Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Yankees Lose Round One, 7-3

Red Sox fans let out a sigh of relief. Nagging concerns about a possible sweep by the Yankees in this series vanished last night, along with any MVP hopes Alex Rodriguez may have had. For the Yankees, this series has been looked at as pivotal to getting back into the playoff hunt, and the first game was considered a true "big game". The pitching match ups seemed to favor the Yankees. Andy Pettitte is a true "big game" pitcher, and he was facing Tim Wakefield, fresh off of the DL, who has not fared well in recent outings against the Yankees.
Tim Wakefield
What New York needed was for their big players to step up. And the Yankees have no bigger player than A-Rod, arguably the most talented player in our lifetime. Unfortunately, A-Rod folded like an empty beach chair on a windy day. If you missed the game, here are the A-Rod highlights:

First inning: With the Yankees leading 1-0 on a Johnny Damon home run, A-Rod struck out looking to end the inning.

Second inning: With two outs and the Sox' 8th and 9th batters coming up. Both Jeff Bailey and Kevin Cash hit soft grounders right to A-Rod, who was playing deep. A-Rod could not handle either ball cleanly in time to make a play. The next batter, Jacoby Ellsbury, singled to drive in the Sox' first run.

Third inning: With one out and Bobby Abreu on first base, A-Rod hits n easy ground ball to short for an inning ending double play.

Fourth inning: With two outs and a runner on first, Dustin Pedroia hits a soft ground ball to third. A-Rod fields it cleanly then throws a side arm lob to first that pulls Jason Giambi well off the bag towards home plate. Giambi catches the ball and manages to quickly swipe Pedroia with his glove in time for the out - saving A-Rod from being charged with an error.

Fifth inning: With two outs, one run already in, the Sox leading 4-2, and runners at 2nd and 3rd, Jeff Bailey hits a ground ball down the line to third. The ball hops off the bag, A-Rod grabs it, fumbles for a fatal second taking it out of his glove, fires a futile throw to first which bounces once and arrives too late. The throw allows Coco Crisp, who had just reached third as A-Rod threw to first, to race home. Bailey was safe at first and Giambi held the ball and watched Coco score unchallenged. Had A-Rod held the ball, he would have at least held Coco on third, or possibly trapped him in a run-down. Had he made a quicker throw, he could have ended the inning. Giambi also had a shot at Coco at the plate, but held the ball.

Fifth inning: With one out, Derek Jeter on second and Bobby Abreu on first, and the score now 6-3, A-Rod flied out to center field, missing an opportunity to tie the game with a big swing.

Seventh inning: With one out, and bases loaded, thanks to a single and two walks from Manny Delcarmen, A-Rod came up to face Justin Masterson. A-Rod proceeded to hit a grounder to short for another inning ending double play.

Eighth inning: With one out, Dustin Pedroia hits a ground ball to third, and A-Rod throws hit out at first (wow). Later, with runners on first and second and two outs, Jason Bay hits a ground ball to third, A-Rod bobbles it, recovers, makes a bad throw to first, and the runners are safe. A-Rod is charged with an error. No runs score as Jed Lowrie lines out to second.

Ninth inning: Dustin Pedroia hits another ball to A-Rod, this time lining out to him cleanly to end the inning (wow).

Ninth inning: With a runner on first and two outs, the Yankees are down to their final chance. A-Rod steps up to the plate, and Jonathan Papelbon feeds him a steady diet of 95 mph fastballs. With the count 2-2, A-Rod swings and misses at the 5th pitch to end the game.

Alex RodriguezDon't get me wrong, a love A-Rod, I really do (insert sounds of suppressed laughter). He is truly a great player (insert sounds of chuckling), but when the game is on the line, he just never seems to come through. His post season stats are weak, and in important games, he disappears. Yankee fans seemed to notice as they showered him with boos all night. Personally, I think that is very classless. To boo your own players during an important battle is incredibly counter-productive.

But, you can certainly see their point. He made the last out in three innings, went 0-5, hit into 2 double plays, left 7 men on base, committed an error, and failed to make critical defensive plays when they were needed most.

Perfect day for the Sox to win. With the Rays and Twins both losing last night, the Sox gained ground on everyone. They now stand 3 1/2 behind the Rays for the Division lead, and extended their Wild Card lead to 2 1/2 games over the Twins, and 6 games over the Yankees.

Interesting match up tonight in the Bronx. Paul Byrd is no serious threat to the Yankees. They have had their way with Byrd in the past, but Byrd has been known to step up in big games, which would be nice to see tonight. Meanwhile, the Yankees counter with Sidney Ponson, who got roughed up in his last outing against the Blue Jays, and also got roughed up the last time he faced the Red Sox. This one, on paper, does not look like a classic pitcher's duel. Don't be surprised if this one comes down to the bullpens.

(Photos Courtesy of ESPN)


Suldog said...

Wake wins one in NYC and A-Rod gets booed by his home "fans." God is in his heaven and all is right with the world.

Rooster said...

That is sure how it felt last night!

Anonymous said...

Alex Rodriguez...the most overpaid person in the history of the world. And I'm a Yankee fan. Typically 2007 was the last year of his big contract. Now in 2008 what do you need...a strikeout, how about a weak groundout or his specialty hitting into a double play. Yes he'll probably end up batting over .300 and he'll have 30 plus home runs (most of them coming without any men on base). But when it comes to clutch hitting, well Alex ain't the man.

Rooster said...

Too true, too true. He puts together some amazing stats, and he is imposing at the plate in critical situations because of it. But, somehow, he seems to always stumble at the worst moments.