Offense: Twenty-one runs in three games, and it might have been more if they hadn’t clinched in the middle game allowing Joe Torre to rest Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Bobby Abreu, and Jorge Posada in the finale.
Johnny Damon 10 for 15, 2 2B, RBI, 4 R, 3 SB, 2 K
Derek Jeter 5 for 10, 2 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 3 R, 3 K
Robinson Cano 6 for 13, 2B, HR, 5 RBI, 2 R, BB, 3 K, GIDP, CS
Doug Mientkiewicz 4 for 7, 2 2B, RBI, R, BB, 2 K
Jorge Posada 4 for 10, 2B, 3 RBI, R, GIDP
Melky Cabrera 0 for 8, RBI, BB, 3 K, GIDP
Hideki Matsui 0 for 7, 2 BB, 3 K
Wilson Betemit 0 for 5, 3 K
Jason Giambi 1 for 6, 3 K
Bobby Abreu 1 for 8, RBI, 4 R, 3 BB
Bronson Sardinha and Alberto Gonzalez both picked up their first major league hits, both singles, in the finale, which also saw them make their first major league starts (in right field and short stop respectively). Sardinha’s came in his first at-bat, but he went 0 for 2 the rest of the night and saw just eight pitches in his three trips. Gonzalez singled in his second at-bat and was plated by a Johnny Damon double. His last time up he walked and was promptly caught stealing.
Rotation: Even with Kei Igawa subbing for Roger Clemens and his hamstring, the three starters did great, allowing just three runs in 18 innings combined. Igawa pitched around five walks and a pair of singles for five scoreless frames. Chien-Ming Wang wasn’t at his best, but he struck out six in six innings while allowing just two runs. Finally, Phil Hughes had his best start since out-dueling Fausto Carmona in Cleveland in early August, allowing just one run on the requisite Carlos Peña home run (one of Wang’s two runs allowed was also a Peña homer) over seven strong, allowing just seven baserunners (Peña, three singles, two walks, and a hit-batsman). Of course, the Yankees are still hoping Roger Clemens can start the third game of the ALDS, so his absence from this series is of significant concern. Meanwhile, the only man here who is likely to start in the postseason is Wang, who was good, but not great.
Bullpen: Joe Torre’s postseason auditions led directly to a loss in the opener. That’s not a cause for concern, however, as the Yankees didn’t need to win that game, and the whole point was to figure out who could be trusted in October. Here are the results:
Mariano Rivera and Joba Chamberlain, of course. Mo picked up a ten-pitch save in the clincher. Joba pitched on back-to-back days for the first time in his life and turned in a pair of scoreless innings striking out three. That said, he got help from a ridiculous wall-crashing catch in center by Melky Cabrera in his first game, which he followed by giving up a single to rookie Justin Ruggiano and uncorking a wild pitch, and gave up a double to Raul Casanova in his second. True, that shot to center was off the bat of that man Carlos Peña, but ace relievers have to get everyone out. That said, Joba lowered his ERA to 0.38, so who am I kidding? Jose Veras pitched two shutout innings, working around a single and getting three ground ball outs to earn the save in the finale. Kyle Farnsworth, working from the windup, pitched a perfect eighth in the opener, striking out two and throwing ten of 13 pitches for strikes. Ron Villone got Peña to groundout to stop the bleeding in the sixth inning of the opener, then retired two of three batters in the seventh also on groundouts (the other walked). Chris Britton struck out Jonny Gomes to end that inning.
Edwar Ramirez and Brian Bruney each faced four men in the sixth inning of the oppener. Six of the eight scored. Staked to a 5-0 lead, Edwar walked the leadoff man, gave up a one-out double to plate that walk, then issued another walk. On came Bruney, who walked his first man to load the bases, struck out the next, then walked a run in and gave up a grand slam to 32-year-old minor league journeyman Jorge Velandia. It was Velandia’s first major league home run. Jeff Karstens gave up a game-winning home run to the only batter he faced in the tenth inning of that game. Luis Vizcaino gave up a double and a home run to the first two batters he faced in the eighth inning of the middle game, then gave up two more singles before finally getting out of the inning.
Conclusion: Farnsworth, Villone, and Veras look to be on their way to the postseason. Edwar, whom Torre said had a spot on the postseason roster, may have pitched his way off of it. That makes Vizcaino’s 11.57 ERA in September even more troubling. Torre’s doing the right thing in resting his regulars (Melky sat last night as well) and getting more at-bats for Giambi, Duncan, and Betemit. The rotation is what it is. Moose will start tonight. Pettitte will go tomorrow, but with a limit of 50 to 60 pitches. If the Yankees’ ALDS series opens on Wednesday, that would mean Pettitte would be on three days rest, but coming off a short outing, suggesting Wang as the Game One starter. If they wind up in the series that opens on Thursday, Pettitte would be on regular rest while Wang would have had seven days off. The biggest concerns heading into the post season, however, are Vizcaino and Clemens, and we’re unlikely to learn much about them from the season-ending three-game set that opens tonight in Baltimore.