The first 7 innings of last night’s ALCS were awful, and that is not because I fell asleep from innings 3-6. Okay, that is part of the reason, but would you blame me for falling asleep? The Yankees offense was appalling against Ranger starter C.J. Wilson, a soft-tossing lefty whose fastball maybe reached 93 twice last night. Yet, he struck out A-Rod on two separate occasions, blowing 92 mile-per-hour cheese by him. It was really, really bad. Nothing exciting happened from innings 3-6, and when I woke up to see Joba Chamberlain come in in the 5th inning, I forced myself back to sleep. I thought I was going to wake up, and see the score be 9-0, thanks to Joba. He managed to throw only 18 pitches (Which is the equivalent of a normal pitcher throwing 9 in an inning. Joba throws more pitches an inning than any pitcher I have ever seen in my life, and that includes 4th grade Little Leaguers who regularly walk 5 people an inning, if not more) and have a hitless inning.
Quick tangent about Joba: Is it sad that this is what Joba has come to? A former phenom is now doing mop-up work, in a game that I guess Girardi assumed was out of reach. He must have though Joba could not have made it any worse. The arrival of Kerry Wood (a former phenom himself), has completely eliminated Joba’s role in the Yankee bullpen. I am kind of sad to see this go. In his first year, Chamberlain was maybe my favorite player on the Yankees, only behind Jeter. A lot of Yankee fans could vouch for this, as a lot felt the same way. He was electric. We had not seen a guy with this much feeling on the mound, well, ever. Then the Joba Rules came into play, which the only good thing that came out of it was one of my favorite Sports Illustrated Articles of all time. These rules kept him from ever getting out of the shallow end. He never even got into the area of the pool where the shallow meets the deep end, in accordance to pitch count. Then, Hank Steinbrenner said, no, demanded that Joba be a starter in 2008, his first full big league season. He went from throwing 20 pitches a game to 75. I hate Hank Steinbrenner. Thank God he has disappeared off a cliff, in terms of the Yankee organization. Do you think Hal fredoed Hank? Did I just invent a new word? Why does Youtube not have a single clip of Fredo fishing and dying? If one of my reader(s) can find this, you have to send this to me.
Okay, that tangent was not that quick, but you get the point (I assume). It got really, really bad for the Yankees in the beginning of this game. I was watching this game at my friend Alec’s house, who is currently hooked up to some kind of leg machine (which looks like one-fourth of a bicycle machine) because he just had surgery on his torn ACL. The mood in the house after C.C.’s first inning can only be described as angry. There was nothing but snarky remarks for Sabathia for the rest of the time he was in. Even when he made an incredible play, sliding to tag out Nelson Cruz after a wild pitch, I said something along the lines of “Earthquake!” when he started to dive. I have no doubts in my mind that C.C. can turn it around, but a big game pitcher like himself needs to come up much, much bigger than he did tonight.
Gutsy performance by Dustin Moseley last night, who I forgot was even on the playoff roster. I had to add that in.
Let’s get to the eighth inning, which produced maybe one of my ten favorite Yankee moments in my lifetime. Words cannot describe how amazing Gardner’s single was. Think about how impossible it is. He hit a ground ball to first base, maybe 15 feet away from the bag. Then, Gardner puts his already insane speed into Millennium Falcon mode, and is running roughly a 3.4 40 at this point. Then, he slides head-first 20 feet, and beats the pitcher to the bag. Once Gardner was called safe (and he was obviously safe), I knew the Yankees were going to win. It was just too big a momentum shift, and too ballsy a play to go without any retribution. As I tweeted last night, this immediately reminded me of the Dave Roberts ‘04 steal in Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS against the Yankees. Even Roberts and Gardner are kind of the same player type. Scrappy, fast guys who came up huge. This time, the 5 foot 9 speedster was in our favor.
This was the type of play that championship teams always seem to get. The Yankees responded to Gardner’s steal way better than I ever thought they would. The Yankees scored 5 runs with nobody out in the 8th, and then went ahead on a Marcus Thames broken bat single. There was nothing better than seeing Thames fist pump his way down the first base line off of a bleeder. I love how Jersey Shore has implemented itself in the playoffs. That is what Thames was imitating, right?
This game even got Jeter out of his season-long disaster. He had a huge hit in that inning, an RBI double that got the Yankees on the board in that eighth inning. That kind of big hit gets a player back to normal (I say that out of no scientific data). A-Rod had another huge hit for the Yankees in the playoffs, something that has become commonplace in the past two years. Except for when he hit .250 in the World Series last year. Wow is one of the few words that can describe what the Yankees did last night.
Mia v. GB
BAL v. Ne
Kc v. HOU
ATL v. Phi
No v. TB
Sea v. CHI
Det v. NYG
Cle v. PIT
SD v. Stl
NYJ v. Den
Oak v. SF
DAL v. Min
IND v. Was
TEN v. Jac
Check out my Pigskin Pick ‘Em picks: http://games.espn.go.com/pigskin/en/entry?entryID=73518
After going 7-7 against the spread last week, and going a horrific 5-9 in my regular picks, I am 41-35 and 39-37, respectfully. Although I am not sure you have respect for a guy who went 5-9.