A.J. Handcuffs Phillies, 3-1; Series Even

I missed almost the entire game while at a meeting but, on the way out, saw I had received texts from my better half indicating some Yankee success at the plate–a good sign.  Rather than check the Yankees’ web site via the phone, I called home, and the first thing I heard from my wife was that the Yanks were completing an inning-ending DP in the eighth to escape trouble; another good sign.  I got home for the top of the ninth, and Mariano looked good, getting Howard looking on a pitch slightly outside, allowing a two-out double to Ibanez (whom I’ve always liked) before whiffing Stairs on a nasty cutter down and in for a two-inning save to even the series.

Hats off to A.J. for providing such a strong start and out-pitching the unflappable Pedro.  He was outstanding, going seven strong and allowing just four hits, two walks, a run earned, and fanning nine on 108 pitches/68 strikes.  His curve was nasty and sharp, and Burnett used it to both get ahead and set down batters.  He was particularly tough on Howard, K’ing him three times. He also mixed in a crackling fastball, locating it well on both sides of the plate.

Brilliant start, especially since Pedro was on early.  He had only allowed one hit before Teixeira cranked a deep homer into the visitors’ bullpen in right center in the bottom of the fourth to tie the game at one.  Matsui whacked a two-out homer on a 1-2 curve low and in–not a bad pitch, really–giving the Yanks their first World Series lead, 2-1 in the sixth.  After A.J, buzzed through the Phillies in the top of the seventh, getting Ibanez and Stairs looking on curves painting the black outside, the Yanks tacked on a big insurance run in the bottom half when Hairston looped a single to right, Brett the Jet pinch ran and Melky singled him to third on a hit-and-run.  Jorge pinch hit for Molina and singled in Gardner on a 1-2 fastball tailing back over the plate, 3-1 Yanks.  But the Yanks got a bad break when JD lined to first, called out even though Howard trapped it, and doubling off Jorge.

Mariano entered and let Rollins get away, walking him in an 11-pitch at-bat with one out.  Ruiz singled, but Mariano got out of it against Utley, inducing a 4-6-3 DP that replays showed Utley barely beat out, but it was bang-bang.  Regardless, the Yanks got the break at first back.  He made the ninth look considerably easier than the eighth.

Matsui’s 2-3 game with his solo homer was big, as was Teixeira’s solo shot.  The Yanks need these very players to deliver, for they make it  considerably more difficult for Philadelphia to avoid A-Rod as a result.  Of course, A-Rod needs to warm back up, going 0-8 with 6 K’s thus far.  He just needs to sit off-speed more often late, and not allow fastballs to speed by him early in the count.  Jeter had a double (with 3 K’s), Jorge’s RBI single was huge, and Melky, Cano, and Hairston added singles.

But this was A.J.’s game, and he was an ace last night.  I feel infinitely better about the Yanks’ chances after last night’s win.  I really don’t see Philadelphia winning all three at home, honestly.  Taking Game 3 is now imperative, with Lefty facing Cole Hamels.  I like A-Rod’s chances of warming up against Hamels.

Big win last night; very big.

Published in: on October 30, 2009 at 11:36 am  Comments (8)  

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8 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Problem is, we now lose Matsui and the DH going to the NL park. I would love to see CC get his weight into one. CC is a .261 hitter with 3 HR. (and no, no Yankees pitcher has ever hit a postseason HR).

  2. I am aware of the Yanks losing Matsui, Mike, but thanks. On A-Rod, it’s a gut feeling. I’m sticking with the guy who’s gotten the Yanks there.

  3. Charlie Manuel announced his starters for the next three games and it’s Hamels, Blanton and Lee. Which means CC would be squaring off against Joe Blanton in Game 4. On paper, our chances to win the next two games look real good. Lee would pitch Game 5 vs. either AJ or Chad Gaudin. He’s never started a game on 3 days rest before and he threw 122 pitches Wednesday night, so apparently Manuel can’t throw him Sunday night.

    I hope that our offense wakes up because this is getting more and more maddening as it goes on.

  4. Yeah, if Teixeira and Matsui get hot it’s going to make up for Arod.

  5. I write about the weather. There could be a chance we won’t have to worry about CC and/or AJ on 3 days rest. Showers/Rain is expected in Philadelphia tomorrow night from 4 pm until 2 am. Rainout?

  6. Taking various comments together regarding pitching and rain, while I wouldn’t welcome rain, it sure would change the short-rest dynamic for The Big Guy and/or A.J., as Mike rightly suggests. I think the Yanks have to strongly consider using at least C.C. in Game 4, rain or not. Gaudin was good in his one inning in Game 4 of the ALCS, but hardly pitched before that, and not afterward. I have considerable concerns about rust with him. Should Game 3 get postponed, that would solidify for me coming back with C.C. and A.J. We’ll see, but I’ve been for short rest for the big guns, as Beth I believe has as well.

    All this sure does amplify the problem of starting the World Series so late–the WBC, the calendar, and more. One aspect not discussed much is the power of networks to structure the Series schedule, ensconcing it and fitting it around other programming, instead of giving the Series the level of priority it used to have.

    Regardless, I like the Yanks’ chances. The Phillies are a tough team, no question. But the Yanks can go toe-to-toe with them in all facets, and best them in a few.

  7. Tonight is going to be epic, I can feel it. Andy’s gonna stick it to these guys. Cole Hamels is gonna choke. I can’t help but be thinking this. I can’t wait!

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