Wednesday, October 20, 2010

ALCS Game 4 Thoughts And Afterthoughts- Part I

I'm still too shell shocked by what happened in the top of the 6th inning to really get into all the other analysis/quirky shit/lighter-hearted notes I took on the game last night so I'm just going to talk about the 5 things that cost the Yankees the game last night.

1) Cervelli in the lineup over Jorge

I don't give a fuck who A.J. prefers throwing to.  As horrible as he was in the regular season, he shouldn't get the right to influence the lineup, especially when that influence inserts a guy who had a .694 OPS in the regular season and hadn't had a single at-bat to date in the playoffs for a guy who had a .811 OPS in the regular season and happens to be one of the greatest offensive catchers of all-time.  And I know Jorge has swung a crummy bat in this series and looked awful against Lee in Game 3, but other than Cano who hasn't and who didn't?  Runs have been the Yankees' problem so far and I would still rather have the better bat in the lineup with a little pop than one that struggles to get the ball out of the infield on a consistent basis.

2) A.J. walking the leadoff batter (the # 7 hitter) and then promptly hitting the next batter who was trying to sacrifice (the #8 hitter) in the top of the 3rd

A.J. cruised through the first 2 inning perhaps easier than he had any other 2 innings all season.  He was getting ahead in the count, throwing both pitches for strikes, and getting swings and misses.  And then he came out to start the 3rd inning and promptly walked David Murphy, then drilled Bengie Molina in the back when he squared to bunt.  We all rolled our eyes at those two occurrences, but no one was really surprised.  That's what A.J. had done all year.  A.J. got ground balls from the next 4 batters, but because one was a sacrifice and one a cheap infield single, the Rangers had 2 runs in and the lead.  A.J. got what he deserved for letting the first 2 batters on without even having to swing the bat.

3) Yankees only get 1 run out of a bases loaded, 1 out situation in the bottom of the 4th

I texted both my friend and my dad after Berkman singled and said "that's not who you want coming up with the bases loaded," referring to Gardner and Cervelli.  Gardner is what he is, a slap hitter, and that usually leads to a lot of ground balls and grounds balls with the bases loaded leave the door wide open for double plays.  Gardner was lucky enough to not ground into one and unlucky enough to have Elvis Andrus make a fantastic play on his grounder in the hole at short.  Maybe a guy with a little more power or at least a little more authority in his swing (we'll get to that later) gets the ball through.  As far as Cervelli coming up next, refer to 1).

4) Yankees put 2 on with 0 outs in the bottom of the 5th and get 0 runs

Lost in the major bummer (sort of) of the injury to Teix was the fact that he failed to drive in a run with yet another weak hack with Jeter on 2nd, C-Grand on 1st, and Derek Holland on the verge of blowing up on the mound.  A-Rod followed that up with a tailor-made GIDP ball and that was all she wrote.  From being on the verge of breaking the game open to still holding a slim 1-run lead in a matter of 2 minutes thanks to the "heart" of your order.  Bullshit.

5) Joe deciding to intentionally walk David Murphy in the top of the 6th

This is the one that really took the cake in my book.  Joe getting caught up in his fucking binders and fucking matchup books and not just taking a second to watch what was happening on the field, assess the situation, recognize what was at stake, and make a simple logical decision.  A.J. had battled back from allowing a lead off single to Vlad to get the next 2 hitters out with Vlad still on 2nd.  But, A.J. had thrown 3 high-stress innings prior to the 6th, his pitch count was up, and he was starting to tire.  All pitchers start missing their spots when they get tired, it happens.  And with A.J., who has spotty control to begin with, the risk runs even greater.  I don't blame Joe for not wanting A.J. to pitch to Murphy in that situation.  But you don't, don't, DON'T, DON'T, DON'T put more runners on base in a 1-run playoff game.

That situation should have been real simple.  You either trust your guy on the mound to get the next batter out and get out of the inning, or if you don't, you go to your bullpen and you bring in your lefty.  You cannot give the opponent free baserunners in a 1-run game in the playoffs, especially when you're down 2-1 in the series and especially when it's the bottom of the fucking order that you're trying to get cute with.  Instead Joe kept his nose in his fucking binders, saw Bengie Molina's history against A.J., ignored the fact that Bengie Molina had pounded the fuck out of the ball all series long and all postseason long, and left his tired, erratic starter in to face arguably the other team's hottest hitter.  A.J. missed his spot, ballgame over.

And don't even try to make the "he was trying to save Logan for later in the game" argument because I'm not buying that for a second.  I have all the faith in the world that D-Rob in the 7th, Wood in the 8th, and Mo in the 9th can get lefties out just as effectively as Boone Logan.  That's why they have the roles they have to begin with.  The most important batter is always the next batter and that moment, with a runner in scoring position and a 1-run lead, was the time to go to your lefty if you didn't trust your starter to get him out.

Joe didn't do that and he cost his team with another decision made based on what he read in a book rather than what was happening on the field.

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