BEAUTIFUL

Last night’s game was in so many ways the antithesis of Game 3, with the Yanks getting plenty of sustained offense to support a brilliant start by The Big Guy to decimate the Angels 10-1.  A-Rod was again tremendous, delivering three hits including a big two-run homer in the fifth to extend the lead to 5-0.  JD added big insurance with a two-run shot in the eighth with two outs, and Melky the Once-Again Clutch silenced his critics (myself included) with a three-hit, four-RBI performance that, by rolling over the lineup, rolled over the Angels.  Thanks to everyone who stopped by last night’s HDLR, which was a rousing good time especially when the offense got rolling, providing lots of good mirth and positive vibes.  It really was a blast, and the 1,382 comments set an HDLR record by far.

But it all started with one Carsten Charles Sabathia who, pitching on short rest, delivered an incredible, efficient performance–8 innings, 5 hits, one run earned, 2 walks, and 5 K’s on a mere 101 pitches/69 strikes.  Under the circumstances, it was even more impressive than his other two post-season gems thus far, for the Yanks had just lost their first playoff game of 2009, the Angels are very tough at home, the Yanks’ offense had been squandering chances, and they faced a pitcher on Kazmir who historically has had success against the Yanks.  For C.C. to deliver that kind of lock-down start on the road, in a pressure, must-have game, for his third playoff win of 2009 was extremely impressive.  The guy is a STUD, ladies and gentlemen.  Flat-out horse.

And he had it from the get-go, buzzing through the Angels in the first three innings on just 29 pitches.  It was vital, for the Yanks again started the game by blowing chances.  Despite good patience against Kazmir, the Yanks had nothing to show for it through three except having elevated his pitch count to 53, and given the feeling (at least in me) that they would eventually break through.  They finally did in the top of the fourth.  A-Rod led off with a single, Jorge ripped a double to left, Matsui (0-5 and scuffling) fanned, but Cano’s chopper to second scored A-Rod, who beat a poor and rushed throw from Kendrick, 1-0 Yanks.  Swish worked a good walk to load the bases, and Melky the Once-Again Clutch delivered a two-run single, 3-0 Yanks. On the first of many blown calls, Kazmir picked Swish off second but Dale Scott ruled him safe.  Jeter walked to re-load the bases against a haggard Kazmir, and JD delivered what should have been the fourth run on a sac fly to center to plate Swish.  But an appeal to third resulted in the first of three woeful, blown calls, with a half-asleep McClelland calling out Swish despite replays showing not only that Swish did not leave early, but also that McClelland was watching the catch in center and not Swish leaving third.  Horrible umpiring yet again, and it didn’t stop there. That was also the second blown call against Swish for leaving the bag too early, for he was wrongly nabbed in the division clincher against Boston.

After C.C. mowed down the Angels on nine pitches in the fourth, the Yanks struck again, as did McClelland.  Teixeira got going and laced a single, then A-Rod belted an 0-1 fastball down and in from Bulger to left, 5-0 Yanks.  No less impressive than Mr. Sabathia’s playoff pitching has been A-Rod’s money hitting, creaming pitches and looking as though he is thoroughly prepared for whatever comes his way.  That he played as well as he did last night is all the more remarkable considering reports that Jeter and A-Rod have been under the weather.  Neither looked it last night.  Posada walked then amazingly stole second as Matsui fanned (poor guy, but he is really off), and Cano doubled to center on what should have scored Jorge.  Yet Hunter’s deke of putting his glove up to catch a ball well over his head, combined with the hard carom off the wall that Hunter played perfectly, held the slow and fooled Jorge at third; poorly done, Jorge, and it would prove significant.  Swish’s grounder to third saw more base-running gaffes, with Jorge caught in a rundown and Cano heading to third.  Yet Napoli, who chased Jorge all the way back to third, could not catch Jorge but, because Jorge overran the bag and Cano for some mysterious reason had yet to touch third, tagged them both for what should have been an inning-ending double play.  Yet McClelland, possibly blocked by Jorge, only called Jorge out; atrocious umpiring to match genuinely atrocious base running. It didn’t cost the Angels, however, since Melky grounded into a force.

The Angels rallied in the bottom of the fifth, getting me slightly worried.  After Kendrick grounded out to first, Morales homered on one of C.C.’s few mistakes, a chest-high fastball, 5-1 Yanks.  Napoli singled and that obnoxious rodent Aybar blooped a single to shallow center.  Yet unlike previous fifth innings in Anaheim in which the Yanks collapsed in the July series, they held the line last night, with C.C. almost inducing a DP but for Figgins’s speed, and getting Abreu to fly out to center; crisis averted.

The Angels threatened again in the bottom of the sixth when Hunter walked in an eight-pitch at-bat and Vlad singled to right.  But The Big Guy got River to ground into a 6-6-3 DP, and ended the inning by getting help from Teixeira on a liner to the sure-handed Teixeira.  Frank the Sage astutely pointed out that although the liner was right at Teixeira, it was no easy play for it was tailing away from him late, yet he was all over it.  The guy is incredibly great at first, day in and day out.

I didn’t get the impression that Sabathia was tiring, but wasn’t sure if his effectiveness was slightly waning after the fifth and sixth.  I was made a little uncomfortable by the fact that the Yanks’ offense clammed up for a couple innings.  So the seventh was particularly reassuring, as C.C. mowed down the Angels on just 12 pitches, as I had fortuitously said to The Sage in a phone chinwag–a heavy multi-media night with the HDLR going full boar as well.  I had hoped for 12 from C.C. that inning and, like everything else he has done thus far, he delivered, coming back from 3-0 to mow down Morales with heat, getting Napoli on that hard screwball-like pitch away, and getting that obnoxious Aybar on a 3U.  That put C.C. at just 92 pitches through seven, making his working the eighth possible.

The Yanks supported the Big Guy in the eighth with big insurance as Swish got hit by a pitch, but Brett the Jet pinch running was again thrown out trying to steal second.  Melky worked a walk, Jeter’s 6-3 moved him to second, and JD got two straight curves, the first low he missed and the second up he crushed to right, 7-1 Yanks.  Carsten Charles finished his magnificent start by getting Figgins on a 6-3, fanning Abreu with a 96-mph fastball, and setting down Hunter on a 4-3.  Tremendous job by The Big Guy; just tremendous.

The Yanks’ offense wasn’t too shabby, either, tacking on three more runs in the ninth to remove all doubt.  A-Rod smoked a double, and scored on Jorge’s F9 when Abreu threw the ball away at third, 8-1 Yanks.  What a great ball player A-Rod is, making that run and showing the importance of hustle.  Here it was in a 7-1 game in the eighth inning, and A-Rod ran hard as though they were losing, forcing a bad throw for a run.  Tremendous.  Matsui was caught looking for his third K, Cano walked, Gardner singled, and Melky pasted a two-run double to right, 10-1.  Gaudin had not pitched in forever and a day but looked great, mopping up the ninth with a crisp 1-2-3.

Great offensive productivity against a tough Angels team, working 13 hits and 7 walks, and going a decent but vastly improved 4-17 with RISP, stranding 9.  Jeter was 2-5. JD had the two-run shot. Good to see Teixeira contribute with the bat in addition to his stellar glove. A-Rod is simply The Man, missing the cycle by a triple and continuing to mash.  Jorge’s bat will unfortunately sit for Molina, for he was 1-3 with 2 walks.  Cano was 1-4 with 2 runs, an RBI, and a walk.  Swish was 0-2 with a walk.  Brett the Jet had a single and scored.  Melky was massive, going 3-4 with 4 RBI and walk, really coming around.

C.C. was tremendous, and it was great to see him greeting all his teammates before they entered the clubhouse with hugs as he wore a huge ice bag wrapped over his broad left shoulder.  I cannot say enough about the additions of him and Teixeira, and how much they have done for the Yanks’ vastly improved play and, relatedly, team chemistry.  Now it’s time for A.J., himself a crucial off-season acquisition, to seal the deal and send the Yanks to their first World Series since 2003 with a strong start tomorrow night.  If he can even approach what C.C. has done, the Yanks will be in good shape.  That is no mean feat, for here are C.C.’s playoff numbers thus far:  22 2/3 IP, 17 hits, 4 runs 3 earned, 3 walks, and 20 K’s.  That’s an ERA of 1.19 with a record of 3-0 in 3 starts.  STUD.

Now they need to finish off the tough Angels, never an easy task.  But it’s hard not to feel optimistic about the Yanks’ chances right now.

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Published in: on October 21, 2009 at 12:53 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. “Beautiful” is exactly the right word for that game. I was so fortunate to have been there to see it in person. But it wasn’t until just a few minutes ago when I watched the game on tape that I saw how horrible the umpiring was. I mean, seriously bad. And what was up with Posada and his base running blunders? Plus he thought there were three outs when there were only two? Back to the positives, what a thrill to see CC deliver – again. So many pleasures in that one. Now let’s go AJ and finish the job!

  2. I can’t add anything to your post, Jason. You said everything so well. Without CC Sabathia, we’re not talking about clinching jack squat tomorrow night. He did what we needed him to do and he did it without fanfare or complaining or anything.

    Give the man a cheeseburger. Or twenty. ;-D


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