Thursday, October 11, 2012

2012 ALDS Game 4 Preview: What More Can I Say?

I honestly don't know what to say after last night.  Or even after the first 3 games of this series.  It's been the highest of highs and the lowest of lows as a fan and as a writer these last 4 days, and to be perfectly honest I am drained.  The Yankees certainly looked like the were fixing to break our hearts last night, but some more Raul Ibanez fireworks, this latest round some of the biggest Yankee postseason fireworks in recent memory, changed all that.  Now the Yankees come into tonight's game with the series lead, the momentum, and the emotional edge with the way last night's game finished up.  Baltimore's got a tall order in front of them to try to keep this series alive tonight, and putting their playoff lives in the hands of a pitcher they basically picked off the scrap heap, even if he did pitch well in the Wild Card game, is a tough spot to be in.

I'm hoping for a nice easy game tonight.  I could really use it, and not just to catch up on sleep.  There are some personal obligations on the horizon for Friday and Saturday night that I was hoping wouldn't interfere too much in my postseason viewing/writing plans, and those obligations become a lot less intrusive if the Yankees take care of business tonight.

Updated Starting Lineups (3:55PM):

1) Jeter- DH, 2) Ichiro- LF, 3) Teix- 1B, 4) Cano- 2B, 5) A-Rod- 3B, 6) Swish- RF, 7) Martin- C, 8) C-Grand- CF, 9) Nix- SS

BAL: 1) McLouth- LF, 2) Hardy- SS, 3) Davis- RF, 4) Jones- CF, 5) Wieters- C, 6) Thome- DH, 7) Reynolds- 1B, 8) Flaherty- 2B, 9) Machado- 3B

Pitching Matchup-

Phil Hughes (16-13, 4.23 ERA/4.56 FIP, 7.76 K/9) vs. Joe Saunders (9-13, 4.07 ERA/4.08 FIP, 5.77 K/9)

Giving D-Rob His Due

(Doin' the damn thing again)

The Yankee starting pitchers in this series, as awesome as they’ve been, have been completely overshadowed by the A-Rod saga and Raul Ibanez’s heroics last night, and that’s a bit of a shame. CC, Andy, and Hiroki last night have all been terrific and limited the Orioles to just a handful of well-struck balls that led to runs. Subtract maybe 3 or 4 pitches and we’re talking about a couple of shutout games here. And the small bit of credit and ink the rotation has gotten has also overshadowed another positive pitching story from this series- the lights out relief work of David Robertson.

The Yankee bullpen has pitched 5 total innings in the first 3 games of this series, and Robertson has pitched 3.1 of them. He’s the only Yankee pitcher who has appeared in every game, and as usual he’s been used in a variety of different situations. He came in to get the final out of Game 1 in relief of CC with a runner on, he pitched the 8th inning of Game 2 to hold the O’s down and give the offense a chance to come back in the 9th, and he pitched 2 scoreless innings in the 11th and 12th last night and got credit for the win.

And he hasn’t just been getting by on some lucky pitches, D-Rob has been BRINGING it. Dude has allowed just one baserunner, hasn’t walked a batter, and has struck out 4. He’s thrown 41 total pitches in his 3 appearances, 17 curveballs, 14 cutters, and 10 4-seamers, and 33 of them have been strikes. He’s pounding the zone, getting ahead in the count, and overwhelming the Oriole hitters with his combination of great late fastball life and near impossible-to-square up curveball movement. He’s essentially been a footnote in every game thus far, but don’t discount the great job that The Fireman has done in this series.

2012 ALDS Game 3 Thoughts & Afterthoughts: NYY 3 BAL 2

("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.