"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice


With two swings of the bat, Raul Ibanez won Game 3 of the ALDS for the Yankees 3-2. Joe Girardi, in one of the ballsiest managerial moves in Yankee history, asked Ibanez to pinch hit for currently lost-in-the-woods Alex Rodriguez in the ninth inning. The Yankees trailed 2-1 at the time, there was one out, and the needle on the season was edging towards “disaster.”

Ibanez took a curve ball low and inside from Jim Johnson to start the at bat. The Oriole closer came back with his trademark sinker aiming low and away. The ball hung over the middle and Ibanez leaped on it. It was a lot like his homer to tie game 161 against the Red Sox, but struck even better than that.

There was a whole a lot of tense nothing after that until Ibanez led off the bottom of the twelfth against lefty Brian Matusz. Matusz had handled lefties Eric Chavez and Ichiro Suzuki with ease in the eleventh, giving them one decent pitch to hit early in the count and then driving them out of the strike zone. He tried the same trick on Ibanez, but Raul had target lock engaged and destroyed the 91 MPH fastball for the game-winner and possible season-saver.

Enough cannot be said of Ibanez, Girardi, Kuroda and Robertson. Ibanez will get, and deserves, every headline and accolade, but he wouldn’t have had a chance in the ninth if it wasn’t for Kuroda. Ditto the twelfth if it wasn’t for Robertson. And of course Joe Girardi, who never gets any credit and often takes a ton criticism, especially on the internet, chose the perfect time to pull the plug on his support for Alex Rodriguez. With Ibanez he gained the platoon advantage and the confidence advantage as the lefty slugger had just come through in a similar spot against a right-handed closer. If Girardi has lost Rodriguez for the rest of the series, so be it. I’d rather be up 2-1 without Arod than down 1-2 with him.

Going back to the pre-Ibanez portion of the game, Hiroki Kuroda was tremendous. A likable stalwart in a season full of uncertainty, he delivered a solid performance into the ninth inning. Kuroda cruised through his night on only 105 pitches and only allowed six base runners. Two solo homers to the bottom of the order were the only marks on his record. Yankee fans gave him the ovation he deserved as he left the game.

As good as Hiroki Kuroda was, Miguel Gonzalez was better. He went through the Yankees for seven innings with ease. He rung up eight Yanks, allowed almost no hard hit balls (were there any other than double and triple that plated the Yanks’ lone run?) and crucially walked no one. He was too tough.

Or maybe he was just pretty good and the Yankees met him halfway to awesome. I openly wonder if the Yankees would have had a more productive night if they just never swung the bat. For three straight games now, they’ve missed almost every cookie they’ve been served with foul balls and pop ups. And they’re so eager to do some damage that they’re expanding the zone in very counterproductive ways. Of the eleven times the Yanks struck out in this game, all were swinging whiffs, and the vast majority were on balls out of the strike zone. The Yankees were over aggressive, undisciplined and rendered utterly ineffective.

Derek Jeter picked up two more hits, though his RBI triple was a gift from Adam Jones. He’s one of the few Yankees who might get a hit at some point tomorrow night, so it’s bad news that he had to come out of the game with a leg injury. He smashed a foul ball off his toe and never looked comfortable after that. When he struck out in the eighth, he was barely able to gain his balance after each swing. Still put on a better at bat than anything Arod, Cano, Granderson or Teixeira could muster. Unless that foot has to be sawed off, Jeter’s playing tomorrow. If they amputate, downgrade him to probable.

But back to Raul Ibanez. He just hit a couple of the most important home runs in Yankee Postseason history. He’s on the list. From the color TV days, there’s Chambliss ’76, Dent ’78 (not Postseason but still), Jeter/Bernie ’96, Leyritz ’96, Justice ’00,  Tino/Brosius/Jeter ’01, Boone ’03, Arod ’09. Probably missing some, but that’s a pretty good start (Reggie and Matsui of course, but maybe that’s a slightly different list, and heck, put Ibanez on that one too with his two bombs tonight).

The lack of hitting in the Postseason always confounds me. I always think, “Why can’t this be the year where they just get hot and blast their way to the Series?” But it never works that way and I need to stop being surprised that Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen and Miguel Gonzalez turn into the 1963 Dodgers as soon as the calendar flips to October. The difference this time, hopefully, is that the Yankees have the starters to support the offensive outage.

All three Yankee starters have worked into the eighth and two of them were still on the hill in the ninth! A timely hit in Game 2 and the Yanks would have just swept this thing. Phil Hughes gets the baton and it doesn’t matter who he faces. It’s gonna be Koufax, Drysdale, Alexander, Gibson and Schilling all wrapped into some Oriole schlub and Hughes will need to be his best to keep them in the game. The Yankees probably won’t hit, but they just might win.


Top Photo by Bill Kostroun/AP via ESPN

Other Photos by Alex Trautwig and Al Bello / Getty Images via ESPN


Categories:  1: Featured  Game Recap  Jon DeRosa  Playoffs  Yankees

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1 Jon DeRosa   ~  Oct 10, 2012 11:59 pm

Awesome stat from RAB:


Raul just had the fifth biggest playoff game in baseball history.

2 Boatzilla   ~  Oct 11, 2012 1:18 am

I love the report Jon. Thanks.

What is it with the non-hitting? It's perplexing. Even Cano has cooled off. And if he can't do it, how can we have faith in Kurtis or K-Rod.

I hope we see some early fireworks (for our side) tomorrow.

3 thelarmis   ~  Oct 11, 2012 1:25 am


7-string guitar!!!

end this tomorrow.

4 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Oct 11, 2012 4:15 am

Thinking of getting Joe Sheehan's Newsletter just to read his take on the "A-Rod-ecision"...He seems to be a "process over results" guy but I can't see any way this was a bad move by JoeyJoeJoe...

5 bags   ~  Oct 11, 2012 5:22 am

You know, in a weird way I'd give a little credit to Arod as well. He handled it with class and seemed genuinely happy for Ibanez and the team win.

6 RIYank   ~  Oct 11, 2012 6:11 am

Excellent write-up, Jon. Another Girardi win! Where would this team be without him?

Also, great call by knuckles at the end of last night's thread on Showalter/Seymour Hoffman. Perfect casting.

7 Jon DeRosa   ~  Oct 11, 2012 6:24 am

[5] Yes, mad props to Arod. Guy is all about the team and he must be hurting on the inside considering how much his own expectations must be weighing on him. A lot of class right there.

8 OldYanksFan   ~  Oct 11, 2012 7:17 am

Am I taking away from the opposing pitching when I say I don't think we should be hitting so poorly? I can remember facing Pedro and RJ when they were great, and always battling. We had ZERO walks last night. Excluding the 9th inning, we have scored what.... 4 runs in 24 innings. Are Baltimore Pitchers THAT good?

Ibanez doesn't take huge swings. In that situation he said he just wanted to get on base. Not DRIVE the ball. No take a shot at ending it. Just get on base. And when you just try and make contact, sometimes you hit a HR anyway.

It's fantastic that we are up 2-1.

In 3 games, here are some OPS stats:
Teix: .718
Cano: .564
Nick: .508
Ichiro: .467
Grandy: .258
ARod: .237

Our 4 best OPS guys, in Order:
Raul, Martin(!!!!!),The Captain and EDUARDO!

Again.... maybe the opposing pitching IS that good, but I can't help but feel we are getting ourselves out.

During our late season swoon, the biggest offenders were Cano and Grandy. Are these guys feeling the pressure?

This team baffles me.

9 Sliced Bread   ~  Oct 11, 2012 7:20 am

Great writeup, Jon, and awesome headline.

10 monkeypants   ~  Oct 11, 2012 7:32 am

I complain often about Girardi, but he had a heck of a game yesterday as a game manager.

I'm cautiously optimistic about Sir Phil in game 4.

11 monkeypants   ~  Oct 11, 2012 7:36 am

[8] Or to put it more simply: the team has not hitting well collectively for 3 games. Is it really *so* baffling?

12 Jon DeRosa   ~  Oct 11, 2012 7:46 am

[8] It is frustrating beyond belief. But hidden in there is that they are smushing Jim Johnson. That's a good closer, keeps the ball in the aprk, and they knocked two homers off him in the most important spots of the whole season.

Raul's swing looks pretty aggressive and powerful to me. His second homer reminded me of Tino Martinez. Isn't it a little too convenient that the guy who crushed two homers last night is just getting lucky while trying to put the ball in play and the guys who have low OPS numbers are just overswingers with bad approaches?

13 Alex Belth   ~  Oct 11, 2012 8:27 am

I figure Alex plays tonight at third, no doubt. The question is--does Granderson play? They could move Ichi to center and start Ibanez in left.

I figure DJ will DH. And I'd play Nix over Nunez at short.

14 rbj   ~  Oct 11, 2012 8:44 am

I went off line early last night. Not much sense in repeatedly typing frustrated over lack of offense. Stunning that A-Rod was pinch hit for. Wow. Just wow.

15 monkeypants   ~  Oct 11, 2012 8:46 am

[13] Or do they start Gardner in CF? If Jeter is so crippled, even I might be willing to bench him for NIx, rather than use up the DH position.

16 Sliced Bread   ~  Oct 11, 2012 8:52 am

13)no question you go with Nix who is 3 for 10 against Saunders with 3 home runs. Yes. Jeets is a .500 hitter against Saunders (9 for 18) so youve got to DH him unless he's seriously hurt.
I think Swish is the guy you sit. He's 5 for 24 (.208) v Saunders while Ichi is 14 for 41 (.341) and Raul is 8 for 23 (.348). Grandy is 4 for 16 with a home run and two walks. I say love ya, but take a seat for now Swish.
Oh, and the third baseman (ARod, that is) is 7 for 16 vs Saunders (.438) with 2 home runs.

17 Chyll Will   ~  Oct 11, 2012 8:58 am

Count me in as one giving Girardi lots of love for making an uncharacteristically gutsy move, and that it worked wonders does not change the fact that he did something deserving a lot more respect than he normally gets. Same for Alex for swallowing his pride for the team's sake. Neither can be understated under the circumstances.

18 Sliced Bread   ~  Oct 11, 2012 9:07 am

17) word

19 Hank Waddles   ~  Oct 11, 2012 9:13 am

[5] Totally agree about A-Rod. As frustrating as it is to watch him not hit, I think he genuinely is a great teammate and handled last night brilliantly. I don't think you can fake that joy and enthusiasm. Sure, as a leader he probably realized it was important for him to be the first one on the top step to greet Ibañez (and kudos to the rest of the team for allowing him to be the one), but he still did it, and he handled the flood of post game media with grace and self-deprecating humor. He gets an A+, and I think it'll help him proceed from here. If he had pouted, I bet Girardi would have to sit him tonight.

20 lroibal   ~  Oct 11, 2012 9:20 am

{13} I agree with Alex, Raul has to start tonight maybe he can capture a little Reggie mojo.

21 garydsimms   ~  Oct 11, 2012 9:29 am

[4] - Mr OK Jazz Tokyo - I'm coming to Japan next week; are the Japanese playoffs still going on? Any chance of finding a schedule/seats?

22 garydsimms   ~  Oct 11, 2012 9:30 am

[4] And how do we follow the Yanks when in Japan, as they move on to the LCS and the WS?

23 OldYanksFan   ~  Oct 11, 2012 9:52 am

[12] I'm not sure John. Yes, his swing is poweful. He IS a power hitter. But compare it to Teix's swing.... Swisher's swing.... Granderson's swing. You can see 3 three guys are trying to cream the ball.

And yes, like Tino, he has that 'level uppercut' lefty swing. But Tino did not swing out of his shoes. And how about the single Ibanez hit to Win our last extra inning game. Was he trying to cream that ball?

In 2009, ARod hit a bunch of PS HRs. But not because he was trying to cream the ball. Just his natural swing + good contact sometimes = HR.

And the truth is, both of the balls Ibanez hit, we very hittable pitches. The 2nd one was a FB right in his wheelhouse.

24 Greg G   ~  Oct 11, 2012 10:06 am

Wow! A very frustrating game had a few high points and would have been a ball (and season) buster if they lost.

Great summary of the game and great insights Jon!

I was thinking the same thing in Jeter's last at bat, that on one leg he was still a tougher out then Grandy or ARod. I think it was a 7 or 8 pitch AB? He was overmatched in his physical state, but still battled. I kept thinking, this is where Jeter hits a dinger to increase his legacy.

When he was pulled in favor of Nix for the 9th. I immediately was thinking of ARod and wondering that if Girardi can bench Capt. Clutch, how come he can't pull ARod? I had no idea what was coming, but I do think Girardi showed courage.

What also struck me was how everyone kept saying that Girardi has to worry about ARod's feelings, and I think this misses the point that there are 24 other players whose feelings you have to worry about. Sure, they don't make the cheese ARod does, but they are also not hitting 3rd. I am not advocating benching him, but is a rally killer hitting 3rd. Grandy has 43 jacks and he is hitting in the bottom of the order. At least with Grandy, he mostly just strikes out and doesn't hit into as many DP's. If nothing else, I sure as shit hope they can now drop ARod out of the 3rd spot.

I also hope Jeter's foot feels better tonight and he can stick it in the O's buttocks and close this baby out tonight.

The offensive malaise is disheartening, but hopefully this gives the Yanks confidence and makes the O's press more, as they are on the brink of elimination. On a side not: I wonder if Johnson is run back out there tonight if the O's have a 1 run lead in the 9th. I was thinking back to '01 with Byung Yung Kim. Johnson has almost single-handedly given the Yanks their 2 victories.

The Yanks starters have been getting it done in this series and while the O's are a gritty team that has perhaps overachieved this year, the Yanks are loaded with talent, but aren't going to win this whole shibang unless they get more timely hits or start bashing.

But bashing worked last night. Rah-ooooooooooooooooooooool!

25 flycaster   ~  Oct 11, 2012 10:12 am

Agree with the Raul-Grandy-Ichi outfield, but should we be concerned about Raul's D in what may be yet another taut, low-scoring affair? Swish is as lost as Alex. Sit him.

26 Alex Belth   ~  Oct 11, 2012 10:22 am

Don't think they'll sit Swish against a lefty.

27 Alex Belth   ~  Oct 11, 2012 10:45 am
28 The Hawk   ~  Oct 11, 2012 10:48 am

The obvious answer is ... to bat A Rod 8th

29 Sliced Bread   ~  Oct 11, 2012 11:04 am

26) I'd be surprised if Joe sits him, but I don't think it's because Swish is such a masher of lefties. He'll probably get the start over Raul because his glove and arm.
His splits are fairly even, but his OPS against righties is about 100 pernts higher, due to a much higher slugging percentage v righties. I dunno. I still say he's the best bench option tonight given everybody else's (Nix, Raul, Ichi, Grandy, Jeet, ARod) better numbers vs Saunders. We'll see. I'd still be cool with Swish starting.

The bigger concern for the day of course is whether Phil can keep it in the park.

30 Alex Belth   ~  Oct 11, 2012 11:07 am

29) Yes, the concern is Hughes.

31 Greg G   ~  Oct 11, 2012 12:11 pm

I was just reading the piece that Wallace Matthews wrote about ARod. It looks like he writing Alex's baseball obituary.

This is pretty unfair. I will be the first to admit that I am not an ARod fan. He has been a prima donna and just sort of came around to the team concept in the last few years. Of course I root for him because I love the Yanks, but I would have preferred that they spent that money on several very good players instead.

When he opted out of his contract, I was hoping the Yanks would cut ties with him despite his enormous talent and the potential of his being the all time (clean) home run king. His opting out meant that Texas was off the hook for the amount they gave the Yanks toward his contract. Texas would have been paying for over 21 mil of that contract. I know baseball is a business, but that sucked. What sucked worse was that the Yanks bit, and bid against themselves as it seems nobody was even close to giving Alex what he signed for with the Yanks in what will likely be his last baseball contract. Hindsight is one thing and who knew Alex would be implicated and confess to steroids? (making any home run record as hollow as Bonds) Most wouldn't say he has much of a shot at that record now.

ARod's contract is an albatross and will be much worse in 2 or 3 years, but I don't think ARod is done as Matthews alludes to. Alex had a broken hand and came back, and hasn't been locked in, but as Jeter showed last season, you can still write another chapter.

Alex works out constantly and despite all the other crap, has a lot of ability and is a great athlete.

Will he be what he once was? One of the most feared sluggers in MLB? Probably not. But Matthews is writing his obituary too soon, and making it seem like ARod will be a bench player, and I think he is making it more dramatic than it is in reality.

Lastly, I will say that I wish they had shipped him to the Dodgers when/if they had the chance this summer. :)

32 OldYanksFan   ~  Oct 11, 2012 12:39 pm

Did you notice how Sierra showboated around the bases. I mean to the extreme.

As much as I want to reward Raul, I don't want to see him in the field, and I'm not 100% sure of starting him against a LHP. Although, If Nix is at SS, I don't know if you want to 'use Nunez up' as DH.

33 Alex Belth   ~  Oct 11, 2012 1:02 pm

The New York writers really dislike Alex and many of them have pieces in a similar vein this morning. It's predictable.

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