Thoughts on a classic

Wow, what a game.

Junichi Tazawa, welcome to the Major Leagues. Best wishes for the rest of your career.

Is Alex Rodriguez now a “true Yankee?” I feel as if I’ve asked that question before.

What a terrific job by the Yankees pitching staff. Given the home run propensities of Yankee Stadium II, stretches of 15 scoreless innings are not going to happen too often. As the stalemate headed into late and extra innings, every left-handed batter carried with him to the plate the potential to loft a fly ball towards right field for a cheap four bases. Given the eight walks the Yankees handed out during the game, that home run, if it had come, very possibly would have been worth more than one run. Yet it didn’t happen, thanks to a combination of good pitching and everything lining up right for one night. Boston’s four hits were singles, and the Yankees outfielders rarely pressed their backs toward the walls.

Joe Girardi got away with a couple of calls in this game. He burned Phil Hughes on a one-batter appearance in the eighth inning, accelerating his path to the less trusted element of the bullpen after Mariano Rivera had thrown his inning. That these pitchers — Alfredo Aceves, who had struggled of late, the seemingly never-quite-right Brian Bruney, and the homer-prone Phil Coke — performed exceptionally well is a bonus from this epic game, a sign that perhaps the whole bullpen is ready to perform at a high level.

Girardi made another odd call when he used Jerry Hairston as a defensive replacement for Nick Swisher in the top of the ninth. While Swisher’s spot would not come up in the bottom of the ninth and almost certainly could not come up before the inning ended or the Yankees delivered a walk-off hit, it had the potential to deprive the team of a useful offensive weapon had the game proceeded to extra innings, as indeed it did. Inevitably, Girardi had to pinch-hit for Hairston with Eric Hinske, a defender who didn’t harm the Yankees but is not normally thought of as being on a par with Roberto Clemente. With a 5-foot-10 outfielder, you also have to worry about certain balls being over his head. Swisher has had some defensive problems this year, but the move was superfluous and potentially harmful. Girardi proved at least the former when he undid it an inning later.

It was also possible to first-guess his decision to take off the bunt when Melky Cabrera was batting with runners on first and second and none out in the third. It was early in the game and one-run strategies are generally to be frowned upon, but it was already clear that Josh Beckett’s current hot streak was unlikely to be broken on this particular evening. Cabrera retains one of the Yankees’ highest double-play rates (13.2 percent), so the bunt was a reasonable percentage ploy in that situation.

In the end, Alex Rodriguez and six pitchers rendered all the chess moves moot. Put this one on a DVD, Yankees, and show it in full to each incoming class of draftees starting next June. They’ll learn a lot about the pleasures and pain, frustration and elation inherent in playing for this team. 


  1. 4everbronx

    What a game! Even though the stakes were different, I couldn’t help but think of Mr. Boone going deep off Wakefield.

    And I agree Steve, Girardi had me scratching my head on more than one occasion and humming that old C&C Music Factory hit, “Things That Make You Go HMMMM!” Fortunately the stars were alligned and the Yanks pulled it out. Now we need CC to be CC!



    in order to win on sunday the have to win with CC on the mount when jou have e team down you have to keep him down



    A bit of nitpicking against Girardi. Sure he made some bad calls, but that is inevitable in a long game that calls for a lot decisions. Sending Matsui on a hit and run with Cano at bat resulted in a double play, you could have listed that as well.

    But look at the big picture. Girardi has done a fantastic job with this bullpen. Who would have thought Bruney would not melt down? (As it was, I thought Victor Martinez’s drive late in the game was gone.).

    And Francona made some errors too. Papelbon was terrific and only had 16 pitches — he could have done another inning. At the end of the day, the Red Sox had a rookie pitcher pitching against a very hot team and it really is not surprising that the rookie made a mistake to Arod.

  4. arizonacacti

    A-Rod is not a “true Yankee” yet as all true Yankees are post season performers, have yet to see that. If you give him that label now it would be watered down.

  5. arizonacacti

    Uh, no I hope cc isnt going to be cc if you look at his record against the roid sox in his career. Both of these starters today have yet to get a win vs their opponent so I will be watching to see who breaks this streak but I still give the edge to the Yankees, batting, pitching, bullpen and closer.

  6. arizonacacti

    A-Rod is not a true Yankee yet as all true Yankees are post-season performers, have yet to see that.

  7. letsgoyankees

    That was a top 2 regular season game EVER.

    A-Rod has been a true Yankee ever since they signed him to that long term deal. If you deny it you’re denying that he’s on the team. He’s certainly not a true anything else. And what does postseason really have to do w/it? Aside from a couple of memorable HR’s Scotty Bro and Tino were awful postseason hitters.

    Girardi did a good job because we won. Plain and simple.


    I’m beginning to get a special feeling for the current group of Yankees. They respond to pressure. In recent years, if A-Rod did not do well, it seemed that the whole team suffered. Now, the Canos and Cabreras are maturing and stepping up. Great pitchers help, too!

    Question…why is Big Poppy holding press conferences in Yankee Stadium? Don’t they have a room big enough to accomodate the media in that dump with the tall wall in Boston?

  9. dachshund4

    Alex is now and always will be a True Yankee! In my opinion he actually became one during the 2007 season when he carried the team in the first half of the season.

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