The Ghosts have Crossed the Street

October 10, 2009

On Friday night, the Yankees came back from two runs down in the ninth, and then overcame a bases loaded, nobody out jam in the eleventh en route to a Mark Teixiera homer, and a 2-0 lead in the series against the Twins.  The victory makes one wonder if the mystique of old Yankee Stadium has jumped the short distance into the Bronx Bomber’s new stomping grounds.

The Yankees caught a few big breaks in this one.  Terrible umpiring was prevalent from the first pitch, but in the eleventh, Joe Mauer hit what appeared to be a leadoff ground rule double.  The umpire called the ball foul, though replays proved it to be fair by at least a foot (Words cannot describe how bad this call was.  The umpire was standing on top of it, and staring right at it.  Melky Cabrera touched it in fair territory.  Bad call).  Mauer would later single, but was forced out at the plate in an epic escape by Yankee’s reliever David Robertson.

Earlier on in the game, with the game still tied at zip, Matt Tolbert singled with two outs and Delmon Young at second.  Carlos Gomez took a wide turn rounding second, and Nick Swisher quickly got the ball into Derek Jeter.  Jeter who is seemingly, always in the right place at the right time in the month of October, applied the tag to Gomez just before Delmon Young reached homeplate.  Inning over, game still tied.

A more blatant example of pimping a homerun. At Least Mannys went out.

A more blatant example of pimping a homerun. At Least Manny's went out.

Also, a moment no one touched on during the coverage.  Brendan Harris hit a key rbi triple for the Twins.  While watching, the first thing I thought when Johnny Damon whiffed on it was, “that will be an inside the park homer,” but replays show Harris pimping it (definition: verb. admiring a batted ball that you think will reach the stands.) and getting off to a slow start.  He had a stand up triple and slowed down into third.  If he busts it out of the box, Harris may have had a rare homerun without leaving the yard.

A third break for the Yankees is that in his last two outings, Joe Nathan has looked pathetic.  Tuesday, against the Tigers, he pulled a Houdini on a ball smoked at Orlando Cabrera that caught Curtis Granderson napping at first, and tonight, he came in and could not throw a strike.  Nathan looked shook on the mound.  He was sweating like a pig.  When Nathan did find the zone, he found a bit too much of it, and paid the price.  Teixiera got a hard single off of Joe, and Alex Rodriguez followed with an absolute blast that made New York fans forget about the past, until tomorrow.

Jose Mijares dodged a bullet in the tenth, a runner inherited from Joe Nathan, Brett Gardner took off from third on a line drive to Orlando Cabrera and was doubled off to end a very promising threat.  (In Gardner’s defense, if he froze and got back to third, Derek Jeter was halfway to second base, and would have been thrown out anyways.)

Francisco Cervelli was the last person that thought Francisco Cervelli would play tonight.

Francisco Cervelli was the last person that thought Francisco Cervelli would play tonight.

This whole situation led to the very surprising use of Francsico Cervelli in the game.  When Posada was pulled for a pinch runner Francisco was actually at the bar in centerfield with his spikes on.  Cervelli came in and handled David Robertson effectively to get out of a huge jam.

After the first two games of the series the Steinbrenner Plan is working to perfection.  C.C. got a win, AJ Burnett pitched wildly effective, and Mark Teixiera collected the walkoff “wallscraper.”  Yankees fans are just hoping the Plan works in the House that Kirby Built.

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Matt Holliday… It’s Not Your Fault..

October 9, 2009

Here’s a quick video of Tony La Russa and Matt Holliday talking it out after last night’s game…

Matt Holliday made one of the more memorable plays in recent history last night in the Cardinal’s last inning loss to the Dodgers.  In a play more fitting for America’s Funniest Home Videos than Baseball Tonight, Holliday got hit in the balls, fell over, and then chomped on sunflower seeds while getting harassed by America’s prettiest in SoCal.  It was as if the opposing team’s Leftfielder was channeling Holliday from the bench.  To put it bluntly, Matt Holliday pulled a Manny.

Sorry Ryan, you were called on to get 2 outs, then needed to get an extra one because of Holliday, but, isnt getting 3 outs your job?

Sorry Ryan, you were called on to get 2 outs, then needed to get an extra one because of Holliday, but, isn't getting 3 outs your job?

Moving on, I realize that Holliday’s catch would have ended the game.  It would have been a one, two, three inning, and Cardinals fans would have gone and listened to books on tape read by Jack Buck, and wandered off to dreams of Mark McGwire hitting dingers into Big Mac Land (or whatever it is Cards fans do after victories… Budweiser?).  But, in his defense, Ryan Franklin still has to close this game out.  Lets take a look at Franklin’s line:


R. Franklin   0.1 IP,  2H, 2R, 0ER, 2BB,  0SO, 0.00 ERA  L, BSv

James Loney would have been Franklin’s second out in his appearance.  You are telling me a closer can’t get three outs for a save?  The problem I have with Ryan Franklin is that he doesn’t have overpowering stuff.  He had a WHIP of 1.20 for the season (meaning he gave up 1.2 walks or hits per inning he pitched, meaning, basically, he allowed at least a base runner in every appearance he made.).

A good closer has to be nearer to 1.  Also, with a WHIP of 1.2, Franklin is used to pitching with a runner on base.   He did not have anything to put away Casey Blake in a long battle that ended with a walk of Blake.  He then sacrificed the game tying single to Ronnie “Belisario” Belliard.  Then, the one that really throws me for a loop, he walked Russell Martin on four pitches, none of which, made Martin even contemplate swinging.

Once Manny and Ethier were out, this was not the heart of the Dodger lineup.  One must question Tony La Russa’s taking out of Adam Wainwright as well.  Wainwright had thrown 109 pitches, but he had allowed only 3 hits.  Wainwright did run into a bit of trouble in the bottom of the 8th, but it ended without anyone hitting anything too hard off of him.

A closer has to have the ability to get a strikeout.  Unless you are a popup producing machine, you need to be able to get a K to limit damage with runners on.  Franklin struck out 44 guys in 61 innings this season.  For some perspective (Mo, 72K- 66IP, Pap, 76-68, Hoff, 48-54, and Broxton, 114-76).  My esteemed colleague picked him as closer of the year in the NL.  WHIP is why I disagreed.

I am not placing the blame squarely on Franklin, but he is due a fair share, and I am sure he is kicking himself as much as Holliday is today.  You want to spread it around some more?

Here we go, nobody out in the 7th, Mark DeRosa singles, Colby Rasmus follows him with a double that scores DeRosa, but is thrown out at third.  Cardinals take the lead, but the rally is dead.  Could have been a big inning, instead of runner on third nobody out, it is nobody on, one out.

With his contract up, its sad that Holliday will probably be remembered in ST. Louis as, That guy that got hit in the balls.

With his contract up, its sad that Holliday will probably be remembered in St. Louis as, "That guy that got hit in the balls."

Here is another fun fact, the Cardinals scored two runs in this game.  The second was on the double by Rasmus.  The first run was on a homerun by none other than public enemy #1 in St. Louis right now, Matt Holliday.  How soon we forget.

There is no worse feeling for a baseball player than making an error, and just waiting in the field to see if it will result in runs.  A closer has to have the balls to pick up his teammates.  Holliday screwed up, but this loss was a team effort, just as the win was a team effort for the Dodgers.