Tuesday, October 9, 2012

2012 ALDS Game 2 Thoughts & Afterthoughts: BAL 3 NYY 2

(Sadly, this was the highlight of the night for the Yankees and it happened in the 1st inning.  Courtesy of the AP)

Game 1 was fantastic.  Just lovely.  The fact that the score was 2-2 heading into the 9th inning didn't even register with me because there was never a moment that I wasn't confident the Yankees were winning that game.  They thoroughly outplayed the Orioles in every facet of the game, and were it not for a couple of ill-timed base running gaffes, that game could have very well ended up a JV version of the Game 162 Massacre.  Anytime I can end a night not drunk as shit, angry as hell, and using multiple curse words in multiple continuous "Game Notes" bullet points, that's a good night for me.

Game 2 had a similar "advantage-Yankees" feel to it heading in.  The offense was facing a possibly gassed, definitely ineffective starter pitcher who they had already seen 4 times in the regular season, they were rolling out the man responsible for the most postseason wins in the history of baseball and a guy who lives for games like this, and they forced Buck to buck the trend (see what I did there?) and insert more lefties into his lineup against a left-handed starter in an attempt to give his offense a jump-start.

There was definitely a feeling of desperation in the air on the Orioles' side, and justifiably so.  Heading to New York down 0-2 is not a confidence-boosting scenario.  The Yankees needed to keep their focus and keep their intensity, not take a deep breath after getting 1 on the road, to really put some pressure on Baltimore.  They put pressure on, but the focus didn't seem to be all there in another frustrating, sloppily-played, boatload-of-opportunities-missed loss to even the series.

- I know Joe said all the right stuff pregame, but if I'm Curtis Granderson I'm taking being placed 8th in the batting order as a sign of lack of faith in him on the part of his manager.

- They didn't bother me last night, which was a bit surprising, but as I thought back to the TBS announcing team and Cal Ripken's unintentionally (or intentionally) racist remark, it suddenly dawned on me.  Why the FUCK is Cal Ripken announcing a Baltimore Orioles series???  What is that about??  TBS might as well let him wear his old uniform while they're at it rooting for the underdog.

- Hearing the news of the rain delay was a crushing blow.  I was in the absolute zone folding my white laundry, straining to get all the shirts halved and all the socks paired up in time for first pitch.  I had put more effort into that 15 minutes than I had put into anything in a long time, and it was devastating to find out that none of it mattered because the game wasn't going to start on time.

- Eckersley continuing to sneaky bash how much he hates doing rain delay cover stuff live on the air for TBS is never not funny.  Dude just seems like an awesome guy to hang out with and bag on everybody.

- On the other side of that coin, FUCK YOU, EJ!!!!!! for opening your stupid mouth and saying the series "is over" if the Yankees go up 2-0.  I don't need your trolling and they don't need your jinxing.

- Yanks came out aggressive against Chen in the top of the 1st.  Jeter swung at 2 of the 3 pitches he saw, Ichiro swung at all 4, and both A-Rod and Robinson Cano were looking to swing early.  Bad BABIP luck for A-Rod killed the inning, but the strategy was tipped.

- On the run-scoring play- great hit by Cano, who still looked locked in; TERRIBLE send by Rob Thomson, who would have had Ichiro out by 5-7 feet with a good throw from Andino; awesome job by Ichiro to avoid the tags and get the run.  Cal Ripken couldn't have been amused watching him sneak around the plate like that.


- Every time Curtis Granderson strikes out swinging on some offspeed stuff way off the plate, the chances of the Yankees re-signing him goes down just a little bit.  It has to, right?

- Always great to see a nice easy start for Andy Pettitte.  He had 87-88 MPH life in his fastball and threw it on the corners for strikes a lot in the first 2 innings, and threw some good cutters in, like the one to break Matt Wieters' bat in the 2nd.

- By my count, Pettitte threw just 2 cutters in the first 3 innings.  He got broken bats on both of them.

- Angel Hernandez had a generous outside corner against right-handed hitters, but it was generous to both Pettitte and Chen early.  Can't really bitch if it's fair.

- But don't tell the Oriole fans that.  You almost have to respect them for their overall ignorance. Booing a call that was clearly correct (the Ichiro safe at home call), booing Derek Jeter every time he hits, booing every called strike against their team, and still booing Mark Teixeira how many years later for not signing with Baltimore. Because getting paid less than the Yankees offered to play on the shitty teams they've rolled out every season since then until this one would have been TOTALLY worth it!

Seriously, what a bunch of fucking losers. They're like that old creepy lady in "The Princess Bride."

- I followed Andy's logic when he got into trouble in the 3rd -- walk the righty to pitch to the lefty -- but he made an absolutely terrible pitch to Chris Davis and he got burned on it for 2 runs.

- First mentioned it on the Facebook Page last night, but Derek Jeter flat out has zero, Z-E-R-O, range left at shortstop.  Let a cheap one get by him for CC in Game 1, and somehow let that one in the 3rd inning get under his glove too.

- That deke that A-Rod put on J.J. Hardy on that ball that Jeter didn't get to was classic heady A-Rod, much better than the one we saw stumble into second base like an idiot in Game 1.  Hardy thought Jeter caught the ball, A-Rod faked like he was getting the throw for the forceout, and Hardy bit on it.  The Horse's chess to Hardy's checkers right there.

- After throwing 22 pitches in the first 2 innings, Pettitte threw 25 in the 3rd.  I don't know about you, but I had visions of an 8-pitch, 1-2-3 inning by the offense as a response in my head.

- They came through when they needed to in Game 1, so the Yanks were due for a RISP Fail botch and they got it with the bases loaded and just 1 out in the 4th.  Eduardo Nunez popped out to shortstop, like a fucking child, and Jeter grounded out to third to strand a trio.

- The one question, make that two questions, that I found myself asking at the end of that inning was, would Rob Thomson have sent Teix on Granderson's single if Teix's calf was healthy?  And if so, by how many feet would Teix have been thrown out at the plate?

- Jeter's tough night in the field got worse with his throwing error in the bottom of the 4th.  Just airmailed that throw.  Created a cool stat, though- First time since the '96 ALDS that he made errors in consecutive playoff games.

- Remember that 8-pitch inning I was worried about?  It came in the top of the 5th.  And it was only 4 pitches.  And it was A-Rod and Cano seeing a combined 3 pitches.  Balls.

- Mark Teixeira!  Come on down!  You're the next contestant on "What The Fuck Are You Doing Out There?!?!"

- I honestly couldn't tell you if it was props to Chen or shame to the Yankees for him getting through 6 innings with only the 1 run allowed.  He didn't look overpowering, but nobody was tuned into his fastball and he got a lot of weak contact outs.

- C-Grand's 1-0 foul out to third to end the 6th was just pathetic.  Actually, looking back at my hand-written notes, I wrote "patetic."  I think that's fair.  That at-bat was patetic.  It was so bad I couldn't even be bothered to spell its description correctly.

- Andy started hanging some offspeed stuff in the bottom of the 6th, a change to Matt Wieters, a slider to Matt Reynolds, and the O's got another run off of it.  The end looked close...

- But Andy rebounded to get out of the inning in a BIG way.  He K'd Jim Thome looking, then got Manny Machado to hit a double play ball right back to him.  If there was a chance for the Yankees to get back into the game and win, Andy gave it to them with that escape.

- Rumors/stories started coming out on the topic after he made some comments, and I for one took Andy cursing and yelling as he came off the mound in the 6th as a sign that he is DEFINITELY coming back next season.  Book it.

- Sure, Chris Davis diving for a ball that he was never going to catch basically gave Nunez second base, but credit Nunez for running hard out of the box and never stopping.  There's no denying that the dude makes things happen with the bat.

- More vintage Jeter on his RBI single to drive in Nunez in the 7th; saw that the pitch was a little more up and not quite enough in, and pulled his hands in to drive the ball into left field.  Textbook.

- I have no reason to like it with the way he's swinging the bat, but I liked Ichiro and A-Rod playing hit-and-run in the 8th.  Maybe opening up a hole on the infield to bleed one through is exactly what A-Rod needs.

- Or maybe Darren O'Day can just sit him down with a slider.  Dude really can't hit anything.

- How's this for respect?  The O's bring in Brian Matusz specifically to pitch to Robinson Cano in the 7th, then they make the decision to intentionally walk him anyway.  That's when you know you're on fire.

- No results again, which is what everybody will squawk about today, but I thought Swish had a good AB with 2 on and 2 out in the 7th.  Fastball was just in enough for him to get under it, but close enough that he had to swing with 2 strikes.

- Really strong 1-2-3 for Andy in the 7th.  Looked like he was emptying the tank with the fastball.

- The offensive theme for the Yankees was a familiar one; missed opportunities.  They went just 2-8 with RISP, left 10 men on base, and failed to advance Teix when he led off the 8th with a single.

- I actually screamed, "FUCK YOU!!!!" at the TV when Granderson went down swinging on a slider.  Great pitch by Matusz, but does Curtis HAVE to swing at that pitch?  And then miss it EVERY TIME???

- Real talk, Brian Matusz won this game for Baltimore, I don't care what the scorecard says.  His 1.1 innings behind Chen and O'Day is what won the game.

- I was a little surprised to see Andy come out for the 8th.  He didn't look to have much left at the end of the 7th, at least on the radar gun, but Joe trusts his veterans.

- That plan backfired on a first-pitch swinging base hit by Davis, but D-Rob was money in relief.  Lotta curveballs out there, a whole lot of 'em!  3 swinging strikes on it and not a single ball put in  play.  Keep throwing that, Davey Boy!

- Jim Johnson got rocked on Sunday night.  He struggled against Texas in the Wild Card game.  You know this, Derek.  What would compel you to swing at the first pitch against this guy???  Just awful.

- It's sad that the A-Rod strikeout to end the game is what ESPN and all the NY papers are going to shoehorn in as part of the lede on this game last night, because as bad as he was it wasn't all on him.  The Yankees played themselves out of this game with another exhibition in not getting hits when they needed to, and almost everybody in the lineup last night shares that blame.

- It was the type of loss that doesn't sit well at the end of the night, because there were so many missed opportunities on the Yankees' part that would have resulted in a win had they been achieved.  They didn't play sharp, they didn't play smart, and they lost a game that they had every opportunity and then some to win.

F*ck Yeahs:

- Jeter: 2-5, 1 RBI, 1 K, 3 LOB.  The 9th-inning AB was bad, but Jeter led off the game with a hit and would have scored were it not for bad luck on the double play liner, and did a tremendous little piece of hitting to pull the Yanks within 1 in the 7th.  His defense sucked, but when's the last time it hasn't?  Honestly?

- Pettitte: 7 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, L.  Tough luck loss for Andy, who was very good last night.  Like CC the night before, Andy got burned on some lucky BABIP for Baltimore and a few bad pitches.  Unlike CC, his offense didn't pick him up and get him the win he probably deserved.  I thought he did a great job pitching off his 4- and 2-seamer early in the game; it looked like that helped set up his slider as a swing-and-miss out pitch and the cutter as a contact out pitch, and then Pettitte mixed in some more curves in the later innings.  Impossible to hang this game on him.

Oh Nos:

- Alex Rodriguez: 1-5, 2 K, 3 LOB.  I didn't want Joe to bump him down in the order at the start of the series to create a media circus, but after his performance in the first 2 games the circus is already here so now it probably needs to happen.  He can't catch up to a good fastball, and he can't lay off nor make contact with good offspeed pitches low and on the corners.  He's an anchor on offensive momentum in that 3-spot.

- Swish: 0-4, 1 K, 3 LOB.  Tough night at the plate for Swish, who looked much better in his approach and execution in his at-bats than A-Rod, but still came away with the same nothing results.

- Granderson: 1-4, 2 K, 2 LOB.  Just disgusting.  Disgusting, upsetting, disappointing, pick one.  Joe was right to not have any faith.

Next Up:

Travel day today as the series makes its way back to civilization.  As of this morning, this O's hadn't announced their Game 3 starter; the Yankees know they're rolling out Hiroki Kuroda on Wednesday night.  More talk about that game later today and on Wednesday.

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