AJ squared away the 2009 World Series with a magnificent pitching performance in Game 2. His control, command and concentration were evident from the first pitch. In fact, every first pitch all night long!
Pedro? Well, Pedro was pretty good too. I actually thought the Yanks would rough him up a little more than they did. He was wily. He was calm. Pedro’s experience showed with every batter and he made quite a few Yankees look a bit lame.
So, since those darn pitchers were so glaringly good.. let’s talk about who is definitely not Yesterday’s Hitter.
Jayson Werth? Victorino? Naw.. .2 fer 8 between em… and one was a lil dribbler.
Matt Stairs… thankfully NY scored and erased the only productive hit on Philadelphia’s side of the ledger. If you hit that same ball to O’Rod 10 times.. he’d catch it 9. At least!
Did I say O’Rod? Well, if the shoe fits… now O fer 8 in the Series with… 6 Strikeouts! No YH for you bud.
Pre-game hype had a host of speculation on Jose Molina catching and possibly switching Posada to the DH. Let’s tip our hats to Girardi who made the right calls. Molina did a fabulous job of handling AJ… check.
Posada is NOT the DH (smart move) and enters to PH and assume the catching duties. Posada hits an RBI single.. Yes Joe, way to go. But, sorry no YH for Jorge.
Mark Teixeira. How could he not be? What an incredible moment and at bat for him in the 4th. After suffering through the wily ways of Pedro for what seemed like an eternity, the NY fans were even becoming disenchanted with their “who’s your daddy” chant.
But.. sorry bud, no YH for you. You see, you can’t win if you don’t score more runs than the other guy. Mark? Well, he merely tied it. It was this guy that wielded the most potent bat of the night for New York.
Godzilla! He walked, he singled, he bothered the heck out of “your daddy” on every at bat. Until, finally Peter made a mistake. It wasn’t much of one. In fact, maybe Godzilla was the only hitter that could take that ball off his shoe tops and drive it out of Yankee stadium. Well, maybe one other guy.. and just maybe.. the ghost of The Babe was digging Godzilla : )
Funny, watching the post game shows. We never saw Hideki interviewed. I imagine the language barrier had something to do with it. Or, possibly.. .Hideki was being mobbed by the Japanese media and never had a chance to breathe anywhere near a Fox camera.
Well, we’re giving you the kudos now Hideki.
Congratulations Hideki Matsui – You are Yesterday’s Hitter!
One game does not make a series. The Yankees can be thankful for that. Even so, an early statement has been issued by the Defending Champion Phillies; If you want the title, you are going to have to take it!
Unlike their AL adversaries who gladly handed the Yankees win after win with poor baseball fundamentals, the Phillies were on in every facet of the game. Well, almost… a very late inconsequential error (or was it?) allowed the Yankees one teensy little run in their 6-1 whipping.
Not to say that CC was not doing his job. He pitched extremely well. Yes, he gave up two runs. The Phillies lineup just puts pressure, pressure and more pressure on opposing pitchers. CC was feeling it.
CC was good. He just wasn’t able to hold off the inevitable pressure. Take a look at what happened to the Yankees when he stepped out of the game. The moment CC left the game, the runs came in bunches. Not a very appealing sight for Girardi and the Yankee fans.
As great as CC was, Cliff Lee was above and beyond. Of the two best friends, Cliff was the better… again! My bet is that the two didn’t share a friendly beer after this one though. The battle is on. The friendship can wait.
Cliff Lee’s fabulous complete game against the powerful Yankee lineup was fun to watch. He was perfect with his pitches. He upset timing. He fielded the ball with boyish exuberance. He got lucky on a comeback and grinned from ear to ear. Mostly though, he was just mesmerizing to the Yankee hitters. Ten strikeouts, three to the hottest hitter on the planet – Alex Rodriguez.
There was nobody more locked in for this game than Cliff Lee.
Well, let me take that back. There was one other guy. Chase Utley. What a hitter. So patient. So calm. So…. good.
By now most of you have read about the incredible records Chase set (or equaled) last night. His first inning walk broke a tie with Boog Powell for the most consecutive games to reach base in a Post Season – 26. His 6 pitch walk set the tone for the Phillies offense. A 2 out walk that started a rally.. .extended the inning and put CC on task to fight for every out.
His 3rd inning Home Run put him in a select group for Home Runs in Game 1 of a World Series. More importantly, it put the Phils on top. Again, he made CC work. 9 pitches later, he deposited the ball into the stands.
By the 6th inning CC had to hate to see Utley come to the plate. Hats off to CC, he came right at Chase with two quick strikes. The thing about Utley though, is he is patient. He doesn’t mind hitting with two strikes. He is confident and he is good. Pow! Another ball deposited into the right field seats. 2-0.
And with that Home Run, Mr. Utley joined none other than the Sultan of Swat – Babe Ruth as the only two players to club 2 Home Runs off of a LH pitcher in the World Series. Wow. Need I say anymore?
Congratulations Chase Utley – You are Yesterday’s Hitter!
For the marquee game of the night it was all we could ask of it… well, almost. I actually was asking for more but Scioscia wasn’t listening (to me … or his NL instincts). Too bad, so sad… he missed a chance for turning a great game into an instant classic.
Not that the Yankees minded. A win is a win, especially in Anaheim where the powerful Bronx boys look rather mediocre. In a game that seemed to emanate the pride of the pinstripes, the Yanks jumped out to a 5-0 lead on the strength of Alex Rodriguez’ massive Home Run. Matsui was then awarded 1st base on Catcher Mathis’ interference play which begins the strange catcher theme of the contest. His blunder brought the Yanks catcher Jorge Posada to the plate. Posada delivered a
two run shot of his own and the Yanks were in command early.
But, the game really didn’t start until the 5th inning when Vlad Guerrero faced an 0-2 offering with 2 on and 2 out. He absolutely drilled an RBI single to left to make it 5-2.
Then came the 6th. Catcher/Manager Mike Scioscia (renowned for his baseball strategy) employed a Pinch Hitter in Gary Matthews with runners on the corners and one out. True to the rewards of baseball strategy… Matthews delivered another ringing hit that produced a run to make it 5-3. The bases get loaded with 2 out. It’s raucous… the Rally
Monkey is jumping and the sea of red is a constant swirl of excitement as Vlad Guerrero steps to the dish. Will he pick up a tater? A couple of Ribeyes? How hungry is Vlad? He smashes a ball down the 3B line. A virtual rocket headed to left field and a sure bet to score the tying runs. But no, Superman was diving and stopping that bullet.. scrambling to his feet he pitched a perfect toss to Tex for the 3rd out. Disappointing? Not really. It only added to the drama and tension of the game. The Angels were determined to protect their house from the Evil Empire and they had 3 innings to do it.
Enter a YH regular Howie Kendrick in the bottom of the 8th. This guy is turning into a real pure hitter. True to form, he hits one of the hardest balls of the night right at his counterpart 2B Robinson Cano. It ricochets off Cano and into right field. Down by only a run Scioscia and Kendrick put their thinking caps on and go for the steal. Kendrick bolts for 2nd. The Yanks catcher tandem of Girardi and Posada were ready and waiting with a pitch out. Strategy vs Strategys is foiled when Posada unleashes a terrible throw to 2nd and Kendrick scampered into third where Maicer Izturis cashed him in for the tying run 5-5. Game On!
Into the 9th we go. It’s here that the catcher vs catcher vs catcher vs catcher game is finally decided. Brett Gardner opens the 9th with a solid single to center bringing Mr. Clutch Derek Jeter to the dish. Scioscia out thinks himself here. Instead of simply allowing DJ to bunt him over and take the out… for some reason they fiddle around with the strike zone and Derek is smart
enough to know that a walk is as good as a hit. Sure enough.. he’s walked. Which brings up Damon with 2 on and nobody out. What does a smart catcher/manager like Joe Girardi do in such a situation?
The smart thing of course – Bunt! Damon executes it perfectly and the Yanks are sitting pretty at 2nd and 3rd.
Across the field Girardi’s Catcher/Manager counterpart assesses his options and elects to fill the bags with one out hoping for a double play to end the inning. A smart decision and one that works more often than not. The problem being it was Alex Rodriguez coming to the dish. A-Rod had already feasted on his 580th Career Homer and was looking focused on his job as a hitter when he dug in. All he really needed was to get the ball in the air with the speed of Brett Gardner at third. It was a virtual lock to score him. And so it was! A hard shot to center. Hunter snagged it on the run.. .made a perfect peg to the plate trying to catch that dashing Brett. Problem was.. 4th string catcher Ryan Budde was back there in a very difficult spot. He had Gardner barreling down on him… the ball zipping in on a hop in the 9th inning, the Rally Monkeys freaking… the fans bellowing. Too much to ask.
Gardner barreled through Budde and scored the go ahead run. 6-5 Yanks. And to the bottom of the 9th we go. Here’s where Scioscia steps out of his norm and tries to duplicate the Girardi maneuver. Problem was … Scioscia’s guys have to face Mariano Rivera. Uh, not the same. But… Kendry Morales leads off with a walk! The 5th time he was on base in the game! What does a smart Catcher/Manager do in such a situation.. .sends in a pinch runner of course! Enter speedster Reggie Willits. Now what? Well, what we would expect from Scioscia is – “Get ’em over and Get ’em in!” That’s his M.O.
But, I think swayed by the vision of duplicating Girardi’s move and the hope of a 1st and 2nd and no out position, he elects NOT to bunt! Completely out of character. Tommy Lasorda would be ticked at him. You could see Scioscia pondering
his options.. he simply chose to be greedy. I guess he forgot the old saying… a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush. Nevertheless, he eschews his NL upbringing and hopes for more than is offered by Rivera.
True to the game’s nature Jorge Posada comes up huge when Scioscia tries to steal with a 2 strike count. Uh Oh. The old Strike em Out… Throw em Out double play deflates the stadium. From raucous rants to complete silence. As would be expected a simple ground out ended the game in a most anti-climactic manner.
I know it’s not the same when you watch a game in the stadium as opposed to the television. But, this game was all about catching and catchers. They were constantly in your eye and in the spotlight throughout the game. I only wish Scioscia had followed his norm. Not that I really cared which team won. I simply enjoyed the game. Just like Torii Hunter did. His comment after the game “I didn’t show up (0-5), but I had a lot of fun watching it!” So did I Torii. So did I.