Yankees-Phillies: Game Two World Series Notes

October 29, 2009 by  
Filed under Fan News

> For 17 innings, the Phillies had played nearly mistake-free baseball (the exception: Jimmy Rollins’ ninth inning error last night), refusing to cede to the pressure that took out the Twins and Angels.

Down two in the eighth and facing Mariano Rivera in his bid for a six-out save, Rollins and Shane Victorino did exactly what you’d want them to do there—made the pitcher throw a lot of pitches and get on base.

Chase Utley then battled to a full count, and drama was brewing.

And then the runners inexplicably didn’t go as Utley got sawed off on a dribbler to second, and just as fast as you can say Missed Opportunity, that was a double play to get Rivera off the hook.

(Ed. Note: Charlie Manuel specifically didn’t send the runners, citing Utley’s contact tendencies and his desire to see Ryan Howard hit in that inning. Um, OK. So put the brainlock on the manager instead.)

You can’t overstate the magnitude of that play, really. Had Victorino gotten to second, you have Rivera likely pitching around Howard to load the bases and facing Jayson Werth with the bases loaded. He’s also doing it on his 27th pitch of his inning, and damage is usually done after a pitcher has thrown a couple of dozen pitches.

I’m not saying that Werth does damage and the Phillies come back to win the game; he is, after all, facing Mariano Freaking Rivera. Maybe Werth just makes an out. Then again, maybe he gets a hit and ties the game. You just have to send the runners there; even in the event of a strikeout, Rollins and Victorino are extremely good at stealing bases.

Oh, and it’s also all kinds of fun that the umpires blew the call at first to call Utley out. Gah.

> Pet peeve: Guys with filthy batting helmets. I get the need for luck and familiarity and all, but it still looks gross and bush league to me. At least no one in this game is taking it to true Manny-ish extremes.

> Matt Stairs, of all people, with the early RBI. It’s not exactly encouraging for the NL team when your DHs are hitting less than .200 for the year, but so long as they produce, I suppose.

> In the bottom of the seventh, Jerry Hairston fought off a little bleeder to get on base, and then Melky Cabrera delivered a clear single to right. That ended Pedro Martinez’s night and let Yankee Fan get their full “Who’s Your Daddy” on. The man actually smiled as he left, even though the game now goes eight times out of nine for the home team from here in.

If the man ever needs money after baseball, he can work forever as a wrestling heel manager to New York audiences; I suspect they would never tire of paying for the privilege of screaming for his blood.

Martinez’s night ended with 107 pitches, six-plus innings, six hits, two ER (eventually, three), two walks, eight strikeouts, and two HRs. He’s in the same exact place that CC Sabathia was last night—a good start, some bad luck, and the loss.

But I still hope he’s back next year, and I can’t imagine that Yankee Fan really wants him gone either. In a world of forgettable pitchers, you can’t deny that he’s genuinely fun to watch and/or hate.

> Chan Ho Park came in, threw hard, got ahead, and then made a two-strike mistake for the Jorge Posada insurance RBI single. Park’s just one of those guys with great stuff that I don’t trust, regardless of the numbers.

> Derek Jeter then kept the game close with an utterly inexplicable bunt strikeout. Kind of breathtaking there, really. Even if it works, you’re setting up the ice-cold Johnny Damon against a lefty; hardly something you would hope for.

Yankee Fan will explain that by blaming Joe Girardi for flashing the sign, and it didn’t come back to haunt them. But that’s besides the point. If Girardi did call for it with two strikes, Jeter should have walked into the dugout and shoved the bat up his overmanaging ass. Just inexcusable, really.

And then the inning ends with badly called double play, with the umps missing a call on a liner that Ryan Howard short-hopped. (Oh, and on the DP, the Internet broke from angry Yankee Fan tweets. Baseball Fan, I get why you want instant reply, especially when the call goes against your laundry. But honestly, isn’t the game delayed enough?)

> Ryan Howard: four ABs, four Ks, the last of which was a pretty terrible call by the umpire…but Rivera’s just getting that call in this stadium, in this point of his life. A soft line drive from Werth, but Raul Ibanez refuses to be the last out tonight.

Stairs, a 2-for-15 lifetime hitter against Rivera, for the hope against a man who has thrown 35 pitches already…but Rivera immediately jumps out to an 0-2 count and then backs the older man off the plate for ball one. Stairs waits out a diving breaking ball for ball two, but the next one catches him fishing, and that’s that.

There’s a reason why Rivera’s a first ballot Hall of Famer and Matt Stairs is, well, Matt Stairs.

> What is it about teams self-destructing against the pinstripes? Yankee Fan doesn’t want to hear this, but it’s actually what happens in most games, really. The Dodgers self-destructed against the Phillies with weak pitching. The Rockies did it with an utter inability to hit left-handed pitching.

But when you do it against the most famous franchise on the planet, Voodoo Magic Pinstripes have to be the cause. (And if “self-destruct” is defined as not sending the runners, that’s a pretty small threshold for self-destruct.)

> Encouraging for the Phillies: Alex Rodriguez stayed down tonight, and as the past two nights have shown, you can pitch to this team when he’s firing up blanks. Discouraging: The same is true for the Yankees when Howard isn’t hitting. It’s not as if he’s likely to break out in the next game either, because…

> Andy Pettitte gets the ball for New York in Game Three in Philadelphia against Cole Hamels, and, um, Pettitte’s left-handed. I know that the Phils have been aces at home, but I can’t see this series ending there. (Happy to be wrong, of course.)

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