to look at the bad.


By all means, the Yankees should have won the game in the 10th. With Brett Gardner on third base and one out, the game was all but over. All Johnny Damon had to do was hit a fly ball anywhere. Left field, right field, center field–it didn’t matter. Gardner was going to score.


Instead Damon lined an old “at ’em” ball right to Nick Punto, who was able to double up Gardner at third base. It was a bad play on Gardner’s part, but in all honesty, I have to give him the benefit of the doubt.


What happened was Gardner thought the ball was tipped off the pitcher’s glove and he thought he could score. But much to the surprise of Gardner, the ball was in the air. So a mistake on Gardner cost the Yanks a win in the 10th, but it didn’t come back to hurt them. No harm, no foul.


Then on the Twins’ part, they shot themselves in the foot in top of the fourth. Carlos Gomez slipped past second base, running on a single from Matt Tolbert. The stumble (or I guess just error in judgment) enabled Nick Swisher to gun him out from right field before Delmon Young–the lead runner–was able to score.  


That play was crucial and may have cost the Twins the game. If that run had scored, who knows what could have happened.


Another mistake that might have cost the Twins was the error on right field umpire Phil Cuzzi. Joe Mauer hit a ground-rule double that was ruled a foul ball in the 10th inning. That was a real mistake and I was happy he made it. By all means, the Twins were cheated out of a baserunner. 


My overall feeling on game two: dramatic. As my fellow blogger Virginia would say, it was a “drama club win.” Both sides fought and wanted it badly, but in the end it was the Bronx Bombers who came out on top.


Now onto game three on Sunday night.


It will be big-game pitcher Andy Pettitte squaring off against former Yankee Carl Pavano. Now the Yankees have a chance to punish him for all the money they wasted on him. I think it would be so poetically just to beat Pavano to win the series. He was supposed to help bring us a Title, but wound up doing nothing.


It would make complete sense.


Well, I said back on June 7 after the Yankees battled back to beat the Tampa Bay Rays that “they are seriously a group of warriors that do not quit.”


And tonight just proved that point even more, if they didn’t prove it with the 15 walk-off wins they had. Tonight also marked the 11th walk-off postseason win in the Yankees’ history–they have the most postseason walk-off wins all-time from any team.   


Well, that does it for tonight. I’ll be back after Sunday’s game for more playoff analysis.


Until then, Go Yankees!!!

ALDS Game 1


Derek Jeter and Hideki Matsui both homered in game one


Well, game one is in the books, and the Yankees came out on top, 7-2.

At first I thought it was another disaster waiting to happen. When the Twins jumped out to a quick, 2-0 lead in the top of the third, I sensed disaster brewing. I’m sure I’m not the only fan who thought so, too.


Two passed balls from Jorge Posada and an RBI from Michael Cuddyer in the third made me so skeptical; I thought to myself, “Here we go again. Another postseason flop.”


According to Yankees’ game one starter CC Sabathia, one of the passed balls was his fault, the other was Posada’s, and the Yankee ace admitted the battery got crossed up.


But the Yankee Captain did what he does best: delivers in the playoffs. Derek Jeter smacked his 18th career postseason home run, a two-run bomb that landed behind the left field wall. That blast put the Yankees back in the game, tied the game, 2-2, and ignited the Yankee Stadium crowd.


I mean, that crowd was dead before Jeter’s homer. With the Twins ahead things weren’t looking great for the Bombers. But I guess we should’ve expected the homer; in a way I actually called it (long story, though!) In any event, it was huge for Jeter to come up in that spot and be able to deliver.


Nick Swisher was able to come up big, wrapping an RBI double to score Robinson Cano in the bottom of the fourth, to give the Yankees a 3-2 lead. The Yankees never looked back after Swisher’s double.


Of course one of the bigger stories of the night was Alex Rodriguez. Would he be able to deliver? Would he be a goat, much like he was in 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007? All of these questions didn’t seem to bother A-Rod, who was 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored.


Everybody talks about A-Rod choking in the playoffs. Maybe he learned the Heimlich maneuver, because he looked pretty solid tonight. He looked like the same player he was all year.



Alex Rodriguez drove in a pair of runs in Wednesday's win 

“It was very important,” Rodriguez told the press after the game. “It felt good to contribute and it was just another great team effort. It’s not about individual stats, it’s about teamwork. And it’s exciting.”


Rodriguez now owns a .255 average with four home runs and 11 RBIs in 25 postseason games. 


Three out of the four at-bats A-Rod had tonight, he hit the ball extremely hard. I was convinced when he flew out the right field in the first that if the wind wasn’t as bad as it was, the ball probably would’ve landed in the short porch. He hit it that hard.


Obviously Rodriguez was happy with tonight’s win and he has good reason to be. But I also think he understands that there is still work to be done and the Yankees still have 10 games to win in order to be called Champions.


And then there was Hideki Matsui, who just this week won Yankee Yapping Comeback Player of the Year.


In the bottom of the fifth, Matsui followed Jeter’s lead, blasting a two-run homer to center field that landed in Monument Park to help pad the Yankees’ lead.  


“To be able to hit it at a time like this and also knock in runs that led to the win, it doesn’t get any better than this,” Matsui told the press through his interpreter. “I wasn’t sure it was going to carry that far, so as I was running I was hoping it was just going to keep going.”


Matsui’s home run was his seventh in postseason play and he raised his postseason average to .303.


And the Yankees would be nowhere tonight without Sabathia. The ace went 6 2/3 innings, giving up only two runs on eight hits. He walked none and struck out eight.


“I felt good and it helped not having to pitch as much in September,” Sabathia told the press. “It was the first playoff game in the new stadium and I wanted to go out and do as well as I can.”



CC Sabathia struck out eight Twins in game one 

Sabathia also expressed his happiness with his pitch selection tonight, saying his cutter and changeup were both moving through the strike zone effectively, although he did note that his fastball command wasn’t as good as it could have been.


I think you also have to consider the Yanks’ bullpen in this game: 3 1/3 innings, no runs, one hit. It’s a wonderful thing.


My overall feeling on this game: good. I was impressed that the Yankees didn’t allow the hot Twins to keep on rolling; the Twins’ beat didn’t go on, it came to a

screeching halt at the hands of the Bronx Bombers. Momentum is on the Yankees’ side right now, right this minute.


Game two will be played Friday at 6:07 at Yankee Stadium. A.J. Burnett (13-9, 4.04 ERA) will square off against Nick Blackburn (11-11, 4.03 ERA)


As far as game two goes, I can only hope the “Mr. Hyde A.J. Burnett” shows up. If he does and the Yankees play as well as they did tonight, the Twins might just be out of this series.


Well, I’ll be back with some more playoff game analysis after game two. We can live it up now, but we still need two more wins in this series.


Until then, Go Yankees!!!