More Late Dramatics As Yanks Go Up 2-0

Last night was a tough one, no question about it.  With both teams having squandered numerous chances and given the opponent several more from miscues, you just knew last night might have a strange ending to it.  That it did, and thankfully in the Yanks’ favor as they downed the Angels 4-3 in 13 tense, often laborious innings.  Pitching, especially from the bullpen, carried the day.  Not to be outdone, A-Rod cranked a game-tying homer to right in the bottom of the eleventh.  Amazing.

A.J. had a very good start except for a rough fifth.  He had a crackling fastball, but his curve came and went, especially the latter as the weather got a little colder.  He got early run support from Cano, whose triple to right center scored Swish, who worked a two-out walk, for the first run of the game in the bottom of the second.  The Yanks added on the next time up when Jeter crushed a 2-0 fastball to right, 2-0 Yanks.

A.J. was cruising, but gave a sign of some trouble to come in the fourth when, with one out, he hit Morales with a curve down and in.  This occurred again in the fifth much the same way, careening into Figgins and indicating intermittent command of the curve.  It exacerbated his trouble that began when he left a fastball chest high to Izturis, who smacked it to right for a lead-off ground-rule double.  Aybar’s one-out single cut the lead to 2-1.  A.J. then hit Figgins.  Abreu flew out to deep left, just foul and just before the wall for the second out, but A.J. walked Hunter to load the bases, and although ahead 1-2 to Vlad, threw away another curve for a wild pitch that tied the game.  It wasn’t difficult to see that Burnett lacked confidence in his curve at that point, limiting his pitch selection.  Thankfully his fastball and change were good enough to carry him through much of his stint.  The Yanks had an excellent chance to take the lead back in the bottom of the fifth when Melky and Molina hit back-to-back singles to start it, but Jeter grounded into a 1-6-3 DP, and JD whiffed.

After A.J. settled back in with a 1-2-3, the Yanks got the lead-off runner aboard on Figgins’s throwing error, but Matsui’s 3-6-1 ended that.  Things got tense in the seventh when, after Napoli’s F9, Aybar reached on a bad error by Cano, ending Burnett’s start.  It was a good one–6 1/3, 3 hits, 2 walks, 2 runs earned, and 4 K’s on 114 pitches/75 strikes.  He really had one bad inning, and thankfully didn’t let things unravel.  After the tough fifth, I took the tie game and ran with it, figuring New York would score more down the stretch.  Very good work by Burnett last night.  Yet Coke’s walk to Figgins threatened to spoil it.  Thankfully, he atoned by fanning Abreu on a nasty 2-2 slider; gutsy pitch.  He exited for Joba to face the righty Hunter, but after being down 0-2, he came back to 3-2 and hit a slow roller to short for an infield single.  But Joba fanned Vlad on a nasty 0-2 slider, punctuated by a Joba scream and fist pump; big-time pitching by Coke and Joba.  It didn’t end there.

It couldn’t have, for after Swish’s lead-off single, Cano grounded into a 4-6-3 DP, the third straight inning in which the Yanks grounded into a DP.  Hughes entered and the tension was ratcheted up again.  After getting Morales on an F8, Rivera singled and Jeter bobbled a sure DP ball from Izturis.  Matthews Jr. pinch hit for Napoli but fanned on a nasty 0-2 hook; money pitch from Hughes.  Mariano entered to face Aybar and retired him on a 4-3 on one pitch–key efficiency for the next few innings.  After the Yanks went down 1-2-3 in the eighth, Mariano worked a 1-2-3 ninth, getting  Abreu and Hunter looking and throwing but 12 pitches, 13 through 1 1/3.  The Yanks assembled a two-out rally that threatened to end it when Matsui roped a single, Guzman entered to pinch run which was key, for Brett the Jet singled on a hit-and-run, sending Guzman to third.  But Cano grounded out to end that, sending the game to extras.

Mariano pitched the tenth and, despite Vlad’s lead-off bloop single to right center, got through the next three batters with no trouble, ending 2 1/3 clutch innings with but a hit and on just 25 pitches.  Although he pitched two straight nights in the cold, he wasn’t overworked, and had the long rest between series.  With today off and his not being too taxed, he should be fine.  Controversy arose in the bottom of the tenth when Melky singled and, on Jorge’s grounder, should have been out on yet another DP, but second base umpire Jerry Layne called Melky safe since Aybar never touched the bag, denying him the neighborhood call.  I didn’t have a problem with it, for he didn’t touch the bag and, as Faux pointed out after analyzing the other replays, he did touch the bag on the other DPs.  Touch the bag, no worries.  Jeter got intentionally walked so the lefty Oliver could face JD, who popped out and Teixeira grounded into a force; to the 11th.

Aceves entered, promptly walked Matthews Jr., Aybar bunted him to second, and Figgins looped a single to right to score Matthews, 3-2 Angels; not good.  But after intentionally walking Abreu, Aceves got Hunter to ground into a 5-4-3 DP, minimizing the damage.

At this point, I had to leave to get my daughter from a school dance, trying in vain to listen to the game on ESPN 1000.  Normally the reception is at least decent; not last night–all static.  I stuck with it, trying to get some clue about what was transpiring as I drove into town.  As I headed through my campus, I heard the call through the static that A-Rod launched an 0-2 to right, and what had been static was replaced by the faint roar of cheers–and my yelling throaty cheers in the car.  Tremendous clutch hitting from A-Rod, tying the game yet again with late home run dramatics. They could not follow it up, but just tying the game was massive.

After Vlad popped out to short, Marte entered to turn around Morales and got him on a 5-3.  Robertson came on and allowed a double to Mathis, then intentionally walked Izturis before fanning Matthews on a great 1-2 curve; more money pitching from the bullpen.  The Yanks applied pressure in the bottom half when Jorge blooped a one-out single to right, Jeter grounded into a force, JD singled him to third then took second on defensive indifference, Teixeira walked, but A-Rod flew out to center, ending that.

The 13th brought even more tension when Cano booted an easy Aybar grounder, Figgins bunted him to second, Abreu got the intentional pass, Hunter grounded to short moving the runners to second and third, and Vlad grounded off Robertson to Cano to first, keeping the game tied.  Hairston pinch hit for Guzman and singled to left, Gardner bunted him to second, Cano got intentionally walked, and Melky grounded to second, a tough play that would not have been two.  Yet Izturis threw it into left field, letting Hairston score and finally ending a great if ugly game, 4-3.

Now the Yanks are up two and looking to take Game 3 in Anaheim behind Pettite, who has had a full week off.  The Angels must be kicking themselves a bit, squandering chances and throwing away the ball to lose the game.  Yet the Yanks should also look at this one with a sigh of relief, for they did not get a hit with RISP in eight chances, stranding 12 despite 13 hits.  It was not a well played game on either end, but money pitching won it for the Yanks.  Girardi was aggressive with the bullpen, but did a good job of managing the work with Gaudin in reserve, not overworking everyone.  With the day off today, I see no reason why the pen should not be fully available.

Hats off to A-Rod for his tremendous play in the clutch.  He has been a vital difference, as The Sage and I discussed at length before the playoffs and this series.  One-run ball from the bullpen through 6 2/3 IP was outstanding.

Although he hasn’t hit a lot thus far, kudos to Teixeira for playing great defense, including making a couple great scoops and stretches last night to ensure outs.  He is a flat-out great first baseman.

Put a nail in the coffin of the Angels by taking Game 3, guys.  No better guy to have on the mound than Lefty.  Enjoy it, Yankees fans.  This has been great.

Published in: on October 18, 2009 at 9:54 am  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. WOW im still so out of it I got about 2 hours sleep.

    So many bad plays and errors but I’ll take what you can get wins a win.

    Not fully in agreement with the the bull pen Girardi did overmange IMO like I he has done all post season but we won all that matters.

  2. Absolutely incredible! I LOVE THIS TEAM! FYI, I gave you and your amazing recaps a shout-out on my blog, Jason. LOL.

  3. I hear you, Nick. The game was ugly but the result was beautiful. I see what you’re saying about the bullpen, since Girardi went through everyone except Gaudin. On the other hand, it worked, carrying the team through the final 6 2/3–a lot of work for them and four extra innings–by doing so. At the same time, he surely did it with the off day in mind and, in the process, pared down the amount of work each pitcher had to do. With the Yanks’ lineup, I understand Girardi’s going for the win as he did, using the good relievers and banking on a run, which eventually came. Plus, isn’t that what we got on Torre about in 2007–NOT using the best guys to keep games tight? I think it is important for that standard to apply here as well. Are there limitations and concerns as a result of parsing the load as such? Yes. Then again, it worked and, as Girardi said, he knew he had Gaudin for 75 pitches. That’s 4-5 innings, which would have meant 17-18, at least. At that point, I cannot imagine any team having any options left except rotation guys. Girardi did fine, to me.

    I too think this team is displaying special qualities, Lisa. Thanks for the too-kind words. This was one that demanded a full recounting of events.

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