Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Escape From L.A.

Don LaFontaine (R.I.P.): After dropping the first game against Joe Saunders and the Los Angeles Angels of Whereverthefuck, the New York Yankees had their work cut out for them if they wanted to escape the City of Angels with a series win. It took every last ounce of their strength they could muster, and a little bit of good fortune, too...

Nine inning getaway games with a total of 5 runs scored don't usually last 3 hours and 37 mins. Then again, the two pitchers on the mound in L.A. today both tend to record strikeouts by the bucketful and toss more than their fair share of pitches. There was also a lot of pride at stake in this one, which also contributed to the Yanks vs. Red Sos type of pace. Joe Girardi did his part to slow the pace down by using 6 pitchers as well.

Both Scott Kazmir and A.J. Burnett brought the best stuff in the early going. Kazmir worked his way through three scoreless innings, dancing around a walk to Jerry Hairston, Jr. (who is scheduled for an MRI) in the first and erasing a single by Brett Gardner by getting Derek Jeter to ground into a double play in the third.

The Yanks finally got to Kazmir in the 4th, starting with a one out double by Mark Teixeira. Hideki Matsui worked a walk, bringing Shelley Duncan to the plate. The Forearm Basher turned out a fastball, lining it right just over Chone Figgins' head. It hit his glove, but glanced off into right field, trickling towards Juan Rivera. Since Teixeira thought the ball was going to be caught by Figgins, he had taken a step back towards second and didn't get a great jump on his way home. Rivera's throw was on the money and Teix slid feet first and Mike Napoli applied the tag. A better jump or a head first slide might have been enough to score, but the Yanks blew a good chance to pick up a run.

They still had runners on 2nd and 3rd for Robinson Cano, however. Robby's struggles with RISP have been well documented, but he laced a single to right, scoring both Matsui and Duncan to put the Yanks ahead 2-0. Melky Cabrera followed that with a double to the gap in left center driving in Cano for the 3rd run of the frame, all scoring with 2 outs. That hit snapped a 1-20 slide for Melky, dating back to their last game against the Angels 9 days ago. In the process, the Bombers drove Kazmir's pitch count up to 69. By the end of the fifth inning it was already at 92.

Burnett's dominance lasted a bit longer. Although he gave up at least one baserunner in each of the first four innings (3 hits and 2 walks), Burnett also struck out 8 during that span, including striking out the side in the 2nd and 4th.

In the fifth, the Angels got one across against Burnett. Napoli and Figgins began the frame with a single and a double, putting runners on second and third with no one out. Burnett struck out Eric Aybar for the second time in the game, temporarily stalling the assault. Bobby Abreu ripped a grounder but Cano snagged it and limited the damage to one run before Burnett for Torii Hunter to fly out to end the inning.

Burnett tallied his 10th and 11th strikeouts in the 6th but again allowed a single and a double, this time bringing the game to 3-2. After A.J. walked Mike Napoli, and with Chone Figgins who had recorded a hit in each of his three previous at bats on deck, Joe Girardi pulled him in favor of Damaso Marte. Burnett was visibly perturbed but Marte got Figgins to fly out to right, ending the inning and preserving Burnett's shot at picking up the win.

Marte came back out for the 7th, and started by giving up a single to Eric Aybar. He then got Bobby Abreu to ground into a 4-6-3 double play. With no one one base, Girardi called on Jonathan Albaladejo to face Torii Hunter. His mixing and matching finally backfired, as Hunter ripped a double to right. Girardi again tinkered by brining Phil Coke in to face Kendry Morales. Coke uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Hunter to move up to third but ultimately struck out Morales to escape trouble.

The parade of pitchers continued into the 8th inning, but the next to take the hill was a bit of a surprise. Ian Kennedy made his first appearance of the year after recovering from an aneurysm in his shoulder and pitching briefly in the playoffs for Scranton. IPK didn't look too hot. Ramiro Pena made a spectacular diving grab which saved an extra base hit while Kennedy also hit and walked a batter. But, he recovered with a strikeout and a fly out, then turned the ball over to Mariano Rivera.

Mo give up a flare to Abreu to begin the bottom of the 9th, which found some green area in short, left and center. But Mo being Mo, he struck out Hunter and Morales before getting Juan Rivera to line out to center. Case closed. Yanks won 3-2 and took the first series in Anaheim since the one that ended on May 20th, 2004. The magic number is down to 5 for now, as the Sox vs. Royals game will begin shortly.

The Yanks won two close games and got three pretty solid pitching performances out of their starters. As we mentioned coming into the series, there was going to be the temptation to make too much out of these three games one way or another. The last two games were good wins against a good team, on the road, in a relatively big spot. Taking two out of three against the A's while the Sox dropped two to the Royals was the best case scenario in the hopes for HFA. The Yanks get another day off tomorrow and can enjoy it after heading into it on a high note.


  1. three cheers for the bottom of the 8th diving stop by Pena. that was key

  2. nice breakdown.
    have to feel good about taking a series against the angels, but lingering questions about the back of the rotation make me skeptical about what's gonna happen in the playoffs.

  3. I am with you Byron! The pitching staff still doesn't have that "championship feel"... like I said back at the beginning of this season, they can hit as many homeruns as they want but you need to have your pitching staff in order. We will see how it goes for Joba the Doba tomorrow night. He needs to start playing with that champoinship feel if you ask me.

  4. And come on Jay Jay, why no mention of AJ showing up Girardi when he decided to pull the plug? All you said was "visibly perturbed"... thats inaccurate bullshit writing not fit for a 7th grader. AJ turned his back on Girardi, wouldn't give him the ball, then ran into the dugout with a look of rage and hatred in his eyes and made very physical motions showing that he hates Girardi for what he did! Burnett thinks he is bigger than the game and that type of disrespect is not giving me the Championship FEEL. Torre woulda benched him.

  5. Everyone has pitching questions heading into the playoffs. The Yankees staff this year as as strong as its been since 2003; I'll take my chances with that.

    Speaking of 7th grade bullshit writing, what exactly is the "championship feel"? And how would Joe Torre have benched a player who was already removed from the game?

  6. Yeah and in 2003 they didn't win the World Series either!

    1) The Championship Feel is the feeling you get when a team is going to win the Championship. Duh. Like the 04 Red Sox and the 07 Red Sox. I'm sure you understand.

    2) Torre woulda made sure that whiny bitch stayed his ass on the damn bench instead of running around throwing his arms around in rage. Torre also would have made him skip his next start. Joe Retardi obviously doesn't have the sack to do that. I wonder what its like to root for a team of such unlikable players. Must be rough.