- Angels 5-Yankees 4:
This game might end up being a flash-point of what-might-have-been for many, many people.
Let's take a look.
The worst thing in the whole controversy of why Girardi decided to haphazardly yank Dave Robertson in favor of Alfredo Aceves in the bottom of the 11th inning was the nonsensical and bottom-line horseshit explanation he provided in the post-game news conference. Girardi said the following:
"We like the matchup with Ace [Aceves] better, with the two guys [Kendrick and Mathis](...)"
There was no matchup history between the participants. Howie Kendrick was 1 for 2 vs Robertson and had never batted against Aceves; Jeff Mathis had never faced Robertson and was 0 for 2 vs Aceves. It was a baseless decision that Girardi pulled out of his ass and it exploded all over everyone and let the Angels back into the series.
As ridiculous as the initial decision was----and there was no reason for it----Girardi's non-explanation would have sent me into an even bigger frenzy than the move itself if I was a Yankee fan. A manager can get away with anything as long as he has a viable reason for it and isn't regurgitating pompous and condescending crap surreptitiously referencing unsaid ambiguities like "longtime baseball experience" and "the coaches and I felt blah, blah, blah". But that's exactly what Girardi did in combining a buffoonish move with a non-explanation.
Robertson has closer stuff. Hitters have trouble squaring him up; he struck out an absurd 63 in 43 innings this season and the Angels looked relieved and bewildered that Girardi pulled him after...after nothing. Robertson had retired both Juan Rivera and Kendry Morales easily when Girardi ran to his book, looked inside and trudged out of the dugout toting his hook.
In comparison to Robertson in terms of stuff and results, Aceves is a contact pitcher and more of a long reliever/spot starter. In short, there's no comparison between the two in terms of ability. The move quite literally made no sense in any context.
Even if it had worked, it was still the wrong thing to do. The Yankees had a chokehold on this series and to a man, to a fan, had the game gone on past the eleventh inning, does anyone think the Yankees wouldn't have found a way to score whether it was from a longball; some heroics from Derek Jeter or Alex Rodriguez; or something positive happening for a hot team?
The Angels are back in this series for one reason and one reason only: because Yankees manager Joe Girardi left a crack in the wall for them to climb through. And they did. If the Yankees go on to lose this series, it won't be because of what happened in games 4 through 7; it will be because of what Girardi did in game 3. You won't have to search for a turning point because it was right there in front of you as Girardi summoned Aceves from the bullpen.
The Angels are in this thing:
You can feel these things in the air sometimes.
Despite their intestinal fortitude in coming back from everything that's befallen them this year----from injuries to key players to the horrific death of Nick Adenhart----the Angels would not have quit had they fallen behind 3 games to 0, but the sheer reality of the situation would have made a comeback from such a deficit highly unlikely.
I don't think anyone who's watched the Yankees since the playoffs started wasn't watching and waiting for more dramatics as game 3 wore on. The lineup, aside from the likes of Melky Cabrera, is relentless. Every time the Angels fought back, the Yankees came up with some powerful response; but the main Achilles heels in the construction of this club are in the manager's office and the shortness of the starting rotation and now this is manifesting itself in reality.
Even with the necessity of going old-school with a three-man starting rotation, the Angels were on the verge of being caught in a bear trap having to win four straight games, two of which would be against C.C. Sabathia. That game 3 win----gift-wrapped with a bow by the Yankees manager----let the Angels back in the series and could be the one thing that turns the tide in their favor.
There was a sigh of relief from the Angels faithful when Kendrick scored the winning run; a sense of, yeah, we're all right and we're in this thing now. The tightness had never yielded from the time ARod's homer sailed over Bobby Abreu's glove in game 2; through Vladimir Guerrero's game-tying homer; to the inability to cash in with a runner on third and no outs in the tenth----an aura of knowledge that the longer the game went on, the more probable it was that the Angels would lose.
That was gone the moment Kendrick touched home plate. The tension was broken and the tide in this fight is turning. Now the body work the Angels have been inflicting on the Yankees starters with the high pitch counts and the overwork and bizarre deployment of relievers from Girardi is going to give the Angels the advantage the longer this goes.
On the other side, you can also feel the palpable sense of panic from Yankee fans. They won't admit it, but methinks they doth protest too much with the caveats to the tune of, "well, we're still leading 2-1"; "C.C. tomorrow"; and, "we'll be okay"; but what's left unsaid from the last statement are the final two words: "won't we?"
It's happening just as I have foreseen.
The Yankees are going down.
And I think they know it.
- Viewer Mail 10.20.2009:
Jeff at Red State Blue State writes RE Girardi:
Do you ever get the sense that guys like Jeter, Posada Rodriguez -- really intelligent baseball minds -- are seriously second-guessing their half wit manager's moves? I can just imagine what was going through Jeter's head when Girardi brought in Aceves there at the end.
Not only do I get that sense, I know they were looking at each other and wondering what he was doing when he yanked Robertson. I guarantee you without even having seen it that ARod and Jeter glanced at each other with a "this is trouble" look on their faces. No words; no open insubordination; just a sense of knowing that they're letting a tough team off the deck and if things spiral as they did in 2004, they're in deep, deep trouble. It began with Mathis's rocket off of Aceves and it's not going to end anytime soon.
If the Yankees go on to lose this series, I'd fire Girardi for this.
- Phillies 5-Dodgers 4:
I can understand Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton treading lightly around Matt Stairs with one out and a 1-run lead; Stairs took Broxton deep in last year's NLCS and will still be able to hit anyone's fastball when he's 60. Aside from that, there was no excuse for hitting Carlos Ruiz.
When are teams going to learn that it's not just the Phillies power that lets them score so often and come back from deficits so consistently, it's that they constantly get runners on base in front of the top of the lineup. The game was right there in the Dodgers hands. They had their 100-mph closer in the game and the bottom of the Phillies lineup at the plate----and they still blew it.I dunno if the Dodgers can recover from that, but it'll help in game 5 if they jump on the still-shaky Cole Hamels early and get Vicente Padilla a lead so they can relax and forget about the debacle of game 4. The words "one game at a time" were never more true and no one knows that better than manager Joe Torre and that's what he'll tell his team. Whether or not it's going to do any good is the question, and I don't know the answer.