October 2009

A.J. Shines As Matsui Victimizes Pedro Again

WORLD SERIES GAME 2
YANKEES 3, PHILLIES 1


In Game 6 of the 2003 American League Championship Series a double by Hideki Matsui led to a defeat of Pedro Martinez and the Boston Red Sox. In Game 2 of the 2009 World Series a home run by Hideki Matsui led to the defeat of Pedro Martinez and the Philadelphia Phillies.
As Yogi Berra says, it was deja’ vu all over again as A.J. Burnett pitched seven dominant innings to outduel the Yankees’ Public Enemy No. 1, Martinez, and the Phillies 3-1 on Thursday night and tie this World Series at a game apiece.
Despite what Joe Buck of FOX Sports might have led you to believe, Burnett won his showdown with the cocky Dominican righthander. 
Burnett (1-0) silenced the Phillies in his first career World Series start with a mere run on just four hits and two walks and he fanned nine batters. Burnett threw first-pitch strikes to 21 of the 26 batters he faced and had the likes of Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, Raul Ibanez and Matt Stairs flailing at air on his deadly and unhittable curveball all night long.
“I knew it was a big game — it’s no lie,” Burnett told MLB.com. “It was the biggest game I’ve ever thrown in for this team. You can’t let that affect you, and I tried not to let it affect me. I knew I had a big task ahead of me with Pedro on the mound, and I wanted to go out and pitch the best I could.”
Martinez (0-1) was able to fool the Yankees for a time with his assortment of off-speed garbage and slow and even slower changeups until the fourth inning. Pedro let go of one too many slow changeups to Mark Teixeira and Teixeira promptly deposited the badly bruised horsehide some 405 feet away in the back of the Yankees’ bullpen in right-center.
The game was tied at one.
Pedro smiled.
“We hadn’t done much offensively all series, and Pedro was pitching great,” Teixeira said to MLB.com. “We tip our hats to him. But I think the home run got the crowd back in it. It evened the game.
Two innings later, with two out and nobody on, Martinez tried to double up on a curveball to Matsui on a 1-2 count but Matsui went down to get it and drove it high and deep down the line into the rightfield bleachers to the Yankees in the lead for the first time in this Fall Classic.
The Yankees fans who dominated the 50,181 people in attendance rose to cheer the blast and then the partisans restarted a “Who’s Your Daddy” chant that reverberated throughout the new Yankee Stadium. The “Daddy” reference came from a Martinez postgame interview of September 2004 when he said “maybe the Yankees are my Daddy.”
Yankees fans have never forgotten that phrase.
As Matsui ran the bases and the “Daddy” chant started anew, Martinez smiled.
In 2003, a tiring Martinez was beating the Yankees in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series. Then-Red Sox manager Grady Little went to the mound to ask Pedro if he was OK. Martinez said he was and Little left him in to face Matsui. 
Matsui then blasted a double down the rightfield line that gave the Yankees a come-from-behind victory and Martinez ended up 0-1 with a 5.65 ERA in the series. After the Yankees won the series in seven games, Little was fired by the Red Sox — largely for letting Martinez face Matsui.
Matsui made the loudmouthed Latin braggart pay once once again. Perhaps the Yankees fans phrase should now be “Who’s Your Poppa-San?”
“His home run was huge,” Girardi said to MLB.com. “It’s the first lead we’ve had in this series in the two games.”
Surprisingly enough, manager Charlie Manuel, beginning to look somewhat like poor Grady Little, sent Martinez out to pitch the bottom of the seventh despite the fact he had thrown 99 pitches. He would regret it.
Martinez proved he needed to have a huge fork stuck in him because he was obviously more than done after giving up a leadoff single to Jerry Hairston, who was penciled into the lineup over regular rightfielder Nick Swisher by manager Joe Girardi because he was hitting .370 lifetime off El Pedro.
After Brett Gardner was sent in to pinch-run for Hairston, Melky Cabrera then slashed a line-drive single on a hit-and-run that propelled the speedy Gardner to third. Manuel then saw the error of his Grady Little ways in sticking with a gassed Pedro on a hostile Yankee Stadium stage but it was two batters and eight pitches too late.
The Yankee faithful had one last serenade for its favorite villain as he walked towards the Phillies dugout. Martinez again just smiled.
It begs the question: What does Pedro do when he actually beats the Yankees? He obviously smiles broadly when he loses.
Pinch-hitter Jorge Posada greeted reliever Chan Ho Park with a solid single up the middle to plate Gardner to give the Yankees a 3-1 lead with Mariano Rivera warming up for a six-out save in the Yankees’ bullpen.
Martinez ledger showed that he gave up three earned runs in six-plus innings. He gave up six hits and two walks and struck out eight batters. 
My apologies again to Joe Buck at FOX but Martinez’ ERA for this start was 4.50 and Burnett’s ERA was 1.29. I just do not want you baseball fans out there to be confused on who pitched the better game. 
Martinez was hardly humbled by his defeat.

“I know they really want to root for me,” Martinez said to MLB.com. “It’s just that I don’t play for the Yankees, that’s all. I’ve always been a good competitor, and they love that. They love the fact that I compete. I’m a New Yorker as well. If I was on the Yankees, I’d probably be like a king over here.”

The only time Burnett was touched for a run was a matter of just two inches after two were out in the second inning. Burnett had a 2-2 count on Ibanez and he was set up perfectly for the pitch du jour, the curve. 
But Ibanez flailed his bat wildly to protect the plate and dropped a dying quail ground-rule double into left for what will go down in Ibanez history as one very lucky hit that kissed the line and kicked into foul territory and into the seats.
Stairs, looking more and more like he never misses a postseason Phillies clubhouse spread, then raked an opposite field single that went an inch under Alex Rodriguez’s glove and skipped into left to drive in the slow-footed Ibanez with the game’s first run.
As it turned out it was the only run for the defending champions this ni
ght. Burnett made sure of that.
“Extremely impressive,” Girardi said of Burnett. “He was great tonight. He gave up the one run, but he gave us seven extremely strong innings and kept his pitch count down. He was able to work in and out with his fastball and throw his good curveball and get some good swings and misses tonight.”
In the third Burnett walked Jimmy Rollins with one out and fell behind Chase Utley 3-0 and walked him with two out to face Howard. But Burnett made the National League Championship Series MVP look like his RBI buddy in that Major League Baseball commercial with another nasty curveball he tipped into Jose Molina’s glove for the third out, one of four strikeouts Howard registered this evening in four at-bats.
Ouch!
Burnett also gave up a leadoff single to Jayson Werth in the fifth but Molina erased the shaggy slugger with a bullet throw to Teixeira that caught the rightfielder taking a siesta al fresco.
Catcher Carlos Ruiz doubled with one in the sixth and it was enough to get Joe Buck really enthused in the FOX booth. But Burnett cock-screwed Rollins with another curve and Shane Victorino popped up weakly to A-Rod to end that threat.
“I think I fed off the crowd,” Burnett told MLB.com. “They were up every time I got one strike, they were up every time I got two and instead of overthrowing, I kind of just stayed within myself and they started to cheer a lot.”
The rest of the contest belonged to Mariano Rivera and first-base umpire Brian Gorman, but not necessarily in that order.
Gorman actually snuffed out the Yankees’ rally that started off Martinez in the seventh inning. After Posada’s single gave the Yankees a 3-1 lead, Derek Jeter bunted foul with two strikes for the first out and Johnny Damon strolled to the plate to face lefty reliever Scott Eyre, who had just been summoned to replace Park.
Damon lined a one-hopper in into the glove of Howard at first and Howard, indicating to all in witness to the play that he had short-hopped it, threw to wildly to second to try to get Posada on a tag play to Rollins covering second. Howard’s throw to Rollins seemed to be aimed towards Queens and Posada pulled in easily and clapped as he thought he safely reached second.
But Gorman, who was positioned behind Howard’s large, bulbous backside, called Damon out on the play and called Posada out on Rollins’ tag to boot – a phantom double play for sure. Television replays showed the reason Howard threw to second was because the ball bounced into his glove but the Yankees fell victim to another sad umpire postseason blunder.
Instead of having the bases loaded and one out with Teixeira up to potentially tack on to the lead, the Yankees were banished to the dugout to collect their gloves for the eighth.
But thank goodness Gorman was at first for the eighth.
Rivera walked Rollins with one out and Victorino followed with a single to rightfield. Yankees fans held their breath as Rivera faced Game One hero Chase Utley with the game on the line. Utley worked the count full and Manuel decided not to start his two fastest runners on the full-count pitch.
Utley then bounced the ball to Robinson Cano at second and Cano flipped to second to get Victorino and Jeter relayed to Teixeira at first to nip Utley. Or did he? Replays showed that Utley beat the throw and the Phillies should have had Rollins at third and Utley at first with two out and Howard up.
But the Phillies found out that Brian Gorman giveth and Brian Gorman taketh away.
This also is another shout out to Joe Buck at FOX. The Yankees were robbed an inning before. Why did you just moan about this play next inning without mentioning the earlier Gorman screwup? Curious!
Oh well, things did calm down in the ninth when Rivera retook the mound.
Howard made a real nice statute as he watched strike three get called and he trudged back to the Phillies’ dugout to don his golden sombrero for the evening. Werth followed with a soft liner that Cano snagged easily while trotting to his right.
Ibanez induced Joe Buck to bust out his Phillies pom-poms again with his second double of the game. But, alas, the Phillies’ Hefty bag for a DH, Stairs, swung wildly at Rivera’s 2-2 offering and missed badly. Game over.
For Rivera it was his major-league-leading 38th postseason save, his 10th in the World Series, and his 18th six-out save in the postseason.
Game 2 is in the books and let it read that A.J. Burnett outpitched the Yankees’ favorite “son.”

“It’s a terrible cliche, but it was a must-win,” Teixeira said. “You don’t want to go [behind], 0-2 into Philadelphia. I know how tough they are at home, especially in the World Series. Their fans are going to be all over us. It’s going to be a great couple of games out there. But if we went in there 0-2, it would have been a tough road for us.”

The scene now will shift to Philadelphia for Game 3 on Saturday with the Yankees’ postseason rabbit’s foot, Andy Pettitte (14-8, 4.14 ERA), will take the mound at Citizens Bank Park with a 2009 postseason record of 2-0 with a 2.37 ERA. He enters the game as baseball’s winningest pitcher in postseason play with a 16-9 record and a 3.83 ERA.
Pettitte will face fellow lefty Cole Hamels (10-11, 4.32 ERA). For Hamels the 2008 postseason was the best of times with his 4-0 record and 1.80 ERA. But like Dickens’ “Tale of Two Cities” the 2009 postseason has been the worst of times. Hamels is 1-1 with a 6.75 ERA and he has not pitched past the fifth inning of any of his three starts.
Gametime will be 7.57 p.m. EDT and our old buddy Joe Buck will have the play-by-play call for FOX.

Yankees Will Win Series With Their Pitching

WORLD SERIES PREVIEW
PHILLIES VS. YANKEES


This World Series actually is an honest pairing in that both teams were the best teams in their respective leagues. You also have the Phillies trying to repeat as champions against the last franchise to do it. Both teams led their leagues in comeback wins. Both teams have Cy Young Award winners who pitched for Cleveland — if only Grady Sizemore and Victor Martinez were here to enjoy it like they should have in 2007.

But who will win? Let’s look a little deeper.

OFFENSE

The Phillies have the closest proximity to an American League-type lineup in the National League. It has power (Howard, Utley and Werth), speed (Rollins and Victorino) and timely hitting (Ibanez). Even catcher Carlos Ruiz, who hit .255 during the season, has contributed this postseason with 7 RBIs.
WHO’S HOT:

Victorino is hitting .361 in the postseason and has three home runs. He is getting on base and sparking this offense with his all-out style of play. Ruiz we mentioned but we have to add that getting production out of your No. 8 hitter is a good sign that you are doing well. He is hitting .346 in the postseason.
But the hottest of them all has been the MVP of the NLCS Ryan Howard. He is hitting .355 with two home runs and 14 RBIs in the postseason. Even though he has been walked seven times, Howard has been in the middle of most all of the Phillies postseason victories.
WHO’S NOT:

Jimmy Rollins had a disappointing 2009 regular season. At one point he was benched. He is also struggling a bit in the postseason with a .244 average. For a leadoff hitter he may be too aggressive because he has no walks in either series.
Raul Ibanez does have nine RBIs but he is hitting a dismal .226, which is not anything like he was during the regular season. He is the Phillies best pure hitter but he has not shown that this postseason and he begins the World Series playing with a small muscle tear in his abdomen, which could explain the .226 average.
The biggest “Phillies Phlop” has been third baseman Pedro Feliz, who is hitting a woeful .161. Feliz has been prone to prolonged slumps in the past. He has just picked a bad time to go into one. Given that the Phillies are winning despite his troubles, the team can afford to overlook it. 
YANKEES:

The Yankees offense is power-driven with its No. 8 hitter Nick Swisher hitting 29 home runs. But it also has pieces of an offense that can play “small ball” also. Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano each had 200-hit seasons. When Jorge Posada catches there is not a weak link in the lineup and they are patient hitters and love to drive starters’ pitch counts up to get them out of the game early.
WHO’S HOT:

It seems odd to be saying this but Alex Rodriguez has been the Yankees hottest hitter this postseason. Quite a reversal from seasons past, but A-Rod has simply been A-Rod throughout the postseason. The Yankees newest Mr. October is hitting .438 with five home runs and 12 RBIs despite being walked nine times in the first two series.
Melky Cabrera has been much like the Phillies’ Ruiz. He has been posting great numbers out of the No. 9 spot in the order, hitting .314 despite striking out 11 times. Cabrera drove in all four his runs in the Yankees 10-1 romp over the Angels in Game 4 of the ALCS.
Derek Jeter is hitting .297 with three home runs and five RBIs. Jeter, who only hit 18 home runs in the regular season, somehow has dusted off his power stroke for the playoffs. Jeter is also showing patience at the plate, walking nine times and scoring nine runs. He is the captain and he sets the tone for the Yankees offense.
WHO’S NOT:

It has been well-documented by TV commentators that Nick Swisher is struggling. Perhaps because he is so amped up to be in the postseason, he is showing no patience at the plate, which was his hallmark during the season. He is hitting .125 and he has struck out 11 times in 32 at-bats.
Even more disappointing for the Yankees is the fact that Mark Teixeira is also struggling. He is hitting .205 with one home run and five RBIs. However, he started showing signs of coming of his funk in the final game of the series with two hits. The Yankees hope he picks it up just in time for the World Series.
No surprise here but Robinson Cano is struggling at .229. The reason is that Cano has shown in the past that he does not hit well in cold weather. He also was the Yankees’ worst hitter with runners in scoring position during the season. It stands to reason the postseason spotlight would make him tentative at the plate and it has.
THE EDGE:

I am a Yankees fan but I do believe the Phillies offense comes in with a slight edge because so many of their hitters can hurt you. Jayson Werth wasn’t even mentioned in the “Who’s Hot” portion of the analysis and all he did was hit five home runs and drive in 10 runs!
However, there is a caveat here. Neither the Rockies or the Dodgers have a pitcher of the caliber of CC Sabathia or can boast of a more experienced postseason pitcher than Andy Pettitte.  In contrast, the Yankees might struggle some with Cliff Lee but they could feast on Pedro Martinez, Cole Hamels and Joe Blanton.
So the edge may go to the Phillies but it is very slight.
STARTING PITCHING

The Phillies actually have a starting pitcher who can match up with CC Sabathia. Cliff Lee has an ERA of 0.74 in his three postseason starts. He also beat the Yankees in inaugural game at new Yankee Stadium on April 16 as a member of the Indians.
But what is behind him is pretty scary for the Phillies. Cole Hamels has simply not been the same dominant pitcher he was in the 2008 postseason. Instead he is doing a great imitation of Dontrelle Willis. He is 1-1 but has an ERA of 6.75 in his three starts. He has been so bad that Charlie Manuel won’t pitch him until Game 3 in Philadelphia.
Pedro Martinez did pitch well in his only start in the postseason. He went seven innings in a no-decision the Phillies eventually lost to the Dodgers in Game 2. He has the ability to shut down the Yankees. But he also has been beaten many times by the Yankees in the past. Hideki Matsui, Pedro? Remember him?
YANKEES

Sabathia only was the MVP of the ALCS. He is 3-0 with a 1.19 ERA in his three postseason starts. The 2007 AL Cy Young Award winner has sim
ply dominated the Twins and Angels and never gave them opportunities to get into the game. The Phillies lineup may be tough but the question is can they get their offense going against Sabathia?
Pettitte was nearly as brilliant as Sabathia. Had he not given up a two-run home run to Vladimir Guerrero in Game 3 he likely would have been 3-0 with a similar ERA to Sabathia. Still, Pettitte is 2-0 with a 2.37 ERA and that is not bad.
A.J. Burnett is still looking for a postseason victory. He was brilliant in his first two starts but he faltered in Game 5 against the Angels by giving up four runs in the first inning. He then pitched five shutout innings. But — just when the Yankees rallied to take a 6-4 lead — he gave up a hit and walk to start the seventh and allowed the Angels to rally and win the game 7-6.
THE EDGE:

This has to go to the Yankees. Even if Chad Gaudin does start Game 4, the Yankees trio of Sabathia, Pettitte and Burnett has combined for a 5-0 record and a 2.55 ERA this postseason. The Phillies do not have the depth of starters to compete with the Yankees in this series.
BULLPEN:

The fact that Brad Lidge is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA and is 3-of-3 in saves this postseason is huge surprise to Phillies fans, Charlie Manuel and, likely, Brad Lidge himself. Lidge spent most of the regular season getting lit up like a Texas high school football bonfire. But the Phillies are trusting him again, though he can be beaten.
In fact, Lidge blew two saves in the series the Phillies played at Yankee Stadium in late May. The fact that the Yankees had 15 regular-season walk-off victories (one of those against Lidge and the Phillies) means the bottom of the ninth inning is no sure thing for the Phillies.
The rest of the Phillies’ bullpen is no day at the beach either. Ryan Madson has two blown saves, an ERA of 4.50 and a WHIP of 2.00. Chan Ho Park (8.10) and J.A. Happ (7.36) haven’t exactly been mysteries for hitters either. The unsung hero of this group has been Chad Durbin (2-0 and a 0.00 ERA).
YANKEES:

The Yankees refer to Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte as the so-called ‘Core Four,” the four players from the 1996-2000 teams that won four championships.
But manager Joe Girardi has his “Core Four” pitchers too: Sabathia, Burnett, Pettitte and Rivera. They have pitched 70 2/3 innings this postseason. The rest of the pitching staff has logged only 17 innings.
Make no mistake about it. This bullpen begins and ends with Rivera and he will always be looming from the eighth inning on in this series. With good reason too. He has an ERA of 0.84 and three saves this postseason. Oh, and by the way, he also is the all-time major-league leader with 37 postseason saves.
The question is how effective will Phil Hughes be? His ERA is 5.79 and he was shaky in the ALCS against the Angels. But Girardi seems to have faith he will bounce back and will team with Joba Chamberlain (2.70 ERA) to be the bridge to Rivera.
With the number of lefty hitters the Phillies have, you would have to suspect that having lefties Phil Coke (0.00 ERA) and Damaso Marte (0.00 ERA) around will be very helpful.
THE EDGE:

By miles. Not inches but miles, the Yankees bullpen is better than the Phillies. It could be the one key reason, the Yankees are favored to win the series. The fact that only Cliff Lee can possibly give the enough length in his starts to cover up the Phillies deficiencies in the bullpen is quite telling. The Yankees simply feast off middle relievers and shaky closers. Just ask Joe Nathan of the Twins and Brian Fuentes of the Angels. I would not want to be Brad Lidge in this World Series.
BENCH:

The Phillies, like the Yankees, rarely have to use their bench because their starters are so good. But they do have outfielder Ben Francisco likely to start in left in Game 1 while Raul Ibanez is at DH. They also have lefty power in Matt Stairs and infield reserves Greg Dobbs and Miguel Cairo, a former Yankee. None of them has a hit this postseason so it is hard to see this as much of advantage for the Phillies.
YANKEES:

The only bench player likely to get much use in this series will be Jose Molina. He likely will catch A.J. Burnett in the game Burnett pitches in Yankee Stadium. It may be a different story when the series shifts to Philadelphia because having Burnett and Moilna hitting in the same lineup would not be a recipe for success. Brett Gardner (.667) is valuable as a defensive replacement in centerfield and provides a speed threat. Jerry Hairston (.500) provided a key hit in Game 2 and scored the winning run. The Yankees are talking about adding Eric Hinske to the roster over Freddy Guzman. He provides lefty power off the bench and he has played in the last two World Series with Boston and Tampa Bay. So his experience could be an asset in this series.
THE EDGE:

The Yankees have a much more productive bench at this point. It is versatile and deeper than what the Phillies offer. Just having Francisco Cervelli around as a third catcher gives the Yankees a lot of versatility the Phillies can’t match. Molina and Gardner are good defensively and that mean something when you consider the Angels lost three games to the Yankees due to errors they committed in the field.
FIELDING:

The Phillies are simply very average in the field. The strongest positions are at shortstop with Jimmy Rollins, catcher with Carlos Ruiz and with Shane Victorino in center. Rollins has a Gold Glove and Ruiz and Victorino are excellent defenders.
But the rest of team is not real good. Ryan Howard has improved at first but he is worlds removed from being Mark Teixeira at first. Chase Utley is known for his bat and that is a good thing because his play in the field is poor and his range is very limited. Pedro Feliz is not real good at third and Raul Ibanez is pretty slow afoot in left. 
Jayson Werth has a great arm in right but he is not considered a great rightfielder. The Phillies may have hated Bobby Abreu but he is better than Werth in the field.
YANKEES:

The Yankee infield boasts three Gold Glove winners and a fourth who deserves one this season. Mark Teixeira is simply the best first baseman in baseball in the field, if not with the bat. Alex Rodriguez won two Gold Gloves at short and he has had a stellar season in the field this year. Derek Jeter, with more range than he has shown in years, is likely to win his fourth Gold Glove for his work at short.
But it is Robinson Cano who has really shined this season. He has unbelievable range to his right and left, he has a cannon for an arm and his ability to range far into the outfield to snag popups is unparalleled.
Nick Swisher may not be Fred Astaire on his feet but he has improved as the season has gone on. Melky Cabrera covers a lot of ground and has arm few base-runners challenge anymore. Johnny Damon can still range around in left like a centerfielder but his arm is a big liability and expect the Phillies to test him.
Rumor is the Yankees might put Hideki Matsui in leftfield to keep his bat in the lineup in the games in Philadelphia. If that is true, I wonder who Joe Girardi will sit because if it is Nick Swisher then Damon would have to play centerfield and Yankee fans do
n’t want to see that.
THE EDGE:

By far, this goes to the Yankees. The Phillies are not awful on defense but they can have infield lapses. Just ask Cole Hamels about Chase Utley’s double play relay throw against the Rockies in Game 2. It ended up in the dugout and really cost Hamels.
The Yankees did make three errors in Game 2 of the ALCS against the Angels. But it led to no scoring by the Angels. Those are the only three errors they have made this entire postseason. Teixeira has saved his fellow infielders about four or five surefire errors with his ability to scoop, corral and rescue errant throws.
This Yankee defense is so much better than the Phillies it is not even a contest.
INTANGIBLES:

The Phillies have a lot going for them as a team in this World Series. They are the defending champions and they have a lot of players who went through the postseason with this team for three seasons. They have a great offense and they have 43 comeback wins this season, not to mention a few in the playoffs.
YANKEES:

The Yankees have a great deal of postseason experience even though only four players can say they won rings with the Yankees. They are a team on a mission, having not won since 2000 and not appeared in the Fall Classic since 2003. But the biggest intangible is they have Derek Jeter, who somehow comes up with a play or a judgment that can turn a game.
The play to nail Carlos Gomez rounding second. The play that caught Nick Punto too far down the third base line. The play to catch Bobby Abreu too far off second base. These are just three examples of what Jeter can do within a game in a series without even picking up a bat. If the Phillies don’t watch out he will do it to them too. Just ask Jeremy Giambi about Jeter. He knows.
THE EDGE:

This is the Yankees’ too. As long as they have Derek Jeter, they have a chance to turn one slight mistake into a play that can turn a series. You know the Twins and Angels came into the playoffs as two of the most fundamentally sound teams in baseball. Look what happened to them. The Yankees just have a way of waiting for a team to make a mistake and jumping all over it.
The key to it all is they have NOT done it to themselves. They lost two games to the Angels but it was not because of mental or physical errors. The Phillies have lost games in this postseason that were a result of errors. They stand a good chance of doing it again in the World Series. OK, Charlie Manuel. Don’t say that I didn’t warn you.
MANAGING:

Charlie Manuel is the perfect manager for the Phillies. He does not micro-manage. He does not show much in the way of emotion. He is just a solid baseball man capable of shaping a well-built team into championship form. He does not mess much with the pitching staff. He leaves that to pitching coach Rich Dubee. He also won’t panic and make bad moves. Manuel is just a good manager with a real good team.
YANKEES:

Joe Girardi got better as a manager this season. He allowed the clubhouse to change and loosen up. He also handled the media much better. He also is a master of getting the most out of his bullpen without overtaxing it as the season wore on. In the playoffs, the old Girardi has appeared. His decision to  take out David Robertson for Alfredo Aceves in Game 3 of the ALCS really did cost the Yankees the game. The move to put Hairston in left and lose the DH in the same game was also dubious. Girardi has to relax and let the game play out without trying to coerce results from his moves.
THE EDGE:

Manuel has the edge here. Girardi still has a lot to learn about what he can and can’t control. Manuel knows his limitations and he rarely steps on his team’s toes when things are going well. That also serves him well when things go bad. Girardi will just have to let this Yankees team play and stop trying to seek validation by making that so-called “perfect” move. The events of a game drive themselves so why is Girardi buckling his seat belt and trying to drive the events himself? Stop it, Joe. Please!
THE PREDICTION:

Because Lee likely will win one game and the Phillies offense can be devastating, I see them winning two. But I do not think the Phillies will be able to sustain the leads they will try to protect late and their bullpen will cost them a game or two.
THE YANKEES WIN IN SIX



Five Reasons the Yankees Won and the Angels Lost

No 1: STARTING PITCHING


In the six games against the Los Angeles Angels, the New York Yankees’ trio of CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte combined to pitch 41 innings and gave up 14 runs for an ERA of 3.07. They yielded 34 hits and 10 walks for a WHIP of 1.07.
In contrast, the Angel four starters of John Lackey, Joe Saunders, Jered Weaver and Scott Kazmir pitched 31 2/3 innings and gave up 17 runs for an ERA of 4.83. They yielded 39 hits and 19 walks for a WHIP of 1.83.
The Yankee trio also was 3-0. The Angel quartet was 0-3.
The truest axiom in baseball is that you are only as good as your starting pitching and the Yankees had the much better starting pitching this series.
NO 2: FIELDING

The Angels were charged with eight errors in the series and the Yankees were charged with three. But there is a larger story here. The physical and major mental mistakes the Angels made in the field directly led to their defeat in three games.
  • In Game 1, Juan Rivera’s throwing error and Erick Aybar’s inability to call for and catch a routine pop fly gave the Yankees two runs in the first inning. John Lackey’s errant pickoff attempt throw led to another run in sixth inning. The Angels lost 4-1 and actually gift-wrapped the Yankees three runs.
  • In Game 2, the Yankees made all three of their errors in the series but none of them resulted in an Angels score. The Angels committed two errors and the second one resulted in the loss. Second baseman Maicer Izturis ranged far to his left and fielded Melky Cabrera’s grounder and he should have thrown to first for the second out of the inning. Instead he whirled and threw off-balance to shortstop Erick Aybar at second base and the ball sailed past Aybar and allowed Jerry Hairston to score the winning run in the bottom of the 13th inning.
  • In Game 6, the Angels committed two errors in the game. Unfortunately, after scoring a run off Mariano Rivera in the top of the eighth inning to make the score 3-2 in favor of the Yankees, the two errors came in the bottom of the inning. They came on consecutive sacrifice bunt plays. On the first, Howie Kendrick closed his glove too soon as he covered first base and Nick Swisher was safe. Then Kazmir shot-putted the ball over Kendrick’s head and Robinson Cano scored the game’s fourth run and runners advanced to second and third. One additional run scored on a sacrifice fly and the Yankees clinched the series with a 5-2 victory.
The Yankees took advantage of the Angels’ mistakes in the field and the Angels were unable to get the Yankees to commit enough errors to take advantage of them.
No. 3: BASE-RUNNING

In the Angels’ case this was what they did not do. The Angels were second in the American League in stolen bases in 2009. In watching the ALCS, you never would have known that. The Angels stole a total of four bases in the six games. Manager Mike Scioscia will tell you that the Yankees’ starting pitchers limited some opportunities but it does not tell the whole story.
One big reason is that three of the Angels’ best base-stealers, Izturis, Bobby Abreu and Chone Figgins were a combined 8-for-58 (.138) at the plate. It is kind of hard to steal first base and the Angel speed demons had a hard time dealing with their limited opportunities.
There also was a the fact that CC Sabathia kept the Angels off base in his two games and Andy Pettitte’s patented pickoff move baffled the Angels in two other games.
But also take into account the uncharacteristic base-running blunders the Yankees took advantage of in the series. Remember Bobby Abreu getting throw out for rounding second base too far in the eighth inning of Game 3? And how about Pedro Guerrero getting doubled off first base in the second inning of Game 6?
The Yankees may have stolen only two bases in the series and pinch-runner Brett Gardner may have been thrown out in his two attempts to steal. But the bottom line is the Angels live or die with the stolen base and their aggressive base-running. In this series their inability to steal and run aggressively to put pressure on the Yankees killed them.
THE CLOSER EDGE

Mariano Rivera vs. Brian Fuentes.
Rivera blew only two save opportunities and saved 44 games this season. Fuentes registered 48 saves but he blew seven chances and had a 1-5 record. K-Rod he was not. This weakness reared its ugly head in this series.
Fuentes pitched in three games and he gave up a run one three innings and saved one game. But that one run was a game-tying home run by Alex Rodriguez in the bottom of the 11th inning of Game 2 that led to a 4-3 defeat.
Fuentes also was shaky in his save of Game 5. After he recorded two outs, he walked two and hit a batter to load the bases. He then worked into a full count with Nick Swisher before Swisher popped up to end the game. Had Swisher singled in two runs in that situation, the Yankees would have likely won Game 5 and Fuentes might have been hung in effigy in Anaheim.
As it is Rivera was nearly perfect in his five appearances. He saved two games, including the game-clincher in Game 6. But that does not tell the whole story. Rivera was summoned to hold the Angels in Game 2 and pitched in three innings (2 1/3 innings of work) and gave the Yankees a chance to win Game 2 in extra innings.
His work in Game 3 was spectacular, though the Yankees eventually lost the game in the 11th inning. Rivera pitched around a bases-loaded one-out jam in the 10th inning by getting Torii Hunter and Vladimir Guerrero to bounce into easy infield outs.
Rivera finished the series with a 1.29 ERA and a WHIP of 0.71. He was special and dominant when he had to be. Fuentes was neither and it cost the Angels.
No. 5: A-ROD

Though Sabathia did earn the MVP award for the series, Alex Rodriguez had just as much impact on the series with his bat. He finished the series hitting .429 with three home runs and six RBIs. But the numbers do not tell how much of an impact he truly had.
In inning No. 1 of Game 1, Rodriguez drove in the first run of the series. In Game 2, his dramatic two-out home run in the bottom of the 11th prevented the Angels from stealing a game in New York and allowed the Yankees to win the game in the 13th inning.
He homered in a losing cause in Game 3 and was 3-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs in Game 4. But it was his slide under the tag of Mike Napoli in the fourth inning to score the first run of the game that set the tone for the 10-1 romp.
In Game 6 he took a base-loaded walk to drive in the third run of a comeback fourth inning.
But the Angels actually made sure to limit the damage of Rodriguez by walking him at any opportunity they could in the series. Rodriguez was walked eight times in the series, three of those were officially listed as intentional. 
He was walked intentionally to load the bases in the seventh inning of Game 5. Hideki Matsui followed with an RBI single and Robinson Cano drove in two more with a double as the Yankees rallied from 4-0 deficit for a short-lived 6-4 lead.
Once the Angels regained the lead at 7-6 they walked Rodriguez intentionally again in the ninth inning with TWO ou
t and NOBODY on. 
Rodriguez came into the championship series hot, having hit .455 with two home runs and six RBIs in the league divisional series against the Twins. In the two series combined he is hitting .438 with five home runs and 12 RBIs.
The Angels simply had no one in their lineup who was as hot and as effective with the bat during the series. It is another reason why they are going home and the Yankees have advanced to the World Series.


Andy Just Dandy As Yankees Claim 40th Pennant

ALCS GAME 6
YANKEES 5, ANGELS 2


He started 2009 without a contract from the New York Yankees but Andy Pettitte shined in the postseason lights on Sunday night like there was no doubt he belonged there.
Pettitte pitched 6 1/3 innings of gritty, determined baseball to win a major-league record 16th postseason game as the Yankees finally threw a big rally monkey off their backs by downing the Los Angeles Angels 5-2 to win their 40th American League pennant.
By virtue of winning the American League Championship Series by four games to two, the Yankees defeated an Angels franchise that had bounced them out of the postseason in 2002 and 2005 and earned the right to face the National League and defending World Series champion Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series, which will begin on Wednesday night.
Controversy swirled amid Pettitte’s start Sunday after Saturday night’s postponement of Game 6 at Yankee Stadium. Pundits wondered why manager Joe Girardi would not start CC Sabathia on four days rest to vanquish the Angels rather than Pettitte.
But Pettitte’s effort in the Bronx quelled those fears and will allow Sabathia to open the World Series against the Phillies on Wednesday night. Sabathia earned a piece a hardware for himself by being named the Most Valuable Player of the series by virtue of his dominant wins in Game 1 and Game 4.
Pettitte (1-0) gave up only one run on seven hits and one walk and fanned six batters to win his 16th postseason game, which broke a tie at 15 that Pettitte shared with John Smoltz. Pettitte’s overall postseason record is now 16-9.
He also won a major-league best fifth series-clinching victory to pass Catfish Hunter, Roger Clemens and Dave Stewart.
“That’s great, it’s great,” Pettitte said. “But the greatest thing is to be able to clinch this game and to help this organization get back to the World Series. That’s very special for me.”
In his two starts in the ALCS, Pettitte was 1-0 with a 2.84 ERA.
“What can you say about him?” Derek Jeter said to MLB.com. “He’s a guy you want to see on the mound in that situation. He’s pitched in every big game. He’s had a lot of success. You never see him fazed by anything. We have a lot of confidence in him.”
This after a 2008 postseason in which the Yankees allowed Pettitte to become a free agent and they signed to a late contract for $11 million less than he made last season. Pettitte actually pitched so well during the season that he ended up being the Yankees second-best starter with a 14-9 record and a 4.04 ERA.
“Pettitte pounded the strike zone today,” Torii Hunter said. “He’s usually a guy who throws a lot of balls. He pounded the zone and was ahead of everybody today.”
It also was fitting that the Yankees closeout victory in the ALCS would come with Mariano Rivera pitching the final the two innings to collect his 37th career postseason save and his second of the series.

“You know that he’s unbelievable when he goes out there,” Girardi told MLB.com. “Let me tell you, it’s nice having him down there.”

Rivera did give up a run in the eighth inning on a Vladimir Guerrero RBI single to bring the Angels to within one run but the Yankees managed to add two runs in the bottom of the eighth without the benefit of a hit and two more uncharacteristic Angels errors.
With the Yankees leading by a run in the bottom of the eighth, the Yankees benefitted from a leadoff walk to Robinson Cano. Then the Angels misplayed consecutive sacrifice bunts by Nick Swisher and Melky Cabrera to score one run.
Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick, covering first, dropped a throw from catcher Mike Napoli on Swisher’s bunt. Then Angels pitcher Scott Kazmir shot-putted a throw over the head of Kendry Morales on Cabrera’s bunt and Cano scored on the play.
The Angels, who finished fourth in the American League with the fewest errors, made a total of eight errors in the series. These two in the really eighth sealed their fate.
On Kazmir’s bonehead toss, Brett Gardner (pinch-running for Swisher) and Cabrera moved to third and second, respectively. After one out and a walk to Johnny Damon, Mark Teixeira closed out the scoring with a sacrifice fly to deep center to score Gardner and make it 5-2.
The Yankees built their 3-1 lead by chasing lefty starter Joe Saunders in the fourth inning. That inning also started with a walk to Cano and Swisher followed with a single. Cabrera sacrificed them up a base. 
After a walk to Jeter, Johnny Damon put the Yankees ahead in the game 2-1 with a two-run single to left. After Teixeira beat out an infield single to deep short, Saunders walked Alex Rodriguez with the bases loaded to make it 3-1.
Saunders (0-1) also punched his ticket out of Game 6. He left after just 3 1/3 innings, giving three runs on seven hits and five walks. 
Much was made of the fact that Saunders had entered Game 6 having gone 7-0 in his nine starts since coming off the disabled list on Aug. 26. After Sunday night at the new Yankee Stadium, Saunders is now 7-1 in his last 10 starts.
Darren Oliver entered the game to replace Saunders and induced Jorge Posada to hit into an inning-ending double play and he pitched two more shutout innings to keep the Angels close.
The Angels only run off Pettitte came in the third inning when Angels catcher Jeff Mathis, who entered the game hitting .600 in the series, doubled to the gap in right-center. After Erick Aybar fanned, Chone Figgins, who hit .086 in the postseason, grounded out to Cano as Mathis moved to third.
Pettitte then hung a breaking pitch to Bobby Abreu, who singled sharply to right to score Mathis with the game’s first run.
While the Angels struggled again on defense in clutch situations, the Yankees turned in a number of sparkling plays in the field to frustrate the Angels’ offense.
In the second inning, Morales lined out sharply to right and Swisher ran in quickly to catch it and threw to first base to double off Guerrero, who had strayed too far off the base.
Cano’s stop of Figgins’ grounder in the third actually robbed Figgins of a hit and kept Mathis from scoring before Abreu came to the plate.
In the seventh inning with one out and Juan Rivera on first with a single, pinch-hitter Maicer Izturis lined a hard one-hopper to Jeter at short. But the ball bounced away from Jeter right to Cano standing on second. Cano alertly picked up the ball to force Rivera.
In the eighth inning Figgins blooped a single just out of the reach of Jeter in short left. Abreu t
hen rocked Rivera with a broken bat bouncer headed for rightfield, but Teixeira dove to his right to stop it and got back to his feet and beat Abreu to the bag for a key first out as Figgins took second.
With Figgins a threat to steal third base, Cano stayed just to the right of second base when Hunter bounced what looked like a single up the middle to centerfield. But Cano ranged to his left to snag it and threw Hunter out easily for the second out.
Figgins did score to make it 3-2 on Guerrero’s single but the plays for Teixeira and Cano certainly limited the damage as the Yankees won their fifth postseason game at home with no losses.
The Yankees were a major-league best 57-24 at home this season and they are now 37-9 at home after the All-Star break, including the postseason wins.
The only drama left was left to Rivera pitching the ninth inning. The crowd of 50,173 stood and cheered  every pitch as Rivera retired Howie Kendrick on an easy bouncer to Teixeira for the first out and Juan Rivera lofted a easy fly to Cabrera, who had replaced Swisher in right for the ninth, for the second out.
The crowd got even louder as Rivera ran the count full to pinch-hitter Gary Matthews Jr. Then Rivera threw his 34th and final pitch of the night and Matthews swung and missed. 
Euphoria erupted from the pitcher’s mound up into the third decks of the Yankees sparkling new palace, which had seen the Yankees collect its first pennant under the pristine glow of its lights.
The players quickly ditched their uniform caps and donned brand new ones emblazoned with the official 2009 World Series logo.
“They played an incredible series,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “They outplayed us, and they deserved to win. Naturally, they’ll represent our league in the World Series, and we wish them well.”

“It’s a great feeling, with what these guys did and how hard they worked,” Girardi told MLB.com. “They never gave up. Even when we went through some tough times, they were there. They kept fighting back. Our team has shown a lot of character.”
The Yankees are now but four games away from the 27th championship and, on this night in the Bronx, they put those thoughts aside to celebrate what had taken them six seasons to achieve: Playing in the World Series.
“In order to win a World Series, you have to get there,” Rodriguez said. “We’ve done that, and hopefully, the good Lord blesses us for four more.”



Failures of Figgins, Abreu and Rivera Killing Rally Monkey

ALCS GAME 4: KEY MOMENT


It is the bottom of the fifth inning and the New York Yankees lead the Angels 5-0, having broken through and chased starter Scott Kazmir with five runs over the previous two innings. CC Sabathia is rolling again after having given up just a walk and infield single over the first four innings. The Angels, trying desperately to avoid going down in the best-of-seven championship series 3-1 must break through against the 2007 American League Cy Young Award Winner.

After one out, there is a glimmer of hope as first baseman Kendry Morales drives a high fastball into left-center for a solo home run. The Angel fans among the 45,000 in attendance begin banging their thunder sticks, trying to ignite their team.

It’s Rally Monkey time in the Big A.

GLIMMER OF HOPE

As Morales gets the glad hand all around in the Angels dugout, Mike Napoli steps to the plate. Napoli is catching despite the fact that starter Jeff Mathis had doubled in his last three at-bats and drove in the winning run the day before.
Napoli works to a 1-1 count and slaps a single just past the dive of Alex Rodriguez down the leftfield line. Now the fans are on their feet, thunder sticks flapping at 100 miles per hour. The Rally Monkey is finally awake.
After Napoli, Erick Aybar digs in determined to work the count on Sabathia and he does it. He fouls off some tough pitches to get the count to 3-2. Sabathia knows that Aybar has choked up on the bat and shortened his swing. 
His efforts to throw pitches on the corner are thwarted when Aybar reaches across the plate and fouls it off. He tries high in the strike zone and Aybar fouls it off. Sabathia has worked the first four innings in an amazing 38 pitches.
But Aybar is determined to drive that pitch count up all by himself. The next pitch will be Sabathia’s ninth to Aybar. Sabathia tries outside again and Aybar just flicks the bat and flips the ball into shallow centerfield. It drops in front of Melky Cabrera and the Angels now have two runners on and one out.
The fans are really into it now. Thunder sticks resonate in every corner of Angel Stadium.
The Angels rally is now up to two of its best hitters of the regular season; Chone Figgins and Bobby Abreu. 
Figgins hit .298 and led the American League with 114 runs scored. He was the catalyst for the team’s offense all season long. Abreu hit .293 and drove in 103 runs. The two had also combined on 72 steals.
THE HOPE FADES

Sabathia fires two quick called strikes on Figgins and Figgins realizes he will not be able to work the count. He will have to be aggressive and protect the plate. He fouls off the next pitch and is still behind in the count 0-2.
Sabathia, from the stretch, throws his next pitch and Figgins’ bat rolls over the top of it and it bounces right to Robinson Cano at second base. Cano tries to get rid of the ball quickly to Derek Jeter to get Aybar at second. 
Second base umpire Dale Scott calls Aybar out but Figgins is too fast to double up at first base and the Angels still have a chance with Napoli at third and Figgins at first with two out.
It will take a two-out clutch hit from Abreu, who had many such hits for the Angels all season long. Cast adrift by the Yankees after the 2008 season, Abreu hoped to sign as lucrative a deal as the one he had with the Yankees at $16 million per season.
But because economic hard times hit baseball at the midpoint of the free-agent signing period, Abreu waited, waited and waited some more before having to settle for a low-ball $5 million plus incentives contract with the Angels.
Abreu worked a walk in the first inning but Sabathia struck him out looking in the third. In the series, the Yankees have been backing Abreu off the plate with pitches inside and throwing low and outside pitches to get Abreu out.
Abreu is usually a patient hitter, unafraid of hitting with two strikes. But Sabathia’s command has forced Abreu to be more aggressive. Angel fans have the thunder sticks and the Rally Monkey going strong, hopeful Abreu can come through.
Sabathia throws a strike. Ohhhhh! Angel fans have seen this all night.
On the second pitch Abreu sees a pitch he likes and swings but he misses it low, popping it up harmlessly into the Anaheim sky to centerfield. Cabrera camps under it and uses two hands to make sure it nestles into his glove.
Ohhhh! Angel fans fall silent, thunder sticks halt and the Rally Monkey has been foiled.
The Yankees would go on to score five runs in the final two innings and the final score ends up 10-1. The Yankees are 3-1 in the best-of-seven series and need only one victory for a trip to the World Series.

Meanwhile, the Angels squandered another chance to get to Sabathia in the sixth when Torii Hunter walked and Vladimir Guerrerro singled to lead of the inning. Juan Rivera followed by hitting into a double play and Howie Kendrick lined out to first baseman Mark Teixeira to end the Angels last serious threat. 

Figgins, Abreu and Rivera are probably the poster children for the Angels’ plight in this series. Their failures to hit in clutch situations is the main reason why the Angels are losing. Combined they are 6-for-49 in the series, a woeful .122 average. They have one RBI between them.

In a key moment in Game 4, they all failed to deliver a big hit. Now the Rally Monkey is hanging by a thread on life support with very little hope left of recovery.



CC’s Dominance Puts Yankees On Brink Of World Series

ALCS GAME 4
YANKEES 10, ANGELS 1


When your getting ripped in the New York newspapers and on sports talk radio shows, Yankees manager Joe Girardi is finding lots of comfort in writing CC Sabathia’s name on his lineup card.
Sabathia (2-0) quelled all the dustup over Girardi’s supposed mismanaging of Game 3 by throwing eight dominant innings at the befuddled Los Angeles Angels as the Yankees won Game 4 of the American League Championship Series 10-1 on Tuesday night.
The victory puts the Yankees up 3-1 in the best-of-seven series and also leaves them within one victory of making the team’s 40th trip to the World Series in franchise history.
For the naysayers who did not think Sabathia should pitch Game 4 on three days rest, the 6-foot-7 lefthander actually pitched just as well as he did in Game 1. In his eight innings of work, Sabathia gave up five hits and two walks and struck out five batters.
“I never had any doubt about me being able to perform on this stage and to pitch well late into October,” Sabathia said to MLB.com. “But it seems like people did. I feel great. You know, hopefully, I can keep it going.”
Sabathia’s only blemish came on a letter-high fastball Kendry Morales muscled for a solo home run to left-center with one out in the fifth inning that drew the Angels to 5-1. That was as close as the Halos would get to Sabathia the rest of the night.
After giving up the home run to Morales, Sabathia gave up back-to back singles to Mike Napoli and Erick Aybar. But Sabathia got Chone Figgins to bounce into a fielder’s choice and Bobby Abreu flew out harmlessly to center to end the inning.
Figgins and Abreu are now a combined 4-for-32 in the ALCS, a .125 average.
Sabathia also wriggled out of a jam in the sixth after he walked Vladimir Guerrero and Torii Hunter singled to open the inning. Sabathia, as he always has this season, remained calm and induced Juan Rivera to hit into a double play and Howie Kendrick lined out to Mark Teixeira.
In Sabathia’s other six innings of work, he only gave up an infield single to Rivera in the second inning and walked Abreu in the first. He threw only 59 pitches in those six innings to retire 18 batters.
In Sabathia’s two starts in the ALCS, he has now pitched 16 innings, given up two runs on nine hits and three and struck out 12 batters. His is 3-0 with a 1.09 in the 2009 postseason.
“He really doesn’t change,” catcher Jorge Posada said. “When he’s down, when he’s up, he’s always the same. He just goes out there and does his job, and that’s all you can ask for. He really doesn’t change at all.”

“He was spectacular again,” Girardi said to MLB.com. “To be able to shut this club down like he did, again, is no easy feat. This is a very dangerous lineup. We had some chances early, and CC kept getting outs for us. We finally broke through and got a couple of runs, and we kept tacking on.”
Meanwhile, the Yankee offense had former Tampa Bay Rays lefthander Scott Kazmir battling with his command and had him on the ropes early before breaking finally through on him in the fourth inning.
The Yankees 2009 version of Mr. October, Alex Rodriguez, started the fourth with a line single to center. Posada followed with a double. 
After one out, Robinson Cano hit a ground ball to Kendrick at second base. Kendrick elected to try to cut off the run at the plate but threw high to Napoli at home, which allowed Rodriguez to slide under Napoli to score the game’s first run.
After Nick Swisher drew a walk, Melky Cabrera ended the Yankees’ recent spate of not hitting with runners in scoring position (totaling 26 at-bats) as he delivered a line single to left that scored Posada and Cano. Swisher moved to third.
“I feel really good, because it was bases loaded and I got a big hit for the team,” Cabrera said.
“We’ve had some frustration with runners in scoring position so far in this series,” Girardi said to MLB.com. “But tonight, we were excellent in those situations from the fourth inning on.”
Kazmir then walked Derek Jeter to load the bases again and then the inning took a very odd turn, courtesy of third base umpire Tim McClelland. Johnny Damon sent a fly ball to centerfield that Hunter settled under and caught.
Swisher raced home ahead of Hunter’s throw with the what would have been the Yankees’ fourth run of the inning but the Angels appealed that Swisher left third base too soon. McClelland surprisingly called Swisher out and the inning was over.
Television replays revealed two things about the play: No. 1, McClelland was looking at Hunter and not Swisher’s feet as the play unfolded. More importantly, No. 2, Swisher did not leave the base before Hunter caught the ball. McClelland’s magical ability to look two places at once and imagine Swisher left too soon cost the Yankees a run.
But McClelland, the longest serving umpire in the major leagues, really topped himself in the following inning.
Before the second McClelland drama unfolded, Mark Teixeira led off the fifth with a single for only his second hit of the series and it broke an 0-for-13 slide. The hit also brought an end to the festivities for Kazmir.
He was replaced by Jason Bulger, who promptly gave up a two-run home to Rodriguez on his second delivery. The 375-foot blast to left for Rodriguez was the third homer and his fourth and fifth RBIs of the series. In the ALCS, Rodriguez is 6-for-16 (.375).
“I will say that in other postseasons I failed, and sometimes failed miserably,” Rodriguez said. “It certainly feels good to come through for my team and help the team win.”

“When I grow up, I want to be like Alex Rodriguez,” Nick Swisher said to MLB.com. “I’ll tell you what, man. I don’t know how it feels, but it’s got to feel like it’s a beach ball coming in.”
Rodriguez now has five home runs in the 2009 postseason, which ties him with Reggie Jackson for second o
n the all-time postseason home run list. Rodriguez only trails Bernie Williams, who hit six home runs in the 1996 postseason.
“He’s been as clutch as anybody could have hoped for on their side,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “He’s a heck of a player. He’s playing his game right now. We’re obviously going to have to do a little better job of making some pitches on him.”
Kazmir, who was acquired by the Angels largely due to his ability to pitch well against the Boston Red Sox and the Yankees, ended up going 4-plus innings, gave up six hits and four walks and four earned runs.
Bulger, after serving up the Rodriguez home run, than gave up a walk to Posada and, as a result, was handed a trip to the showers with Kazmir courtesy of Scioscia.
Darren Oliver came on to restore order but, thanks to McClelland, there was anything but order. After Hideki Matsui struck out, Robinson Cano doubled in deep centerfield and Posada, who had stolen second base, should have scored before Hunter got to the ball. 
However, Posada chose instead to tag up at second base and had to hold at third.
Then the confusion ensued. 
Nick Swisher hit a weak grounder back to Oliver and Oliver threw home to make a play on Posada. Napoli, who had Posada halfway between third and home, ran Posada back towards third base.
Posada was tagged by Napoli as he pulled up at third. Cano, who was unsure of where to go stopped a foot off the bag at third. Napoli tagged him also. The Angels believed they had a double play and the inning was over.
But McClelland said no. He called Posada out but allowed Cano to have third base. Most of the 45,160 bleacher umpires in attendance at Angel Stadium booed McClelland unmercifully for his error in judgment.
It may have been a botched call but since Oliver got Cabrera to bounce into a fielder’s choice to end the inning, McClelland’s bonehead mistake did not cost the Angels a run as it had the Yankees an inning before.
Angels fans still booed McClelland after the inning ended.
But, like a gallon of water to a thirsty Bedoin camel herder, McClelland was let off the hook by some late-inning thunder from the bats of the Yankees. 
Johnny Damon added to the Sabathia four-run cushion in the eighth with a two-run home run off reliever Matt Palmer. 
Palmer became the pitcher who keeps on giving in the ninth, when Rodriguez doubled and scored on a Posada flyout after Abreu’s throw to cut him down at third bounced into the Angels’ dugout, allowing Rodriguez to trot home. 
After two were out, Palmer walked Cano and Brett Gardner followed with a bloop single to center. Cabrera followed with a ringing double to plate Cano and Gardner to cap the scoring and make McClelland’s erroneous calls irrelevant.
Cabrera ended the night 3-for-4 with 4 RBIs.
Now the 2009 Yankees stand within one game of returning to their first World Series since 2003, when they lost to the Florida Marlins in six games. The Angels have a huge hole to climb to prevent that from happening.
Since the ALCS was changed to a best-of-seven format in 1985, 12 of the 16 teams who have held a 3-1 lead have advanced to the World Series.
“You just want to keep going and keep playing well,” Sabathia said to MLB.com. “We’ve been playing good all playoffs. We’ve been having good pitching, playing good defense. You know, we just need to close it out. It’s that time.”
Fellow free agent signee A.J. Burnett (13-9, 4.04 ERA) will get the call from the Yankees to close out the Angels on Thursday afternoon in Anaheim, CA. Though veteran righthander has two no decisions in the postseason, he is sporting an ERA of 2.19 in his two starts.
Angels Game 1 starter John Lackey (11-8, 3.83 ERA) will pitch for the Angels. Lackey is 1-1 with a 1.38 ERA in the postseason but lost Game 1 to Sabathia and the Yankees 4-1, largely due to mental and physical errors on the part of his his teammates on defense.
Gametime is 4:57 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by FOX.

Error Scores Hairston In 13th As Yanks Edge Halos

ALCS GAME 2
YANKEES 4, ANGELS 3 (13 INNINGS)


Jerry Hairston Jr. waited 12 years to make it to the postseason and he waited five hours to become the New York Yankees latest walk-off hero on Saturday night.
Hairston came through with a pinch-hit single to lead off the bottom of the 13th inning and he later scored from second on an errant throw by Maicer Izturis as the Yankees defeated the Los Angeles Angels 4-3 and took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven American League Championship Series.
Hairston’s leadoff single allowed manager Joe Girardi to have Brett Gardner bunt him to second base. Angels manager Mike Scioscia then ordered righthanded reliever Ervin Santana (0-1) to walk Robinson Cano to bring Melky Cabrera up to the plate.
On Santana’s first offering Cabrera grounded a ball to the left of Izturis at second base. Instead of making an easier play to first base, Izturis elected to turn and fire the ball to shortstop Erick Aybar to force Cano.
However, his off-balance throw sailed to the right of Izturis and rolled into shallow leftfield. By the time third baseman Chone Figgins could retrieve the ball Hairston sped home without a play to end a five-hour and 10-minute marathon on another windy, rainy and chilly night at Yankee Stadium.
A wild on-field celebration ensued and Hairston received the customary whipped cream pie to the face courtesy of Yankees starter A.J. Burnett.
“I knew if I got a chance to do something, I wanted to do something positive,” Hairston said. “This game isn’t easy. I just wanted to enjoy the moment. My grandfather never had the opportunity that I’ve had. That was definitely for him.”
“That’s the beautiful thing about the playoffs,” Derek Jeter said to MLB.com after the game. “It takes 25 guys to win, and you never know when you’re going to get that opportunity.”
The walk-off victory was the second in the postseason for the Yankees, who fashioned 15 walk-off victories in the regular season. With the victory the Yankees also remain undefeated in the postseason.
For the Angels, it was another loss punctuated by an error that cost them dearly. On Friday, the Angels committed three errors and Aybar allowed a run to score in the first inning on a popup he let drop in front of him as the Angels lost 4-1.
The Angels, who committed the fifth fewest errors this season, have now committed five errors in the series.
But the Yankees were not much better in the field on Saturday. Cano committed two errors and Jeter added one. But none of those errors led to an Angels’ run. 
The instant classic walk-off victory was set up by more heroics from the Yankees’ newest “Mr. October,” Alex Rodriguez.
With the Yankees trailing for the first time in the series 3-2 in the bottom of the 11th and Angels’ closer Brian Fuentes on the mound, Rodriguez stepped to the plate with yet another chance to save the Yankees this postseason.
Rodriguez entered the game hitting .429 in the postseason with two home runs and seven RBIs. 
Fuentes put Rodriguez in an early 0-2 hole on his first two pitches. However, Rodriguez managed to get the bat on the next offering on the inside part of the plate and drive the ball on a line out to rightfield.
Former Yankees rightfielder Bobby Abreu backed up to the wall and leaped but the ball carried over his glove in the first row of the bleachers for Rodriguez’ third home run of the postseason and the game was tied at 3.
“I know I had a blast out there today,” Rodriguez told MLB.com. “That was a great game. That’s what I’ve been doing all year — trying to keep things simple and not trying to think too much.”

“I just kept yelling, ‘He did it again! He did it again!'” Mark Teixeira said. “I couldn’t believe it.”
Pandemonium broke out among the Yankee fans in the crowd of 49,922 that dismissed the weather reports that warned the game may not be played or may be suspended due to heavy rain that was expected in the area.
Though it was cold (48 degrees) and windy (15-20 mph winds), the rain that did come down through parts of the game was light enough to allow both teams to play nine innings and then some. 
The Yankees actually started the game off in fine form.
In the second inning, Angels starter Joe Saunders issued a two-out walk to Nick Swisher. Cano then drilled a hanging breaking ball on an 0-2 count for a triple into right center to score Swisher with the game’s first run.
An inning later, Jeter blasted his second home run of this postseason and the 19th of his career with one out in the third inning.
Jeter’s 19th career postseason home run moved him past both Mickey Mantle and Reggie Jackson and into third place on the all-time list behind Bernie Williams (22) and Manny Ramirez (29).
However, Burnett — who led the American League pitchers this season in walks and wild pitches — had another one of those wild innings he is prone to in the fifth. 
Izturis led off with a double to right. After one out, Aybar singled to center to score Izturis with the tying run. After Aybar stole second, Burnett then hit Figgins with a pitch. 
One out later, Burnett walked Hunter on a 3-2 pitch that was not even close to load the bases. Burnett then uncorked a wild pitch while pitching to Vladimir Guerrero to score Aybar to tie the game at 2.
The score remained that way until the the Angels’ half of the 11th inning.
Yankees righthander Alfredo Aceves walked Gary Matthews to begin the inning. Aybar sacrificed Matthews to second with a bunt. Figgins, who was hitless in 18 at-bats throughout the postseason, then stroked a bloop opposite field single that scored Matthews and give the Angels their first lead in the series after 19 1/3 innings of play.
After an intentional walk to Abreu, Aceves got out of further trouble by inducing Hunter to hit into a double play.
David Robertson (1-0) saved the Yankees in the 12th by getting out of a jam after he entered the game with two outs. Catcher Jeff Mathis, who only entered the game in the eighth inning and batted only .211 this season, rocked Roberston with a lined double in the gap in right-center. 
Robertson walked Izturis intentionally and Robertson fanned Gary Matthews to end the threat.
In the 13th inning,  Cano committed his second error of the game on a grounder off the bat of Aybar to start the inning. Figgins sacrificed Aybar t
o second with the Angels’ second sacrifice bunt of the night. 
Robertson then walked Abreu intentionally. Aybar and Abreu both were able to move up on Hunter’s slow rolling groundout to Jeter. Robertson then got Guerrero to bounce out to Cano to end the threat and set up Hairston’s heroics in the bottom of the 13th.
“We’ve been saying all year how this team doesn’t quit, and they showed you right there,” Burnett said to MLB.com. “For some reason, we feel like when we come up last in this park, we can always win.”

“It was a long game,” Jeter said. “It seemed like a lot of missed opportunities on both sides. When you get to the playoffs, it’s tough to come up with runs. Pitching really sticks out. Fortunately for us, our pitching was a little better.”

After a well-deserved day off for both teams, the best-of-seven series now shifts scenes to the warmer climate of Anahiem, CA on Monday afternoon. The Yankees will call on veteran left-hander Andy Pettitte (14-8, 4.16 ERA). He will be opposed by righthander Jered Weaver (16-8, 3.75 ERA).
Gametime on Monday will be 4:13 p.m. EDT and will be nationally televised by Fox.

Aybar’s Miscue Set Tone For Angels’ Sloppy Night

ALCS GAME 1: KEY MOMENT



It is the bottom of the first inning and the New York Yankees had just scored the first run of Game 1 in their best-of-seven series with the Los Angeles Angels. Alex Rodriguez had lofted a fly ball to centerfield that scored Derek Jeter from third. Angels centerfielder Torii Hunter threw the ball to third base to keep Johnny Damon from advancing to third on the play. Angels starter John Lackey next had to face Hideki Matsui with two out and Damon at second.

The only reason Damon was at second was because leftfielder Juan Rivera had misfired with his throw into second base on Damon’s bloop single. He missed so badly that Damon was able to take second and Rivera was charged with an error, the first of a franchise postseason record of three errors the committed in the game.

THE PLAY

Lackey starts Matsui off with a pair of breaking pitches. His backdoor slider is called a strike by home-plate umpire Tim McClelland. His curveball misses outside. On the 1-1 pitch, Lackey throws a fastball on the inside corner and Matsui swings late. The ball hits off the trademark of the bat and the ball is popped up to the left side of the Angels’ infield.
Third baseman Chone Figgins backs up to the edge of the infield as the popup settles between him and shortstop Erick Aybar. Aybar is about six feet to the left of Figgins and about 10 feet behind him. It is a cold night. It is 45 degrees and a steady wind is swirling inside the stadium, making it seem colder.
Damon, running at the crack of the bat with two outs, is cruising around third base and heading towards home plate as he runs out the routine pop fly.
The first sign of trouble is when Figgins stopped backing up and looked at Aybar. Just at that moment, Aybar looked at Figgins, who he spotted backpedaling towards the ball. Neither player called out with the customary “I got it.”
When Aybar finally realized that Figgins was deferring to him to catch the ball, it way too late for him to make a play. As the ball rapidly descended Aybar began to reach out but the ball landed harmlessly three feet in front of him.
The crowd of 48,699 mostly Yankee fans at Yankee Stadium cheered at Damon crossed home plate with the Yankees’ second run of the inning. John Lackey who had ran behind home plate to back up catcher Jeff Mathis in case there was a throw to the plate was hunched down in a crouch.
As the ball dropped Lackey rose to his feet and cursed.
Aybar looked at Figgins. Figgins looked at Aybar. The damage had been done, however.
The Yankees’ gift-wrapped second run proved to be the deciding run of the game. CC Sabathia pitched eight innings and gave up only four hits and one run as the Yankees went on to defeat the Angels 4-1 in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series.
The Angels would go on to make two more errors in the game. Lackey would throw away a pickoff attempt at first base and Hunter would allow a Jeter single to clank off his glove to allow Jeter to reach second. Both of those errors came in the sixth inning when the Yankees scored their fourth and final run. 
Lackey, almost fittingly, was removed from the game after Hunter’s miscue.
Two of the Yankees’ four runs were unearned. It proved to be the downfall of the Angels on Friday night.
Aybar’s misplay on the Matsui popup was the key moment of the game because it set the tone for the evening.
                                                *********
“One of us has got to catch it,” Figgins said. “Simple as that.”

                                                   *********

“That’s out of character for us,” said Hunter, “We play the game right.”

                                                         


CC Puts Halos’ Speed In Deep Freeze As Yanks Roll

ALCS GAME 1
YANKEES 4, ANGELS 1


There is an old saying in baseball: You can’t steal first base. 
The Los Angeles Angels found out just how true that axiom is as CC Sabathia pitched eight dominant innings to lead the New York Yankees to a 4-1 victory on Friday night and a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven American League Championship Series.
Sabathia, pitching on eight days rest, braved the chilly 45-degree gametime temperature at Yankee Stadium and shut down the Angels’ run, run and run some more offense by only allowing four hits and one walk and striking out seven batters.
“It was about as cold as it gets,” Sabathia told MLB.com. “I pitched in a couple of games where it snowed in Cleveland, but it was pretty nasty today.”

“CC was the cold weather,” Angels center fielder Torii Hunter said. “He was pitching his butt off. CC’s the real deal, man.”
Three of the best base-stealers in the Angels’ lineup — Chone Figgins, Bobby Abreu and Erick Aybar — were a combined 0-for-11 in the game with three strikeouts. The Angels, as a result, did not attempt to steal a single base in the game.
“He pitched eight innings against this club, and to only give up one run, that’s quite a performance, because this is a very offensive club,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “And he kept the guys that can create problems off the bases all night. He was sensational.”
Sabathia (1-0) was so dominant that from the last out of the fourth inning until the last out of the eighth inning he did not allow a hit and only allowed a one-out walk to Kendry Morales in the seventh inning.
He punctuated his virtuoso performance with a fist-pumping flourish after he struck out pinch-hitter Mike Napoli to end the seventh inning. A huge portion of 49,688 fans in attendance shouted “CC” and cheered as he walked off the mound.
“That was a great feeling,” Sabathia told MLB.com. “To have the stadium rocking and chanting my name, and to be able to get a strikeout — I was pretty pumped up. I don’t really show a lot of emotion a lot of times, but it came out of me there.”
The Angels had pounded Sabathia for nine runs in 12 2/3 innings in two starts during the regular season. But the 2007 AL Cy Young Award winner, who the Yankees signed to a $161 million contract this winter, shook off the old history and pitched his usual game.
The strong starting pitching from the Yankees has been a recurring theme throughout the postseason. Including the three American League Division Series victories against the Twins last week, Yankees starters are now 3-0 and have pitched 27 2/3 innings, given up just four earned runs on 18 hits and seven walks and struck out 28 batters. The trio of Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte have a combined postseason ERA of 1.30.
Meanwhile, the Yankees took advantage of some really bad mental and physical errors the Angels made to support Sabathia’s brilliant pitching.
The Yankees got started right away on rightander starter John Lackey (0-1) when Derek Jeter grounded a leadoff single just past second baseman Howie Kendrick into rightfield. Johnny Damon, who was 1-for-12 against the Twins last week, blooped a broken-bat single to left that moved Jeter to third.
Then the Angels, who made the fifth fewest errors in the American League this season, started playing like the Bad News Bears. When leftfielder Juan Rivera picked up Damon’s single he threw so wide of second base that Damon took off and made it to second base easily. Rivera was charged with a throwing error on the play.
After one out, Alex Rodriguez added to his postseason resume with a sacrifice fly into centerfield to score Jeter with the game’s first run. The RBI was his seventh in four games.
Hideki Matsui then followed with an easy infield popup to Aybar at shortstop. However, Aybar looked to third baseman Figgins to make the play and the ball dropped two feet in front of Aybar. Damon, who was merely running out the popup, scored easily and Matsui was generously given an RBI single by the official scorer.
Sabathia’s only troublesome inning came in the fourth when Pedro Guerrero thought he had hit a home run to left-center. But instead, the heavy and chilly winds knocked the drive down and the ball landed at the base of the wall. Guerrero, who has had hamstring problems throughout this season, trotted into second with a double.
Sabathia retired Rivera on a grounder to Mark Teixeira at first and Guerrero took third on the play. He then scored on Morales’ first-pitch bloop single to left to halve the Yankees lead to 2-1.
But the Yankees pushed the lead back to two runs in the bottom of fifth when Damon led off with a double to left-center. One out later, Rodriguez was walked. Matsui then followed by slicing a 1-2 pitch to left that scored Damon easily.
However, Rodriguez — attempting to score from first base — ran through a stop sign by third-base coach Rob Thomson. The throw from Rivera hit the cutoff man Aybar and Aybar threw a strike to catcher Jeff Mathis at the plate. Rodriguez then crashed into Mathis in an attempt to dislodge the ball but was called out by home-plate umpire Tim McClelland.
Television replays showed that Mathis actually never tagged Rodriguez with the glove and Rodriguez actually got a foot on the base before the tag was applied but Rodriguez and the Yankees’ bench never argued the call.
The Angels’ shaky play in the field continued in the sixth inning and it led to another run. With two out, Lackey walked Melky Cabrera. On an attempted pickoff throw to first, the ball got past Morales and Cabrera advanced to second.
Jeter then singled on a 1-1 pitch up the middle and Cabrera scored easily as Hunter, a perennial Gold-Glove centerfielder, allowed the ball to clank off his glove and roll past him for the Angels’ third official error of the night. 
“We haven’t seen our guys crack the door open for a team like we did tonight in a long time,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said to MLB.com. “The Yankees are going to take advantage of that, and they did.”

“Any time you get
a team to make mistakes, especially a good team like that, you want to capitalize on them,” Yankees right fielder Nick Swisher said. “I guess the more mistakes, the better. You can’t expect that to happen a lot. It probably won’t happen again.”
Sabathia, gift-wrapped a three-run lead due in large part to the Angels’ sloppy play, took it from there. The Angels, who had stolen 148 bases during the regular season, never could get their feared running game going because Sabathia was keeping their speedsters off base.
The only real controversy of the night occurred with one out in the top of sixth. Hunter rolled a bunt between the third-base line and the mound. Sabathia leapt off the mound, picked the ball up and gunned it to first and the throw beat Hunter. However, Hunter immediately disputed first-base umpire Laz Diaz’ out call, claiming Teixeira’s right foot came off the base.
Scioscia, who was desperate to get any runner on base he could, took over the argument and jawed with Diaz for a few minutes. But TV replays again showed that Teixeira had his foot on the base when the ball arrived, then slipped off and went back on. So Hunter actually was out and Diaz had the correct call.
Mariano Rivera came in to pitch the ninth and after a leadoff walk to Hunter, he retired Guerrero, Rivera and Morales for his second save of the 2009 playoffs and his major league-best 36th career postseason save.
But the night belonged to Sabathia, who the Yankees coveted and signed this offseason. 
“That’s why we got CC,” Damon told MLB.com. “To be a workhorse during the season, of course, but to shut down teams in the postseason.”
The series is scheduled to resume Saturday night at Yankee Stadium, though an incoming blast of winter air is expected to douse the New York area with rain. The Yankees, if the game is played, will start righthander Burnett (13-9, 4.04 ERA). The Angels will counter with lefthander Joe Saunders (16-7, 4.60 ERA).
Gametime is scheduled for 7:57 p.m. EDT. The game will be televised nationally by FOX.

Angels Worthy Foe But Yanks Will Win In Seven

AMERICAN LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
ANGELS vs. YANKEES


Both the Los Angeles Angels and New York Yankees begin the American League Championship Series coming off sweeps in the American League Division Series.
The Yankees had the best regular season record in the majors at 103-59 (.636) but the Angels can boast they had the second best record in baseball at 97-65 (.599). Based on those records and the fact that in interleague play the American League has been far superior to the National League, you could make a case that this series is actually the real World Series.
In other words, the winner of this series would have to be favored to win the actual World Series that follows.
Who will win?
As a lifelong Yankee fan I would say the Yankees — with my heart. But considering the teams split the 10 games they played this season and the run differential in those games was just six runs (61 for the Angels and 55 for the Yankees) it would be hard to pick a winner objectively.
CC Sabathia will enter Game 1 on Friday night with a 19-8 record and a 3.37 ERA. However, in his two starts against the Angels his was 0-2 with a 6.39 ERA. He is 4-7 with a 4.72 ERA in 14 starts against the Angels in his career.
John Lackey, Sabathia’s opponent in Game 1, won his only start against the Yankees this season, defeating Sabathia on July 12 by going seven innings and giving up six hits, three walks, two runs and striking out six.
But in his career, Lackey is 5-7 with a 4.66 ERA in 16 starts against the Yankees. The numbers are nearly identical to Sabathia’s against the Angels.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi revealed what will be the game plan the Yankees will employ against the running game of Mike Scioscia’s Angels. 
No. 1 is to keep them off base. That sounds easy enough but Chone Figgins, Maicer Izturis, Bobby Abreu, Howie Kendrick and Erick Aybar were pretty tough for the Yankees to keep off base this season.
Figgins hit .333, Izturis .280, Abreu .314, Kendrick .310 and Aybar .353. Scioscia employs a very simple strategy when they reach base: run until they throw you out and then run some more.
That is why Girardi is emphasizing strategy No. 2: If they run, fine. Just stay focused on the batter. The theory being that as long as you can record outs, the runners can’t score. If you take your concentration off the batter, you make them better hitters.
That will be a test for all the Yankees starters in this series. Girardi could minimize the damage the Angels do on the bases by using Jose Molina in every game behind the plate.
Scioscia has so much respect for Molina’s arm that the Angels succeeded in stealing a total of five bases off Molina this season. One was a double steal and another was a busted hit-and-run with Kendry Morales running.
However, by catching Molina the Yankees would either have to lose Posada’s bat completely or the bat of Hideki Matsui if they chose to DH Posada. Posada hit .308 against the Angels this season with a team-leading 10 RBIs. Matsui hit .250 but provided power and drove in six runs.
Molina is virtually an automatic out at the bottom of the order much like starting catcher Jeff Mathis is to the Angels. So Girardi might have to pick and choose when he starts Molina and when he starts Posada in this series.
Molina did catch A.J. Burnett in Game 2. Girardi has not said if Molina will do likewise in the ALCS. But if Girardi wants to have a shot at preventing the Angels from running wild on the bases, he may have to find a way to get Molina behind the plate.
The Angels big fear is the nightmare the Twins just lived through: Alex Rodriguez.
Alex Rodriguez hit .455 in the tree-game series with the Twins with two home runs and six RBIs. His six RBIs were 40% of the Yankees offense in the series. Simply put, A-Rod became the Yankees newest Mr. October.
Add to that, that Rodriguez has made a career out of destroying Angels pitching. He has more home runs against the Angels than any team in baseball. This season, it took a while, but Rodriguez made a point to give the Angels a hard time this season.
A-Rod missed the first series in New York because he was rehabbing his surgically repaired hip. But once he did get back in the lineup, he made the Angels take notice. He was 8-for-24 (.333) with 9 RBIs in seven games.
The Angels best decide know how they are going to pitch to A-Rod, because it looks like he is headed for a monster ALCS that may top his one-man wrecking crew work he did to the Twins.
With Matsui, Posada and Robinson Cano (hitting .341 this season against the Angels) it may not make much sense to keep walking A-Rod either. They may be playing with fire.
There are two players who may be keys for the Yankees in this series. One is Burnett. Burnett was 1-0 against the Angels with a 4.26 ERA and he struck out 16 Angels in 12 2/3 innings, including 11 in his last start against them.
The other key could be Brett Gardner. Girardi likes to use Gardner as a late-inning pinch-runner and Gardner loves to run the bases like the Angels. 
He also beat the Angels with a steal of third where an errant pickoff throw to third rolled into the outfield and Gardner trotted home with what was the wining run on Sept 22 in Anaheim. Gardner is Girardi’s way of giving Scioscia back some of his own medicine.
We will see which team gets the better of the other on the bases. Gardner gives the Yankees as shot to even the score.
SERIES PREDICTION: YANKEES IN SEVEN
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