Saturday, September 26, 2009

Game 155: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

With the magic number for the Yankees to clinch the AL East and the one for the Red Sox to secure a playoff spot both sitting at 3, last night the Yanks took an important step towards preventing the Sox from sullying the visitor's clubhouse with celebratory champagne. With the Rangers' win last night, the Yankees can ensure that the Sox don't pop the bubbly at the New Stadium with two more victories and in the process, wrap up the division for themselves. The Yanks seem to be taking that apporach seriously, as they trot out the "A" line up again, including catching Jorge Posada in a (late) day game after a night game. [UPDATE 2:53 P.M.: According to LoHud, Posada has been scratched with a stiff neck. It's been bothering him since the Jesse Carlson incident nearly two weeks ago]

Unlike last night, the starter climbing the mound for the Red Sox is the one with something to prove. Daisuke Matsuzaka has managed to generate a lot of buzz during the two starts he's made since emerging from his exile in Fort Myers but objective observers still have some questions as to whether he's really "back and better than ever".

His first start was quite excellent but his last one against the Orioles was a lot closer to the old Dice-K: decent results but inefficient with his pitches. He threw 110 of them over 5 1/3 innings, allowing 8 hits and three runs. He walked away with the win, but the myth of the new and improved Matsuzaka took a bit of a hit down in Baltimore.

For whatever reason, Matsuzaka is being discussed as a "weapon" in the postseason, but CC Sabathia is considered more of a liability. CC is 8-0 in his last 10 starts dating back to the beginning of August and the Yankees have won every single one of those games. Over that time he has an ERA of 2.24 and struck out 77 while giving up just 55 hits and walking only 17. You'd think that that people might be making a bigger deal out of this. After all, he just signed a monster contract this offseason and plays for the best team in baseball.

However, just like Zack Greinke's terrible team makes it harder for his great season to be recognized, the fact the the Yankees have already pulled away from the pack means that Sabathia's great stretch gets largely swept under the rug because it doesn't appear to factor into the playoff race either. The problem with this logic is that if CC was pitching poorly, his team would be a whole lot closer to the pack.

Part of the equation is that Sabathia is as pure of a late-season pitcher as there is in the game. His career ERA in September and October regular season games is 2.67 and his next closest month is August at 3.14. His ERA in all other months is 4.01. Maybe writers feel like they've heard the story before. But more likely, it seems that they want to talk about his lack of success in the 5 starts he's made in the postseason. It seems he's a choker until proven clutch; guilty until proven innocent.

Look in my eyes dog, right in my pupils
If I'm your rival, why would I have to do you?
Press try to throw dirt on my name, disturbin' my game,
Seemed happy when they heard he was arraigned.

1 comment:

  1. Dice-K was a lucky bastard in that game and the Yankees' inability to hit with RISP totally KILLED ME, but... thank you, CC, Hughes, Mo, Cano, and Johnny. Thank you.