Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Still an Uphill Battle

The New York Yankees stayed alive in the American League Championship Series thanks to some timely hitting by the now-Teixeira-less Yankees and untimely hitting by the Texas Rangers. How untimely? The Rangers accumulated 13 hits, hit into two double plays, had two stolen bases and had another guy picked off. And they still managed to leave eight men on base as a team.

C. C. Sabathia got the win but once again, he has looked far from dominating. Sabathia gave up a homer to the weak hitting Treanor and somehow, despite giving up eleven hits in six innings, only allowed two runs. Yankee fans will call that a gutsy performance. Rangers fans and sabermetric folks will call it a lucky performance. This fan will split the difference and call it a darned lucky, gutsy performance. Series pest, Michael Young hit into a double play in the first inning, and Sabathia later induced Josh Hamilton to hit into another one to end another rally. Later in the game, Sabathia was on the ropes and the Rangers had the bases loaded and a big inning could have gotten the Rangers back in the game, but something strange happened. Well, nothing happened and that was strange.

Again the bases were loaded and it was the sixth inning (Sabathia's last) with one out. Curiously, Ron Washington let Treanor hit for himself. Treanor was only starting because he is C. J. Wilson's personal caddy and yes, Treanor had already hit a homer in the game. But all you have to do is look at Treanor's overall stats to know the homer was a fluke. Washington had to pinch hit for him there. Wilson was already KOed from the game, so there was no reason to keep him in there. Sure, there is an old saw about not pinch hitting for the catcher because if your backup gets hurt, you are stuck. But this is the playoffs! You can't worry about old saws, can you?

But Treanor did bat for himself and weakly tapped out to A-Rod, who gladly traded an out for a run. Moreland then struck out to end the inning. To this observer, that was a huge gaffe by Washington. Somebody had to pinch hit for Treanor in that situation. It was a big break for the Yankees.

They got another big break in the seventh inning which again involved Kerry Wood getting an improbable out due to poor Rangers base running. Andrus ricocheted a hit off of Wood for a lead off single. Wood did his best A. J. Barnett impression and threw a wild pitch (not that Posada is going to block anything) which sent Andrus to second. All Yankee-dom groaned. Not again with the bullpen. But inexplicably, Andrus got all loosey-goosey at second and Wood whirled and threw to Jeter. Andrus was a dead duck as Jeter ran him down. Wood then pitched a brilliant rest of the seventh and eighth to give the ball to Mo. That was huge too.

Rivera gave up another hit to Moreland who likes breaking his bat off of the great reliever because the ball always finds a hole somehow. But that was all as Rivera did his thing in a non-save situation.

And so the Yankees stayed alive. But it doesn't get any more fun from here. They have to face the Rangers in their home park and there is no guarantee in the next game as Hughes gets the ball. We all know what happened last time, so that isn't a pleasant possibility. And if Hughes does happen to win, they get Lee in Game Seven. It's a heck of a long shot, but as long as you aren't dead, you have hope.

It looks like Cruz hurt his hammy again, so it's possible that he could join Teixeira among the missing. This Fan liked seeing Berkman in the game. He gives you all those years of success to fall back on. The Fan can't think of a better guy up when you need a run than Berkman.

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