We assumed and we started to plan, as though all that was left was tying up some gift ribbons and signing the greeting card.
We forgot, in the process, that the Yankees still had to win the game.
They had to win the game, in Anaheim, against the best Angels pitcher. Even on paper it was no easy thing.
We assumed, and we were wrong.
You can attach blame wherever you'd like, though only assigning blame does not do much. As my father has told me, some are in love with assigning blame and others prefer to fix problems.
So, here we go:
Some will blame AJ Burnett, some Joe Girardi, and some Phil Hughes.
I am no baseball manager and I've never played in an organized baseball game, but this is what I would have done:
In the seventh inning, I let Burnett come out to start the inning. He's at 80 pitches and has more or less been doing all right since that let's-not-talk-about-it first inning.
Once Mathis reaches, that's when I replace Burnett, instead of giving him the chance to put the tying run on base.
The reliever I bring in is not Phil Hughes or Joba Chamberlain, but David Robertson. I know, it doesn't make a lot of sense, but both Hughes and Chamberlain have been hit this postseason and Robertson has more or less worked some miracles.
At this rate, Robertson right now is the most valuable reliever not named Mariano Rivera.
This isn't to detract from what Hughes or Chamberlain have done this season--and without Hughes, especially, the Yankees aren't even playing tonight--but both have had issues this postseason.
If I leave AJ in to face the first two batters and they both reach, I consider bringing in Mariano Rivera. It's undoubtedly the highest leverage situation at that point, but my issue arises if the Yankees don't add any more insurance runs and the game goes to the ninth still a two run game and your team on the road.
Unlike most of you, I suspect, I'm not all that bothered by Girardi's decision to pinch run for Alex Rodriguez in the ninth.
With two outs, and down by one, you do anything you can to tie the score, and while Rodriguez isn't a Molina, Guzman is much more likely to score from first. Again, your team is down two outs, so you don't have any more outs with which to work.
Nick Swisher, of course, killed us all with the 3-2 pop up. I don't know if he was swinging at ball four or not, but the Yankees lost the game in the seventh, after coming so close to winning.
So we go back to New York.
The forecast on Saturday calls for rain and thunder.
After everything that's happened this season, the possibility of being able to clinch at home, in the rain--possibly even, well, you know how--has a certain romanticism to it.
October baseball lives on.
Thursday, October 22, 2009