Saturday, September 19, 2009

Ichiro Gives Yanks A Taste Of Their Own Medicine

Well, as that windbag Sterling says about fifteen times per game, you just can't predict baseball. The Yanks go into Seattle, a formerly struggling A.J. Burnett outduels the best pitcher in the league whose last name doesn't rhyme with "Yankee", Mo gets two outs in the ninth, and then - game over. But not the game over you would expect. In two thirds of an inning Mo gave up as many runs as he had since June 12th. June 12th, when Luis Castillo dropped a walk-off can of corn.

King Felix was his usual dominant self, going the distance on just 104 pitches, scattering eight hits and a walk and whiffing three. The only Yankee to give him real trouble was Johnny Damon, who with his three for four night, which included a pair of doubles, ran his career line against the King to 8 for 13 (.615).

The Yankees were able to scratch two runs out, both on sacrifice flies. Derek Jeter led off the game with a single, moved to third on the first of Damon's doubles, then came in on an A-Rod flyball. In the sixth, Damon led off with a double, moved to third on a passed ball, and came in on sacrifice fly from Mark Teixeira.

They would threaten again in the seventh, putting runners on first and third with one out. Joe Girardi allowed Jose Molina to hit for himself, and he bounced into an inning ending double play. It was the last Yankee threat on the night.

A.J. Burnett matched King Felix, throwing the same 104 pitches but getting only seven innings out of them. He made his innings count though, turning in an impressive performance that should temporarily allay any fears about Burnett heading into October. In seven innings, he allowed seven hits, three walks, and struck out six. He allowed just one run, coming in the third inning when the M's strung together a double and a single. Interestingly, had Ichiro not been picked off first base prior to the double, the M's might have had a two run inning for themselves.

After Phil Hughes pitched a perfect eighth, Mariano Rivera took the ball for the ninth with a 2-1 lead. He struck out the first two batters he faced, running his career total to 1,001 and the Yankees' win expectancy to 95.4%. Everything was going according to plan; then it all changed. Pinch hitter Mike Sweeney doubled to right center on the first pitch he saw, bringing Ichiro to the plate. Three for four on the night, Ichiro twice had been picked off first, thwarting potential Seattle rallies. With one pitch from Mo, Ichiro redeemed himself, launching one to right and giving the M's a 3-2 walk-off win.

Losses like this are never fun, but they invariably happen from time to time. I'd much rather get it out of the way in a relatively meaningless September game than have it happen a little further down the line. One thing's for sure though, you can't predict baseball.


  1. Well said, Matt.

    Two pitches from being up 2-1 to losing 3-2 sucks but you really couldn't pick a better time for it to happen. Ichiro he was 2-10 against Mo before that and he guessed right. It happens.

  2. The yankees lost that game because of Joe Girardi. When Ichiro came up I naturally assumed a walk, yes I know, don't put a fast runner on as the winning run. Coaches are supposed to use their heads. It's very common to love a player who has a lot of heart. Joe has a lot of heart, but he's not a player he's a coach. Time to start managing with his head.

  3. I will also say, I have no doubt the Yankees will make the playoffs. Almost certainly win the division. They have the best team in baseball right now, no question. But tell me which game this year was won by Joe Giradi. Yankees fans must be scared about being out managed in the playoffs. They have a team that should have won 130 games. They have not lived up to expectation. But, I won't stop watching, I love sitting on my armchair, believing I could manage better.

  4. Both Jay and I have been critical of Girardi at several points this season. In general, managers don't win or lose games. The best a manager can do is make the high probablity decisions and put his players in positions to succeed. Other that that they should stay out of the way. Saying they should win 130 games is and absolutely ludicrous statement

    I do think Molina should have been pinch hit for. Posada's suspension might have made it a bit more difficult to pull the trigger on that one, but I still think it should have been done. Ichiro I'm on the fence about. In general you don't want to put the winning run on base, but considering there were two outs already and no one else in that line up is the threat Ichiro is, one could make an argument for walking him. But what are the chances Ichiro is going to go deep?

    As for Girardi, I do have concerns about him in the post-season. But, my concerns about him stem from his tendency to OVER-manage throughout the regular season - what he did Friday night was quite the opposite. As long as he doesn't get bunt or matchup happy in October he's not going to do any harm.