Sunday, October 18, 2009

Fundamentals 2, Angels 0

Fundamentals. Fun-duh-MEN-tuls. Noun. 1) Something that is part of the foundation of another thing. 2) In sports, the key concepts that must be mastered before attempting advanced work.

Example: A fundamental concept of baseball is the ability to correctly catch and throw a baseball.

Example 2: Another fundamental concept of baseball is that when one's team takes the lead, that team is supposed to keep the other team from scoring.

Were the New York Yankees fundamentally sound tonight? No, not really--they had three errors in the game.

The difference, however, is that while the Yankees worked around their fundamental mishaps, the Angels did not.

Sure, AJ Burnett's wild pitch that led to the Angels tying the game at 2 could be considered an error if you'd like, but that was more typical bad-inning-AJ than it was poor fundamental play on the part of the Yankees.

On the other hand, the Angels' second error of the game directly caused the Yankees to score the winning run, a ground ball that should have gone for the sure out that went instead sailing past the target and allowing Jerry Hairston Jr. to score.

It won't be cast as an error, but attention should also be paid to the game tying home run Alex Rodriguez had in the eleventh inning.

From the Yankees' point of view, their third baseman has been the unequivocal MVP of the postseason thus far (though there is obviously a lot of way left to go). Rodriguez has hit three home runs this postseason, and every single one of those home runs has been a late-inning, game-tying shot; the two at Yankee Stadium coming in what, to that point, would have been the Yankees' last at bat.

From the Angels' point of view, it was a failure of their closer, Brian Fuentes, as the Angels now join the ranks of the teams that have blown a save or late-inning lead this postseason--Red Sox, Twins, Rockies, Phillies and Cardinals are all guilty here.

The Yankees?

Well, the legend of Mariano Rivera still grows.

He pitched two innings tonight, did not reach 30 pitches, and was simply outstanding.

According to the folks at Baseball Prospectus, teams that win championships need good defense, strike out pitchers and lock-down closers.

Is it any wonder, then, that the Yankees are the only team in 2009 to have not lost a postseason game?


There will be many comments about Joe Girardi overmanaging the bullpen. Indeed, this is my gut reaction as well.

The more I think about it, however, the more I'm not that bothered by it. Who expects a postseason game to go 13 innings, after all?

With the off-day tomorrow, all of the relievers will get their day of rest, so by the time they play again on Monday, it will be a non-issue.