A “great” series is one in which the Yankees not only play well, but in which they post a “W”. By that standard, the Yankees had a “great” series against the Orioles. By just about any other metric, though, their series versus the Birds was, well, bizarre. The series lasted 52 innings, making it the second-longest in LDS history, behind only the 53 innings played between the Yankees and Mariners in 1995. The Yankees won it on pitching, as they batted an anemic .211. Both teams pitched amazingly well. The O’s and Yanks split the regular season series averaging 10 runs per game. In the postseason surgical pitching on both sides cut that average in half, to 5.2 runs per game.
And arguably the most bizarre occurrence happened in game 5 – Mark Teixeira stole a base!
Going into the ALCS versus the Tigers, their playoff-nemesis-of-late, I have a few interesting observations to share – five to be exact – which will help to put both the series and the season into its proper perspective, no matter the outcome. Here goes:
5) The Yankees are 6-4 versus the Tigers this year. They have outscored the Tigers 59-48 with an average runs-per-game of 10.7. Sabathia won three times to Justin Verlander’s one, both aces pitched in an ALDS game 5. Max Scherzer didn’t post a win but the Yankees have a team batting average against him of .214. Worse yet, Robbie Cano’s batting average against Scherzer is .182. In other words, the Yankees can’t hit Scherzer and look for Cano’s slump to continue.
4) If you refer to my previous (read: ridiculous) comparison of Raul Ibanez to B.A. Barracus, I pointed out that Ibanez would come up big in this series. He did, and yes, I am psychic. I forgot to mention the corollary to that observation which is that the Yankees have no chance of winning this series if Ibanez’s bat BECOMES their offense. Robbie Cano has to hit in this series. I’m not sure what to make of the Oriole’s postseason pitching – was it great managing on Showalter’s part? Are his pitchers that good? (no doubt about Gonzalez – he’s the real deal). Whatever the case, Cano batted .091/.130/.182 against the Orioles in 22 at bats. Not to brag, but, I could have performed that poorly.
3) The top three headlines this week were as follows:
- “Biden hold Debate to try to Convince the Remaining three undecided voters”
- “Trouble in the Middle East Continues”
- “A-Rod Benched in ALDS Game 5”
Girardi benched $25 million dollars in favor of $900K last night, and seemingly, it worked. But before we get all giddy and reaffirm our collective A-Rod hate, bear in mind that, as stated above, NOONE is hitting right now except Jeter and Teixeira. Why do we reserve special “hate” for A-Rod? All season, he’s been decent. His slash numbers are .272/.353/.430. He’s hit 16 home runs and his UZR is slightly-less than mediocre -3.9. For the playoffs, his slash numbers indicate a typical A-Rod playoff-fade at .125/.222/.125 and batting him third didn’t help protect Cano. On the other hand, Curtis Granderson batted .158/.200/.316 – his slugging percentage elevated only yesterday by a home run. Otherwise, his three hits compares quite unfavorably with A-Rods two hits in one less game and three fewer at-bats. Meanwhile Cano has had two hits and “Smilin’ Nick” Swisher has had two. “Smilin’Nick’s” slash numbers are quite atrocious as well at .190/.111/.190 and yet, Bomber fans love him. As far as I’m concerned, you could have benched Swisher, Cano, or A-Rod last night and the result would have been the same.
2) To the Girardi detractors out there – you gonna give the man some love finally, or what? He took a huge risk in pinch-hitting Ibanez for A-Rod in game 3 and it paid off. He took a rather larger risk last night, benching him for Chavez, and the Yankees are now playing in their third ALCS in Girardi’s 5 years as Yankee skipper. More to the point, how about some love for the pitching? He’s done an amazing job with a less-than amazing rotation. If anyone would have told me that Sabathia, Pettitte, Kuroda, and Hughes would have ERAs of 1.53, 3.86, 2.16, and 1.35 against the team with the second-best record in the American League, and the team which ousted the Texas Rangers (who had scored the most runs in the American League), I’d have berated you with the following diatribes:
“No, I’m sorry, but I respectfully disagree”.
1) While we’re on the topic of rotations, I can’t help but think of Cliff Lee at times like this. When I think of regrettable decisions, the following usually pop into my head;
- New Coke.
- Mr and Mrs Canseco deciding to have children.
- Portland taking Sam Bowie instead of Michael Jordan.
- MGM deciding to distribute Paul Verhoeven’s Showgirls.
- The Red Sox trading Youkilis, Beckett, Crawford and Gonzalez but keeping Bobby Valentine.
- The Captain of the Titanic attempting to speed through an iceberg patch.
- Cliff Lee choosing to play in Philadelphia because New Yorkers are rude.