Sunday, October 18, 2009

Lucky 13: Postseason Pie Part Deux

When Chone Figgins singled home the go-ahead run in the top of the 11th inning, I was pretty sure the Yankees would be heading to Anaheim tied 1-1. You'd figure the walk-off magic had to wear off at some point. The invincibility could only last so long, right? It had been a long night with little scoring and a cold, steady rain was beginning to fall.

When A-Rod led off the bottom of the 11th and promptly found himself in a 0-2 count against Brian Fuentes, the outlook appeared even more grim. Freddy Guzman and Brett Gardner were the next two Yankees on deck and only one could have been pinch hit for - by Jerry Hairston Jr. or Francisco Cervelli if the Yanks were really desperate.

But Fuentes left a fastball in the middle of the plate and A-Rod served it over the right field wall, just out of the reach of a jumping Bobby Abreu. The game was tied again and hope was restored.

It took two more innings, three more Yankee pitchers and a terrible decision by Macier Izturis before Jerry Hairston crossed the plate and won the game for the Yanks, but the Yanks would not be denied.

Too much went on during this 13 inning marathon to do a blow by blow recap, so let's head for the bullet points:
  • A.J. Burnett was solid, with the exception of the 5th inning. He loaded the bases and via a single, walk and HBP and uncorked a wild pitch, but buckled down and didn't give up the lead. All told, he went 6 1/3, gave up 3 hits, struck out 4, walked 2 and allowed 2 runs.

  • Joe Saunders did give up a home run, but largely stifled the Yanks otherwise, holding them to 2 runs of 7 IP and striking out 5 while walking just 1.

  • The Yankees are now 17-0 this season when tied after 7 innings (including Game 2 of the ALDS). And that's not just at home. The team has continued to defy the odds over and over again, and the snowballing confidence has become a real asset. You could hear it in the post game comments. They've had an uncanny knack for coming away with the win under any circumstances or conditions or against any closer. Call it what you will - luck, magic, mojo, juju, never-say-die attitude, destiny, aura, positivity, good karma, clutchiferousness, God; the stuff that the best teams always have working for them (at least in retrospect) - it's certainly been on their side so far.

  • Both teams fared miserably with runners in scoring position, combining to leave 30 men on base. The Yankees were 0-8 w/RISP, scoring their runs on two solo homers and an error while the Angels were 3-15 and with only 2 RBI. (The other run came on the WP by Burnett.

  • Robinson Cano drove in a run with a triple in the second inning, but made some really big mistake which nearly sank the Yankees' chances from there on out. He rapped into a double play, erasing a lead off single in the 7th inning and made two errors on routine balls but was thankfully bailed out by his pitchers each time. The Yanks had no errors in the previous 4 games this postseason but had 3 tonight.

  • Similarly, Derek Jeter homered in the third inning, but hit into a twin killing of his own and muffed a potential double play ball in the field.

  • Joe Girardi asked Mariano Rivera for 2 1/3 innings, the most in an appearance since Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS. Mo was as brilliant as ever, needing only 25 pitches to sit down 7 batters.

  • Alfredo Aceves was the one who gave up the single to Chone Figgins in the 11th, the only one of the 7 relievers the Angels got to.

  • A-Rod's homer was only the 3rd game-tying extra inning HR in postseason history. That's nearly unbelievable at first blush, but if you consider that only the home team can tie the game in extras, it's merely incredible.

  • After Girardi used three pitchers in the 12th inning of a still-tied game, the only man remaining in the bullpen was Chad Gaudin. With the threat of a postponement still looming, it could have been costly to use four of his pitchers for less than one inning (Coke, Joba, Hughes and Marte). Girardi kept firing bullets and luckily, the offense bailed him out before the chamber was empty. And since Nick Siwsher was lifted for a pinch runner in the 7th, it would have been really empty.

  • The decision by Macier Izturis to go to second base on the last play of the game was real, real bad. You've gotta take the sure out there. The Angels has almost no chance of turning two and getting the force at second would have done them essentially no good with the winning run already on third.

  • Last night's game was only the 5th postseason game ever to end on an error.

  • And lastly, meteorologists get a lot of flak for getting things wrong all the time, and usually I refrain from piling on, but this weekend is an exception. FAIL. We were told over and over again that rain would wreak havoc over one or both of these games but neither was so much as delayed. I understand it's not an exact science, there's gotta be some accountability.
The Yanks now lead the series 2-0 and will head for better weather out in Anaheim. The swing between 1-1 and 2-0 is huge because if the Yanks has lost this game, they would have gave up homefield advantage and shortened the series to 5 games.

It's late and that's all I've got for now. Chances are we will have some more thoughts about this game tomorrow today, so check back before football fires up.

Great win. Goodnight.

1 comment:

  1. What an ugly, ugly game. Brilliant pitching (AJ was fantastic, but a lot of immediate fan reaction was negative on him for his one inning of wildness), but lackluster defense and offense by both teams. Joe Buck kept calling it a gem of a game, but to me it was almost painful!

    Obviuosly, I'm thrilled with the outcome and almost blacked out after A-Rod's shot. By the time the game hit extras, it turned into one of those affairs that would have been 'devestating to lose'.

    Anyway, a lot of heroes and a lot of goats (most of whom were bailed out) in that game. I would have loved to have seen more from Joba and Hughes, but Girardi was seemingly playing for a win in 9 rather than shoring up for extras (luckily it worked out in the end). Can't wait until tomorrow!