Monday, November 2, 2009

Get The Coffin Ready. Game 4 Thoughts and Afterthoughts

* Did anybody else's jaw hit the coffee table last night when Tim McCarver praised the Yankees and Joe Girardi for using the 3-man, short rest rotation for the remainder of the series. At this point I had assumed it was written into all of FOX's commentator contracts that they couldn't say anything good about the Yankees before 10PM.

* Tim must have realized his mistake because he quickly jumped back into formation on the Phillies cheerleading squad when he said that, in his view, there was no way Joe Blanton hitting A-Rod in the top of the 1st was intentional. I don't know where Tim's getting his views from, seeing as how he caught some of the most notorious headhunters in baseball history, but when a guy gets plunked 3 times in 10 innings, that's about as intentional as it gets. Shame on the umps too for not recognizing the pattern and giving CC a chance to drill Utley or Howard before issuing the warning.

* Both pitchers seemed like they were starting to settle in after the 3rd inning, but neither was on top of their game. Blanton was living on questionable strike calls by Mike Everett and CC could never quite find the consistent command of his fastball that he's used all postseason to get ahead in the count.

* I know it's a bang-bang play at the plate in the bottom of the 4th, but when you're in perfect position and looking right at the plate, there's no reason to blow the call on Ryan Howard missing the plate on his collision with Jorge. It was obvious, it was clear as day, and Mike Everett had a front row seat for it. On the replays you could tell he was unsure of whether or not Howard touched the plate, as he didn't make the "safe" sign until a good 2-3 seconds after Jorge dropped the ball. He knew what the right call was, but once he realized the Yankees weren't going to tag the plate, he took the easy way out and made the safe call. Disgraceful.

* Slick Back Utley tried to be too cool for school in the top of the 5th and it cost his team a couple of runs. He had plenty of time to transfer to ball and make an underhand flip or even a short toss to Jimmy Rollins at 2nd to get Swisher. Maybe that means the Phils don't turn 2, but the lead runner is always most important and Utley tried to make the flashy play to keep the chance at 2 and instead they didn't even get one. I know you've got the hair gel, chief, but you ain't the Fonz, and you certainly ain't Robinson Cano so just stick to the fundamentals.

* Nice read by Melky on Damon's bloop single after the Jeter hit in the 5th. He came halfway off, like your supposed to, and once he realized the ball was going to drop he was thinking homeplate all the way. Maybe a better throw gets him, but with a good slide he's probably in either way. When you're ahead in the game, you can take chances like that and that one turned out well for the Yanks.

* I don't know about you, but I was losing my shit after Teix and A-Horse popped up with 2 on and 1 out to kill the 5th-inning rally. A couple more runs there and you can start shoveling dirt on the Phillies; as it turned out, they could have used those 2 extra runs in the later innings to secure the win and you expect your $50 million heart of the order to something more than pop up to left in that situation.

* The bottom of the 5th summed up CC's night and his performance so far in the World Series: he didn’t have his best stuff, he got himself into trouble allowing the first 2 runners on, but then he bore down and made some big pitches when he needed them to get the 3-4-5 hitters out and keep it a 2-run lead. No way Wang, Clemens, Randy Johnson, Javy Vazquez, or even Chad Gaudin gets out of that situation unscathed.

* Who had the better "FUCK!!" picked up by the FOX homeplate mic, CC after failing to get the bunt down in the top of the 5th or Howard after popping up to left in the bottom? I say CC, hands down. His was more forceful, angry, and much louder and clearer into the mic; Howard sounded downtrodden and defeated with his and there was no heart behind it. The Yankees even swear better than the Phillies.

* It's official: Chase Utley owns CC Sabathia. I know that sounds bad, seeing as how Utley is an uppity-looking white man and CC is a big, strong black guy, but it's the truth, He OWNS him! CC pitched him pretty well the second time around last night, but in the 7th he threw a bad pitch (slider) in an even worse location (hung right over the middle) with 2 strikes and Utley abused it. I wonder what Utley will do in the offseason to torment CC since he won't have CC's off-speed pitches to pound. Maybe some ding-ding-ditch? Little flaming bag of poo on the doorstep?

* I know it's picking at some really small nits, considering the Yanks are a game away from winning it all, but there have been a lot of Yankee batters watching a lot of strike 3's go right down the middle in this series. Yes, I'm talking to you, A-Rod, Teixeira, Posada, and Nick Swisher. I don't know why the decision was made to be taking so much with 2 strikes or if they're all just guessing wrong, but shit! There's been at least a handful of 2-strike fastballs down Broadway that should have been souvenirs, not strike 3.

* He was looking like he was all the way back to form last night, but then Joba decided to stop pitching and start thinking and he screwed himself. He was throwing straight gas, consistently in the 95-96MPH range and nobody on the Phils had shown any ability to put it in play and then he decides to get cute on Pedro Feliz with a 1-2 count, throws 2 shit sliders to make the count full and then had to groove a fastball when Feliz knew it was coming. As many times as he called time to go talk to CC last night, Jorge should have sprinted out to the mound to put Joba in his place as soon as he started shaking off the fastball in that situation.

* He's gone back and forth from earning himself a new 2-year deal to not even getting an offer, but I think it's safe to say Johnny ensured himself a contract for next season with his call back to his KC Royal days on the steal on 2nd and 3rd in the top of the 9th last night. It was a great hustle play and a head's up play all in one, and without the pop-up slide into 2nd, he probably has no chance to make it to 3rd, which is what set up the rest of the inning.

* You can argue whether or not Lidge should have kept throwing the slider all day if you want (and I personally think it's pathetic that the Phillies would decide to go away from his best pitch for fear that he throws a wild pitch), but the fact of the matter is A-Rod was looking fastball all the way and got one right down the middle on his game-winning RBI double. With the wheels falling off the Lidge cart, somebody should have been out there talking to him, and telling him to stick with the slider. Unless you hit him with it, A-Rod is going to make contact on a fastball and that's exactly what he did with Lidge's.

* Another vintage Mo outing in the 9th: 8 pitches, 2 broken bats, 3 outs, start spreading the news. Hopefully Brad Lidge was taking notes.

* If Game 4 of the ALCS was CC Version 2.0, then last night was CC Version 0.2. It was basically a rerun on his Game 1 performance: high pitch count early, untimely walks, never being able to locate the fastball consistently, and pitching from behind in the count more than you'd like to see. But he still gave the Yankees 6+ and left with the lead, and there's something to be said for that. When your ace comes out with his B- or C-game and you still get a win, you'll take it.

* Sure it's Monday Morning Quarterbacking, but Charlie Manuel should have thrown Cliff Lee last night. If your only excuse is that he's never done it before, then that’s just not good enough. Nobody has ever done it before the first time they do it, and yet we've seen plenty of guys step up on short rest and throw gems. If Manuel was worried about him being tired then he shouldn't have let him throw a 122-pitch complete game in Game 1. The bottom line is your team was playing a must-win game and you left your best pitcher on the bench in favor of your number 4 starter. And if you aren't going to start him, at least bring the fucking guy in in the 9th inning. Anything would have been better than Lidge.

* the 9th inning last night was a microcosm of the Yankees entire season; timely hitting when they needed it and shutdown bullpen work at the most crucial moment. CC wasn't great, Joba made a bad pitch, and up until the 9th the offense had only mustered 5 hits, 4 coming from Jeter and Damon, and yet they still managed to put together 3 runs with 2 outs in the 9th inning to get the lead back and hand it over to the most sure thing in the world next to death. Now it's clearly not about bad calls, bad decisions, or anything else. It’s about the Yankees being the better team, plain and simple.

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