("Thanks for bailing me out, dude." Courtesy of the AP)
Well there wasn't much debate as to what the #1 talking point in Joe's postgame press conference was going to be after he released his lineup yesterday afternoon. A-Rod still being in the #3 spot surely rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, and if the Yankees lost reporters were going to be fighting each other to ask him that first question about why he chose to DH A-Rod instead of just moving him down. Raul Ibanez made sure that was an easy question for Joe to answer with his late-game heroics, just the latest in a long series of big moments written up by the 40-year-old Voldemort look-alike.
Ibanez may have very well saved the Yankees' season with his pinch hit game-tying HR in the bottom of the 9th to send last night's game to extra innings, and when he became the only player in postseason history to hit 2 HR in a postseason game in the 9th inning or later he became the undeniable offensive MVP of Game 3 and forever etched his name into Yankee history.
- What was the deal with Matt Winer plugging the 7:30 start time like that was actually when first pitch was going to be? "First pitch is less than 1 minute away!" No the fuck it's not, dude. We're not stupid.
- Hey, a game that's starting on time and not delayed by rain! Alright!!
- I don't know about y'all, but "BABIP single into right-center with an added flub by Swish in the outfield" wasn't high on my "Most-Desired Game-Opening Outcomes" list.
- How about the balls on TBS to not reference Eric Chavez's Gold Glove awards when showing the Yankee fielding lineup?? Umm, dude won 6 IN A ROW in the early-to-mid 2000s!!! It's not like that track record goes away just because you're a bench player.
- Hiroki Kuroda was sharp through 2, his fastballs looked lively, and he broke 2 bats in the first 2 innings, but he also got squeezed a little on the corners by home plate ump Brian Gorman.
- A-Rod ground out to end the 1st inning, Teix GIDP to end the 2nd. THEY BOTH SUCK!!!!
- Buck starts Ryan Flaherty, the ballplayer not the soccer hooligan, and the fucking guy hits a first-pitch HR in the 3rd inning. Cement mixed slider from Kuroda just hung right over the middle of the plate and got golfed out.
- You know it's a bad crowd when both Cal and Smoltz comment on it 15 minutes apart. Nowhere near the kind of environment I wanted to see.
- They woke up a little in the bottom of the 3rd. Russell Martin hit a 1-out double to left, and came around to score on a Derek Jeter 2-out triple to right-center. Jeter's hit was probably aided by a bad read by Adam Jones, possibly aided by the wind, but it still worked to tie the game at 1.
- There were some chants getting started during Ichiro's at-bat, and there was a pretty good roar on the ball off his bat to end the inning, so that was a good sign.
- I on Adam Jones' BABIP single through the left side in the top of the 4th. The Orioles are getting all of that action so far in the series; at least 4 or 5 lucky hits through the infield holes or bloops by my count.
- I don't care what anybody says, the slo-mo replay of Mark Reynolds HBP in the forearm looked painful as FUCK. If I would have gotten hit with that pitch, I would have cried like an 8-year-old girl.
- I didn't agree with the crowd booing A-Rod after only 2 ABs at home, but at the same time I get it. It's hard to defend the guy when he takes the best pitch in the at-bat to hit for a strike to make it 0-2 and then swing right through a 91-MPH thigh high fastball for strike 3.
- 2 really bad hanging sliders, 2 HR allowed for Kuroda through 5 innings. He just didn't seem to have the feel for that pitch at all last night. He couldn't keep it down in the zone and started throwing fewer of them as the game went on.
- Hiroki also hit his second batter of the night in as many innings when he plunked Chris Davis. After starting off looking really tight with his command early, it seemed to wane a little bit on him in each inning after.
- Mark Teixeira wasted a potentially good AB in the bottom of the 5th. He did a great job staying patient and working a 3-1 count, and then swung at ball 4 inside and popped out to shallow right. Just absolute crap.
- This has nothing to do with race, I just find it funny, but the batter in the "that's bush league, brah" avocado commercial looks like a black guy, at least to me, and he sounds EXACTLY like Matthew Perry. I don't care who you are, that's just funny.
- And just when it looked like he was starting to lose it, Kuroda came out for the top of the 6th and got through it on just 6 pitches. If there was a time to try to go after Gonzalez, it was with the top of the order coming up after a really short break in the bottom half of the inning.
- It didn't stop him from hitting, but Jeter's limp running to first base on his bad left foot/ankle looked really bad.
- From the "Piling on A-Rod" department, Craig Sager weighed in by bringing up Joe Torre's anti-A-Rod comments from years back. Hey Craig, eat a dick. If you want to join the A-Rod hate party, at least reference something from this season.
- I didn't want to give him credit, but Robinson Cano swinging through 2 straight low-90s fastballs to end the 6th inning was enough to convince me; Miguel Gonzalez was the man last night. He threw his fastball for strikes to both sides of the plate, worked his offspeed stuff in brilliantly the second and third times through the order, and overwhelmed the Yankees lineup.
- What's worse, the fact that that assclown who almost interfered with Eric Chavez making the catch in the 7th inning got those seats? Or the fact that he was wearing his girlfriend's Northface jacket to the game?
- FUCK YOU, CURTIS!!!! THAT LAST PITCH WAS ALMOST OVER YOUR HEAD AND YOU SWUNG ANYWAY!!! IT'S LIKE YOU"RE NOT EVEN TRYING!!!!
** DRUNK WARNING- Everything from this point on was written after I deemed myself officially quite intoxicated. Fair warning that it might not be as logically sharp as normal, and will almost certainly contain more foul language, like "shit" and various forms of "fuck." **
- Glad it took until Game 3 for me to dish out the "hey, I'm blogging shitfaced" warning that I thought of including for this year's series of postseason game recaps. If I had already been to this point before tonight, this whole write-up could have been a lot uglier.
- Great fucking start for Kuroda, who sat down the last 10 Orioles he faced and finished 8 innings with only the 2 runs against him on 2 bad sliders. He seemed to find his command again in the final 2 innings and as usual gave the Yankees a great chance to win the game. Imagine where he could have ended up in the Cy Young voting this year if his offense hit for him a little bit and got him the 21 or 22 wins he could have gotten.
- The left ankle didn't look any better for Jeter during his AB in the bottom of the 8th. My TYA compadre EJ Fagan predicted a DH role for Jeter for at least the rest of this series. I won't go that far, but I think Jeter will DH tonight.
- Sometime in the near future, when I've calmed down, somebody is going to have to explain to me why Kuroda was out there to start the top of the 9th. Yeah, he finished strong, but he was at 100 pitches, he was facing a power lefty the start the next inning, and Rafael Soriano was up and ready in the bullpen. What am I missing here?
- And yeah, Logan struck out Thome, BUT WHY WAS SORIANO NOT IN THE GAME?!?!?!
- And Joe sits A-Rod for Raul Ibanez in the 9th inning!!! So THAT'S why Joe kept him in the lineup but DH'd him! Smart move. Evil genius move. Right move.
- JOE GIRARDI, YOU MAGNIFICENT BASTARD, YOU'VE DONE IT!!!!!!!!
- Maybe it was just working out the kinks, but Soriano did not look comfortable throwing his fastball at all in the 10th inning. He got helped by the lineout to short, but there's no reason for him to be pitching Nate McLouth with sliders away.
- Nix entering for Jeter at short definitely poured gas on the "Jeter DHing in Game 4" fire...
- Props to Cal Ripken, it was weird to be watching an extra-inning postseason Yankee playoff game that didn't have Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez on the field.
- Downside to the A-Rod being the DH tonight surfaced in the bottom of the 11th when Buck brought Brian Matusz in and the Yankees couldn't afford to pinch hit for Chavez. That would have meant Eduardo Nunez in the field, since Nix had already entered for Jeter at short, and that's just not something that can be allowed to happen.
- The replay of Jeter reacting to Nix's deep flyout to left in the 11th was great TV. I will never understand how a dude as undeniably awesome as Derek Jeter,who has nothing left to prove, can still live and die with every single play that happens. Dude just fucking digs winning.
- The beer was almost spilled on the Teix/D-Rob infield pop-fuck-up in the 12th. That was just all kinds of bad on everybody's part. Somebody take charge out there!
- It really doesn't get any better than that if you're Raul Ibanez. And since there's only one of him in the world, it really doesn't get any better than that. Give the guy his lifetime invitation to Old Timers' Day, and put him on the lineup card for Game 4 now.
- A lot of people wondered why Joe went with the DH move instead of just moving A-Rod down or sitting him, and that was why. He still had faith in his guy and wanted to give him another opportunity to produce, but he also wanted the option of playing to a stronger late-game matchup for the team, and the DH spot allowed him to do that. Brilliant.
- Helluva win. I got so caught up in the emotion of it that I really can't comment on the team's reaction or any of the postgame talk. Just so awesome.
- Ibanez: 2-2, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI. It really is quite remarkable what Ibanez has done with this growing collection of clutch hits in the past month. If the guy ever has to pay for a dinner or a drink in the city every again, somebody messed up.
- Kuroda: 8 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K. It got overshadowed the moment Ibanez's first HR left the yard, but Kuroda turned in another fine performance last night. Just like in his final regular season start against Bahhston, he wasn't dominant with his stuff by any means but he was very effective. I thought he was starting to lose it in the 5th inning, but the 6-pitch 6th seemed to even things back out and Kuroda found his slider and corner fastball command against in the 7th and 8th innings to keep the deficit at 1.
- Jeter: 2-4, 1 3B, 1 RBI, 2 K. I know it's just baseball, and the injuries these guys usually sit with are stuff that NFL players practice with, but if you can't appreciate Derek Jeter playing that game last night basically on 1 leg after fouling the ball off his foot then you don't appreciate sports. Oh, and he drove in the team's only other non-Raul run.
- C-Grand: 0-4, 3 K. At least he didn't leave anybody on base.
- A-Rod: 0-3, 2 K, 1 LOB. I want to think that Joe DHing him was a last ditch attempt to give him a chance to do something and justify keeping him third in the batting order, but after the decision was made to hit for him in the bottom of the 9th, and the guy who hit for him tied and then won the game with home runs, I have to think A-Rod will be lower in the order tonight. He just isn't hitting anything and he looks straight up disgusting at the plate.
I don't know if I can take another game like last night's, but there won't be much time for anybody to recover with Game 4 already being less than 24 hours away. Joe committed to Phil Hughes for tonight's game before last night's was even played, and Hughes will get a chance to be a hero against Joe Saunders. First pitch at 7:37PM again.