Last night's game was weird, wonderful, and weird, punctuated by Johnny Damon stealing two bases on one play in the bottom of the 9th inning of a tie game with two outs. I had no idea what Damon was doing when he stole third, and my heart almost stopped.
Early on I began texting friends that CC Sabathia didn't have his best stuff almost as soon as the game began. Sabathia locates his fastball effortlessly when he's in the zone and routinely hits 94-96 mph on the radar gun. I knew I was going to feel ill most of the evening when he was hitting 90-91 mph on the super juiced Fox gun to start the game.
It was clear from the get-go that Philadelphia wasn't going to go down easy. The Yankees managed to take an early lead on Joe Blanton, and expand it, but Chase Utley's homer should have surprised no one, and it was obvious the bullpen was going to give Yankees fans a collective coronary.
(I was keeping notes on the game the whole night to inform this article. After Joba Chamberlain struck out his 2nd batter, hitting 96 on the gun, my notes read, "Joba's back. Why didn't I get the memo? These are things I expect my friends to tell me." Then he got shelled.)
In no particular order, a few key observations from an exciting game 4:
- How can the umps get away with letting the Phillies pitchers hit our power bats? This infuriates me. I don't think the Phillies are giving the signal to hit A-Rod and Tex, but they are trying to pitch inside and don't care if our guys take one in the ribs. In the end Lidge got his, but I was screaming at the television when he wasn't tossed. If Jeter gets hit on the hand tomorrow I will spontaneously combust.
- I've taken the liberty of sending CC and Jeter copies of the baseball rulebook. I've highlighted the sections that explain the additional penalties a batter faces should he decide to bunt with 2 strikes.
- Immediately following the game Michael Kay suggested that Charlie Manuel's gamble of starting Joe Blanton didn't hurt him. Really, how so? Blanton gave up 4 earned runs through six innings. That's an ERA of 6, wich is bad, especially since the Phillies lost by 3 runs on a night when CC was mortal. Does Michael Kay honestly believe that Cliff Lee couldn't have kept at least two of those runs from scoring? Starting Blanton was a dumb move that yielded exactly the results it should have, even if it didn't blow up in Manuel's face catastrophically. And speaking of Manuel's face, why did he have that disgusting band-aid on his chin all night? Yuck.
The Blanton move still stands out to me. Its not like anyone predicted this. Nope, nobody in the blogosphere foresaw Blanton not being good enough to get the job done. Now, the Phillies are on the brink of elimination. After Lee's start they have to turn to Who's -Your-Daddy Martinez and Cole Hamels to keep the season alive. Someone pinch me.
The Yankees are not without their problems. The bats havefinally come alive, although Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano continue to struggle. I don't know if we're starting Jose Molina tonight, but I suspect we will, meaning our lineup could have as many as 4 dead spots. I would rather we just play with only 5 batters and give Lee a retroactive strikeout to start each inning than watch him mow down A.J. Burnett, Molina, Robbie and Tex, which is exactly what's going to happen.
More importantly, we've sent out our last rested pitcher. This terrifies me. CC looked off last night. It is a testament to his ability that he kept us in the game. A.J. has not started on short rest all season. I believe he'll be sharp, but I'm afraid the start will be wasted against a potentially unhittable Lee.
That leaves things on the 37-year-old shoulders of Andy Pettitte. The THIRTY-SEVEN-year-old shoulders of Andy Pettitte, on three days' rest. Earlier in the Series I suggested the Yankees start Gaudin in Game 5 to get a fully rested A.J. and Pettitte should the series head back to the Bronx. I'm flip-flopping. I no longer think Gaudin should start. The Yanks are going for the jugular. But they continue to employ a high-risk strategy. The 1992 Braves were the last team to use only 3 pitchers in the World Series. That turned out just swell.