I had all these wonderfully creative titles for today’s post. I’m sure you’ve seen variations of them from around MLB.com or throughout the internet. Usually, I’ll create a headline to be somewhat deceptive in who is ultimately named Yesterday’s Hitter. The trouble is everybody on the planet already knows who the best hitter was last night.
So, let’s just cut to the chase.
But, before we hand out the hardware… there were certainly some worthy candidates in Game 5 I’d like to acknowledge.
Let’s start with the Philadelphia terror.
Yes, he was at it again last night (even broken bats didn’t slow him down). Johnny Damon is just giving the Phillies Phits in every at bat. He worked his way on again in the 1st inning when he battled Cliff Lee for a single. He later scored on Alex Rodriguez’ double to give NY a quick 1-0 lead.
Johnny would go on to have another stellar day at the plate, getting on base 4 times. He had 3 hits, scored twice, knocked in a run and walked. Johnny now has the highest batting average (.381) of all the regular players in this year’s World Series.
Did I mention Alex Rodriguez? Yea, the same guy that started out 0 for 8 with 6 K’s is coming alive at the plate. He had two doubles last night (one that just eluded a diving Ibanez) and knocked in 3 RBIs.
After that O’fer start, Alex has raised his average to just above the Mendoza line at .222, not too shabby A-Rod. His 3 Ribs gave him a NY Yankee Post Season record of 18!
Jimmy Rollins started the Philly comeback in the 1st with an aggressive at bat. He swung at AJ’s first pitch (remember this? AJ was a 1st strike king in Game 2). Even though he missed it.. it proved to be a game plan for Philly. Rollins singled to start the rally. He ended up with 2 hits and a walk, scoring once.
Raul Ibanez had a nice Game 5. He knocked in 2 runs with 2 hits and had a very important Home Run late in the game. His 7th inning blast proved to be just the cushion the Phils needed to secure the Game 5 win.
Jayson Werth is just knocking the dog snot out of the baseball. He hits everything hard. Sure, he only had one hit in Game 5. But, he crushed the ball all over Citizens Bank park in nearly every at bat. Brett Gardner can testify to how hard Jayson is hitting the ball.
Gardner made a spectacular catch on a Jayson Werth drive to left center. Jayson is hitting just under .300 for the Series.
Poor Ryan Howard, he went from the penthouse in the NLCS to the doghouse in the WS. Howard struck out two more times last night to tie Willie Wilson for the most in a World Series, 12.
If I were Charlie Manuel, I’d certainly consider flip flopping Howard and Ibanez in the order. It couldn’t hurt, could it? I’m betting on Howard to hold the K record all by himself before Game 6 is over.
Speaking of Game 6.. .how lucky are we? It’s been 6 years since the World Series has gotten to this point. I know I’m happy.. but my bet is Jane is a little tweaked right about now ; )
And now, without further ado… our Yesterday’s Hitter!
I said it in Game 1. Chase is so calm, so focused and …. so good! He has continued to deliver throughout the Series. His 1st inning HR immediately jump started the Phillies and the crowd and propelled them to a Game 5 win. Oh, and did I mention… that HR came off of the very 1st Pitch he saw from AJ Burnett! Think he doesn’t study the game? You don’t get this good without having a plan. The difference is Chase not only has a plan, he is so “on” right now that he can execute it flawlessly.
Chase hit another HR (tying Reggie Jackson for most in a WS!) in the 7th that seemed to be just a tack on run. That HR proved to be the Game Winning run! Why? Because those Yankees never stop. They kept going and going like the Energizer Bunny.
In fact, they brought the tying run to the plate in the 9th inning with nobody out and Derek Jeter at bat! I’d have to say that of all the at bats in Derek Jeter’s career, he wishes he could have a do-over on that one. A Presidential Mulligan.
A hit in that situation could have possibly snatched the game away and given the Yankees their 27th title.
And speaking of the 27th… has anybody noticed what number Chase Utley wears? Ya… 26. Do you think he’s trying to tell us something? ; )
Congratulations Chase Utley – You are Yesterday’s Hitter!
Clayton Kershaw was holding up his end of the bargain. His curve was dazzling, the fastball
electric. It was tough not to argue with Joe Torre’s decision to start the youngster in Game 1 of the NLCS. He looked like he belonged. He was composed. He was focused.
Then came the 5th. What is it we harp on here at YH? Big games aren’t really big games… until those middle innings. The pressure ratchets up. The intensity and desire of the hitters reaches a new level. They’ve seen most of what the opposing pitcher brought to the plate and they’re making adjustments.
Kershaw was caught in the moment. He had just gotten through the “danger” portion of the Phillies lineup to end the 4th… barely. He threw two fantastic pitches to Ryan Howard. One that looked to have caused Howard to strike out on a check swing. One that caught the edge. Randy Marsh though, thought different. Howard walked. And the pressure mounted on young Clayton. He escaped… but barely… when Jayson Werth crushed a ball to deep left field for the 3rd out.
So, it was no surprise that Raul Ibanez touched him up for a single to lead off the fateful 5th. He walked Pedro Feliz and then struggled with Carlos Ruiz before Ruiz powered a ball up and out of the park for a 3 Run HR..
Charlie Manuel must have read those words of wisdom from Hall of Fame Manager Earl Weaver. He followed the wisdom to a tee.
“If you play for one run… that’s all you get.” – Earl Weaver
The Phillies were not playing for one run. Not after they watched the young Kershaw have his mini implosion. He was rattled. His command was gone. His focus was gone. He’s 21.. it’s hard to maintain mental discipline under the spotlight of millions of people across the country. In his defense, it would have been nice to see Joe Torre take the controls at that point. He didn’t hesitate with Wolf in the NLDS. He yanked him in the 4th. Kershaw completely disintegrated in front of us. Managerial decison.. I understand. It is what it is.
Unfortunately, Kershaw’s spiral led to two more base runners and a 2 out double by Ryan Howard that plated two more runs. It turns out. . . it was those 2 runs the Dodgers needed back. A 5 run fifth for the Phillies.
Sure, the Dodgers are no quitters. They fought, they clawed, they made a game of it. They came right back with 3 runs of their own in the bottom of the 5th. Then in the 6th they filled the bags and threatened to take the lead. They just could not get that big hit though.. it just wasn’t there. I kept waiting for some magic from #23 (yesterday was the 21st Anniversary of Kirk Gibson’s heroics in Game 1 of ’88 World Series) .. but Casey just wasn’t at the bat.
The Dodgers had their chances. The Phillies just capitalized on theirs. It was a very good game. Today is a new day. A very important day for both squads.
But… Yesterday was a great day for Carlos Ruiz. His big time 3 Run HR sparked the Phillies to a win. Carlos was 2 for 3 with 3 RBIs, a walk and a run scored.
Congratulations Carlos Ruiz. You are Yesterday’s Hitter!
Home Field Advantage… there’s a reason you want that status. Especially in the Best of 5 Divisional Games. It’s a Major League Advantage ; )
The Home Town teams did not disappoint. The Crowd was a factor in each of the games.
Although, Cliff Lee didn’t exactly need the crowd. He was mesmerizing to Colorado’s hitters. Spot on with locations and adjusting speeds.. up – down, in – out… a masterful job of Pitching.
On the Phillies side of the plate.. they are just relentless. A stacked lineup that features Power, Speed, Power and more Power. Every single player in the lineup (including Cliff Lee) posted a hit in their box score. But it was the meat of the order… 4,5 & 6 that brought home the bacon. Ryan Howard, 2-4 with an RBI from an absolute laced rocket through the wind that turned Carlos Gonzalez 9 different directions. Jayson Werth, 2-4 with an RBI Triple that was as hard and high as you could possibly hit a ball into the crosswind gail. Werth also scored twice and was a menace to the Rockies. Raul Ibanez.. man. They just kept coming at you. Raul was 2-4 with 2 RBIs. It didn’t seem like it was fair – High School Seniors against the Freshmen. Phillies take the nod 5-1 and a 1 Game Lead.
In LA it was an exercise in futility. These two were battering the ball all over the field. They filled the bags so many times between them I was certain YH would come out of this game. It just seemed inevitable that one hit would produce 3 or 4 runs. But… it just never happened. The game ended up setting a Major League Record for Men Left On Base in a 9 inning Post Season tilt… 30 Runners!!!
Rafael Furcal had a great game and set the tone for LA (they barely escaped the top half of
the first inning with only one run across). Raffy led off LA with a sharp single and one pitch later he was trotting around the bases courtesy of Matt Kemp’s towering HR to centerfield. From that point forward it was standing room only on the bases. Fortunately for LA, they were able to squeak across one run at a time as a result of their top 6 hitters. Furcal 3-4 a Run and a Rib, Kemp.. the Big Fly was his only hit. Andre Ethier 2-3, a Walk and 2 Runs. Manny Ramirez… pretty pitiful. But James Loney and Casey Blake picked up the listless Ramirez and were effective hitters all night long. Loney, 2-4 with a Walk. Blake, also 2-4 with a Walk and knocked in a big run in the 3rd to give the Dodgers some breathing room at 3-1.
In the Bronx, it was simply… Out with the Old… In with the New. Same ol’ story for Yankee Stadium (new or old) another Post Season win for New York… ho hum. The Twins though, were surprisingly tough early on. Even to the point of taking a scrappy 2-0 lead in the top half of the 3rd. I’m pretty sure the New Yorkers were a little nervous… the crowd was pretty much taken by surprise when the Twins scored first. Honestly, though.. .how can you worry when without question your team possesses the most dynamic post season hitter of our era…
Derek belted the first pitch he saw in the first inning for a rifle single. He was due up 2nd in the Bottom half of the 3rd inning with NY down by that 2-0 score. No Problem for Mr. October/November/December (whatever)… he just performs when the occasion needs it the most. And it did in the 3rd. What does Derek do 2 pitches later? A Home Run launch.. tie game 2-2. Mr. Clutch…
When you have that fella on your team.. how can you not perform? From then on it was a no contest whipping as every gear fell into place. Including the oft troubled Alex Rodriguez’ post
season issues. History. Alex was a healthy 2-4 with 2 RBIs and a Run scored. Hideki Matsui provided some thunder of his own with a 2 Run Bomb. But it was the Captain.. .
Derek Jeter folks.. you should enjoy this man’s play as though you are witnessing Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Lou Gehrig or Babe Ruth. Those are the names he accompanies on the All Time List for Home Runs in the Post Season. It’s amazing if you think about it. He’s not a power hitter. He is a clutch hitter. Period. A Perfect day at the Plate for Derek; 2-2 2RBIs, 2 Walks, 3 Runs.
Hats off to you Derek Jeter. You are Yesterday’s Hitter… .Without Question.
I was really wondering who the right guy would be for today. Was it Nick Swisher (2-3, 2RBI) who homered from both sides of the plate and hit the Walk Off sneaker into the right field bleachers?
Nawww.. He got a pie in the eye.
Or, maybe Chase Headley (3-4, 2 RBI) who damaged the Giants with a big HR and a late inning go ahead single?
Nope, couldn’t quite pull the trigger on that one.
How about Raul Ibanez (3-4, 2RBI) or Matt Holliday (2-4, 2RBI) and hit a big HR in the 9th?
Nawww… Oh, I know! Let’s go with Dustin Pedroia. Dustin was Dusted back with a pitch:
Then got off the deck and belted 2 big HRS in a Red Sox romp.
Pretty meaningful because they were trying to stay in front of the hard charging Rangers in the Wild Card.
Which brings us to THE choice!
Marlon Byrd! (7-9, 3RBI)
The Texas Rangers kept blowing chances to inch up the Wild Card standings while in Baltimore. It turns out that Cleveland was the place to rock! The Rangers won a slugfest in Game 1 and then double dipped in Game 2 to close in the AL Wild Card race. Marlon Byrd was awesome. He was a perfect 4 for 4 in Game 1 and tallied three more hits in the nightcap for a big day at the dish. Watch his game Here!