Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Home Field Proves Big for Angels

As stated in a previous post, the biggest advantage of having a game played in your home field is "last ups." This is especially crucial in extra inning games as the Yankees showed in Game 2 when they were allowed to answer an 11th inning run with an Alex Rodriguez homer in the bottom of the eleventh. Game 3 again went into extra innings and this time the Angels had last ups and won the ballgame. But it wasn't just last ups that did it for the Yankees. There were a few questionable decisions by Joe Girardi and some horrible clutch hitting by anyone who did not hit a solo homer.

In this Fan's opinion, the Yankees gave the Angels several big breaks and should have won this game handily. They had first and second with no outs in the second inning. Cano, who seems to be one of the worst clutch hitters in baseball, grounded into a force out to make it first and third, one out. Nick Swisher, who is patient at the plate, except when men are in scoring position, swung wildly at a couple of pitches before popping up weakly to short left. And then Melky Cabrera finished the disappointing inning with a ground out.

Then in the fourth inning, after A-Rod's massive home run, Matsui walked and Posada singled. The Fan was thinking that Weaver was on the ropes. But the dream team of clutch trotted to the plate again: Cano, another force out. Swisher, struck himself out swinging at bad balls. Cabrera popped up. Cabrera again failed with men on first and second with one out as he struck out swinging, the last pitch in the dirt.

Cano finished the season batting .321, but did you know that he had a .567 OPS with runners in scoring position with a line of .207/.242/.332? Terrible. Nick Swisher batted .227 with runners in scoring position this year. Such situations to this observer, are the Yankees' Achilles Heel.

Several decisions made by Girardi backfired. It seemed at the time that Pettitte was laboring when he faced Vlad in the sixth. It seemed that Chamberlain would have been a better match up against Guerrero with two out in that situation. But Girardi kept Pettitte in there and Vlad hit it out. Tie game.

Later, Girardi replaced Johnny Damon in left field with Hairston, who was the DH at that point. The situation seemed to make that a good idea at the time because a sacrifice fly to left would have surely plated the winning run. But how many fly balls to left does Rivera ever give up? Not many that the Fan can remember. The move also meant that the Yankees lost the DH and that position was due up the next inning. Because of that, Rivera was limited to one inning. Truthfully, he couldn't have done worse at the plate than Cervelli who pinch hit for him. Cervelli swung at everything the pitcher threw, no matter where it was and struck himself out. Heck, Sabathia might have been a better pinch hitter.

The last gaffe of the night for Girardi was deadly. Robertson started the 11th for the Yankees and got two quick outs. For some reason, Girardi then brought in Aceves. Why? Aceves came in, gave up a single and a double, and the game was over. In this Fan's opinion, Girardi over-managed and tried to be overly brilliant. It backfired.

And so, the Angels have life. That's a scary thing.

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