Friday, August 24, 2007

Yankees vs. Tigers, Game 1

The Yankees need a win tonight, with Boston having swept a double-header, and Seattle leading. Quite frankly, then need to win the next three games of this series, with Mike Mussina's finicky specter looming in the fourth. Here we go, after four hours of rain delay:

Update: For the second time in a week, Sean Henn was allowed to lose a game in extra innings. Chris Britton, and the rest of us, can only wonder why.

Awful bullpen management by Joe Torre, who saw 4 of his 5 first relievers pitch effectively, and saw fit to bring none of them back for a second inning (and the 5th was Mariano Rivera).

Tigers 9, Yankees 6. The Yanks are now (again) in legitimate jeopardy of missing the playoffs for the first time since 1993. A truly gut-wrenching, miserable defeat.

Top 11th: I guess I'll sign off now. No point in writing about a game I can't see. Fuck this noise.

Bottom 10th: HOLY FUCK. DirecTV just decided to cut off coverage of the game. I'm really glad I paid $170 dollars for the fucking Extra Innings package so I could miss the end of one of the most important games of the year. Go fuck yourself, DirecTV and MLB. For realsies.

Somehow, Rivera got out of the jam. Not sure how, BECAUSE I CAN'T WATCH THE FUCKING GAME. Ha, I was just about to say that one of the only advantages of being a Yankees fan trapped in Chicago is that it's only 2 a.m. here now instead of 3 a.m. But, on the flip side, I can no longer watch the rest of the game that I waited four hours for, then watched for another four hours.

Bottom 10th: Ordonez leads off with a double. This game's probably over. Rivera has not looked like himself lately. Guys are getting really good swings against him.

Carlos Guillen gets Ordonez over. I feel sick.

Top 10th: With two outs and no one on, Joe Torre neglects to pinch-hit Jason Giambi for Andy Phillips against Rodney, with no lefties remaining in the Tigers' pen. Not sure of the reasoning behind that choice. Maybe Giambi was spotted text-messaging Chris Britton earlier.

Rivera's on his way in. Let's hope his shaky outings are behind him, so he justifies Torre's (correct) decision to being him into a tie game on the road.

Bottom 9th: Joe Torre, amazingly, is making the Jeff Weaver mistake again. Mariano Rivera wastes away in the bullpen while a lesser pitcher throws in a they-score-we-go-home scenario. Torre is utterly incapable of learning from his mistakes, and that's why it's high time he goes. Whether or not this works out, it's the wrong move.

Wow...more awful calls by Davidson, but Vizcaino survives. I can't believe Rivera didn't even come in to pitch to Sean Casey with the winning run on second base. To extras we go.

Top 9th: Here comes Rodney.

Bob Davidson represents everything people hate about umpires. He's had a dreadful, inconsistent game behind home plate, with a wildly fluctuating strike zone that's drawn eye rolls and arguments from both teams. Now, in the 9th, he was blatantly inflammatory to Jorge Posada when Posada questioned one of his more egregious calls. After yet another bad call, Davidson tossed Posada. Umpires like Davidson are a plague; they're filled with pride and desperate to make the game about them, playing fast and loose with their authority like methed-up mall security guards.

Meanwhile, Rodney sported an impressive change-up in striking out Jeter, ARod and Posada consecutively.

Bottom 8th: Uh oh. Kyle Farnsworth is standing on the mound. Hold me.

[cartoony double-take]. Umm...that was a really solid inning by Farnsie. I'm really confused.

Top 8th: A missed opportunity. For the second time this game, Joe Torre goes with good ole-timey, logically unsound National League baseball. With Cano on first and no out, Andy Phillips bunted, despite the fact that he's one of the Yankees' hottest hitters, and the next two hitters were lefties due to face a lefty. Needless to say, it didn't work out.

Torre also screwed up pulling Shelley Duncan for defensive reasons the inning before he was due up. Putting Abreu in this early gave Jim Leyland much greater bullpen flexibility, and it paid off, as he still has Fernando Rodney and the ridiculously ugly Joel Zumaya left in the tank.

Bottom 7th: Here comes Joba. I would have gone with Edwar for two.

Easy 1-2-3 inning for Joba. Interesting decision coming up: If Joba comes back out, he won't be available again until Monday, per the Great and Holy Decrees of Joba, which are carved into two large stone tablets. And he likely won't have an impact Monday, because Mike Mussina is going to give up 80 kajillion runs. But if he doesn't come back, who the hell comes in? The Yankees aren't set up well for a long game here, if it stays tied. Roger Clemens didn't help, only getting through 5 innings, and Torre didn't help by hooking Edwar so quickly.

Top 7th: I really hate Michael Kay's fake laugh when his partner says something funny and he feels obliged to show his appreciation: "Ha HA HA!"

The Tigers have managed to get through the meat of the Yankees' lineup the past two innings with a couple middling middle relievers, saving their big guns for later. That doesn't bode well for the Bombers. Meanwhile, Jason Grilli reacts like a psycho after getting out of the inning unscathed, pumping his fists and screaming all the way back to the dugout. Which reminds me...

Bottom 6th: Ramirez comes through with a scoreless inning. It will be interesting to see how Torre handles the bullpen from this point forward. And by "interesting" I mean "frightening." Posada made another Richard Stabone, double-clutching the throw on a pitchout trying to catch Cameron Maybin stealing second base.

Top 6th: Michael Kay simply will not get off his soapbox about how wrong it was for this game to be played tonight. He went so far as to call the decision "unconscionable," because the poor children of Detroit had to wait around at a ballpark for so long waiting for the game to start (Kay compared the fans to hostages), and had to stay up past their bedtime. I admit there's a certain "screw-the-fan" element to rainout decisions like this (like everything else MLB does), but I think more often than not, teams keep fans around even when they know the game will be called, desperate for every drop of beer money. Furthermore, when a pennant race is involved, I'd much rather see the game played whenever possible, to avoid late-season double-headers that screw up pitching staffs for days or weeks. But Kay wants us to THINK OF THE CHILDREN. Who I guarantee would rather be at the ballpark then in bed.

Here comes Edwar Ramirez with another opportunity to lose Joe Torre's trust forever.

Bottom 5th: Finally, Clemens restores some order to the game, and holds the Tigers where they are.

Meanwhile, in Houston, the Pirates ended a 15-inning stalemate with a five-run explosion in the 15th, behind an Adam LaRoche home run. What percentage of the players in that game still cared who won by the time the 15th inning rolled around? And which Astro slipped Travis Driskill the cash to cough it up? I bet Mike Lamb had a hot date.

Top 5th: The Yankees tie the game on RBI hits from Jorge Posada and Hideki Matsui. Matsui's hit rescued Posada from a potentially critical base-running gaffe, as Jorgie stopped at second base on what clearly should have been a triple, and with one out no less. To make matters worse, the skies have re-opened over the Motor City, so if the Yankees hadn't tied it this inning, they would have been vulnerable to a rain-shortened loss. H-Mats picked up his teammate with a clutch single to left. We'll see if Rocket can settle down, given yet another chance.

Bottom 4th: This has become a dreadful outing for Roger Clemens. Curtis Granderson is eating him alive, and the Tigres lead 6-3. If the Yankees can't come back, they will fall four games behind the Mariners in the Wild Card race with 34 games left. And their fate will no longer be in their own hands.

Top 4th: Johnny Damon puts the proverbial tough AB on Andrew Miller, but ends it waving meekly at a breaking ball away for strike three. The good news: Andrew Miller's at 84 pitches. The bad news: Fernando Rodney and Joel Zumaya say hello.

Bottom 3rd: Can't sugarcoat it: Roger Clemens is letting the Yankees down in a big way right now. I don't think this is what they had in mind when they were wining and dining him this spring. Tigers string a couple hits together to take a 4-3 lead.

As Curtis Granderson was fouling off a bunch of pitches, Michael Kay remarked, "Granderson is really putting together a tough at-bat here." I think announcers are contractually obligated to say that whenever a hitter fouls off at least four pitches in a row. Why can't it be the other way around? Maybe Roger Clemens was putting a tough at-bat on Granderson, preventing him from getting a hit. Of course, Granderson ended up tripling, so maybe there's something to the adage.

Top 3rd: Well, that wasn't a ground ball. ARod sees your two-run shot, Mags. Try to gain ground in the MVP race at your own peril. 3-2 Yanks.

It's to the Yankees' advantage that this game is played tonight, because a double-header later in the weekend would mean at least two games in which Joba can't pitch, per the dreaded Joba Rules.

Meanwhile, in Colorado, Chad Cordero entered the 9th inning with a 5-1 lead for Washington. Final score: 6-5 Colorado. Number of batters Cordero retired: 0. Brilliant move by Jim Bowden not trading Cordero while he still had some value. In related news, brilliant move by Jim Bowden not trading Alfonso Soriano while he was still his property. In related news, brilliant move by Jim Bowden not trading Dmitri Young while...

Bottom 2nd: The Rocket settles down for a 1-2-3 inning. This Tigers lineup is utterly toothless without Gary Sheffield. There's no excuse for the Yankees not to win this series. IF they don't, they probably don't deserve to make the playoffs anyway.

Top 2nd:
The Yankees get one back, but Andrew Miller is generating a lot of ground balls, and the Bombers look a bit flat. To be fair, some of these guys are pretty old, and it's well past their bedtimes. Time to reach for the leaded coffee pot, guys.

Andy Phillips continues his hot (singles) hitting with an RBI hit to right. Must be nice for him to relax, knowing he's getting regular playing time. Alas, a dark cloud's on the horizon.

Watching these games, I often get the sense that Al Leiter hates Michael Kay. There's a tone of thingly disguised condescension in a lot of what he says. Wonder if Al's as excited about the new Springsteen track as I am.

Bottom 1st: The Yankees need a big game from Roger Clemens, and he puts them behind the old eight-ball early. Magglio Ordonez gains some ground in the MVP race with a two-run bomb.

Top 1st: WHY why why why would Joe Torre call for a double steal with two on, one out, and the best hitter in the American League at the plate? Lunacy.