"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Is this the Express?

About three hours and 20 minutes. Twenty four base runners, 14 runs. Six different pitchers threw 266 pitches. What is this, the Giants visiting the Dodgers in 1965? Where was the soul-grinding we signed up for?

Josh Beckett had faced the Yankees four times already this year. He was 3-0 and the Red Sox won all four games. He’d allowed three runs total over all four games. As much as the Yankees expected to win last night with their ace on the mound versus John Lackey, the Red Sox were that confident squared going into tonight’s tilt.

Phil Hughes was the tissue paper in front of the roaring semi of Boston’s offense and Beckett’s guaranteed victory. His season is already lost to the ages as a piece of crap and where he goes from here is a complete mystery. If he gets to pitch a meaningful inning in the Postseason, it would be a shock. The question was not whether he would be effective tonight, the question was how long until he was flayed.

In the third inning, Jacoby Ellsbury set up Sox with a perfectly placed laser into the left field corner, just inside the line and just short of the wall. That put runners on second and third with nobody out and Boston cashed in both of them for a 2-1 lead. In the sixth, tied at five, it was Ellsbury again inflicting the telling wound, a two-out, two-run homer off one of last night’s heroes, Boone Logan, to clinch the game. Varitek added a two-run icer (the Sox third two-run homer of the evening) and Boston cruised home 9-5.

If he did not play for the Red Sox, I think Ellsbury would be one of my favorite players. I love his dangerous swing and he drills the ball to all fields. He has an open stance and lets the ball get very deep into the hitting area before committing to swing. Watching the double in the third in slow motion, I kept waiting for him to begin his swing until finally I thought they queued up the wrong replay. But then at the last second he lashed out at the fastball on the outside corner and whacked it right down the line.

To pull this off he’s got to have excellent bat speed  and he’s got to protect the inside corner as well. It’s easier to hit the outside pitch with authority deep in the hitting area because if he makes contact out there, it’s going to be on the barrel. But if he’s late on the inside fastball, he’s jammed. He’s got to identify the inside strikes and get the bat head out to meet them. He’s finally figured it out this year and has 24 home runs to show for it and has become a breakout star.

The Red Sox kept beating on Hughes as long as he was in there, but in fairness to the him and the other Yankee starters, the Red Sox are simply better at hitting than these guys are at pitching. CC Sabathia is a world class pitcher and he can’t get through this lineup without 128 pitches and a whole lot of luck. Was Phil Hughes bad, or just not good enough for this level of competition? I think the latter. On top of that, Jason Varitek’s P.O.S. “double” past Chavez and Gardner in front of Ellsbury’s game winning homer was the kind of bad luck he just can’t overcome against this team.

The challenge of beating Boston in the ALCS is clear. The Yankee starters can’t get through more than five innings, but the bullpen isn’t deep nor durable enough to pitch four innings in every game. For example, if the Yankees played this game to win, Hughes should not pitch the sixth. But the Yankees needed three innings out the pen last night, and it’s a good bet they’ll need a lot more than that tomorrow night. So Girardi sent Hughes out there to cough up the lead and then turned to one of their lesser relievers because it was too early to call the big guns. Twenty seven outs is about six too many for the Yanks to cover.

Do the Yankees get any love for scoring five off Beckett, taking two one-run leads, and putting the outcome of this game in doubt for a few minutes in the sixth? They are now 3-11 against the Red Sox, 0-4 against Beckett, and assured themselves of ending this series in second place. But at least they’ll have the muscle memory of crossing home plate with him on the mound should they meet in the ALCS. OK, I’ll give them Fresca-level love for that. But they only had six hits as a team against 11 strikeouts and folded completely after the Ellsbury homer – nine up and nine down. So even Fresca may be too good for them.



Categories:  1: Featured  Bronx Banter  Game Recap  Jon DeRosa  Yankees

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1 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Aug 31, 2011 10:59 pm

Maybe am in too negative a mood now after the loss but..no chance in hell they beat Boston in the ALCS, if they even get there.

2 Jon DeRosa   ~  Aug 31, 2011 11:02 pm

[1] I also assume it'll be in Fenway, even more reason to like the Sox.

3 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Aug 31, 2011 11:05 pm

[1] Agreed.

4 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Aug 31, 2011 11:08 pm

I know it's not fair to pick on Teix, but I sure wish we had a proper number three hitter, the kind to inspire fear in the opposing pitcher. Robinson could be that guy. I just heartily believe your number three hitter should be hitting .347, not .247.

5 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Aug 31, 2011 11:12 pm

[4] I agree. Cano should be batting third, A-Rod fourth (is he ever playing again??) and Teix fifth. But lineup really doesn't matter if Boone Logan cannot get lefties out..

6 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Aug 31, 2011 11:16 pm

[5] Teix is a classic number five hitter. Cano is a classic number three hitter. Alex, number four.

7 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Aug 31, 2011 11:20 pm

They have four .300 hitters, we have one (plus Derek) and they have better starting pitching.

Not sure how we can compete with that.

8 Jon DeRosa   ~  Aug 31, 2011 11:37 pm

Hold on guys, Teix has a few pop ups he hit so high that might still come down as hits...

no, sorry they were all caught. (Joey Votto has zero infield pop outs all season).

Why do you want a high average third hitter? What effect will that have on the team? Just because that's the tradition? Did you plug in the Yanks stats to a lineup optimizer and find they'd score more runs (and beat the red sox) with Cano switching with Teix?

9 Just Fair   ~  Aug 31, 2011 11:44 pm

Praise Jesus!

10 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Aug 31, 2011 11:56 pm

[8] You're bringing balanced analysis into a post-Red Sox loss whine-a-thon? How dare you! :)
[9] Is Jesus coming? Oh please please please let him go on a Kevin Maas-like run this month..

11 Just Fair   ~  Sep 1, 2011 12:02 am

[10] Pre game buzz tonight was that he could be in the line up tomorrow. We'll see.

12 Boatzilla   ~  Sep 1, 2011 12:19 am

What's the under/over on how many runs the Sox score tomorrow? I say 16. Any takers?

13 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Sep 1, 2011 12:24 am

[8] Tradition. I don't have an optimizer.
I just think .247 is low and I wish we had someone with as many homers but who also hit .320.

But I have no wish to call down the usual wrath upon myself so I'll just concede if I must.

14 Boatzilla   ~  Sep 1, 2011 12:25 am

[1] Hold on now. We have 4 quality starters. We can beat Becket and we can beat Lester. I am not giving up hope.

However, I just can't understand why Girardi/Cashman or whoever don't think this series is important. Scioscia shuffled his rotation so Weaver faced Texas on short rest a WEEK ago.

Someone tell me why Hughes and Burnett are pitching these games. I believe the Yankees are playing for the Wild Card again. And that stinks on ice.

15 Jon DeRosa   ~  Sep 1, 2011 6:32 am

[13] I also agree that I'd rather Teix was hitting .320 instead of .247.

16 Chyll Will   ~  Sep 1, 2011 6:36 am

[14] Guessing... Girardi wants to make sure the elder batsmen get their nap time before the playoffs so they can be fresh. Not that it worked that well last year, but insanity is partially the absence of reason. I also find that possible, yet likely explanation to be highly arrogant and presumptuous , but I'm only going by sense memorization...

17 The Hawk   ~  Sep 1, 2011 8:18 am

Totally agree about Tex. He's had a pretty disappointing year. I know the numbers look good, but he just doesn't seem dangerous. Maybe I'm just watching the wrong games.

18 RIYank   ~  Sep 1, 2011 8:42 am

Hm, I don't think we can afford to kowtow to tradition. The team needs the best line up that Girardi can come up with, for run production. (Surprisingly, this means you do not put your best hitter third. Two quite different analysis types agree.)

I will join Jon waaaaay out on that limb and agree that it would be better if Teix had the same number of homers but was batting 73 points higher.

However, I do not agree with Weeping that the Red Sox' advantage in .300 hitters is a big problem. The Yankees have scored more runs than the Sox, and in fewer games. And I think the idea that the Boston starting rotation is better is also very dubious, since ours has given up fewer runs than theirs. I think the fact that Boston has two very good pitchers who have looked strong recently is significant, but not as significant as the general sentiment seems to have it.

Oh, and I'm not so worried as Jon about having to dip into the bullpen early in a game. Remember, we'll have two of our current starters in the pen for long relief. If Hughes goes only 4 2/3, say, Fred could give you 3, no problem.

So, yeah, I hate losing these games, but the mood is glummer than the facts justify.

19 The Hawk   ~  Sep 1, 2011 8:45 am

[18] Uh, if HUGHES goes 4 2/3, FRED will come in? I'm no great fan of Garcia but I trust him more than Hughes, who is looking a bit like a lost cause.

20 RIYank   ~  Sep 1, 2011 8:46 am

[19] Yeah, I'd agree -- that wasn't my suggestion, but rather my prediction. I think Girardi will prefer Hughes as a starter to Fred.

21 ms october   ~  Sep 1, 2011 9:05 am

i think this game reflected the fears or some common themes, so that is why the mood is glummy.

[20] i think the opposite scenario is more likely. apparently garcia takes forever to warm up, which is why he didn't start the year in the pen. so i think they would be more likely to use him as a starter than a reliever in the post season. also girardi has experience with hughes in the pen that was good, so i would think that would be a factor.

22 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Sep 1, 2011 9:06 am

[18] Sigh, if you say so. Teix for President.

23 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Sep 1, 2011 9:07 am

[18] But seriously, for all that, then, how do you explain our inability to beat them? Bad luck?

24 RIYank   ~  Sep 1, 2011 9:07 am

[21] Hm, good point(s). I'll buy that.

25 RIYank   ~  Sep 1, 2011 9:10 am

[23] I dunno, really. It's not a tiny number of games, but it's not a big sample either. The answer can't be that Boston is just a lot better, because if that were true they'd be beating other teams more than we are, and that's not happening. It's possible that there's some kind of match-up issue. And it's possible that it's mainly bad luck. (But it's definitely not because they have more .300 hitters!)

26 Jon DeRosa   ~  Sep 1, 2011 9:16 am

[25] I think match-ups and small sample, but not bad luck. That implies to me that the Yanks lost some games they should have won. They only lost one heartbreaker.

If bad luck means that the Yankees have just unluckily played worse than they are capable against their main rival over 14 games while the sox have played to the best of their ability over the exact same games, then fine.

But as long as the sox get all the credit for kicking the yankees asses all year - it's not like this record is an undeserved fluke.

27 ms october   ~  Sep 1, 2011 9:50 am

[25] [26] i also think there might be a match-up issue at play but what is it?
i tried to figure it out last year when that weird triangle was in effect, with the yanks able to beat the rays, the rays able to beat the sox, and the sox able to beat the yanks.
the only theory i have is the sox disciplined approach gets the yanks pitchers but it's just a thought.

28 Start Spreading the News   ~  Sep 1, 2011 9:59 am

[26] Bad luck doesn't just show up as losses in one run games. It is also two smash hops being snared by Scutaro and Pedroia, back to back. So instead of 2 on and no outs, it is two outs. It is also Varitek reaching for a pitch and somehow getting the ball past Gardner. It is also the umpire missing a strike call before Ortiz' homer.

We are mainly losing because of our pitching and some bad luck. Both lineups have great hitters and good at-bats. Beckett had good stuff yesterday and still gave up 5 runs on only 6 hits and no homers. Coming into the game, he had a 2.43 ERA. So he struggled against a good lineup like CC did. And he prevailed like CC. Hughes similarly labored but doesn't have the maturity or the out pitch needed to win (yet).

Today the Yanks face Lester who hasn't given up 5 runs since May. Ugh.

29 Jon DeRosa   ~  Sep 1, 2011 10:08 am

[28] I agree luck comes into all games, but I haven't seen nearly enough bad breaks for the yanks in these 14 games to pin the 3-11 record on it. if anything, the breaks seem more even than in most years. i just see the red sox hitters having an easier time with the yankee staff than vice-versa.

30 Dimelo   ~  Sep 1, 2011 10:24 am

I just don't get it, the Yanks can't pitch to the Red Sox. This is reminiscent of 2004. Everyone scares the shit out of you in the lineup, and their pitching is way better than the Yanks pitching. It's not even close.

I love CC and Mo, but does anyone feel confident when those two are on the mound against the Red Sox and it's a 1/2 run lead? I sure don't. AND THIS IS MO I'M TALKING ABOUT!!!!

31 RIYank   ~  Sep 1, 2011 10:32 am

[28] Well put.
No, it's not a couple of bad breaks in any given game. It's kind of larger scale bad luck. You know, good pitchers have bad games, good hitters too, etc.

But I'm not saying it's luck. It could be match-ups. But as Ms. Oct. says, what exactly are the match-up problems supposed to be? Why do CC and Ivan match up badly against Boston but really well against, ummm, everybody else?

32 The Hawk   ~  Sep 1, 2011 12:27 pm

What if CC pitched well in two of the three games he stunk up the joint, and the Yankees predictably won those two? What if he pitched well in all three and the Yanks won? They'd be 6-8 vs the Sox. Not good but not what we're looking at right now.

I chalk up a a good chunk of this record to CC not being CC. I understand historically he's not great against the Sox, but it doesn't strike me as out of the question that he do better, if not as well as he does against everyone else.

And let's not forget the Yankees batters basically beat Beckett last night. It's just that the Yankee pitching was worse.

And yeah bad luck. The Yanks' two worst pitchers go this series. (Albeit who in their right mind would wanna see Garcia out there with his slop bucket??)

33 Crazy8Rick   ~  Sep 1, 2011 12:53 pm

Let's face it guys. The Red Sox just have a more talented pitching rotation than we do. That's it, bottom line. Hughes and over paid AJ are the chinks in the Yankees armour. (and who's pitching tonight?? Yeah, right. Good ole dependable AJ) With Arod out of the line up the fear factor is gone. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it, but I don't see us wining the division against the Red Sox this year!

34 RIYank   ~  Sep 1, 2011 3:37 pm

Crazy8Rick, why is it that the Red Sox' pitchers give up more runs than the Yankees' pitchers, if the Red Sox' pitchers are more talented?

35 SteveF   ~  Sep 1, 2011 7:09 pm

I suppose one could make a claim about having to pitch half their games in Fenway, but I agree with your basic point.

The Red Sox pitching certainly looked to be much better in March, but injuries and a relatively ineffective Lackey on the Red Sox side, and a some considerable luck (Colon/Garcia) on the Yankee side have at the very least evened things out.

Sabathia, Colon, Nova, Garcia doesn't look much (if at all) worse than Lester, Beckett, Lackey, Bedard in a playoff series.

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