That was almost awesome. Almost.
Showing signs of life and fighting back in the ninth inning, the Yankees lost 8-6 in what came to be a close game five of the World Series.
You would think when the Yankees jumped out to a quick, 1-0 lead in the top of the first that would give A.J. Burnett some courage and motivation to pitch well.
No such luck, whatsoever.
Burnett lasted only two-plus innings and was charged with six earned runs on four hits. He walked four and struck out two.
It is amazing how hot/cold Burnett can be; in game two he went out and absolutely puzzled the Phillies, giving up only one run on four hits over seven outstanding innings of work. In game five he got absolutely shellacked.
Well, maybe he can regroup and come back a little stronger in 2010, because that will be the next time we see him pitch, unless he comes on in relief in gave six or (if necessary) game seven of the World Series. I don’t see that happening, however.
Chase Utley, the peskiest thorn in the Yankees’ side right now, took Burnett deep in the bottom of the first for a three-run homer, putting the Phils up 3-1 after the Yankees took a 1-0 lead on an RBI double by Alex Rodriguez in the top half of the inning.
Just like that our lead was gone. And it’s not like Utley was happy with one homer.
Later in the seventh, Utley went yard again, this time a solo shot off Phil Coke, pushing the Phillies even further ahead. It was Utley’s fifth home run of the World Series and he tied Reggie Jackson for most home runs in World Series play.
Raul Ibanez joined Utley with a solo shot of his own in the seventh, his first home run of the World Series. Those two solo homers in the inning proved to be the difference in the game, so I really wish Coke hadn’t served them up.
The Phillies scored three runs in the third inning, receiving RBIs from Jayson Werth, Ibanez, and Carlos Ruiz, who just plastered Burnett and the Yankee bullpen in the frame. The third inning was seemingly the nail in the Yankees’ coffin, but they did battle back.
With the tying run at the plate in the top of the ninth, Ryan Madson struck Mark Teixeira out swinging to end the game. A really, really tough loss because had the Yankees somehow rallied back and won the game (like they have done countless time in 2009) they’d be World Champs at this moment.
Down by six runs going into the top of the eighth, the Yankees scored three in the frame to make the game interesting. Rodriguez hit a two-run double and Robinson Cano knocked in a run on a sacrifice fly to make it 8-5, proving that even when they’re down a bunch, the Yankees can fight back and put pressure on the opposing team.
Think about it: the Yankees were down 6-2 at one point in this game. In the top of the fifth, Eric Hinske scored on a groundout by Johnny Damon and at this point, with the Yanks down by four and Cliff Lee still in the game, I thought we had no chance.
But they at least showed life and battled back instead of just giving up.
Jorge Posada scored in the ninth as Derek Jeter grounded into a double play that basically ended the Yankee rally and the game ended not long after that. How often does Jeter do that? Not often. So we can’t put a lot of blame on the captain for that.
We can however put a ton of blame on Burnett for this one. He gave the Yankees no chance to win with the way he pitched and even working with an early lead could not get the job done. He showed a lot of inconsistency, there’s no question.
There are excuses he could make up, like pitching on three days rest threw him off, but he didn’t make those types excuses after the game. And even if he did, no one would believe him. I have to say, Burnett was an enigma this year; almost like the 2007 version of Mike Mussina–you never knew if you were getting a good or bad start from him.
It’s too bad that Burnett’s last start had to be so horrible. Not the best way to end his season, that’s for sure. If I had to give Burnett an overall grade for this year, it would be a C+. He struggled early on, but then hit a hot streak, then a cold streak, then a lukewarm streak.
Two of his five playoff starts were acceptable, one was mediocre, one was pure genius, and I think he wishes his final start last night never even happened. Hot and cold, just like I said.
When a pitcher goes out and tosses a quality start (which is defined as pitching at least six innings and giving up three runs or less) I generally tend not to put a lot of blame on the pitcher. A quality start means that the pitcher gave the team a chance to win the game, and even if the team loses, the pitcher still gave the team an opportunity to win and demonstrated good stuff.
For the most part, Burnett has given the Yankees quality this year, even though he did not win a lot of games, or at least as many games as CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte. There were a few games Burnett could’ve won, but his offense did not give him run support or the bullpen did not hold it for him to register the win.
As far as last night goes, I think it was the second biggest start of Burnett’s career. The biggest had to be game two, because it was a must-win and the Yankees needed that game; if they had not won game two of the World Series and Burnett had not been as good as he was, they would have been in grave danger of losing it.
Going into Philly down 0-2…not a pretty picture.
The reason last night was the second biggest start of Burnett’s career…well, it’s obvious: the Yankees would be World Champs right now if he had executed the right way and pitched a good game. He didn’t and they lost, that’s the bottom line.
But for all the fans today who are saying things like, “Burnett is horrible,” or “he has no business on this team,” you all need to get a grip on reality. It is better that he had his bad start in game five rather than game two when they needed to win.
You have to look at the big picture and what Burnett did to help the team win all year; were his critics saying he stunk when he stood toe-to-toe with Josh Beckett and one-hit the Red Sox on Aug. 7? (The game the Yankees won in the 15th inning on a walk-off homer by A-Rod)
Did they say Burnett had no business on the team when he embarrassed the Mets by one-hitting them on June 27? Or what about just this past Thursday when he won game two of the World Series? Did he suck then?
No, he was brilliant. It’s funny how all Burnett’s critics have nothing to say when he performs well and lambaste him when he doesn’t do well. I am saying he did not do well in game five of the World Series and gave the Yankees no chance of winning.
But that doesn’t make him a bad pitcher. Burnett is still capable of winning games and out-dueling some of the best pitchers out there. So we can all layoff A.J. until 2010.
Also, I’d like to add to my defense of Burnett to his critics…how much better would you do? You think you could go out and pitch in front of over 50,000 people and millions watching at home in the World Series? Let’s see how you do. I’m sure you could do so much better (boatloads of sarcasm in that statement)
Hopefully he comes back next year a little stronger, and he got his first year in New York out of the way, which is sometimes what newcomers to the Yankees need; I mean before Chien-Ming Wang won 19 games two seasons in a row, he went 8-5 in his first year. So we’ll see how Burnett responds. I still believe in him and I think he will be fine.
At any rate, we lost a game and we go back home to the Bronx to play game six tomorrow night, no biggie. Being up three games allows a little more margin for error. And I guess you can say when in doubt, turn to the winningest pitcher in postseason history, Andy Pettitte.
He will take the mound against the Yankees’ favorite son and game two loser, Pedro Martinez.
Pettitte was on the mound when the Yankees won the pennant on Oct. 25 and has been in this spot before. He has won more series-clinching games than any other pitcher in Yankees’ history, so this is perfect for him. It seems like just yesterday I remember him taking the hill in game four of the 1998 World Series, a game he and the Yankees won to capture the World Title.
The only concern I have is that he will be throwing on three days rest. Hopefully it won’t make much of a difference. I know Pettitte is old school and works best on regular rest, but I think he can go out in front of Yankee Universe and do it the right way at the new house.
Plus, I just think it would make so much sense winning the whole thing vs. Pedro….
I know it was a rough loss last night, but remember Yankees fans, we are up 3-2 and the Phillies are still facing elimination. It’s not the other way around. The pressure is still on them and thank goodness we are not in their ballpark anymore. Not playing at home was beginning to annoy me.
Well, tomorrow night could very well be it. I’ll be back after game six with more highlights and analysis.
Until then, Go Yankees!!!
Well, I first want to say I didn’t get the chance to blog about Game 1 (circumstances were not allowing me to–science tests stink!)
I guess it wasn’t worth blogging about anyway because it was not an overly exciting game; it was just Cliff Lee mowing down the Bronx Bombers in a 6-1 Yankee loss.
But Game 2 was a different story.
On Thursday night, the Yankees sort of broke out a little bit and topped the Phillies 3-1 in the second game of the World Series, evening the Fall Classic up at one game apiece.
Coming into this game I had heard so much trash talk about A.J. Burnett. Some people were even going as far as saying, “Hey, I wonder what Mike Mussina is doing tonight,” implying that Burnett was going to have a poor outing.
Well, he certainly shut every one of his naysayers up.
The lanky right-hander went seven strong innings, giving up only one earned run on just four hits. Burnett walked two batters, one of which was intentional, and struck out nine Phillies.
The only run Burnett surrendered was an RBI single off the bat of Matt Stairs in the top of the second. After that it was basically the “A.J. Burnett Show,” because he really gave the fans quite a pitching performance.
The turning point (I would say) was in the top of the fourth inning when Jayson Werth was picked off on a snap throw by catcher Jose Molina. Burnett’s numbers after the pickoff were somewhat better than what he was putting up before it.
I also have to give Burnett a lot of credit for getting ahead of the hitters. 22 of the 26 batters he faced saw first-pitch strikes. It’s obvious when Burnett gets ahead of the hitters early in the count, he has a lot more confidence in his pitches and he is able to command and locate a lot better.
Many folks were quick to write Burnett off in Game 2, some even saying he would not pitch well before the game began. But he came out dealing like he was playing blackjack in Vegas.
And after the game Burnett said it was the most fun he had ever had on a baseball diamond. Well, I guess when you pick up your first career postseason win and it comes in the World Series at Yankee Stadium…what could be more fun than that?
Keep in mind the Yankees did not buy Burnett to be good. For the amount of money they spent on him, they bought him to be really good. And that’s exactly what he was last night.
Burnett was opposed by “The Yankees’ son,” Pedro Martinez. The hated opposing hurler received boisterous chants of “Who’s your daddy” during warm-ups, long before he even toed the rubber.
But it’s not like Martinez was terrible. In fact, he was dealing, too.
The former three-time Cy Young Award winner pitched six innings and gave up three runs on six hits. He walked two and struck out eight.
Martinez really only made two mistakes, a pitch he left down for Mark Teixeira to crush for a solo homer in the bottom of the fourth and a curve ball down and in that Hideki Matsui was able to get a hold of and hook for another solo homer in the bottom of the sixth.
The Yankees were able to scratch one more run against Martinez on an RBI single from Jorge Posada in the seventh, but looking at the big picture, Martinez did give the Phils a quality start, going at least six innings and allowing three runs or less.
Martinez gave his team a chance to win and that’s the truth. He pitched very well.
Both game two starters were just on last night and that was evidenced in what the cleanup hitters on both sides did. Both Burnett and Martinez were able to baffle the number four hitter in the lineup all night long.
Alex Rodriguez, who came into this series swinging a bat so hot it was probably on fire, was put away on strikes three times in game two. Martinez buckled his knees with probably the nastiest breaking ball he threw all night, striking A-Rod out looking in the bottom of the second.
And then there was Ryan Howard, who completed the “golden sombrero” with four strikeouts last night. Burnett was able to figure out Howard, who smacked 45 homers in the 2009 regular season.
Rodriguez is now 0-for-8 in the World Series while Howard is just 2-for-9. Both teams have (so far) done a masterful job of containing the cleanup hitters.
Martinez had a lot of fun with the press conference after the game, stating that if he played for the Yankees, he would probably “be a king over here.”
A king? Well, I don’t know about that, Pedro. Yes, if he had started his career with the Yankees, of course history would be a lot different. He would probably be looked at as a hero and a special player (like he is in Boston).
But it would also be different if Babe Ruth began his career on the Yankees and went to the Red Sox and won all the Championships for them instead of the Yanks. What’s your point, Pedro?
At any rate, I am glad my initials are A.J. right now; I’m very proud of Burnett, he represented our initials extremely well with his Game 2 dominance. (Even though he is Allen James and I am Anthony Joseph…well, we both use our initials, anyway!)
Game 3 will be played Saturday night in Philadelphia. Andy Pettitte will make the start for the Yankees against Cole Hamels.
Pettitte, the winningest pitcher in postseason history and the winner in game six of the ALCS for the Yankees, will look to put the Yankees ahead in the Fall Classic. The veteran lefty has given the Yankees quality in each of his three postseason starts and owns a record of 2-0 this October.
Hamels on the other hand has been struggling greatly, posting an ERA of 6.75 this postseason. He has surrendered five homers in the ’09 playoffs and opponents are batting .328 against the southpaw. Hamels has not even pitched past the fifth inning in any of his starts this postseason.
Looks like the odds are favoring the Yankees in Game 3, but I would not count Philly out. Game 3 could be the best game we have seen yet and I can only hope the Yankees pull through.
The Yankees could make it a very Happy Halloween for the fans on Saturday night, if they come away with a Game 3 win in Philly.
Before I wrap things up, I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed Jay-Z and Alicia Keys’ performance of “Empire State of Mind” before game two last night. They both did great, but…where was Alicia Keys’s Yankee apparel? Jay-Z, all his background singers and his band had Yankee gear on. What gives, Alicia?
Not that she didn’t look very pretty (in fact beautiful) in that purple outfit, but come on! Show some pride in the Yankees!!! At least put on a Derek Jeter jersey…I mean…all the girls love Jeter!
Well say your prayers, Yankee fans. We’ll need them for the rest of this series. Three more wins until we reach “Baseball Heaven.”
“Our Father, who art in the Bronx, baseball be thy name. Thy Kingdom come, World Series won, as the Yankees did in ’77. May God be with the Yankees. Amen.”
Hello all! And welcome to this week’s edition of “Yankee Yapping.”
Away we go!
This Past Weekend
Well, unlike the horrific events of last weekend (getting swept by LA Angels of Anaheim) it was a great weekend to be a Yankee fan. Instead of getting swept the Yankees were the ones doing the sweeping, pulling out the brooms for the AL Central-leading Detroit Tigers.
Friday night was a little shaky; A.J. Burnett went a little overboard with the walks (five in the game with only one strikeout) but Phil Hughes was absolutely dominant in relief. He recorded six outs, all by way of the strikeout. Plus, Mark Teixeira looked strong, belting that home run off the flame-throwing Joel Zumaya.
Saturday’s game was quite honestly a little boring. There was really nothing doing until Alex Rodriguez hit that home run. It was just a battle of aces with CC Sabathia and Justin Verlander.
Sunday was yet another slow game, and the Yankees won on the strength of Teixeira and Rodriguez, who both went yard. It was nice to finally see Joba Chamberlain get past the fifth inning. If only he could make every start like the one we saw on Sunday, we’d be in good shape.
If he can do what he did yesterday more consistently, I would take back what I said about him belonging in the bullpen.
This Upcoming Week
The Yanks have some easy opponents coming in, as the Baltimore Orioles will come in for three games starting tonight, and then Friday Oakland will head in for a four game set.
Baltimore currently sits in last place of the AL East, owning a record of 41-50. Oakland is also currently in the basement of their division, rounding out the AL West with a season record of 38-52.
The Yanks have a good shot at winning both series with how they are playing. But if history has proved anything, it’s that both teams (especially Baltimore) can be pests.
I am just hoping that they win on Wednesday, which will be my third trip to the new Yankee Stadium. While the Yankees will send Andy Pettitte to the mound tonight and Sergio Mitre tomorrow, I will get to see Burnett make the start on Wednesday.
If you want to know if I am excited about going, well yes I am.
Old Timer’s Day
Everything a Yankee fan loves about baseball is showcased every year at the annual Old Timer’s Day.
I have always believed that if you are “once a Yankee, you’re always a Yankee.” I believe that statement is so true, and when you see a guy like Don Zimmer come back for this special event, you know it’s true.
Zim is such a great baseball man, basically dedicating his life to baseball. I don’t think any fan will ever forget what happened to him during the 2003 American League Championship Series against Boston.
When Pedro Martinez slammed Zim to the ground, it was disgraceful. I remember hearing that if the incident occurred at Yankee Stadium, the NYPD would have arrested Martinez, and quite honestly he deserved it. What kind of person pushes a 72 year-old man down?
Along with Zim, It was great (albeit strange) to see Mike Mussina at Old Timer’s Day.
Moose just retired last year, going out on his own terms after winning 20 games for the first time in his career in 2008. I can just say this: Mussina can still pitch, and he is NOT an Old Timer.
I am fortunate enough to have gone to this celebration twice in my life; once in 2005 and again in 2007. If you are a Yankee fan, at least once in your lifetime get out to Old Timer’s Day. You will absolutely love it. I know I did.
2007’s Old Timer’s Day (pictured above) was the better of the two I went to. Seeing Paul O’Neill, Don Mattingly, Reggie Jackson, Yogi Berra, Bobby Murcer, Ken Griffey, Sr., and Scott Brosius among others was an honor. You just can’t describe it.
In the Old Timer’s game in ’07 the Bombers beat the Clippers, 4-1. I loved watching the old players get back onto the field to play each other, it was funny.
Yesterday we got more of that funny feeling, and like I said, Old Timer’s Day is a must-see for all Yankee fans.
Well that does it for this week’s edition of Yankee Yapping. I’ll be back next week with different topics and analysis.