The Yankees won a very closely contested ALDS series against the Baltimore Orioles, 3-2, where the last four games were decided by a total of four runs. The hero of this past series was Raul Ibanez, since he hit two homers in game three including the game winner in extra innings. Ibanez also went 1-3 while adding another RBI in the 3-1 win.
Ibanez, who was the DH for the series clincher, should stay in that spot for the upcoming match-up with the Detroit Tigers, since he has proven that he can hit in the playoffs. Alex Rodriguez was benched for game five and should only start again if he is able to come through in a clutch situation while pinch hitting in game one. In six games against the Tigers this season hit hit .375 so Girardi should use his binder to see who he matches up best against.
There really is not that much of a drawback between Eric Chavez and Alex Rodriguez. Chavez is a reliable fielder, but is lacking offensively at this point like A-Rod. However in nine games this season against the Tigers pitching staff Chavez hit .516 with two homers. Based on those stats alone he deserves to start at third over A-Rod. Rodriguez should basically be the most expensive playoff pinch-hitter in MLB history until he can prove himself.
The starting pitching for the Yankees was reliable in this series, as no pitcher allowed more than three runs in the five game series, but the offense will need to step up in order to advance to the World Series. The Tigers’ ERA, 3.75, was the third lowest in the American League so the offensive underachievers for the Yankees such as Curtis Granderson (.158 and nine strikeouts), Nick Swisher (.111) and Robinson Cano (.091) will need to revert to their regular season form.
Granderson had 43 homers in the regular season, while Cano and Swisher had 33 and 24, respectively. They will need to display some of that power in this upcoming series as well as hit for a decent average. Detroit’s top four starters, Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, Max Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez have a more successful track record than those of the Orioles so it is even more important that the Yankees offense picks up the slack.
The Yankees are evenly matched wit the Tigers, if both teams perform to their ability, but an advantage that the Yankees have is that I see Cano and Granderson raising their level of play. Overally, Cano is the best hitter all-around hitter on the team, excluding Jeter’s always reliable postseason production, and Granderson closed the series on a positive note with a homer and will have extra motivation facing his former team.
I see this series going seven games with the Yankees having the advantage because the have two playoff aces in CC Sebathia and Andy Pettitte while the one true playoff ace on the Tigers is Verlander. The Bronx Bombers also have the advantage when it comes to the bullpen because their top two of Rafael Soriano and David Robertson are much more reliable (and less emphatic) than Phil Coke/Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde.
The Yankees will have to shutdown sluggers Miguel Cabrera (44 homers) and Prince Fielder (30 homers), but they both struggled in the first round against the Oakland Athletics, and the Yankees can pitch around them when it makes sense. Above all, the Yankees will need Ichiro to continue to hit like he did in September, in addition to having Jeter, Teixeira and Ibanez repeat their performance against the O’s, while having Swisher, and especially Granderso and Cano produce like they are capable of.
After the Yankees (2.5 ahead of the Red Sox in AL East) lost last night to the Angels 2-1, behind a dominating eight innings by Jared Weaver, who gave up three hits including Jesus Montero’s third home run and sixth RBI in six games, CC Sebathia will pitch looking to get the Yankees back on track.
Weaver is one of the top five starters in the American League, sporting a 2.44 ERA and 187 strike outs, so his dominance of the Yankee lineup is not that surprising even though he was coming off two shaky starts. The Yankees will possibly face Weaver twice in the playoffs so if this happens they will need to figure him out before the postseason starts.
There were two major positives to take out of this game.
One was the aforementioned Montero continued to jolt the offense by supplying power and average out of the Designated Hitter spot. It seems like he will positively affect the Yankees down the home-stretch of the season in a similar way that Joba Chamberlain did out of the bullpen in 2007.
The second is that Bartolo Colon (3.55 ERA) bounced back from a month of August where he was not nearly as dominating as in previous months. He had three rocky stars in August, where he allowed four runs or more three times, but he bounced back with a vengeance limiting the Angels offense to zero earned runs in seven innings.
This start by Colon should cement his name as the winner of the Comeback Player of the Year after missing the entire 2010 campaign because of a rotator cuff injury. After this game against the Halos he was probably thinking back to 2005, which was the last time he picked up hardware being named the Angels second CY Young recipient.
The Yankees were in position play their third consecutive extra inning contest, after losing two in a row to the Orioles, but the Angels scored in the bottom of the ninth off of a Maicier Izturis sacrifice fly that drove in Jeremy Moore, who pinch ran for Alberto Callaspo. The run was charged to Aaaron Laffey as he gave up Callaspo’s single but Luis Ayala gave up the sac fly.
Sabathia is the pitcher the Yankees want to stop this three-game losing streak as he is also in the top five in CY Young consideration this season. He is coming off four straight quality starts, has 19 wins and a 2.97 ERA but will be pitching behind a lineup with some notable absences.
The somewhat fragile Alex Rodriguez in not playing and is being replaced by Eric Chavez. Nick Swisher whose elbow is hurting will be replaced by the infielder, Eduardo Nunez, in right-field. Also, the Yankees received some troubling news as Francisco Cervelli was originally in the lineup but now is not because of concussion symptoms and is being sent for an impact test.
Nobody has any idea how Nunez will handle playing right-field especially after making so many errors at second/short but he is able to be productive at the plate.
The Yankees need another vintage Sebathia start to help them end their losing streak and hopefully their offense will pick up where it left off against Angels starter Dan Haren.
Haren is having a solid season for the Angels with a 3.20 ERA but in his start in the Bronx earlier this season he allowed four runs in 6.2 innings.
An advantage that the Yankees should be able to capitalize on is that the Angels offense is weaker than in years past, as nobody is hitting higher than .290 (Howie Kendrick), or has more than 80 RBI (rookie Mike Trumbo). However, the Angels have been playing potent baseball recently as they are only 2.5 games behing the Texas Rangers and 7-3 in their last 10 contests.
The Yankees lost for the second game in a row to the Baltimore Orioles by the score of 5-4 in extra innings, but the culprit this time was actually the bullpen. After playing the Orioles at home for three games they had to travel to Baltimore, during a rare off day, for one game, to make up a game that was postponed due to Hurricane Irene.
Ivan Nova pitched well enough to get the victory, allowing three runs in 5.1 innings and it would have made sense for Girardi to have left him in to finish the sixth inning since he was only at 98 pitches. This was Nova’s 13th start since June 3rd and he is remarkably not picked up a loss in any of them, while getting the victory 11 times.
However, he was on track to win the game since Alfredo Simon gave up four runs in the first three innings. All the runs actually came off of singles. In the top of the second, Eric Chavez singled to shortstop scoring Alex Rodriguez. Later in the inning with the bases loaded and two outs, Derek Jeter singled to shallow center scoring Robinson Cano and Chavez.
In the top of the third Chavez would collect his second single of the afternoon and thus his second RBI as Mark Teixiera scored from second after a rare steal. After the fourth inning the Yankees failed to have a runner reach scoring position off of five Orioles relievers.
They were shut off the bases by four of those relievers and three of them – Clay Rapada, Jeremy Accardo and Jo-Jo Reyes – have ERA’s over 5.18. They will need to improve their hitting against relief pitching as they will be facing relieves who are much more dominating in the coming series against the Angels in Anaheim, as well as in the playoffs.
Baltimore was led by likely Hall of Famer, Vladimir Guerrero, who was 3-5, with a homer off of Nova. The real hero for the Orioles during this game was the speedy Robert Andino out of the ninth spot in the Baltimore lineup. He won the game for the O’s as he had an RBI single in the 8th off of Rafael Soriano for his second blown save, and a walk-off single in the 10th off of the newly re-acquired Scott Proctor.
They Yankees were lucky that the Blue Jays helped them out once again by beating the Red Sox to keep their division lead at 2.5 games.
The Angels have been surging of late, having won six of their last 10, and they also won seven of eight towards the end of August. Anaheim is now only 2.5 games behind the Texas Rangers so it is possible that the Yankees will play them in the first round of the playoffs.
However, the Detroit Tigers (who lead the AL Central by 8.5 games), Rangers and Angels are all only separated by 2.5 games so we likely will not know the first round pairings until the last few days of the season. If the Red Sox win the Wild Card as they in position to right now they will play the division winner with the second best record and the Yankees will play the other division winner.
As of now the most favorable matchup for the Yankees would be if the Angels do indeed overtake the Rangers in the AL West since they have the weakest offense and the Yankees hit pretty well against their starters, which even includes CY Young candidate Jared Weaver.
They don’t want the take the mindset of scoreboard watching to set up their first round matchup but facing the Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander (22 wins, 2.44 ERA, 232 strikeouts) twice in the first round would be very imposing.
The Yankees should have been able to win three or even four of the games during their makeshift series against the last place Orioles, but they played down to the competition in the last two games with errors, not hitting in the clutch and A.J. Burnett pitching on Wednesday. They also had to deal with a lot of rain.
After playing in what seemed like monsoon conditions at times the Yankees are definitely happy to be playing cross country near Disney Land for three games against the Angels. They will get to avoid the rain for at least three days, play under the sun, but will unfortunately have to face Weaver on Friday after not much rest.
The hefty Bartolo Colon (8-9, 3.72 ERA, 123 strikeouts) who has been consistently reliable and at times dominating, surpassing any expectations that Cashman would have had for him, will pitch against the team that he won the CY Young for in 2005. That was also the last season that he was healthy for the whole campaign.
Colon should be a lock for the Comeback Player of the Year after the blast from the past season that he has put together, especially since he was out of baseball during 2010 due to right shoulder pain and damage to his rotator cuff.
Usually teams that are playing games on the other side of the country have a travel day but the Yankees off day was ruined because of the makeup game yesterday.
The Yankees lead the season series 4-2 after struggling against the Angels in years past. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, (who have gimmicks like the rally monkey that the Yankees would never use) have been the Yankees nemesis in the playoffs in previous seasons but it seems like they match up better this season.
CC Sebathia finally had a quality start against the Boston Red Sox, helping the Yankees win 5-2, improving their season record to 3-10 against Boston. He had help from the bullpen as they got into some jams but never surrendered a run.
Another positive about this game was that Mariano Rivera, who has struggled against the Red Sox in the past, allowing a run in his last appearance against them, picked a save while allowing one hit.
Eric Chavez had his best game production wise since the beginning of August as he had two run scoring singles, in the first and fourth innings, respectively, almost single handedly giving the Yankees all the offense they would need.
In addition to Chavez’s RBI in the top of the fourth, Robinson Cano, hit his 36th double, which drove in Robinson Cano. That was Cano’s 96th RBI, which places him third on the Yankees and fourth in the American League.
The Red Sox would score their only runs of the game in the bottom of the fourth innings as the speedy Carl Crawford, hit his 10th homer of the season, and Marco Scutaro hit a double to left scoring a run.
In the bottom of the fourth CC Sebathia had a clutch strikeout to end the inning and the Yankees would go on to score another run, off a rare homer by Francisco Cervelli, in the bottom of the inning. Cervelli’s actions upon returning to home plate were regrettably as he should have waited until he got back to the dugout to celebrate.
However, this was only Cervelli’s third home run of his career, so possibly the reason he displayed his usual enthusiasm was because he got caught up in the moment.
Crawford made an impressive catch up against the Green Monster, on a ball hit by Robinson Cano, for the first out of the inning.
In the bottom of the fifth Sebathia gave up a double to Jed Lowrie and the Yankees were lucky a run didn’t score because David Ortiz is extremely slow. He would strike out Saltalamacchia, who likely has the longest last name in baseball, to avoid any damage.
In the bottom of the sixth, with Sebathia still pitching, with 110 plus pitches, Chevez was able to show his gold glove form from earlier in his career by fielding a short hop and making a strong throw to Mark Teixiera at first. Sebathia was in true workhorse form tonight as he threw 128 pitches through six innings only allowing two runs. This proves how much confidence Joe Girardi rightfully has in him.
Francisco Cervelli got intentionally thrown at to lead off the top of the seventh. In some ways he had this coming as he clapped emphatically when stepping on home plate after his home run. A pitcher should never intentionally throw at a hitter, but what Cervelli did is against the “code” of baseball.
The Red Sox almost regretted hitting Cervelli because he wound up on third with nobody out after Gardner bunted for a single. This almost ignited a brawl, however, the benches emptied but nothing materialized. Unfortunately, Jeter would go on to hit a double play right to Dustin Pedroia at shortstop to end any kind of momentum. That scored a run but they should have had much more.
The Yankees got lucky a second time with David Oritiz running as he stopped at third on Crawford’s single to left field. Logan would then strike out Saltalamacchia, which would be Jared’s second strikeout with men on base. Logan would go on to pick up back-to-back strikeouts as Darnell Macdonald would swing at a pitch high and outside, to end the seventh inning.
Nick Swisher continued his recent hot hitting, which mirrors how he raked during his All-star campaign last season, as he hit a single in the eighth just inside the foul line to send Cano to third. This culminated a 3-3 game for him. After Posada walked to force the bases loaded, Cervelli could not continue to give the Yankees any more magic as he grounded out to Pedroia to keep the score 5-2.
In order to catch the towering fly ball hit by Marco Scutaro, in the bottom of the eighth, Brett Gardner had to use all of his blazing speed to catch up with the ball. It was almost a SportsCenter top 10 worthy catch.
The Red Sox would threaten to score in the ninth, as Ortiz smacked a double to shallow right and Saltalamacchia got hit by a pitch, but as stated above, Rivera was able to limit their scoring opportunity.
John Lackey gave up four earned runs, but five overall, during the game. The Yankees should have scored more but that was the minimum amount that would have been acceptable against Lackey what has been struggling the whole season.
However, tonight the Yankees will not have the privilege of facing a pitcher who is not living up to his contract. Josh Beckett has an 11-5 record, a 2.43 ERA and is a CY Young candidate just like Sebathia (and the likely winner Justin Verlander). If Sebathia had not struggled so much in his first four starts against the Red Sox he would probably be even with Verlander right now.
Phil Hughes has pitched very well in five out of his seven starts since coming off of the disabled list, so, if he can deliver a quality start the Yankees will have a great chance since Beckett has a 5.37 career record against the Bronx Bombers.
Derek Jeter is 0-9 in his last two games, while missing the last game of the Orioles series because of a minor injury, but hopefully he can get back on track tonight against Beckett, who he is hitting .282 against for his career.
One of the Yankees top prospects, catcher Jesus Montero, will join the Yankees from AAA Scranton for the series finale. He is more known for his offense than his defense behind the plate.