Posts Tagged ‘Hideki Matsui’

Starting Nine: American League West

January 13, 2010

The next division up in our Starting Nine series is the American League West. This division has undergone the most change from top to bottom this offseason, so it will be interesting to see which lineup looks the best headed into the season.

Here are the starting lineups as presently constructed for the American League West:

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

1. Erick Aybar, SS

2. Bobby Abreu, RF

3. Torii Hunter, CF

4. Kendry Morales, 1B

5. Hideki Matsui, DH

6. Howie Kendrick, 2B

7. Juan Rivera, LF

8. Brandon Wood, 3B

9. Mike Napoli, C

Quick Take – This lineup will miss Chone Figgins at the top of the lineup to an expect, but despite the Angels’ losses, this lineup is still pretty deep. Any lineup that has Napoli batting ninth should be able to score some runs.

Seattle Mariners

1. Ichiro, RF

2. Chone Figgins, 3B

3. Milton Bradley, LF

4. Jose Lopez, 2B

5. Ken Griffey Jr. DH

6. Franklin Gutierrez, CF

7. Casey Kotchman, 1B

8. Jack Wilson, SS

9. Rob Johnson, C

Quick Take – This lineup after the first four hitters is pretty bad. I don’t care how many runs you prevent in the field, you need to score runs to win. The Mariners need a better DH than Griffey Jr.

Texas Rangers

1. Ian Kinsler, 2B

2. Michael Young, 3B

3. Josh Hamilton, LF

4. Vladimir Guerrero, DH

5. Nelson Cruz, RF

6. Chris Davis, 1B

7. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C

8. Elvis Andrus, SS

9. Julio Borbon, CF

Quick Take – I love this lineup. I like Borbon in the nine-hole acting like a second leadoff hitter at the bottom of the lineup. The key to this lineup will be health.

Oakland A’s

1. Coco Crisp, CF

2. Rajai Davis, LF

3. Ryan Sweeney, RF

4. Jack Cust, DH

5. Daric Barton, 1B

6. Kurt Suzuki, C

7. Eric Chavez, 3B

8. Mark Ellis, 2B

9. Cliff Pennington, SS

Quick Take – This is the worst in the American League (yes, worse than the Kansas City Royals) and perhaps the worst in baseball. There isn’t a guy in this lineup that would start on the Baltimore Orioles. Michael Taylor better make it to the A’s soon.

Tomorrow, I will dive into the National League and look at the National League East.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Advertisements

New York Yankees Sign Nick Johnson, End Johnny Damon Era

December 18, 2009

The New York Yankees signed a left-handed hitter to hit second in their lineup in 2010 and it’s not Johnny Damon.

ESPN.com’s Buster Olney, via Twitter, is reporting that the Yankees have signed 1B Nick Johnson to a one-year, $5.5 million contract. The deal also includes a mutual option for 2011 for $5.5 million.

Johnson returns to the Bronx

The signing of Johnson essentially ends the Damon era in the Bronx.

Damon played the same game Jason Bay tried to play with the Red Sox. Both thought they were being undervalued by their current team and wanted to get paid what they thought their market value was.

It’s fine for them to try to get what they think they deserve, but you can’t strong-arm a big market team that isn’t desperate to sign you. It just doesn’t work.

CC Sabathia was able to strong-arm the Yankees last season because the Yankees were desperate to sign him. Their entire offseason last year was based on signing Sabathia. That is why Sabathia was able to get one more year and $20 million more out of Brian Cashman.

If a big market team is not desperate to sign you, then they will just find other options. The Red Sox found Mike Cameron and the Yankees now have found Johnson.

Johnson is more than an adequate replacement for Damon in the Yankees’ lineup. Johnson will serve as the primary DH and hit second for the Yankees in 2010 and it looks like Melky Cabrera will be the Yankees’ left fielder.

Johnson hit .291 with eight home runs and an .831 OPS in 133 games for the Washington Nationals and Florida Marlins in 2009. By comparison, Damon hit .282 with 24 home runs and an .854 OPS in 143 games for the Yankees last year.

So for $7.5 million less than what Damon was asking for ($13 million, the same amount he made last year), the Yankees got a very comparable player.

Johnson played three years for the Yankees from 2001-2003 and has played eight seasons in the major leagues. He has a career .402 OBP, which is ninth amongst active players.

And for those of you who are concerned with the loss of Damon’s power in the Yankees’ lineup, remember, Damon’s power surge in 2009 was greatly influenced by the joke that is the new Yankee stadium.

Johnson could hit 10-15 homeruns in that ballpark.

Last year, the Yankees paid Hideki Matsui and Damon a combined $26 million. Their replacements in 2010–Curtis Granderson and Johnson are making a combined $11 million.

The Yankees could get more value out of Granderson and Johnson both offensively and defensively than they did out of Matsui and Damon and in the process save $15 million.

Not a bad deal for the Yankees.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

The Angels Find Their New DH, Ink Hideki Matsui

December 15, 2009

Over the last couple of weeks, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim lost their leadoff hitter and third baseman to their division rival (Seattle Mariners) and their number one starter to their playoff rival (Boston Red Sox).

That is a lot of fire power to lose over a span of a couple of weeks. Well today, the Angels added some fire power of their own.

According to SI.com’s Jon Heyman, the Angels have added former New York Yankee and last year’s World Series hero Hideki Matsui. Matsui signed a one-year, $6.5 million contract today to be the Angels’ DH in 2010. The signing ends the Vladimir Guerrero era in Los Angeles.

Matsui goes from NY to LA

I am not a fan of Matsui’s–never have been–but for $6.5 million and considering that Matsui made $13 million last year, it’s a good deal for the Angels. The reason I am not a fan of Matsui is because I feel he is just a product of the great Yankee lineups of years past.

For a guy who came over as one of Japan’s greatest home run hitters, he has only hit 30 home runs once in his seven year career. If he wasn’t a Yankee, he would be no big deal.

The key for Matsui in 2010 will be to stay healthy. At one point between Japan and the United States, Matsui played in 1,768 consecutive games. That is one impressive streak.

However, over the last four years Matsui has played in only 429 out of a possible 648 games. I think age has something to do with that. Nobody stays young forever and Matsui will be 36 in 2010.

If Matsui can stay healthy (big if), he will certainly be more productive than Guerrero was in the DH spot for the Angels in 2009. He will also be more productive than “Vlad” in working the count–something Vlad never did.

Matsui is a career .292 hitter with 140 home runs in seven seasons with the Yankees.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Hideki Matsui Powers New York Yankees To World Series Championship

November 5, 2009

If Mark Teixeira doesn’t beat you, then Alex Rodriguez will. If Alex Rodriguez doesn’t beat you, then Jorge Posada will. And if Teixeira, Rodriguez, and Posada don’t beat you, then Hideki Matsui will.

Playing in perhaps his final game as a New York Yankee, Matsui went 3-for-4 with a homerun, a double, a single, and six RBI as the Yankees beat the Philadelphia Phillies 7-3 to win their 27th championship.

Matsui did the majority of his damage against Phillies’ starter Pedro Martinez, who didn’t have much last night. Martinez, who was pitching on five days rest, which was short rest for him, really couldn’t get going.

In the second inning, after walking Rodriguez to lead off the inning, Martinez missed his spot by at least four inches to Matsui on a 3-2 pitch and Matsui promptly hit one into the rightfield seats.

In the third inning, with the bases loaded and two outs, Matsui came up to the plate again. And again Martinez missed his spot. Martinez, trying to throw a fastball high and outside, threw a fastball outside, but not high enough.

Matsui served a single to left-centerfield to make the score 4-1 and that was the back breaker in my opinion.

While Matsui was driving in the runs, Andy Pettitte wasn’t allowing any runs to the Phillies. So much for not being able to pitch on three days rest.

Andy Pettitte

Pettitte came up big for the Yankees yet again

Pettitte pitched with a bend, but don’t break mentality last night. Pettitte walked five and gave up four hits over 5.2 innings, but never gave up the big hit.

Here are some other observations from last night:

The Phillies biggest fear in this World Series came to light last night–nobody except Cliff Lee could win a game for the Phillies.

After Matusi’s two-run single in the third, I couldn’t believe Charlie Manuel left Martinez in the game to face Posada.

Ryan Howard struck out for a 13th time last night breaking Willie Wilson’s World Series record of 12 set back in 1980.

I can’t believe that more was not made of Shane Victorino’s misplay on the Derek Jeter linedrive in the third. That was a huge play. The way the Yankees were playing, you can’t give them four outs in an inning.

Great job last night by Chad Durbin keeping it close. 0.1 innings, two hits, one walk, and three runs.

While Matsui might have won the World Series MVP award, Damaso Marte was just as valuable in this series.

Marte’s strike out of Chase Utley in the seventh was the nail in the coffin for the Phillies.

Of course, Marte came on to clean up Joba Chamberlain’s mess. How many times did I have to write that this postseason. Someone explain to me why Chamberlain is the most hyped pitcher in the game again?

Melky Cabrera has a World Series ring and Barry Bonds, Ted Williams, Ernie Banks, and Don Mattingly don’t. Unreal.

Back in March, Gary Sheffield was deciding between the New York Mets and Phillies. The Phillies really could have used him as their DH in this series.

Both teams were playing eight on eight tonight. Brett Gardner = automatic out for the Yankees. Ben Francisco = automatic out for the Phillies.

The Yankees become the first team since the 1991 Minnesota Twins to win a World Series using a three-man pitching staff.

5,000 kids in Long Island, who were Mets fans yesterday, are now Yankee fans today. They came into class today wearing red Yankee hats and a fake Chamberlain jersey.

Matsui will be replaced in the Yankees’ lineup next year by Matt Holliday. Damon will move to DH.

Now all of a sudden Joe Girardi is a genious.

Yankees’ President Randy Levine said in his post-game interview that George Steinbrenner was the first owner to go into Japan when they signed Matsui. Somebody should tell him A. Hideki Irabu played for the Yankees in 1997 and B. Ichiro Suzuki came into the league two years before Matsui.

How many times did the Yankees’ front office try to get rid of Pettitte over the last 10 years? Just proving that they are good business men, but terrible baseball men.

Pedro Feliz killed the Phillies this game. Three times up with RISP and 0-for-3. He gets a hit in any of those AB’s, it’s a different game.

How awesome was Carlos Ruiz this postseason? Just awesome. Such a good little player.

Raul Ibanez had a tremendous AB versus Rivera in the eighth inning. He worked hard for that double.

For the final out of the World Series, the Yankees had Jerry Hairston Jr., Gardner, and Nick Swisher in the outfield. Just goes to show you, you never know who is going to play a role in the World Series in April.

Well, with that the baseball season officially comes to an end. I’ll be doing a year in review in the upcoming days and I will be doing a what to look for this offseason post as well.

It’s one in the morning and I need some sleep. Have a good night folks.

Phillies Hold Off Yankees, Force Game Six

November 3, 2009

Like George Costanza, the Philadelphia Phillies did the opposite last night.

Instead of having tuna on toast, with coleslaw, and a cup of coffee and trying to wait out AJ Burnett, the Phillies had chicken salad, on rye, untoasted, and a cup of tea and jumped all over Burnett.

The Phillies were aggressive and ambushed Burnett in the first inning thanks to a Chase Utley three-run homerun and eventually held on for an 8-6 victory to force a Game Six back in the Bronx.

The Yankees now lead the best-of-seven World Series 3-2.

What ever respect Burnett earned in his gutsy performance in Game Five of the ALCS and his brilliant performance in Game Two of the World Series, he lost last night.

Yankees Orioles Baseball

Burnett gave the Yankees nothing last night

To go out in a World Series game and give your team absolutely nothing, is pathetic. At least battle like you did against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Here is all you need to know about where Burnett’s head was last night.

In the bottom of the third, Burnett was facing Jayson Werth with two on and nobody out. Burnett gets to 0-2 on Werth on two fastballs. The second fastball he blew by Werth.

Now one of the first things you learn when you become a pitcher is if a guy can’t catch up to your fastball, don’t throw anything offspead.

So what does Burnett do? He throws a tumbling curveball right over the middle of the plate. Werth was all over it and ripped the ball right back up the middle.

You can’t throw that pitch, if a guy just couldn’t catch up to your fastball on the pitch before. Let him prove that he can hit your fastball.

Burnett was then taken out of the game.

Just a terrible performance.

Here are some other observations from last night.

When Shane Victorino got hit on the finger squaring to bunt in the first inning, it reminded me of David Cone breaking his finger in 1987 on a bunt attempt.

In a potential clinching game in the World Series, the Yankees had Nick Swisher batting fifth.

Lee was good last night, but wasn’t great. He walked three guys last night and had only walked three guys in his previous four starts.

Lee only threw first-pitch strikes to 18 out of the 31 batters he faced. Very uncharacteristic for him.

I was very surprised to see Lee come out for the eighth inning. I thought Charlie Manuel should have gone to Chan Ho Park to start the inning and preserve Lee for a relief appearance in a potential Game Seven.

Great job by David Roberston and Alfredo Aceves to keep the Yankees in the game. Four innings, two hits, and three strike outs.

The Yankees have to be encouraged by Phil Hughes’ performance last night. 1.1 innings and looked sharp.

I guess we now know why Damaso Marte is ahead of Phil Coke on the depth chart.

With five homeruns, Chase Utley has tied Reggie Jackson for most homeruns in a World Series.

Why does Swisher look up at the scoreboard before every pitch? If this was the 1960’s, he would be accused of stealing signs.

Can someone please teach Brett Gardner how to bunt? This guy is one of the fastest players in baseball and he is hitting the ball in the air every AB.

I had no problem with Manuel going with Ryan Madson in the ninth. Lidge threw 30 pitches the night before and Madson was solid in Game Four.

Whatever praying the Phillies’ dugout did before the Derek Jeter AB–it worked. Jeter hitting into a 6-4-3 double play is more than anyone could have expected.

Say what you want about Johnny Damon–when the game and season is on the line, he shows up to play.

You can make all the great defensive plays you want, but Mark Teixeira’s postseason honeymoon is over. He has been awful in this World Series and for the most part, the entire postseason.

Hideki Matsui leads the Yankees in total bases this World Series (11) and has only started two games.

Citizens Bank Park has an X-Ray machine in the stadium. How far have we come in terms of technology? It really is amazing and we all, including myself take it for granted.

Hypothetical here: Let’s say Teixeira tied the game with a two-run HR in the ninth and Brett Gardner wins the game for the Yankees in the 15th inning. Does Utley still win the MVP award?

Ryan Howard has struck out 12 times this postseason tying Willie Wilson’s World Series record. I am confident that he will break that record in Game Six.

Another hypothetical here: Game Six, the Phillies are up 4-3, and heading into the ninth inning–who close’s for the Phillies?

If there ever was a “good loss” last night was it for the Yankees. They took the Phillies best punch last night and managed to get back up and make a fight out of it.

The Yankee teams from 2001-2008 would have taken that punch and not gotten back up.

Hero for Game Five – Chase Utley

Goat for Game Five – AJ Burnett

Series MVP – Chase Utley

Game Six is Wednesday at 7:57 ET.

AJ Burnett Outduels Pedro Martinez, Yankees Even Series

October 30, 2009

So much for this being an offensive World Series.

For the second night in a row we saw a pitcher’s duel in the Bronx. Last night AJ Burnett outdueled Pedro Martinez as the New York Yankees defeated the Philadelphia Phillies 3-1 to even their best-of-seven series at one game a piece.

AJ Burnett

Burnett pitched the game of his life last night

What you saw last night was two pitchers going about getting hitters out in two completely different ways, but getting the same result.

Burnett, overpowered the Phillies lineup with a mid-90’s fastball and a power curve all night. Martinez, used an array of offspead pitches to keep the Yankee hitters off balance all night.

But last night proved that no matter how hard you throw, whether you throw 95 mph or 85 mph, pitching is all about first-pitch strikes and location. A well spotted 85 mph fastball is just as effective, if not more effective than a 99 mph fastball right down the middle.

Burnett threw 22 first-pitch strikes to the 26 batters he faced and Martinez threw 16 first-pitch strikes to the 26 batters he faced.

Here are some other observations from last night:

I’ll be honest, I didn’t think Burnett had a performance like that in him.

In the third inning, after walking Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley, every Yankee fan thought “Here we go again” with Burnett.

I am very surprised the Phillies didn’t change their approach during the game. If you see a guy throwing strikes, there is no point in being patient.

Ryan Howard just struck out again.

Have Yankee fans not realized that chanting “Who’s your daddy?” only motivates Martinez?

I am still trying to debate who is the smarter pitcher–Martinez or Greg Maddux?

The ball Matt Stairs hit to drive in Raul Ibanez in the second was an error by Alex Rodriguez–not a hit.

I would love to see a throwing contest between Johnny Damon and Jason Bay. That would be high comedy.

If the Yankees don’t resign Damon, some dumb team is going to give him a three-year deal and regret it from the first day. Damon at this stage of his career is a product of the Yankee lineup and the new Yankee Stadium.

Did anyone else think Ibanez’s diving catch in the second inning was happening in slow motion? It seemed Ibanez was running forever and the ball hung up in the air forever.

It was good to see Mark Teixeira finally show up with the bat. That homerun was a bomb to rightcenter.

How did Hideki Matsui hit that homerun in the sixth? That pitch was at his shoe tops.

Did Charlie Manuel get coaching advice from Grady Little before the game? There is no way Martinez should have come back out for the seventh.

Howard just struck out again on another curve four feet out of the strike zone.

Manuel said he didn’t start Rollins and Shane Victorino in the eighth because Utley doesn’t hit into many double plays. Manuel thought it might have been five or less throughout the season.

Manuel was right. Utley hit into five double plays during the regular season.

If you are a Yankee fan, you can say Damon’s linedrive hit the ground in the seventh. As a Philly fan, you can say Utley was safe on that double play.

Both plays were bang-bang. I have no problem with either call.

I don’t care how great Mariano Rivera is, you can’t keep asking a 40-year-old to throw 40 pitches a night.

The Yankees are really going to need to find somebody to pitch the eighth inning in Philadelphia. With three games in a row, Rivera can’t pitch two innings every night. His arm will fall off.

I wonder if Jerry Hairston will get the start in Game Three against the lefty Cole Hamels? Hairston was 1-3 last night replacing Nick Swisher.

How much weight has Mark Grace gained? He has seriously ballooned up. I think we will be seeing him in a Nutrisystem commercial pretty soon.

Hero for Game Two – AJ Burnett

Goat for Game Two – Ryan Howard

Series MVP – Cliff Lee

Game Three is Saturday night at 7:57 ET.

Angels Win Wild Game Five, Force Game Six In The Bronx

October 23, 2009

Mike Scioscia and Joe Girardi played a game of “What ever you can do, I can do worse.”

In one of the worst managed playoff games in quite some time, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim outlasted the New York Yankees 7-6 to take Game Five of their best-of-seven ALCS and force a Game Six in the Bronx Saturday night.

This was a game that really had three parts to it.

The first part was the Angels ambushed Yankees’ starter AJ Burnett for four runs in the first inning. A walk to Chone Figgins, a double to Bobby Abreu, a single by Torii Hunter, a single by Vladimir Guerrero, and a single by Kendry Morales.

Five batters into the game and just like that, the Angels had four runs. I really thought Burnett wouldn’t make it out of the second inning.

Which leads me to the second part of the game.

From the second inning to the sixth, this game was a pitcher’s duel. Burnett and John Lackey were matching each other goose egg for goose egg.

And let me give credit to Burnett. I was really surprised he settled down and pitched into the seventh inning. I didn’t think he had that type of bounce back ability in him.

Then comes the third part of this game and this is when the wheels start to come off for Scioscia and Girardi.

The last three innings of this game were managed so poorly, you would have thought this was never a playoff game. Let’s take a look at the managerial decisions that transpired from the top of the seventh on.

Top of the seventh – Scioscia takes out Lackey

After the Angels had their *Mark Langston moment on a 3-2 count to Jorge Posada, the Yankees had bases loaded and two outs with Mark Teixeira coming to the plate.

Lackey should have never been taken out last night

Lackey should have never been taken out last night

Scioscia decides to take out his ace after only 104 pitches with the Angels’ season on the line to bring in Darren Oliver. Are you kidding me?

As Scioscia was approaching the mound, you can see Lackey saying “This is mine.” I’ll be writing another story on Lackey later, but that moment was pretty cool.

There is no way you can take your ace out in that spot. You just can’t. And for what? To bring in Darren freakin’ Oliver?

It’s not like Scioscia was bringing in Dennis Eckersley. There is a reason why Oliver has been on like 20 teams in his career.

And when did Teixeira become a worse hitter right-handed? Here is Teixeira’s OPS splits from the regular season.

Teixeira’s OPS LH – .951

Teixeira’s OPS RH – .911

Not much difference from left to right.

This was without a shadow of a doubt the single worst managerial decision of the postseason.

Of course, Oliver serves up a double on the first pitch to Teixeira and a single to Hideki Matsui. All of a sudden the game went from 4-0 Angels to 6-4 Yankees in a matter of five minutes.

Bottom of the seventh – Girardi leaves in Burnett too long.

First, I have no problem with Burnett starting the inning. I thought he should have been given every opportunity to go as long as he can, as he was getting people out.

But once he served up a single to Jeff “Mike Piazza” Mathis, he should have been out of the game. I thought it was going to be one of those let him pitch until someone gets on situation.

If anyone has watched the Yankees all year, that is how Girardi manages. But I really think all the overmanaging talk from Game Three really was in Girardi’s head.

He was trying so hard not to overmanage, that he actually undermanaged in this situation. Once Mathis got the hit, Girardi should have gone to Phil Hughes or Damaso Marte.

Instead, Burnett is left out there and he proceeds to walk Erick Aybar. That’s when the wheels came off for the Yankees.

Once the Angels got two on and nobody out, the crowd got back into it and from their Hughes unraveled.

Bottom of the seventh – Hughes pitches around Hunter to get to Guerrero.

Did the Yankees not watch Game Three of the ALDS between the Angels and the Boston Red Sox?

I really didn’t understand this move. And don’t tell me they weren’t pitching around Hunter. When you throw a 3-0 slider–you are pitching around a batter.

When did Hunter become Frank Robinson? He can be pitched to. He doesn’t work the count and we have seen in big spots in this postseason, he will chase balls that aren’t strikes.

This move almost worked until Hughes had mental breakdown on the mound. He threw a Papelbon-esque 0-2 fastball right down the middle and Guerrero singled up the middle.

Bottom of the eighth – Girardi goes to Joba Chamberlain instead of Dave Robertson

Did Robertson sleep with Girardi’s wife or something? This guy is pitching lights out in the postseason (three innings, two hits and zero runs) and he continues to sit on the bench.

At what point is Girardi going to realize that Chamberlain isn’t very good. Mr. Mediocre has given up seven hits in 2.2 innings of work and has a WHIP of 2.63.

A 2.63 WHIP is below replacement level. I really don’t understand the infatuation with this guy. He can’t start and now he can’t relieve.

What exactly does he do well?

Bottom of the ninth – Scioscia takes out Jered Weaver.

I am a firm believer that you should always go to your closer in save situations only if he is a top-flight closer.

If you have a Mariano Rivera, Jonathan Papelbon, Joe Nathan, etc…That guy pitches the ninth no matter what.

However, when you have a closer like Brian Fuentes, I think you have to go with the hot hand. And the hot hand last night was Weaver.

This guy came into the eighth and just steamrolled the Yankees. I would have left him in for the ninth.

Fuentes is unreliable at this point. You have no idea what on earth he is going to do out there.

And I will say this, once Scioscia made the decision to bring Fuentes into the game, I had no problem with walking Alex Rodriguez with two outs and nobody on base. It was the right move.

Fuentes went on to save the game, but not before giving every Angels fan a heart attack. If you are an Angels fan and you don’t get nervous when Fuentes pitches then:

A. You don’t have a pulse.

B. No other closer will make you nervous ever again.

Now we have a Game Six. If you are a Yankees fan, you have to be a little worried. A late-90’s Yankee championship team doesn’t lose that game last night.

Game Six is Saturday at 7:57 ET.

Hero for Game Five – Kendry Morales

Goat for Game Five – Phil Hughes

Series MVP – CC Sabathia

*Mark Langston moment. In Game One of the 1998 World Series, with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Langston was in the game for the San Diego Padres facing Tino Martinez in a tie game.

With two strikes, Langston throws a ball right down the middle, but the pitch was called a ball. It was an awful call.

The next pitch Martinez rips a grand slam and the game was over and the Padres never recovered.

CC Sabathia Dominates Angels: Yankees Take Game One

October 17, 2009

Here is what I wrote in my American League Championship Series Preview and Prediction post:

“But things are starting to break for the Yankees like they did in the 90’s. You can’t beat the unexplained. There will be a Joe Mauer foul ball or Nick Punto baserunning moment for the Angels in this series.”

It took all of five batters for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to have their Nick Punto moment.

That coupled with a dominating performance from CC Sabathia made a cold night in the Bronx even colder for the Angels.

Big CC was on his game last night

Big CC was on his game last night

The New York Yankees beat the Angels last night 4-1 behind Sabathia’s eight solid innings and some surprisingly bad Angels defense to take a 1-0 lead in their best-of-seven ALCS.

This game really reminded me of an NCAA tournament game where it’s a No. 13 seed plays a No. 4 seed.

The No. 13 seed plays all nervous through the first five minutes, makes silly mistakes, eventually settles down, gets somewhat back into the game, but at the end of the day the No. 3 seeds imposses their will and wins the game.

That was this game.

For an Angels team that is a veteran playoff team, they played like a bunch of amateurs last night. The bottom of the first inning set the tone for this game.

With Derek Jeter on first base, Johnny Damon hit a flare down the leftfield line. Jeter went to third and Damon made a wide turn but stopped at first base.

Juan Rivera decides to throw the ball to nobody in particular and allows Damon to advance to second. Who was he throwing to? He threw the ball between second and third.

As bad of a play that was, things only got worse for the Angels. Now here comes there Punto bonehead moment of the evening.

After Alex Rodriguez’s sac fly made it 1-0 Yankees, Hideki Matsui came up with a runner on second with two outs.

Matsui hit a little pop up behind third. Chone Figgins and Erick Aybar stare at each other and let the ball drop in. Damon scored and it was 2-0 Yankees.

I really thought John Lackey was going to punch Aybar after the inning. This was such a bonehead play that you would never think it would happen to the Angels.

Unfortunetly for the Angels, this wasn’t the last bonehead play of the evening.

In the bottom of the sixth, Lackey inexplicably walked Melky Cabrera with two outs. I say inexplicably because you can’t walk someone like Cabrera with two outs and no runners on base.

Let him earn his way on. He is a fourth outfielder and Lackey is throwing 3-2 curveballs to Cabrera. Terrible pitch selection.

With Cabrera now on first, Lackey tried to pick him off and throws the ball into rightfield. What was Lackey thinking? Cabrera had a two foot lead at best.

Now with Cabrera on second, Jeter lines a single up the middle. Torii Hunter charges the ball, but the ball hits off the heel of his glove, and rolls behind him. Cabrera scored to make it 4-1.

With Sabathia on top of his game, four runs was more than enough. Sabathia scattered four hits, walked one and struckout seven in eight solid innings of work.

The key for Sabathia in this game was that he was locating his fastball. Up, down, in, and out, Sabathia threw his fastball where ever he wanted to.This was by far and away the best start of Sabathia’s postseason career.

The Angels want to run on the Yankees, but if you don’t get anyone on base, it’s hard to steal. Chone Figgins, Bobby Abreu, and Erick Aybar–the three Angels who can steal a base, went 0-11 with three strikeouts.

And how about Chone Figgins? Can this guy get any worse? He is now 0-16 this postseason. The Angels won’t win this series if he doesn’t get on track.

Game Two is a must win game for the Angels. I don’t think they can go back to Anaheim down 0-2 and win this series.

Game Two is scheduled for today at 7:57 ET. It’s supposed to rain tonight, but right now as of 11:15 am ET in New York, it’s not raining. I went to get bagels this morning and it’s pretty cold however.

Of course, if the game tonight does get rained out, I will keep everyone updated.

Hero for Game One – CC Sabathia

Goat for Game One – Chone Figgins

Series MVP – CC Sabathia

New York Yankees Roll, Win Game One

October 8, 2009

Everything went according to plan for the New York Yankees in Game One of their American League Division series against the Minnesota Twins.

The Yankees got six and two-thirds solid innings from CC Sabathia, they used the long ball to their advantage like they have been all year, and even got Alex Rodriguez to contribute in their 7-2 victory over the Twins.

Believe it or not, the Twins actually had a 2-0 lead in this game heading into the third inning. They got a clutch two-out hit from Michael Cuddyer and then Joe Mauer scored on a passed ball by Jorge Posada to make it 2-0.

I’ll just say this–Posada was awful defensively in this game. Could a catcher look anymore clueless behind the plate than Posada did last night? Jose Molina is so much better than him defensively it’s ridiculous.

Matsui went yard last night

Matsui went yard last night

But after the Twins took that 2-0 lead, the Yankees came right back to tie the game on a Derek Jeter two-run homerun. As soon as Jeter hit that HR, you kind of felt that the Yankees would win this game.

Hideki Matsui broke the game open with a two-run HR in the fifth off of Francisco Liriano and the rest was history. What the heck happened to Liriano? He is the only pitcher I can think of, who has gotten worse after Tommy John surgery.

I think the Twins will be much, much more competitive for the rest of this series. Ron Gardenhire said his club was “gassed” before the start of Game One. It’s usually not a good sign when your manager says that before a game.

The day off today should serve the Twins well. They should finally be able to get some sleep, regroup, and like I said, be much better throughout this series.

Game Two is Friday at 6:07 ET.

One last side note to this game. Major League Baseball really needs to end their relationship with TBS. Their coverage of baseball is awful.

How many times did they show Jay Z and Kate Hudson in this game? It seemed like 100 times. We get it TBS–there are stars in New York. It’s nothing new.

Uma Thurman and Julia Roberts live around the corner from me–big deal.

I want to watch baseball. I don’t want to see Craig Sager in his purple clown suits, I don’t want to see David Aldridge (a basketball guy) doing baseball interviews, and I don’t want to Jay Z and Kate Hudson every five minutes.

I just want to watch baseball.

New York Yankees Clinch Playoff Spot

September 23, 2009

With the Texas Rangers losing to the Oakland A’s 9-1 last night, the New York Yankees became the first team in baseball to clinch a playoff spot. With that last sentence, at least 5,000 New York Mets fans just converted to Yankees fans just to be “cool.” Today, they all came into school with red Yankee hats and replica Joba Chamberlain jerseys.

If you lived in New York in the mid-to-late 90’s, you know everything I just said is 100 percent true.

It's been all smiles for the Yankees in 2009

It's been all smiles for the Yankees in 2009

In all seriousness, the Yankees have had a very good year. A better year than I expected, to be honest. Not that I didn’t expect the Yankees to win 90 games, but I didn’t think they would beat out the Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox for a playoff spot.

In my opinion, the Yankees won this year for three reasons:

1. They have gotten tremendous years from a lot of aging veterans. Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon, Jorge Posada, and Derek Jeter have all had nice bounce-back years offensively. Jeter is having an MVP season.

2. Overall offensively, the Yankees just bludgeoned teams. The Yankees ranked first in the AL in runs scored (864), first in homeruns (231), and first in team OPS (.842). One through nine, the Yankees can matchup with anyone.

3. Phil Hughes. When Phil Hughes went to the bullpen and became the bridge to Mariano Rivera, everything seemed to fall in place for the Yankees. Their bullpen became better and in turn, made their starting rotation better.

The Yankees have a six-game (five in the loss column) lead over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for the title of best record in the American League. Baring an epic collapse and thanks the AL beating the NL in the All-Star Game, the Yankees should have homefield advantage throughout the playoffs.

Everything is set up for the Yankees to make a World Series run in 2009. If they don’t — John Sterling’s head might explode.