"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

How Sweet it is

If you were to ask me what could be finer than the Yankees beating Curt Schilling in the ninth inning I would say, “Not much.” However, a close second would be the Yanks beating Francisco Rodriguez in the bottom of the ninth, which is exactly what happened this afternoon at Yankee Stadium. Hot Dog.

Shawn Chacon pitched admirably in his Yankee debut allowing just one run over six but the middle relief imploded in the seventh. In a comedy of errors, Felix Rodriguez, Alan Embree and Flash Gordon only allowed two hits but four runs scored as a humble 3-1 Yankee lead quickly turned into a 5-3 deficit. When former Bomber Juan Rivera cranked a two-run dinger off of Gordon in the top of the eighth it looked like yet another discouraging affair against the Angels.

With a four-run lead, Scot Shields remained in the pen and Johnny Peralta struck Alex Rodriguez out for the first out of the inning. He was replaced by the southpaw Jake Woods who gave up a single to Hideki Matsui and then fell behind Jason Giambi 3-1. Woods worked carefully to Giambi, who had been on base three times (two singles and walk). But he left a fastball over the heart of the plate and Giambi popped it over the right field fence for a homer.

Forget Shields, the Angels went directly to K-Rod who promptly got Jorge Posada to ground out to first and then retired Bernie Williams on strikes. Mariano Rivera came on to pitch the top of the ninth and he breezed through the meat of the Angels’ order. Daren Erstad took a couple of weak hacks at Rivera’s outside fastball and then swung through a cutter in on his hands. After throwing a strike to the slumping Vlad Guerrero, Rivera brushed the slugger off the plate with a high-and-tight fastball. Then a cutter for strike two and then another brush back pitch. This one spun Vlad around even though the pitch wasn’t that far off the plate at all. Guerrero took a stroll and then swung through a high heater for the second out. Rivera would spin Garet Anderson back too before he grounded out to first on a cut fastball to end the inning.

Tony Womack lead off the bottom of the ninth and walked. While Jeter worked the count full against Rodriguez, Womack stole second. Then Jeter too walked. What to do now? Well, Joe Torre elected to bunt. Cano bunted foul down the third base line twice and managed to work a full-count before whiffing on a fastball.

Rodriguez struggled locating his slider to Sheffield. Eventually one got away and the runners advanced to second and third. Sheffield worked the count full and walked to load the bases, but he had some help. A check-swing could have easily been called a strike, as could the payoff pitch, a beautiful back-door breaking ball on the inside corner. The pitch fooled Sheffield but he got the call that a young player like Robinson Cano would probably not have received. Sheffield+Yankee Stadium+poor control=Take Your Base.

Alex Rodriguez was 1-10 against Francisco Rodriguez in his career with five strikeouts. But K-Rod walked Alex on four straight pitches forcing home a run. It was the first time in K-Rod’s career that he had walked four men in one game. Matsui was next and he was sitting on a first-pitch fastball all the way. He got one, on the outside part of the plate and drove it into the left field gap for a game-winning double as the Yanks beat the Angels, 8-7.


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1 Alex Belth   ~  Jul 30, 2005 3:15 pm

1.  Wow, that was a heart-stopper. Jay Jaffe, who writes the Futility Infielder site was at the game so be sure and check him out tomorrow for a recap.

Emily said, "Thank God," when the Yanks pulled it out. A second-straight night with a grumpy boyfriend was not something she was looking forward to. Out luck got better about twenty minutes later when a neighbor knocked on the door with two free tickets to see "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" on Broadway tonight.

So we are off to the theater darlink. Great win for the Yanks and Saturday Night's Alright.

2 Dan M   ~  Jul 30, 2005 3:57 pm

2.  When Tony Womack, of all people, led off with a walk, I knew they were in good shape. Once Jeter, he of the late-inning impatience, walked I knew they were going to win. What a sweet win!

(Although I'm confused as to why TW stole 2nd. Seemed like a risky play to just to stay out of a double play).

3 Hank   ~  Jul 30, 2005 4:04 pm

3.  I was happy with Womack's steal. The way things have been going lately -- especially against the Angels -- I was absolutely certain that Jeter was gonna serve up a room service double-play ball to short. But, like Dan, once Jeter walked, I figured they had a shot.

A-Rod's at bat highlighted the difference between '04 and '05 for him. Last year he never would've watched four straight pitches in that situation. He's confident enough with himself to know that he doesn't have to be the hero every night, and he trusts his teammates enough to know that someone behind him will get the job done. Of course, it doesn't hurt when the someone behind you is Hideki Matsui.

Can't wait for tomorrow...

4 Jen   ~  Jul 30, 2005 7:15 pm

4.  Torre finally did something today that my mom has been begging him to do for a while now. And that was to let the starting pitcher come out for warm-ups and then take him out so he can get a standing-O.

5 Deltasocrates   ~  Jul 30, 2005 7:31 pm

5.  Another good thing about today is that K-Rod threw 36 pitches, which makes his appearance tomorrow doubtful at best.

OTOH, Flash is not pitching all that well of late. It's time to stop using him in meaningless situations and save him for when he REALLY counts (Will you, Joe?).

6 mikeplugh   ~  Jul 30, 2005 11:11 pm

6.  It's crazy to think how many starting pitchers we have (injured and otherwise)

Johnson, Mussina, Pavano, Wright, Wang, Leiter, Chacon, Small, Nomo, Brown

Brown is done. I hope he stays on the DL. Pavano and Wright should be back soon leaving only one spot open for a 5th starter. Who will it be?

Wang is probably out for the rest of the year. If Pavano and Wright can pitch well, no need for Wang to rush things. He has a bright future. That leaves Chacon, Small, and Nomo.

I hear that Wright may stay in the bullpen when he comes back to build arm strength. We'll see. If that's the case, I expect Small and Chacon to fill 4 and 5. Nomo is only an insurance policy in case of more injuries or struggles by the new guys.

Interesting situation now.

7 KJC   ~  Jul 31, 2005 6:37 am

7.  And with the win, all the discussion of Torre's mishandling of the bullpen disappears for one more day. But I wonder what Angel sites are saying about Scioscia's bullpen decision...

8 Simone   ~  Jul 31, 2005 7:23 am

8.  What a great win! It started off as a solid game only to detriorate into craziness. I'm glad that the Yankees were able to stick it to the Angels for once. Chacon was a nice surprise. FRod was all over the place and I loved it. No more celebrating for him and his annoying teammates. I bet Angels fans were cussing out Scioscia for using Woods and overusing FRod.

9 Dan M   ~  Jul 31, 2005 8:43 am

9.  Embree actually looked good despite the bad line. Yes, his fielding was terrible, but Kennedy's single was an excuse-me single - just one of those baseball things. I'd love to see him deliver next time.

10 rsmith51   ~  Jul 31, 2005 11:15 am

10.  I wish I could have seen the game. I was watching it on gamecast at the library.

It bugs me when announcers say a rookie wouldn't have gotten the call that Sheffield did(Or Maddux or Clemens or Bonds). Isn't a strike a strike? It is times like that I am a big proponent of automating the strike zone and getting rid of the potentially "biased" umpire.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver