Friday, October 24, 2003


So wait, David Wells doesn't give up a hit and they still can't beat the Fish? What's that you say? What about his back? Oh. Never mind.


Alright, let's see what this revamped lineup can do. Jeter leads off with a single to right. Enrique Wilson bunts at the next pitch. The ball tails in on his hands and Enrique barely gets out of the way of the pitch, not to mention his bat, but gets the bunt down to the first base side. Marlins starter Brad Penny comes off the mound to field the ball, but merely deflects it away from firstbaseman Derek Lee, who recovers and then overthrows first. Enrique would have been safe if the throw was on target, but the error sends Jeter to third with no outs and Bernie coming up. Sure that was a fluke, but I'm digging on the revamped lineup that gets Bernie to the plate in this situation. The Maestro lifts a fly to right on a 2-0 count, plating Jeter. One out. Matsui up, 2-1 groundout. Posada, three-pitch strikeout.

Wells waltzes through the bottom of the first on eight pitches and I'm feeling good about this game.

After a pair of strikeouts from Nick Johnson and Karim Garcia, Aaron Boone singles to left, but rather than Wells, Dave Dellucci steps to the plate. [needle skids off the record]


It turns out that Wells' back completely crapped out on him. His sixth pitch in the top of the first was a breaking ball that bounced several feet in front of the plate. Supposedly that's when his back went from bad to worse. After the game, Joe Torre said that Wells was in so much pain warming up for the game that Stottlemyre came back from the bullpen and asked him who they were going to go with in the second inning. As for Wells, he said that his back hasn't been this bad since he was with the White Sox, when it led to surgery. Highly medicated when talking to the press after the game, Wells said far less about being able to pitch tonight than he did about being able to walk ten years from now. Yikes.

Despite getting two innings from him last night, Torre goes to Contreras in the second. El Titan retires the first two batters before walking Mike Lowell on four pitches and Derek Lee on seven. His second pitch to Alex Gonzalez is blasted into deep right, bounding into the stands for a ground rule double. The hop is a lucky break for the Yanks as Lee is held up at third, keeping the game tied with the pitcher due up and two outs. But Penny singles on Contreras's first pitch scoring both Lee and Gonzalez. Contreras then walks Pierre on four pitches to put runners on first and second before finally striking out Castillo on four pitches. 3-1 Marlins.

The Yanks have the top of the order up in the third and once again Jeter, who is far and away the best lead-off man the Yankees have, reaches base, this time on an eight pitch walk. Wilson again offers at the first pitch, but this time he chops the ball to third and Mike Lowell turns two. Bernie grounds out and the game has officially taken a 180-degree turn.

Fortunately Contreras settles down, starting the bottom of the third with a pair of strikeouts and wasting a two-out Conine double by getting Lowell to ground out.

Or does he? After the Yanks waste a one-out Posada single in the top of the inning, Derek Lee leads off the bottom half with a single off Contreras. Gonzalez strikes out and Penny bunts Lee to second, two outs. Contreras then serves up an RBI-double to Juan Pierre before, again, retiring Castillo to end the inning. 4-1 Marlins.

After Juan Rivera grounds out for Contreras in the top of the fifth (so far both Yankee pinch-hitters have made outs on the first pitch), Chris Hammond finally makes a postseason appearance. Rodriguez leads off with a single and moves to second on a fly out by Cabrera. Jeff Conine then works the count full before lining a shot down the third base line which Aaron Boone scoops. Boone looks toward first to retire Conine, but discovers that Pudge has wandered too far off second. Boone flips to Wilson standing between Rodriguez and the bag and the run down is on. Jeter heads toward third and Boone cycles out, but the play developed so quickly--partially because the ball was hit so sharply to third, partially because Boone threw to Wilson a tad early--that Jeter isn't in place to receive a counter throw from Wilson, who instead tries to return the ball to Boone, who is jogging out of the basepath to go cover second. Wilson winds up throwing the ball behind Boone and watching it roll to the wall, allowing Rodriguez to reach third and Conine to come all the way up to second. Hammond's first pitch to Lowell is then hit into center for a single scoring both runners. Ouch. Wilson does his best to make up for it by starting a double play on a grounder by Lee to end the inning, but the Yanks are now down 6-1 and Brad Penny, who's throwing in the high-90s, is cruising.

Fortunately for the Yankees, the botched run down is their nadir. They begin to rebound in the sixth with Chris Hammond getting the first 1-2-3 inning by a Yankee pitcher since Wells was on the mound. In the top of the seventh, Nick Johnson--who got the start in place of Giambi, not because Torre was trying to mix things up, but because Giambi's knee wouldn't allow him to play the field--leads off with a single. Karim Garcia follows with same, pushing Nick to third. The ever-useful Aaron Boone then flies out on the second pitch he sees, with no outs and a man on third. The ball is too shallow to score Johnson. Giambi, who had been on deck to hit for Hammond, is called back when the run doesn't score and Torre sends up Ruben Sierra instead. Brad Penny overmatches him with heaters, two outs. Penny looks to do the same to Jeter, blowing two fastballs by him to put the count at 0-2, but Jeter knocks the third pitch into right to score Johnson and move Garcia up to third. Enrique Wilson then takes six pitches to "work" a full-count walk and load the bases for Bernie Williams. Bernie, the Yankees' hottest hitter and suddenly the tying run, flies out to right on the first pitch. Brad Penny, who was visited on the mound by the team trainer in the middle of Wilson's at-bat and appears to have developed a blister, is very pleased.

Jeff Nelson comes on in the bottom of the inning and puts runners on first and second with two outs before striking out Mike Lowell. McKeon brings in Dontrelle Willis--officially eliminating him as the Marlins' Game 6 starter--in the eighth. He allows a two-out single to Nick the Stick. Torre then sends up Soriano to hit for Karim Garcia. Do I have to tell you? Sori swings at four of five pitches and strikes out. He then grabs his glove and goes to play right field (!).

Having seemingly learned from Game 4, McKeon brings Braden Looper, rather than Urbina, on in the ninth to close things out. After Boone makes his requisite out, Torre finally sends Giambi to the plate. Jason falls behind 0-2 but then takes two balls and then crushes Looper's fifth pitch into the seats in right center. 6-3 Fish. Jeter then singles and Enrique Wilson doubles down the right field line to score him. With the Yankees sending the tying run to the plate and just one out, McKeon hooks Looper and brings in Urbina. On a 2-1 count from Ugey, Bernie hits a Yankee Stadium home run to deep right, which Juan Encarnacion catches for the second out. Matsui then grounds out on the first pitch he sees. Fish win, 6-4.

Heroes and Goats:

Marlins Heroes
Brad Penny I still can't figure out why this guy doesn't strike out more men. He throws 97-plus and pitches well enough to render the Yankees ineffective. Anyway, I was right about Wells not losing twice (sorta) but wrong about Penny. He's now 2-0 in the World Series, here's his line: 7 IP 8 H 2 R 1 ER 2 BB 4 K. If not for that blister he might have done even better as three hits, one walk and his only earned run came in his final inning of work. Oh yeah, he also got a two-RBI single to open up the game in the second inning.
Ugueth Urbina killed the Yankees ninth-inning rally by retiring their two best World Series hitters.
Everyone except Luis Castillo only Alex Gonzalez got two hits, but everyone else other than Castillo--including Penny--got one. Simply put, the Fish took advantage of every opportunity the Yankees gave them.

Marlins Goats
Braden Looper Out. Homer. Single. RBI-double. Way to protect a four-run lead there, Braden! Whenever possible, it's best not to let the Yankees bring the tying run to the plate late in the game.
Luis Castillo 0 for 4 with a K and three men left on.

Yankees Heroes
Derek Jeter the man loves to lead off: 3 for 4 with a walk an RBI and two runs scored. Derek's now up to .409 on the series.
Jason Giambi hit his first career pinch-hit home run.
Nick Johnson 2 for 4 with a run scored in a last-minute start.
Jeff Nelson the only Yankee pitcher other than Wells to pitch scoreless ball

Yankees Goats
David Wells' Back I don't even know what to say. Losing your starter after one inning in a World Series game . . . devastating. Hasn't happened since the Padres' staff imploded in 1984.
Jose Contreras maybe he's not used to being used as a reliever, or on consecutive days, but even if that's the excuse, this is his line: 3 IP 5 H 4 ER 3 BB 4 K
Aaron Boone and/or Enrique Wilson someone has to be blamed for that rundown, and it's one of these two. In Enrique's defense, he went 2 for 4 with a walk and an RBI. Yes, he out-performed a Soriano and he got on base in the Yankees seventh and ninth inning rallies. Boone, meanwhile, went 1 for 4 with a meaningless single and made outs in both the seventh and ninth. That said, it was probably Enrique's fault for throwing at a man who wasn't looking and running away from his throw.
Hideki Matsui 0 for 5. As the tying run with two-outs in the ninth he swung at the first pitch to make the last out. Bad night for Godzilla.


Well crap. Remember what I said yesterday about Andy when he gets two starts in a postseason series? One good, one bad. Let's hope he overcomes that because, once again, the Yankees need him to come up big. However, unlike his three "big" Game 2 starts, this is win-or-go-home time.

Jack McKeon gave the impression in his post-game press conference that he's leaning toward using Josh Beckett on three-days rest in Game 6. Beckett pitched 4 innings in Game 7 of the NLCS on two-days rest and gave up just one hit (though it was a home run). Looks like the Fish have the Yankees by the throat. Rather than being up 3-2 and facing Redman in Game 6, the Yanks are down 2-3 and could be looking at Beckett on three-days rest and, should they manage to beat him a second time, Pavano on three-days rest in Game 7.

The good news: the Yanks are sending Pettitte and Mussina to the mound and will be back at home, allowing them to play both Giambi and Johnson.

Torre hasn't indicated what he'll do about Soriano/Wilson in Game 6. I assume it will depend on the Florida starter. Sori went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts, all swinging, all on four pitches, against Beckett in Game 3. He only faced Redman twice, walking and striking out on a 2-2 count. Redman's also lefthanded. I'm sure Sori would get the start against Redman, but Wilson might go against Beckett. I'd still rather see Wilson play in place of Boone rather than Sori.

If McKeon starts Beckett and he loses, everyone will say it's because of the short rest. Grady Little, for all the abuse he's suffering, declined to start his ace on short rest when down 2-3. His Sox then won Game 6 and got a great outing from Pedro in Game 7 that should have won the series for the Sox. With the Fish up 3-2 one would think McKeon would learn from Little's example and save Beckett. There's a decent chance that Pettitte will falter in Game 6 and Redman will find his spots and further confuse the mixed-up Yankee bats. If not, having your ace on full rest is one hell of a plan B. That said, from the Yankees perspective, you'd much rather see Redman out there in Game 6, which may ultimately convince McKeon to go with Beckett.

So this has finally turned into a series worth caring about. Let's hope the Yanks can pull it out. Either way, if it goes seven we'll all get our money's worth, especially if Game 7 ends up being Beckett vs. Mussina II.

posted by Cliff at 10:41 AM

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Game 5 line-up 

So Torre's finally moved Soriano out of the lead-off spot. Of course, with everyone calling for his head, no one's noticed that Soriano's gotten on base to lead off two of the last three games, the only time that hitting lead-off really matters. And rather than moving Soriano down in the order, as the cry has requested, Joe's moved him to the bench, putting Enrique Wilson in at second. So now your Yankee lineup has Enrique Wilson and Aaron Boone. As bad as Sori's looked, I'll take my chances with him in four at-bats against a fireballer like Penny when the other option is Enrique Wilson. I'd take Enrique over Boonie right now, though.

But wait, that's not all. Joe's also sitting Giambi in favor of Nick Johnson and putting Johnson down at the seven hole, pushing the rest of the line-up up a spot. Sounds good, right? More Bernie, more Matsui. Sure! One problem, though. With Soriano out, Jeter leads off, so rather than Jeter, Bernie, Matsui, Posada, we get Jeter, Enrique Wilson, Bernie, etc. Why not Nick hitting second? What is the deal with Enrique Wilson?

Sigh. Well, let's hope Enrique can make me a lovely crow pie tonight. Okay everyone, to your ad-delivery device . . . er, televisions!

posted by Cliff at 7:41 PM

A taste of their own medicine 

So the Yanks let the Marlins have a go at the ol' walk-off homer trick last night. That was awful sporting of them.


It's finally here, Roger Clemens' final start. Will he get that illusive no-hitter? Will he go out with his gun blazing and dominate the Marlins to put the Yanks up 3-1?

Juan Pierre grounds out on Clemens' second pitch. Luis Castillo works the count full, then does the same. So far so good. Ivan Rodriguez also works the count full. Hmmm. Single to right. Well, it's official, Clemens will never throw a no-hitter. More to the point, all of a sudden he's thrown 17 pitches and has a man on first. Up steps Marlins Future Star Miguel Cabrera. Ball. Two swinging strikes. Alright, Rocket, put him away! Ball two. Foul. Foul. C'mon! Opposite field homer, 2-0 Marlins. errrg.

Conine: single. Lowell: single, first and third. Lee: single, Conine scores, first and second. Jeff Weaver is warming up. Jeff Weaver, and I thought Clemens had a rough start in Game 7. First three pitches to Alex Gonazalez are balls. Ballz. Strike looking. Fly out to right, inning over. 3-0 Marlins. Clemens just threw 42 pitches, most of them with two outs. Well, at least the Yanks should be able to get to Pavano. They had Sori on in the first and they've got Bernie and Matsui leading off.

Aha! What'd I tell ya, Bernie singles on the first pitch. Matsui works a full count before reaching on an infield single. Jorge falls behind but also reaches on an infield single. Bases loaded, no outs. Here we go, get 'em back boys! First two pitches to Karim Garcia are balls. Swinging strike. Ball three, 3-1. Nice. Foul, full count. Alright, just put it in play, get the runners moving. Strike three swinging. Yeah, well . . . only one out, Boone is u . . . what? He already flied out? Well he got a run in. Not only that, but all of the runners moved up. Huh? NL park, pitchers hitting? Two outs, Clemens up. Crap. Weak grounder to first. 3-1 Marlins.

But wait! Clemens gets through the second on eight pitches. The Yanks get two two-out baserunners in the third. No runs, but proof that they're hitting Pavano. Twelve pitches from the Rocket in the third, wasting a two-out Conine single . . . and the Yankees . . . the Yankees . . . uh. Lead-off bloop single from Clemens in the fifth erased by Jeter's second double play ball of the day . . . uh. Nothing else through the eighth? Nothing?!

Well, at least Clemens has settled in. The Rocket scatters just two more hits through the seventh. With the pitcher's spot due to lead off the eighth and the Yankees down by two with just six outs left, it's clear to everybody that the seventh is Clemens' last inning, not just of the game, but (barring a relief appearance in Game 7) as a major league pitcher (no I don't buy the comeback talk).

Pavano, cruising with the lead, takes his turn at bat and goes down on three pitches to lead off the inning. Juan Pierre lifts the first pitch he sees to Matsui in left for the second out. Then Luis Castillo steps in. Ball one. Two fouls, 1-2. Another foul. Ball two. Two more fouls. Clemens isn't getting out easy. With each pitch more and more flashbulbs go off. Ball three, full count. Sorry, Luis, this is Roger's moment: strike three called. Clemens hops off the mound, punches his glove and pumps his fist. The Pro Robbie Stadium crowd, as well as the Marlins bench, gives him a standing ovation. That's it folks. No more Rocket. No matter how you feel about the man, you have to mourn the loss of the player.

Right, so the game. Nelson works a one-hit ninth and McKeon pulls Pavano after 115 pitches, sending Ugueth Urbina in to get the last three outs. After a Giambi fly out, Bernie singles on a 3-1 count. Matsui then works a walk from a 1-2 hole to put the tying run on base, but Posada grounds into a fielder's choice, moving Bernie to third and replacing Matsui at first. With Posada representing the tying run, Joe Torre sends David Dellucci in to run for him and Ruben Sierra up to hit for the 0 for 3 Karim Garcia. Sierra takes three straight balls. Urbina then catches the outside corner for strike one. Moving further outside, Urbina somehow gets a called strike two. Sierra then fouls off two more fastballs on the outside part of the plate before Urbina's eighth pitch misses over the heart of the plate and Ruben creams it into the right field corner. Bernie scores, Dellucci scores! A game-tying triple with two outs and two strikes in the bottom of the ninth! The winning run is on third! Aaron Boone is up. Boone fouls off four of Urbina's first five pitches before grounding out to short. Way to work the count, Boonie!

Bottom of the ninth. Flaherty comes in to catch and Jose Contreras makes his first appearance since his meltdown in Game 6 against the Sox. Marlins go down in order. Tenth inning, Chad Fox on the hill for the Fish. Flaherty, who hasn't seen game action since the last day of the regular season, blasts a 2-1 pitch to deeeeep center. Unfortunately, Juan Pierre really can run fast. One out. Sori strikeout, blah blah blah. Derek "Double DP" Jeter then comes through with a double. Giambi: Ball one, looking, swinging, swinging. Inning over.

Contreras counters by walking Pierre on four pitches. Castillo bunts him to second. Contreras strikes out Pudge on four pitches and gets Cabrera swinging. On to the eleventh.

Bernie and Matsui come through once again. Lead-off double by Bernie, five pitch walk by Matsui. Dellucci drops down a perfect sac bunt to move them to second and third. Winning run on third again, but just one out. Contreras is due up, but Torre opts to pinch hit for him with Juan Rivera. Hold on.

Do pitchers hit in Cuba? Really, do they? Because you've got a right hand pitcher on the mound, Juan Rivera and Enrique Wilson on your bench and the tying run on third with just one out with Contreras due up. Here are your options: Wilson pinch-hits batting lefty. Juan Rivera, who is a worse hitter than Wilson when facing right-handed pitching, bats righty. OR Contreras bats for himself and you put on the squeeze bunt. One run and three outs (via Mariano Rivera), that's all you need. What are you going to do.

Well, Torre goes with option #2 and Rivera is walked to load the bases and set up the force at home and the double play with one out and Aaron Boone due up. Then McKeon plays the infield in. Huh?! Is there a gas leak in Joe Player Stadium? Must be, because Boone is trying to fan the fumes away with his bat. With Braden Looper in for Fox: Strike one swinging. Foul, strike two. Foul. Good Boonie, a walk brings home the tying run as does just about any kind of good contact and you're just hacking. Ball one. HE TOOK ONE! Foul. Foul. Swinganamiss, strike three. Two outs. Flaher . . . foul, pop to third. (burn)

So what could be more troubling than the way things progressed in the top of the eleventh? How about the sight of Jeff Weaver coming in to pitch on the road in a tied World Series game? Is Torre betting on the Marlins tonight? White, Heredia, Hammond and Rivera are all rested in the pen. I understand saving Mo for the three outs you'll need with a lead. I understand that White and Heredia are lefties and the Marlins are 8/9ths right-handed. But while Chris Hammond is also a lefty, everybody knows, certainly Torre and Stottlemyre know, that he's more effective against righties. What's more his ERA in 2003 was . . . wait for it . . . more than three runs better than Weaver's! Sure Hammond hasn't pitched since Sept. 26, but Weaver hasn't pitched since Sept. 24! What is going on here!

First pitch to Conine, ball one. Of course. Two called strikes. Hmm. Ball two. Fly out to center. Lucky break, I mean what is he do . . . Lowell pops out on the first pitch. I just can't unders . . . Lee grounds out to short. Huh. Eight pitches.

Giambi gets a two-out single off Looper in the twelfth for naught. Back to Weaver. Well, he's got that hop on his breaking ball, he's not wild. He doesn't seem flustered. First pitch to Alex Gonzalez is a strike. Like it. Two balls, then strike two. Keeping it even. Ball three. Two fouls. Hmm. Weaver's eighth pitch of the twelfth is a fastball that rides in on Gonzalez's hands, but Alex gets around on it and yanks it down the left field line and just over the wall. Home run. Marlins tie the series and Jeff Weaver books another appointment with the team shrink. Please find me one Yankee fan who didn't say, outloud or to him/herself, upon seeing Weaver enter the game, "so I guess we lose this one, aye?" Just one. No, that person's lying.

Heroes and Goats:

Marlins Heroes:
Carl Pavano remember when I said, if one of the Marlins' other (meaning not Josh Beckett) starters comes up big . . . well, that man's name is Carl Pavano: 8 IP 7 H 1 ER 0 BB 4 K. He out-pitched Clemens and turned a potential 1-3 deficit into a 2-2 series tie. Huge.
Braden Looper pessimistic Yankee fans see retiring Boone and Flaherty as no great shakes, but the man pitched out of a bases-loaded one-out jam (all inherited runners, by the way) in extra innings and added another scoreless frame on top of it. He earned the win.
Miguel Cabrera two-run homer off Roger Clemens with two-outs in the first.
Jeff Conine 3 for 5 with a run scored. He's now hitting .429 on the series.
Alex Gonzalez makes up for ending the Marlins' first-inning rally by working the count on Weaver and then smacking a good pitch over the wall to end the game. Fish fans have to hope he doesn't pull an Aaron Boone and proceed to play even worse than he was before (.143 average on the series).
Rodriguez, Lowell, Lee two out singles in the first for all of 'em. Lee's scoring Conine for the third run. All of them crucial to the Marlins' first three runs.

Marlins Goats:
Ugueth Urbina the definition: ninth inning, two run lead, two outs . . . blown save.
Chad Fox almost blew it in the eleventh.

Yankees Heroes
Ruben Sierra big time stuff, two on, two out, two strikes, ninth inning . . . game tying triple. An all around stellar at bat. The only reason he got that pitch over the plate was because he outlasted Urbina.
Bernie Williams 4 for 6, scored two of the Yankees four runs, made it to third with the winning run in the eleventh, is hitting .471 on the series.
Jose Contreras shook off ALCS Game 6 to give the Yanks two no-hit innings with four Ks.
Roger Clemens yes he almost lost the game, but he hunkered down real good after the first, I would have signed up for this line pre-game: 7 IP 8 H 3 ER 0 BB 5 K

Yankees Goats
Joe Torre I don't like to include managers here, but he chose the worst of his three options with the tying run on third in the top of the eleventh and then brought in Jeff Weaver in the bottom of the inning. Awful.
Aaron Boone hitless Aaron went a-hacking in two crucial at-bats with the winning run on third base. Awful.
Karim Garcia 0 for 3 with a no-outs bases-loaded K that turned the tide of the game.
Derek Jeter yeah, you read that right. He hit into two double plays in a 3-1 game. Not good.
Jeff Weaver this was not the shell-shocked Jeff Weaver of a thousand miserable summer nights, and I think he made a good pitch to Gonzalez, but the fact remains: he gave up the game-winning homer.


I'm doing this pretty late, "onward" means "about an hour from now." Rematch of Game 1. I don't think Wells loses twice. I don't think Penny wins twice. I could be wrong.

Game 6 sends Pettitte back to the hill. The general rule with Andy is, if he gets two starts in a given postseason series, he's gonna excel in one and struggle in the other. He was dominating in Game 2. The Yankees will have to come up big against whomever McKeon sends out there for Game 6. There are rumors that Willis may go in place of Redman. I think the Yanks have a good chance against either. If anything Redman might be locating and dominate them, so now that they've seen Dontrelle a couple times, I say bring him on.

The Yanks need to take the next two to avoid Beckett in Game 7. Of course they beat Beckett in Game 3 and a Moose vs. Beckett rematch in a Game 7 would likely be a fantastic game, but let's hope it doesn't come to that.

Speaking of which. Has anyone else noticed the parallels between the World Series and the ALCS this year? Of course the World Series, even with last night's extra-inning affair, pales next to the holy war that was Yankees vs. Sox, but check this out:

Game 1: Yankees come out flat and lose a game they were expected to win
Game 2: Pettitte comes up huge to even the series and get the Yanks a split at home
Game 3: Thanks to some fantastic starting pitching of their own, the Yankees defeat their opponent's ace on the road, despite extra-curricular distractions.
Game 4: Looking like they're ready to roll the Yanks drop a game they were favored to win, despite ninth-inning heroics from Ruben Sierra

Now they're hoping to win behind Wells going in Game 5 and Andy in Game 6 to avoid seeing that ace pitcher again in Game 7.

Which of these two series does that describe?

posted by Cliff at 5:06 PM

Quick thoughts on Game 4 

In defense of Jeff Weaver:

*He looked sharp in the eleventh, retiring Conine, Lowell and Lee on eight pitches.

*It's my opinion that Gonzalez hit a good pitch, a fastball tailing in on his hands, after battling through an eight-pitch at-bat. Credit Gonzalez rather than goating Weaver.

In defense of Joe Torre:

*Maybe he knew something about Weaver we didn't. Maybe he saw him throwing between games and noticed that hop on his breaking ball or the movement on his fastball.

*Weaver was the last righty in his pen.

In condemnation of Joe Torre:

*Perhaps he was saving some of his arms because there's another game tomorrow. If so, that's terrible postseason managing. When you have the chance to win a postseason game you seize it, you don't hedge your bets and manage for tomorrow, especially in the World Series.

*Did he really think he could bring in Weaver and win the game?

*Did it not occur to him that failure in this situation could have a worse effect on Weaver's psyche than not pitching at all?

*Was he just trying to justify having Weaver on the roster for three rounds?

*Let me write it out so you can see how ridiculous it looks: "We're tied in extra innings on the road in Game 4 of the World Series. I have four rested pitchers in my pen, not counting Mariano. I'm bringing in Jeff Weaver." Did Chris Hammond insult Torre's mother? The man had a sub-3.00 ERA this year and is most effective against right-handers!

*Do pitchers hit in Cuba? Is the squeeze bunt dead? Runner on third, one out, extra innings, postseason game, Mariano Rivera in your pen . . . a squeeze bunt wins the game. I say, send Contreras to the plate and have him squeeze. If they walk him, you've got the same situation you would have had, but you didn't burn a pinch-hitter and your best middle reliever. If they don't, there's no force at home and you have a high percentage chance of scoring the go-ahead run. If Contreras fails, well he's still in the game to keep the Marlins bats quiet and you probably still have a chance to get a hit from Boone.

In condemnation of Jack McKeon:

*He's the anti-Grady Little! In two straight games he's pulled a cruising starter so that his bullpen can come in and start giving up runs.

Game 4 summary etc. will go up tomorrow. I need sleep tonight.

posted by Cliff at 1:11 AM

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

The r(a/e)i(g)n continues 

Although the weather didn't cooperate, Josh Beckett and Mike Mussina did, turning in a terrific pitcher's duel through seven innings, despite a 39-minute rain delay.


Pro Player Stadium (formerly Joe Robbie) is a football stadium. The lights are set low. The field is a turf-type substance called "grastroturf" ("asstroturf" if you ask me) that is painted green. The outfield is cavernous, yielding fewer home runs than any other park in the majors this year. It is also a field on which the Yankee outfielders have little-to-no experience. It doesn't take long for this unfamiliarity to rear its head.

Juan Pierre leads off the bottom of the first for the Marlins by lifting a fly ball to shallow right center that Karim Garcia tracks but then holds up on as Bernie Williams, racing over from his original position a couple of counties away in deep left center, dives for and misses. What probably should have, and definitely could have been the first out of the game falls in for a lead-off double. Mussina then strikes out Luis Castillo on four pitches and needs just one more to get Ivan Rodriguez to fly out to right for the second out. However, rookie Miguel Cabrera shoots a 3-1 pitch from Moose into the hole between first and second to bring Pierre around with two outs. As I saw it, with a quick read and a dive Alfonso Soriano could have stopped the ball to at least hold Pierre to third , but neither occurred. Derek Lee grounds out to end the inning. The Marlins and Josh Becket have a 1-0 lead after one.

Moose survives two-out baserunners in the second (an Alex Gonzalez double) and third (yet another Aaron Boone error on a routine grounder) and after the first ten Yankees go down in order against Josh Becket, the Yanks finally get something going in the fourth. With one out (Soriano's second strikeout of the night), Jeter doubles to left for the first Yankee hit of the game. Giambi then draws a full-count walk, and Matsui is hit on the foot by a Beckett curve to load the bases and bring Jorge Posada to the plate. Ball one. Foul, strike one. Strike two looking. Foul. Ball two. Foul. Ball three. Beckett's eighth pitch to Posada is right around the knees on the inside corner, but Jorge gets the borderline called ball four to force in Jeter with the tying run. Garcia then grounds out to end the inning.

After a 39-minute rain delay in the bottom of the fifth with two outs (it rained off and on throughout the game, twice reaching a full pour), the Marlins get something going in the bottom of the sixth when Rodriguez doubles with one out. Cabrera then singles to right. As Garcia fields the ball, he takes his eye off of it, bobbling it but keeping it in front of him. Rodriguez and third base coach Ozzie Guillen fail to take advantage of Garcia's bobble leaving runners on the corners for Derek Lee. Lee hits the fifth pitch from Mussina back up the middle but Moose is able to swat the pitch down in front of the mound and throw to Posada to catch Rodriguez in the baseline for the second out. Moose then comes back from a 3-1 count to strike out Mike Lowell to end the inning with runners on first and second and the game still tied.

In the seventh the Marlins get a runner to second with two outs when Conine singles, Gonzalez--after bunting two balls foul to fall behind 0-2--fouls out and Beckett sacrifices Conine to second. After a mound visit from Stottlemyre, Mussina intentionally walks lefty Juan Pierre, who was 2 for 3 on the night, to get to Castillo (a switch-hitter batting left), whom he promptly strikes out on three pitches to end the inning.

As suggested by his sacrifice bunt in the prior inning, Josh Beckett heads back to the mound for the ninth to strike out Soriano for the third time, but is pulled after Derek Jeter shoots a double down the first base line. The FOX crew points out that firstbaseman Derek Lee was not playing the line in the late innings of a tie game with an opposite field hitter at the plate. No matter, Jeter stands on second as McKeon summons Dontrelle Willis to face Giambi. Willis walks Giambi on five pitches before getting Bernie to fly out to shallow center on the seventh pitch of his at-bat. Jeter takes advantage of Pierre's arm in center, moving up on Bernie's shallow fly, putting runners at first and third with two outs for Hideki Matsui. Facing the lefty Willis, Hideki places Dontrelle's second pitch right in the hole on the left side for a two-out RBI single, breaking the tie and giving Mussina his first lead of the entire postseason. With Dellucci in to run for Giambi, Posada draws a four out walk to load the bases. Torre sends up Ruben Sierra for Garcia and McKeon counters with Chad Fox. Sierra works the count full, fouling of a sixth pitch before finally going down swinging to leave the Yankees with a narrow 2-1 lead.

Dellucci stays in the game in right and Nick Johnson comes in to play first while Mariano Rivera takes the ball and mows down Florida's 3, 4 and 5 hitters on six pitches.

In the top of the ninth Aaron F*cking Boone blasts Fox's second pitch over the teal monster in left to give the Yanks and insurance run. After Johnson grounds out, Soriano draws a seven-pitch walk (!), and Jeter is grazed by the second pitch from new pitcher Braden Looper to put runners on first and second. Dellucci flies out for the second out to bring Bernie to the plate. Bernie, who hit a shot to right in the second that would have been a home run in Yankee Stadium (one of three "woulda been a homer in another park" fly ball outs in the game, two by the Yankees, one by the Fish), creams a 2-1 pitch to dead center, adding three more to the Yankee total.

Granted a cushy 6-1 lead, Mo works around a one-out single by Jeff Conine in the ninth to nail down the Yankee win and put them up 2-1 in the series.

Heroes and Goats:

Yankees Heroes
Mike Mussina the Yankees needed him to match Florida's young ace and that's exactly what he did: 7 IP 7 H 1 ER 1 BB (intentional) 9 K and his first W of this postseason.
Derek Jeter Josh Beckett gave up three hits, all to Jeter, who went 3 for 4 with a double, a HBP and three runs scored.
Hideki Matsui got a huge two-out hit to break the tie in the eighth.
Aaron Boone despite an error early in the game, Boone makes it back to the Hero list with a solo shot that doubled the Yankee lead in the ninth.
Bernie Williams his three-run homer in the ninth sealed the deal for the Yanks
Mariano Rivera two more scoreless innings and his 30th career postseason save. Mo hasn't walked a batter in 13 innings this postseason.
Jorge Posada with a different ump it might have been a key strikeout rather than a key walk, but he gets credit for battling Beckett for eight pitches, fouling off three 97-mph fastballs, and drawing the walk that tied the game. Jorge has no hits on the series, but five walks in 12 plate appearances.

Yankees Goats:
None. Soriano struck out three times, but no one other than Jeter was able to hit Beckett tonight. Sori drew a walk and came around to score once there was another pitcher on the mound.

Marlins Heroes:
Josh Beckett did I mention that Derek Jeter was the only Yankee to collect a hit off him? Beckett was featuring a 97-mile-per-hour fastball and had all of his breaking pitches working. Simply masterful: 7 1/3 IP 3 H 2 ER 3 BB 10 K.
Miguel Cabrera 2 for 4, drove in the only Marlin run of the night.
Juan Pierre 2 for 3, Pierre scored the Marlins only run, though one could argue his "double" should have been an out.
Jeff Conine 2 for 4, one of those hits came off Rivera.

Marlins Goats
Dontrelle Willis couldn't keep the game tied. He came in with a man on second and one out and did this: walk, fly out, RBI-single, walk. Handed Beckett an undeserved loss.
Chad Fox got the last out in the eighth, but then gave up a lead-off homer to Boone in the ninth and walked Soriano (!).
Braden Looper hit Jeter, then after retiring Dellucci, gave up a 400+ foot shot to Bernie to put the game out of reach for the Fish. He and Fox now both have 10.80 series ERAs.
Luis Castillo 0 for 4 with three strikeouts, including two with a man on second base.
Mike Lowell 0 for 4 with two strikeouts including one with runners on first and second. Lowell is now hitting .083 (1 for 12) on the series with no walks.


Having beaten Beckett (thanks to Dontrelle Willis), the Yankees now have three chances to win two more games before they have to face Beckett again in Game 7. With Clemens facing Pavano tomorrow and then a rematch of Game 1 on Thursday, I like their chances of finishing the job in Florida. They've now outscored the Fish 14-5 on the series, winning both Games 2 and 3 by 6-1 scores. The Fish don't seem all that feisty anymore and only Pierre and Conine are hitting consistently.

Jack McKeon would be well advised to put Juan Encarnacion in the line-up, moving Cabrera to third and using Lowell as a pinch hitter. As for the Yankees, Nick Johnson reached base more times in the first two games than Giambi has in all three. Giambi's defense didn't come into play today, but I for one would like to see Nick get the start in at least one of the next two games.

A Yankee win tomorrow would be huge for two reasons: 1) it would put them up 3-1 on the series--sure the Marlins recovered from that deficit against the Cubs, but they had Josh Beckett to turn their fortunes around in Game 5-- and 2) it will be the final start of Roger Clemens' career, here's hoping he goes out in style.

On a personal note, after skipping two softball games to watch the ALCS, I'm gonna rely on my VCR and walkman for tomorrow's game. Also, if anyone knows of a good place in Manhattan--preferably in the West Village or parts slightly east, but not quite the East Village--to watch Game 5, lemme know. I'm gonna have to make due in the city as my band is playing the CMJ Music Marathon Thursday night at midnight. For those of you in the area, come check us out.

posted by Cliff at 12:43 AM

Monday, October 20, 2003

Hank Blalock 

If I read one more thing about how ridiculous it is that the Yankees have home-field advantage over the Marlins in this year's World Series because a Texas Ranger hit a home run off a Los Angeles Dodger in the All-Star Game, I'm gonna go nuts.

Let's get this straight. Home-field in the World Series has never been based on merit. Not that it shouldn't be, just that it never has been.

Before 2003, home-field advantage alternated between leagues. Before the player's strike of 1994, the AL had home-field advantage in odd-numbered years. This did things such as allow the 85-77 Twins to win four games at home to defeat the 95-67 Cardinals in the 1987 series. With the exception of the '92 Blue Jays and the '99 Yankees, the team with home-field advantage has won every Series since then, but a victorious "home" team has only had a better record than their opponent five times in those other twelve (thirteen counting the '87 Twins) series. That is to say, even though there was a regular pattern, the end result is that home-field advantage in the World Series has been completely random when it comes to what should be the determining factor: regular season record. Actually, it's been worse than that. You would expect a random system to award home-field to the better team in one half of the series simply by chance, but since those 1987 Twins, the better team has been the "home" team only those five times in fifteen series.

So why the huge outcry about the new system that uses the All-Star Game to determine home field? It's certainly no worse than the old system, and in a way it's actually better.

Two Marlins (Lowell and Castillo, combined 1 for 3, no runs or RBIs) and five Yankees (Clemens--1 IP 0 R, Soriano, Posada, Matsui--combined 1 for 7, no runs or RBIs, and Jason Giambi--1 for 1 with a home run) played in this year's All-Star game. [note: Aaron Boone went 0 for 1 in a Reds uniform for the NL squad, Dontrelle Willis was on the NL roster but did not appear] So it's not as if the players in the World Series had nothing to do with deciding the home-field advantage. Clemens and Giambi had a direct influence on the final score, Lowell and Castilla had an opportunity to produce for the NL, and just because Blalock's home run came last doesn't mean that it was necessarily more important to the final score than Giambi's shot, it's just more convenient for those who want to complain.

I'm not saying this is a good system by any stretch, but I would argue that it's a better system. In addition to spicing up the All-Star Game a tad (though the degree to which that happened this year is debatable), it does make it possible for a player or players who will eventually play in the World Series to have an effect on the home-field advantage in that series.

Oh, and by they way, the team with the better record has the home-field advantage in the World Series this year.

posted by Cliff at 3:05 PM

Sunday, October 19, 2003


After a flat performance in Game 1, the Yankees came out and stomped the Marlins in Game 2, thanks in large part to the left arm of Andy Pettitte (stop me if you've heard this one). This should be short and sweet.


Let's start here: Andy Pettitte pitched 8 2/3 innings, allowed six hits (half of them to Pierre and Castillo), walked one and struck out seven.

Andy labored a bit in the first, going to a full count on all three hitters and throwing a total of 21 pitches. Luis Castillo reached on an infield single with one out, but Andy got out of the inning on a strike-em-out-throw-em-out double play, getting Ivan Rodriguez to whiff on a hit-and-run play. He then got through the second on five pitches and rolled from there. The only Marlins baserunners until the ninth came on a Pierre bunt single, an Aaron Boone error, a walk, a Rodriguez single in the seventh that was erased by a double play, and Lowell single in the eighth. Did I mention that Pettitte was pitching on three-day's rest? Absolutely dominating.

The Yankees, meanwhile, went to work in a hurry. Alfonso Soriano led off the game with a five-pitch walk (!). Jeter, after bunting Redman's first two pitches foul, struck out on four pitches. Soriano then attempted to steal second but was gunned down by Rodriguez. With the bases empty and two outs, Redman's very next pitch hit Giambi. Bernie then singled to center on a full count putting runners on the corners. Matsui then took three straight balls from Redman, but got the green light on the 3-0 count and drove Redman's fourth pitch directly over the 408ft. sign in dead center. 3-0 Yankees.

In the second, Aaron Boone led off by flying out on a full count. Nick Johnson then dropped down a bunt to third on the first pitch he saw, reaching first without a throw from Mike Lowell. Juan Rivera then cracked a 2-0 pitch from Redman to deep center for an RBI-double, but was thrown out trying to stretch it to a triple. 4-0 Yankees.

Redman got into further trouble in the third, and was pulled in favor of Rick Helling, who kept the Yankees from scoring. In the fourth, with two outs and Nick Johnson on first via a single, Helling delivered a 1-2 pitch to Soriano which Alfonso jerked out of the park for a two-run homer, his first ding of the postseason. 6-0 Yankees.

Helling, Chad Fox, Carl Pavano and Braden Looper were able to keep the Yankees from running up the score any further after that, but the damage was done. Andy came out for the ninth and looked to be on his way to a complete game shutout. With Castillo on first via a single and two outs, Miguel Cabrera grounded what looked like the final out of the game to short, but Aaron Boone cut Jeter off and booted the ball, putting men on first and second. Derek Lee then singled off Andy to give the Marlins their first run and keep runners at first and second. With Andy at 111 pitches and on three-day's rest, Joe Torre then brought in Jose Contreras to pitch to Mike Lowell. On a 2-1 count, Lowell zipped a grounder up the third base line, but Boone (somewhat) redeemed himself by making a nice backhanded play and forcing Lee out at second to end the game.

6-1 Yankees. Series tied at 1-1.

Heroes and Goats:

Yankees Heroes:
Andy Pettitte I'll repeat it because I like the sound of it, here's Andy's line on three day's rest: 8 2/3 IP 6 H 0 ER 1 BB 7 SO. If not for Boone's error he would have had a complete game shutout. As it is, he tied John Smoltz's record for postseason wins with his 13th.
Hideki Matsui three-run homer to dead center? Yeah, that'll do.
Alfonso Soriano two-run shot plus a lead-off walk? Good by me.
Nick Johnson 3 for 4 with two runs scored, the only Yankee to have a multi-hit game.

Yankees Goats:
Aaron Boone 1 for 4, but his one hit came after the game was decided. More to the point, two errors, including an error on a ball that wasn't even hit to him that would have been the last out of Andy's complete-game shutout.

Marlins Heroes:
Luis Castillo had the Marlins' only multi-hit game and scored their only run.
Derek Lee given the opportunity to drive in a run with two outs in the ninth, he did just that.

Marlins Goats:
Mark Redman had absolutely nothing today and couldn't get what he did have into the strike zone: 2 1/3 IP 5 H 4 ER 2 BB 2 K.
Rick Helling I still can't figure out what he's doing on the Marlins' postseason roster, trying to stop the bleeding for Redman he only succeeded in cutting the damage in half: 2 2/3 IP 2 H 2 ER 0 BB 2 K.
The Marlins' offense four men failed to get a hit altogether, no Marlin reached second until the fifth and no Marlin reached second with fewer than two outs all game. If not for the opportunity created by Boone's error in the ninth, they would have been shut out. Credit Andy, but I'm sure in Miami they're goating the offense (the Marlins have fans now, right?).


Tuesday is the series' one marquee matchup, pitting Mike Mussina against Josh Beckett. I'm pleased as punch that I'll be home for it, as I won't be home for Games 4 and 5. Torre will use Giambi at first in Game 3, sitting Nick Johnson despite his 3 for 4 night tonight. That could change in Game 4, but I don't expect it to. Joe avoided using Rivera in either of the first two games, so Mo will have had four days of rest going into Game 3 after throwing 48 pitches in Game 7 against the Red Sox. That could be crucial if the pitching duel everyone is expecting pans out.

Like I said, short and sweet. Pettitte evens the series with a gem in Game 2 (what else is new?). Yanks roll for the first time since Minnesota. Feels good.

posted by Cliff at 11:39 PM


With a little help from a questionable defensive play by Thursday's hero, Aaron Boone, the Yankees dropped Game 1 of the World Series to the Marlins 3-2. Here's how it happened:


The Marlins came out running (just like I said, right? heh). In the first inning, Juan Pierre pushed a bunt past David Wells to the first base side for a single, then promptly stole second. Luis Castillo then reached on an infield single pushing Pierre to third. On David Wells fifth pitch of the game, Ivan Rodriguez lifted a sac fly to deep center to score Pierre. 1-0 Marlins.

Not to be outdone, Alfonso Soriano reached on an infield single of his own in the bottom of the inning and stole second on the first pitch to Nick Johnson, but Johnson struck out and Jeter and Williams flied out to end the inning without Soriano advancing.

The Yanks finally tied the score in the third. Karim Garcia lead off with a single to left. Rookie Miguel Cabrera, whose natural position is third base, took a bad route to the ball allowing a hustling, heads-up Garcia to reach second. After Soriano grounded out, Nick Johnson walked on five pitches and Derek Jeter singled up the middle to score Garcia and push Nick to third. Bernie then flied out to left. With Hideki Matsui at the plate and two outs, Johnson was victimized by a timing play between Ivan Rodriguez and Marlins' third baseman Mike Lowell. After Brad Penny's third pitch to Matsui, Lowell charged the bag and Rodriguez fired a laser to third. A stunned Nick Johnson could only flop toward the bag and cover his head after being tagged for the third out.

When Matsui returned to the plate in the fourth he lined a single to right. Posada then walked to put runners and first and second, but Jason Giambi--again hitting seventh--grounded into a double play. With Matsui on third, Aaron Boone grounded out to end the inning.

The Marlins then regained the lead in the fifth. Jeff Conine walked on a full count to lead off the inning. Juan Encarnacion followed with a single, moving Conine to second. Alex Gonzalez then bunted the runners to second and third. Juan Pierre followed with a single to shallow left. Conine scored easily. Matsui fired toward home to try to catch Encarnacion, but Aaron Boone cut off the throw and fired to first to try to catch Pierre making his turn. Pierre easily made it back to the bag before Boone's throw, but one could argue that a relay throw home would have nabbed Encarnacion. Boone was closer to home than first and Encarnacion was further from home than Pierre was from first when Boone made his throw. Since there was just one out, catching Pierre of first would could not have negated Encarnacion's run. Boone didn't even appear to look at home after cutting of the throw. Boone's play may have cost the Yankees both a run and the game as Bernie homered in the sixth to pull the Yankees within one.

Of course the Yankees had other chances to score and failed. Soriano grounded into a double play following a lead-off single by Garcia in the fifth. Following Bernie's homer in the sixth, Matsui singled with one out, was replaced at first by Posada after Jorge hit into a fielder's choice. Posada then stole second on an aborted hit and run on a pitch in the dirt. Giambi then dropped a blooper behind the mound, but Alex Gonzalez made a fantastic barehanded play on the ball to nab Giambi at first and end the inning. In the eighth, Bernie and Matsui singled with two outs putting runners at the corners, but Jorge struck out to end the inning. The Yankees even threatened in the ninth against Florida's closer, Ugueth Urbina. Giambi led off with a five pitch walk. Boone flied out for the first out. Ruben Sierra, hitting for Juan Rivera (who hit for Garcia in the seventh), drew a full-count walk pushing the winning run (Dave Dellucci running for Giambi) to second, but Soriano struck out (the good news is he ran the count full and struck out looking, imagine that!), and Nick flied out to center to end the game.

So the Yanks drop Game 1. What else is new.

Heroes and Goats:

Marlins Heroes:
Juan Pierre either scored or drove in every Marlin run, going 2 for 3 with a walk and a stolen base
Juan Encarnacion 2 for 4, scoring the winning run
Jeff Conine 1 for 2 with a run scored and two walks
Ivan Rodriguez no hits, but a sac fly to drive in the first run and that killer throw to pick Nick of third.
Alex Gonzalez also no hits, but a successful sac bunt to set up Pierre's two-RBI single, and a great bare-handed play behind the mound on a bloop by Giambi to end the sixth and strand Posada on second.
Brad Penny considering the fact that he entered this game with a 10.24 ERA this postseason he pitched very well game: 5 1/3 IP 7 H 2 ER 3 BB 3 K (though how a guy who throws 97 can pitch well but only strike out 3 Yankees is beyond me)
Dontrelle Willis pitched himself out of Florida's starting rotation in the first two rounds with a 12.00 ERA, but today, working alternately from his famous wind-up and from the stretch, even with no one on, he allowed just two hits and struck out two in 2 1/2 innings pitched.

Marlins Goats
Miguel Cabrera his misplay of Garcia's ball in the third led to one of the two Yankee runs.

Yankee Goats
Aaron Boone what have you done for us lately, Aaron? 0 for 4, including an unproductive out with a man on and no outs when down by one in the bottom of the ninth, and allowing the winning run to score without a throw (see recap)? I'll trade winning Game 7 against the Red Sox for losing Game 1 against the Marlins any day of the week and twice on Thursdays, but I won't praise the name of Aaron Boone any time soon.
Nick Johnson 0 for 4, including a strike out with a man on second and no outs in the first and the last out of the game with the tying run on second. Nick also got picked off of third, though I think just about any Yankee would have been nabbed on that one.

Note that I'm not goating Soriano. Sure he struck out in the ninth, but he worked the count full and struck out looking at a pitch on the inside corner. For him, that's a great at bat. He also singled and stole second to put himself in scoring position in the first. I'm also not goating Giambi, who went 0 for 3, grounded into a double play with two on and no outs in the fourth and made the third out with a man on second in the sixth. His out in the sixth was the result of a fantastic play by Alex Gonzalez, and Giambi led off the ninth with what could have been a very important walk.

Yankee Heroes
David Wells pitching on three days rest, not counting his appearance in relief on Thursday, Wells went seven posting this line: 7 IP 6 H 3 ER 2 BB 1 K. There were enough what-ifs in the game (what if Boone threw home, what if the offense didn't fold up with runners in scoring position) that he can't really be blamed for the loss, though it will go on his record, just his third loss in the postseason against ten wins.
Bernie Williams 2 for 4 with a home run.
Hideki Matsui 3 for 4, making Rodriguez's pick off play on Johnson in the third all the more costly to the Yanks.
Karim Garcia 2 for 2 and scored the Yankees first run thanks to a fantastic bit of baserunning that put him on second when Cabrera misplayed his single in the third. He was pulled for Rivera with lefty Dontrelle Willis in the game in the seventh.


So, after I attacked the portrayal of the Marlins' as little-ballers, they go out and collect seven hits, all of them singles, two stolen bases, lay down a sac bunt to set up two of their three runs and strike out just three times. They also play excellent infield defense, and Pudge picks a man of third. Well I didn't say they wouldn't do those things. Just that there are other dimensions to this team. The Yankees pitched well enough tonight that their 3 through 7 hitters combined for just two hits. Let's hope that continues, because those men are dangerous.

We now know who will be trying to keep those bats quite as the remaining Yankee starters have been announced. Here are the matchups:

Game 2 & 6: Pettitte vs. Redman
Game 3 & 7: Moose vs. Beckett
Game 4: Clemens vs. Pavano or Willis
Game 5: Wells vs. Penny

Among other things, this means Clemens' Game 4 start will be the last of his career regardless of what happens in the series. Too bad it has to come at Pro Player. Let's hope it's better than his start in Game 7 of the ALCS.

Wells proved tonight that lefties can keep those righthanded 3-7 hitters at bay (actually, the Marlins are righthanded 3-9, or 3-8 without the DH). Hopefully, since the Yankees lefties are good pitchers first and lefthanders second, it won't make too much of a difference that they'll face the Marlins four times in this series.

You have to figure that all of the pitching matchups except Moose vs. Beckett favor the Yankees. And that's no slight to Moose. Mussina is every bit as capable as Beckett of completely shutting down an offense over the course of a game, and Beckett is as capable as Mussina of turning in a clunker like his Game 1 start in the NLCS. But right now Beckett is pitching better than Mussina, and until they play Game 3, you have to think that that matchup favors the Marlins.

I say "until the play it" because tonight's pitching matchup looked to favor the Yankees. Perhaps it did after all, but the offense couldn't get going and the Yanks lost. One hopes that was simply the result of a Game 7 hangover and that taking a loss in Game 1 will wake up the Yankee hitters for Game 2 tomorrow. Certainly one hopes that Andy is able to rebound from his below average Game 6 start on three-day's rest.

So wait, the Yankees drop Game 1 and need Andy to even the series at home in Game 2? That's three straight rounds that this has happened. Hopefully it's a good omen. What's that you say, this is a must-win because the other guys have their ace going in Game 3? That's two straight rounds for that one.

Does this feel like the World Series to anyone out there? Seems a little flat to me. I can't figure out why they're playing these weekend interleague games at night.

posted by Cliff at 1:01 AM

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