Thoughts on the final game of the Subway Series

So, about that pitching duel… C.C. Sabathia wasn’t very sharp with his pitches, and R.A. Dickey wasn’t very sharp with his command… There were 19 hits in what seemed to be billed as the duel of the year… There were five errors, two big home runs, and a combined Game Score of 82 for the two pitchers (which was nearly bested by Wade Miley all by himself on Sunday, when he put up a Game Score of 78)…  But wrapped up in all of the fireworks were some valuable lessons to be learned, as always…

Yankees aren’t completely lost with Runners in Scoring Position: Two innings deep and it looked like the same old news – runners were going to be stranded at second and third all night long while Robinson Cano and others slouched back to the dugout, discouraged as they’ve been all year. Then came the third inning, and Mark Teixeira hit a sacrifice fly that was followed quickly by a three run blast by Nick Swisher. Both, however, have been above average in such spots throughout the year, so the real question remains “Can Robinson Cano and Russell Martin,” in particular, “channel their inner Robinson Cano’s and Russell Martin’s with runners in scoring position.” Let me offer up that perhaps it doesn’t matter when two others carry the load – wins help people forget, and losses are salt on the wound. Cano, by the way, singled and walked with runners in scoring position (though Curtis Granderson was held to just one base on Cano’s fifth inning single). Baby steps.

The offense is a force to be reckoned with: Forget sabermetrics stats (which I am at times a slave to) and all the noise, and boil this game down to a single meaning: the Yankees offense can barge through any pitcher’s steel wall, however impenetrable and nasty the wall might be. Dickey’s was made of the nastiest knuckleball around (perhaps ever) and a 42 and two-thirds innings streak without an earned run surrendered. Meaning, by all accounts, that he was pitching at the top of his game and everyone else’s; and by that equation, meaning that the Yankees shouldn’t have barged through that wall. He flashed what’s come to be known as trademark Dickey in the first inning: hanging around in the upper-half of the plate, generating a couple of whiffs, and mixing speeds up as well as a knuckler should be expected to. And yet, the Yankees hitters wore him down with patience – taking 14 balls in the third inning and causing a colossal three-run mistake to Nick Swisher. Speaking of…

Nick Swisher can make things happen on offense: Swisher hit a very big blast and walked, so on the surface, his night was a whopping success. But beyond that, behold: in his four plate appearances he saw 24 pitches. A stat that’s so often overlooked in the box score is number of pitches seen. Andres Torres made the most noise on the other side of the diamond, reaching base three times in five plate appearances. Sure enough, he saw 28 pitches. Rueben Tejada drove in two runs – he saw 23 pitches. David Wright saw 22 and reached base three times. A free-hacking approach can work at times, and Robinson Cano’s Sunday is the best walking evidence you’ll find of that (he managed to walk and reach base two other times while only seeing 14 pitches). But often, a patient approach is key to a hitter’s success, and Swisher should be a shining testament to that. He worked the count in his favor in the third, shifting a 0-1 into a 2-1 count and setting up a monster three-run home run. It’s a relief to see Swisher returning to form, what with his walk rate hovering at new lows (hovering between 8 and 9 percent).

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