Thursday, October 29, 2009

Well That Sucked. Game 1 Thoughts and Afterthoughts

* After breezing through his first 3 starts, CC hit a bit of a bump in the road last night to start the game. He was clearly a little too jacked up as he couldn't establish command of his pitches and was overthrowing badly in the first inning. He settled down by the time the 3rd rolled around, but by that point he had already thrown 40 pitches.

* Cliff Lee, on the other hand, was an absolute meast last night. I honestly didn't expect him to throw a fraction of a percentage as well as he did last night and it didn't look like the Yankees did either. Lee threw the first-pitch fastball for strike 1 all night and then resorted to his array of off-speed stuff to get most of his outs. The Yankees never seemed to pick up on his strategy the 2nd or 3rd times through the lineup and were pretty much relegated to guessing by the middle innings because Lee could hit any part of the strike zone with any pitch whenever he wanted. There were maybe 3 or 4 hard hit balls off him all night and 2 of them were off the bat of Jeter. A-Rod and Teix looked helpless and Jorge continues to be the easiest Yankee to strike out on a curveball in the dirt this side of Shelley Duncan.

* Chase Utley's at-bat in the 3rd inning was Jeteresque in its greatness. He worked Sabathia, constantly fouling off the pitches he couldn't handle to get himself a better one to hit until finally Sabathia dared him to hit the heat and he obliged. The walk he drew in the 1st inning set up the rest of the night perfectly for him as Sabathia did not want to walk him again.

* I don't know what was better about Jimmy Rollins' play in the bottom of the 5th, the fact that he had the smarts to catch the ball, step on 2nd, and tell Howard to tag Matsui, in effect guaranteeing the Phillies a double play no matter what the call was, or the fact that the umpires got together, conversed, deferred to the guys who had the good looks at the play, and got the call right. Way to go, fellas, 1 out of 100 ain't bad!

* I do, however, know what was terrible about that play and it was Matsui's running or lack of running decision. Dude, you see the ball up in the air, get your fucking ass back to first base!! Or if you think it was a trap and he tagged second, at least try to run to second!! Matsui did the worst thing a baserunner could do in that situation, nothing. At that point it was the first time the Yanks had gotten the lead runner on and it was wiped out by a combination of stupidity/laziness. It's shit like that that will have Matsui wearing another jersey next year; the guy is a liability everywhere except at the plate and one-dimensional baseball players are about as useful as an Etch-A-Sketch for Michael J. Fox.

* As great as hit at-bat against CC was in the 3rd, Utley's homer off of him in the 6th was all on CC. It was an awful pitch thrown after an awful decision by CC to shake off Jorge's call for a slider in favor of the fastball. CC was ahead 0-2 and just had Utley take a hideous swing at an off-speed offering on the outside. Utley punished his fastball last time so why revert back to what didn't work before? Once again, Yankee pitchers' thinking they're smarter than their catcher comes back to bite them in the ass. Why bother having Jorge even put down signs if you already know what you want to throw? Just set up a pitch back with a fucking glove taped to it.

* FOX's constant dugout camera shots afforded us viewers multiple looks at Utley's Jimmy Conway/Henry Hill slick-back look like night and I have to say I was impressed. Rick Pitino himself couldn't have pulled that off any better last night. I was half expecting to see Utley talking to Cliff Lee between innings telling him he insulted the Yankees "a lil bit" after his nonchalant pop-up catch.

* Speaking of which, that catch summed up Lee's performance last night. The Yankees out there flailing away and Lee just being Joe Cool out there mowing them down. Sure he had every right to be cool about it as well as he was pitching, and we all know it provided Tim McCarver with great amounts of enjoyment in the broadcast booth and in his hotel room late at night after the game, but that play shouldn't be forgotten by the Yankees tonight or the next time they face Lee in the series. Something that borderline cocky is something teams don't forget.

* I was surprised to see CC back on the mound for the 7th inning after racking up 100 pitches through 6, but it ended up being the right move by Joe to keep them in the game at the time and showed how little confidence he has in the pen right now. 2-0 after 6 is not insurmountable, and Joe felt more comfortable with a tired CC than a well-rested pen.

* Once the bullpen did get their paws on the game, it was all over but the crying. Phil Hughes is officially useless now. He probably pitched his way out of consideration for any big moments for the remainder of the series last night and we can all start calling him "Phillip" again because that's what he's pitching like. He can bark at the ump all he wants, but the fact is he wasn't hitting his spots with his fastball AGAIN and his 2 walks were the nail in the Yankees' coffin last night. Clearly the moment is too big for him and that's why we'll most likely see Phillip back as the number 4 or 5 starter next season.

* Between Hughes' implosion, Joba's inconsistency, Coke and Robertson's lack of innings, and the new season of "The Brian Bruney Batting Practice Show," I now have visions of Tom Gordon, Paul Quantrill, Kyle Farnsworth, Mike Myers, Steve Karsay, Ron Villone, and Luis Vizcaino running through my head. I can't get on Coke and Robertson too bad for last night since they haven't been used since Jon and Kate were still together, but somebody needs to step up and get 3 fucking outs.

* It's sad when CC throws 7 innings, gives up 4 hits and 2 runs, strikes out 6, and it looks like a bad outing. 60% of the time, that stat line wins every time, but not when Cliff Lee is doing his Cy Young impression against him. His stuff and command got better in every inning and he really only threw 2 bad pitches so there's no need to worry about him throwing Game 4 on short rest. Maybe the extra rest before this start got him out of rhythm.

*It's even more sad when the best part of a World Series game is the promo for the new season of "24." That minute was the only thing that snapped me out of my beer-induced funk after it became crystal clear the Yankees weren't doing anything against Lee.

* As good as Lee was, and he was fucking amazing, I think the fact that Charlie left him out there to throw 120 pitches to finish the game shows not only how little faith he has in his bullpen, but also how little faith he has in the rest of his rotation. Charlie knew his best chance to win the game was to keep his best pitched on the mound as long as possible. He could sense how important that first win was knowing he's got an old Pedro, shaky Hamels, and an even shakier Blanton for the next 3 games. And if he knows that, you know the Yankees know that too so there's no need to panic over last night. Not even the real Murderer's Row would have scored a run off Lee last night.

Everyone just needs to forget about this one and hope we see the good A.J. and bad Pedro tonight.  Let's how influential he is at the new Stadium with his 85-MPH fastball in the colder weather.