"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Humble Pie

Nick Swisher watches Ichiro's walkoff homer reach the seats (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)Skip to the bottom of the ninth. A.J. Burnett out-dueled Felix Hernandez for seven innings, passing a 2-1 lead to Phil Hughes, who mowed down the M’s in the eighth to hand that lead to Mariano Rivera in the ninth. Rivera had converted a career high 36 straight saves, the longest active streak in the majors and started the ninth by striking out Jack Hannahan and pinch-hitter Mike Carp.

Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu sends up veteran Mike Sweeney to bat for shortstop Josh Wilson. Rivera’s first pitch is at the knee, but over the plate, and the right-handed Sweeney crushes it into the opposite field gap. A home run in almost any other park, Sweeney’s blast hits the warning track just in front of the 385-foot sign in right-center, putting Sweeny, the potential tying run on second with one out and bringing Ichiro Suzuki to the plate as the potential winning run.

Suzuki was 3-for-4 on the night, but had been picked off first base twice by A.J. Burnett who both times caught the Seattle speedster leaning. The first pick-off came with none out in the third and was followed by a Franklin Gutierrez double that was subsequently plated by a Jose Lopez single for the only Mariner run of the game.

Now given a chance to make amends for those base-running blunders, Suzuki, like Sweeney, lights into Rivera’s first pitch, a cutter in off the plate but just below the belt. With his trademark bailing swing, Ichiro gets the sweet spot on the ball and deposits it four rows deep in the right field seats for a game-winning home run. The home run is just the fifth walk-off home run hit off Rivera in his career, and the first since Marco Scutaro’s shocker in Oakland in 2007. M’s win 3-2.

The Yankees scored their two runs on sac flies, both times with Johnny Damon doubles playing a key part in the inning, but failed to get Nick Swisher, who had doubled and moved up on a wild pitch, home from third with one out in the seventh when Jose Molina hit into a double-play. Other than that, there’s not much to reflect on here. Both starters and Hughes were excellent and Rivera had a lead with two-outs in the ninth. After the game, Rivera said he simply missed his location on both pitches. At least the Rangers lost, giving the Yankees a chance to clinch a playoff berth with CC Sabathia on the mound on Saturday with a win and another Rangers loss.

For those looking for a distraction, I’ve updated my Yankees by the Numbers post, which lists the best Yankee to wear each uniform number, in light of Brian Bruney switching to number 99.

Categories:  Cliff Corcoran  Game Recap

Share: Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via email %PRINT_TEXT


1 Mattpat11   ~  Sep 19, 2009 2:21 am

Okay, I've calmed down. Nothing a nice five game winning streak can't fix.

2 Bobtaco   ~  Sep 19, 2009 2:22 am

I don't care if you have to put the winning run on first in that situation. If I am sitting in Girardi's place I walk Ichiro there. He is unworldly hot, and a single ties the game. I walk him and take my chances with Gutierrez. Even with two outs. You simply don't let the best player beat you. Mo or no Mo.

3 Rich   ~  Sep 19, 2009 2:28 am

I'm tired of the Torre-like mindset of playing Molina, despite the fact that he runs like he's wearing cement shoes, primarily because of his veteran-ness. Cervelli is a better option.

Also, if Freddy Guzman can play defense, why wasn't he in the OF in the 9th instead of Swisher?

4 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Sep 19, 2009 2:34 am

[2] That's how Korea lost the WBC (not on a homer, but a walk-off hit by Ichiro with first base open).

[3] I thought about Guzman there when Cone said "the Yankees believe this is their best defensive outfield."

[1] What for? The races are over. These games are nearly meaningless. They're playing out the string. No one got hurt and Burnett pitched well, so the game was a success. I'm going to bed happy.

5 Mattpat11   ~  Sep 19, 2009 2:38 am

[4] I really don't want to see them piss away the division. I saw what playing out the string looked like this week, and I saw enough Brian Bruney, Edwar Ramirez and Jerry Hairston batting second to last me well into next year.

6 thelarmis   ~  Sep 19, 2009 3:30 am

not sure how many folks here still read Josh Wilker's amazing Cardboard Gods blog, since the toaster burned and we've all moved. i read him religiously. he's got a great post up now. it's a totally random mid-70's Yankee i've never heard of. he barely mentions him, but his writing is certainly worth the price of admission. unlike LoHud, the comments are terrific and chock full of 411.

i hate when Mo is human. i wonder how monkeypants is feeling about now...

i hold out hope that we win the division and home field, but nights like tonight don't bode well for my psyche. an LCS vs. the Shit Sox destroys my stomach...


7 randym77   ~  Sep 19, 2009 6:23 am

It is odd that they didn't use Guzman. They DFA'd Anthony Claggett to call up Guzman. I guess they just want him as a pinch-runner.

8 seamus   ~  Sep 19, 2009 8:21 am

[7] I was asleep by then. Who was in the OF?

9 randym77   ~  Sep 19, 2009 8:49 am

[8] I was asleep, too, but it was Melky, Gardner, and Swisher.

I should have stayed up a few more minutes, but I was at the IL Championship game in Scranton Thursday. Which went to extras. Then I had a long drive home and an early wakeup to get to work. So I was seriously dragging yesterday night. I went to bed figuring Mo would get the job done. What a rude shock to wake up to.

10 monkeypants   ~  Sep 19, 2009 8:53 am

[6] Fortunately, I have been on a business trip...so I didn't see/hear the game. Reading about it lessens the blow.

I assume your curiosity is tied to questions of bullpen usage. Not having watched the game, it's hard to say. But nothing looked too egregious (Burnett for 7, Hughes 1, Mo 1 in a close game). I was somewhat confused that the Mariners only used one pitcher. I assumed that was some sort of mistake in the box score.

11 randym77   ~  Sep 19, 2009 9:01 am

[10] Nope. King Felix with the complete game victory.

12 Rich   ~  Sep 19, 2009 9:36 am

[11] The Yankees helped produce the KG because they didn't take pitches at all.

If the Mariners are dumb enough to trade KF, the Yankees must block the RS from getting him. If they got Halladay, he would probably only be really good for five years. KF could be good for 15.

13 randym77   ~  Sep 19, 2009 9:44 am

[12] They didn't, but that was apparently part of the game plan. KF is supposedly most vulnerable on the first pitch.

14 Rich   ~  Sep 19, 2009 9:56 am

[13] Even if that true, that strategy wasn't working, so they should have adapted by the 4th inning.

btw, KG should have been CG. (Wake up, Rich)

15 randym77   ~  Sep 19, 2009 10:06 am

[14] I dunno. He's a good pitcher, and they got 8 hits off him. And the Yanks were't losing until the end, so it's hard to say the strategy wasn't working.

16 Rich   ~  Sep 19, 2009 10:19 am

[15] If you're lowering his ERA, I don't think it's working.

The larger point is that I always believe that taking pitches to get a starter out of a game as early as possible is the best strategy.

Not playing, or at least pinch hitting for, Molina, and the Guzman/Swisher substitution could have mooted it.

17 RagingTartabull   ~  Sep 19, 2009 10:34 am

so I fell asleep going into the bottom of the 9th last night...feeling pretty safe.

My biggest concern last night was getting a big start out of AJ...no complaints there; especially considering the Magic Number for the PS is now at 2, any masochists with visions of the '07 Mets dancing in their heads can probably let it go.

As for the pitching to Ichiro, I love how to so many people putting the winning run on base in the person of one of the best base runners of all time is such a no-brainer.

Could you have walked him there? Sure. Would I have? I'd like to think I would've. But it's anything but an open-and-shut case. But as we all know, this is obviously a team that has a 5.5 game lead for best record and 94 wins in the bank all in spite of Girardi...obviously.

18 RagingTartabull   ~  Sep 19, 2009 10:47 am

[17] my bad, the PSM# is at 3, I thought it went down to 2 after the Angels win.

2 is also the number of career hits Ichiro had against Mo going into the 9th last night...just sayin'

19 randym77   ~  Sep 19, 2009 10:55 am

[17] I don't have a problem with pitching to Ichiro. According to statistical analysis, IBBs don't make sense, since even the best player is more likely to make an out than get on base.

Just didn't work out for us this time.

20 Raf   ~  Sep 19, 2009 11:18 am

[19] I guess no one saw the 2-10 career vs Rivera...

21 seamus   ~  Sep 19, 2009 11:19 am

[9] aye thanks matey!

22 Sliced Bread   ~  Sep 19, 2009 11:28 am

Perfect headline, Cliff - and totally agree that Burnett's performance makes it easy to shake this one off.

Completely off-topic, but along the same lines:

One of my sons scored his first goal in soccer this morning. He's been playing for several years now, and is becoming a very good player. It wasn't one of those happenstance goals that chanced to glance off his foot. This was a deliberate shot, measured and executed perfectly off his left boot. He celebrated like a Brazilian pro. Arms up, completely stunned by his success, running fast and proud back to midfield. For a second I thought he might rip off his shirt. Anyway, 7 year olds are a joy to watch. His team lost by the score of something like 6-1, but we couldn't have come home happier, or prouder. There are definitely victories in defeat, and Burnett's performance is another great example of that.

23 Raf   ~  Sep 19, 2009 11:35 am

[22] Yes, yes it is a lot of fun watching kids play sports. Especially when they're at the stage where they've been playing for a while, and things click and they finally get it.

24 ny2ca2dc   ~  Sep 19, 2009 12:26 pm

Did everyone see the following quote in T-Kep's article?

“Every placement you have on that roster is to serve a purpose,” Cashman said. “My job as G.M. is to give my manager every option so when Joe Girardi looks down his bench late in a game and he needs a stolen base, he’ll have that guy. If he needs a big, hairy monster to slam the ball out of the park, he’ll have that guy. If he needs a defensive replacement to help in the outfield or the infield, he’ll have that guy.”

Pretty damn hilarious!

Hinske isn't that hairy, though, is he? Maybe Kevin Millar can be had for the hairy monster role?

25 monkeypants   ~  Sep 19, 2009 12:58 pm

[24] I have a hard time reconciling that statement with my memory of more than few games when the bench was one or two players deep, to make room for endless relief pitchers who were never to be used.

26 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Sep 19, 2009 1:22 pm

[22] Bravo, Sliced! I know the feeling. My second grader had his first fall league game this morning and made several nice plays at first, including one where he ranged pretty far to his right, fielded cleanly, ran back to first to record the out. Textbook mechanics, footwork, etc. I was very proud.

You're right, it is a joy to watch the kids. It's also kind of frustrating for me, though, as a coach. So many of them don't really want the ball, so when it's hit, everyone assumes someone else will get it, rather than hungering for any baseball within ten feet of themselves. One begins to wonder if they're just timid or if they really just don't want to be there. I try to stay patient, but it can be taxing to see such a dearth of enthusiasm and effort.

All in all, though, it really is a joy and a privilege to get to work with the kids teaching them the sport that I love, so I try not to complain too much.

27 Rich   ~  Sep 19, 2009 2:02 pm

[24] Cash sort of implies that he brought up Guzman to be a defensive replacement. Alas.

28 Diane Firstman   ~  Sep 19, 2009 2:18 pm


Gashouse Gorillas comes to mind ... :-)

29 Horace Clarke Era   ~  Sep 19, 2009 4:08 pm

Wow, the old timer wanders off a bit ... and everyone's agitated again. I think Cliff and a couple of others have it right here ... a dominant closer got beat by a bad pitch and a star player (one he'd handled well before). I can see no reason to walk Ichiro in that situation, Mo would probably have hated to do it, though it wouldn't have freaked me if they had. The 2 for 10 was probably a factor. Same with Molina ... we went through the Cervelli Lovefest awhile back and I thought we got rid of it. On the other hand, I WOULD have pinch hit for Molina in that late at-bat ... with a deep bench now, and Cervelli available, there's no need, 2 weeks left in season, to prop up Molina's batting confidence. Start the man, pinch hit for him.

But the glory of a good cushion is that nothing feels as agitation worthy, and the best thing about the night, for me, was surely AJ. That was a very good start against a team playing fairly well. Next key: let Andy be all right, and throw well next start.

30 Sliced Bread   ~  Sep 19, 2009 5:01 pm

[26] Good on your boy at 1b! and good on you for coaching! I haven't had the privilege yet. I keep putting it off because my sons all want me to coach their teams, and I'd feel bad choosing one of them over the others. Instead, I try to catch all three of their games (and as many practices as I can) as a proud spectator. I'd love to coach, and at some point I will. Gotta stop putting it off. I know they'll understand when it's not their turn. Anyway, you're right, weeping, coaching is a tremendous honor. As far as kids being hungry for the ball, and really understanding their games, it gets better every year. Be patient, and hang in there. Their skills improve so quickly year to year it's amazing.

[23] and yeah, Raf, it's so much fun when things start to click for them -- and I'm not just talking about my kids. Throughout the years I've gotten to watch a so many of my sons' friends progress. I's fun to see the ones who were shy gain confidence, and the ones who were confident be humbled by the others who didn't get it at first.

This evening, me, and my wife and kids, and even my in-laws are heading over to the football fields to watch my neighbor's son. He's 8 and plays a mean free safety. He's gonna love having a personal cheering section in the stands -- even though we cheer for 'em all.

31 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Sep 19, 2009 7:47 pm

[30] Thanks, Sliced, for the encouraging word. I must admit, my brain tells me that for Christ's sake, they're only 7! but my heart tells me, "What's wrong with you? I don't care if you miss the ball, but don't just stand around and let it pass right by you without so much as moving your feet!

I try to convey a sense of urgency to them but try not to bark and fume. I want to make it clear that I have expectations of them without, of course, intimidating or demoralizing them. It's extremely taxing, mentally, to figure out where the line is with each player, over and over and over again. I do hope I (more or less) get it right.

As to yourself, could you just draw lots or something, in the presence of all, to determine who goes first? I can imagine it would be hard to choose. I have two kids and it's a constant struggle simply trying to balance my attention between them on the mundane stuff.

32 Sliced Bread   ~  Sep 19, 2009 8:56 pm

[31] yeah, some sort of lottery would be the best idea. Fair enough, fair enough, they'd all assure me, and then the two who drew the shorter straws would stew about it, and me and the boy who "won" would end up feeling lousy. Heh. Nah, we'll work something out... at some point.

33 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Sep 19, 2009 9:37 pm

heh heh heh heh.

34 randym77   ~  Sep 20, 2009 10:27 am

[27] I think Guzman was brought up to be a pinch-runner. That frees Gardner to be the LIDR.

feed Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via email
"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver