Sunday, October 2, 2011

ALDS Game 2 Preview: Abbreviated Version

Heading out to breakfast and then the track soon, so here's what I got.

Pitching Matchup: Freddy Garcia vs. Max Scherzer.

3 Things to Watch For:

1) Tigers' Approach vs. Freddy- swing early and try to beat him up on the slow fastball or patience and let him use all his junk?

2) Joe's Hook with Freddy- well-rested bullpen and CC coming back tomorrow.  Joe might not give Freddy a lot of slack on his line if he starts to struggle.

3) Robbie Cano- He looked completely locked in last night.  What will he do today for an encore?  2 more HRs?  3?  Will Detroit even pitch to him with a weak A-Rod hitting behind him?

Player To Watch: Mark Teixeira

The stance and swing from the left side looked better last night, and he's facing another righty today.  If he keeps using all fields, Teix can get back to being the dangerous hitter he's always been.

Game starts at 3:07 Eastern/2:07 Central.  I'll miss the whole thing.

ALDS Game 1 Thoughts & Afterthoughts

- What the hell was Jorge Posada thinking/doing when he wandered off 3rd on that groundball in the bottom of the 2nd?  On that play, you freeze when the 3rd baseman makes the play, and start moving towards 3rd as he checks you to force the throw to 1st.  Jorge decided to continue to move down the baseline when Inge caught the ball and STILL continued to move down the line as Inge came towards him.  By the time Jorge decided to break for home, Inge could have rolled the ball to Avila at home for the out.  Just a horrible play in what was the Yankees' only scoring opportunity until the 6th inning.

- Nova looked good early, attacking with the fastball, getting ahead in the count, and forcing the Tigers to swing at the pitches that he wanted them to.  He was also working incredibly quickly, a very good sign for him.

- Teix, new stance and all, looked like dogshit in his 3-pitch K in the bottom of the 3rd.  Luckily it sounds like he's already signed up for some offseason sessions at the Kevin Long School of Hitting.

- Nova had a bit of a hiccup in the 5th after allowing his first baserunner.  His slider wasn't nearly as sharp out of the stretch, but he continued to locate the fastball well and worked out of trouble.  And even out of the stretch, he never lost his rhythm.

- Great job by both C-Grand and Jeter on the relay to nail Avila at the plate in the 5th inning.  Both got to the ball quickly, got rid of it quickly, and Martin was in perfect position to receive Jeter's throw.  Putting the "fun" in "fundamentals."

- I thought it was the right call on the Cano 2B in the bottom of the 5th inning.  The ball clearly hit the top of the wall and came back into play.  Heads up play by C-Grand to continue running hard with 2 outs and not slowing up to see if it was a HR or not.

- Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good, and the double play off the bat of Ordonez in the 6th was a perfect example of that.  Cano was breaking to second base to cover the steal attempt and the ball was hit right to him.  After he stepped on the bag he had about 3 weeks to gather himself and throw Mags out.  I'll take that.

- I know ESPN is still licking their wounds over the Fraud Sawx collapse, but Swish's diving catch in right to end the 6th had to be the top Web Gem of the night last night.

- Stat of the night in the bottom of the 6th- Swish came up with an 0-27 in his postseason career with RISP.  Predictably, he struck out in that at-bat to run the streak to 0-28.

- Great piece of hitting by Gardner on his 2-RBI single in the 6th.  Fister hung a curve and Gardner put a good swing on it to get it through the right side.  That was the first time we really saw Fister miss his spot bad, and it was a sign of things to come.

- Another stroke of luck on the Jeter single to follow as Ryan Raburn was going to cover 2nd on Gardner's steal attempt and opened the hole for The Captain.

- PHENOMENAL at-bat by Curtis to follow Jeter, fighting back from an 0-2 count to draw a walk, load the bases for Cano, and force Fister out of the game.  Fister had been cruising up until he got 2 outs in the 6th and then couldn't put the Yankee hitters away.

- Cano was looking slider all the way on his grand slam, and Al Albuquerque obliged, hanging one right over the plate after he missed up with his first one.  It was a horrible pitch and Cano made him pay.

- From the "You Can't Predict Baseball, Suzyn" Department: Albuquerque didn't allow a HR in his 43.1 regular season innings pitched.  Last night, he gave up a grand slam on his 2nd pitch.

- Mary Kay Messenger made me forget all about Ronan Tynan during the 7th inning stretch.

- Even though the first K was ugly, Teix already looked better at the plate last night with his new closed stance.  His coverage of the outside corner was much better and we saw him take a couple pitches the other way, including his double off the wall.  That's what's been missing from his game all year and it's good to see him already working to fix that.

- Cano's 6 RBI tied a Yankee postseason record last night.  Tip of the cap for that, Robbie.

- I didn't understand why Joe even had Soriano warming up in the 6th when Nova was cruising and had a low pitch count, and I didn't understand why Ayala or Mo were up in the 9th.  There was no need to even get Mo up, and Ayala just sucks.

- Speaking of which, who said Ayala shouldn't have made the playoff roster??  Oh that's right, I did.  Nova deserved better than to have his line tarnished by the cheap late runs, and Ayala never should have been in that game after what he showed in his last outing.  That's gotta be Cory Wade time, but oh well.

- All in all it was a solid outing for Nova.  His fastball was sharp all night, and he used it to get ahead consistently.  His slider was very inconsistent, but as both Smoltz and Darling touched on during the TBS broadcast, he was effectively wild with it.  Sometimes he could spin it right where he wanted, and sometimes it was bouncing in front of the plate.  It worked to Nova's advantage because the Tiger hitters could never square up on it, and when he had to throw a good one he did on multiple occasions.  Impressive outing by the kid.

- Fister was equally sharp early on, using all 4 of his pitches well to keep the Yankees off balance.  But for whatever reason, he started to lose it in the 6th and couldn't put away 3 straight guys with 2 outs.  That walk to C-Grand was definitely the key at-bat in that inning, and after the Cano HR Fister's line ended up uglier than it really was.

- Tough night for the homeplate ump.  Took a couple balls off the groin region and one in the face off of Nova's wild slider.  He had to be only too happy to see Nova get taken out in the 9th.

- Good win for the Yanks all around last night.  They worked the starter out of the game, started to insert some doubt into the Tiger bullpen, and saved their key 'pen guys to be ready today and tomorrow if needed.