October 2010

Big Test for Yanks’ Pen

October 15, 2010 — The Yankees are losing, 5-0, but with their lineup — and with four more innings to work with — they are not out of the game.

With that said, this game — and more specifically the fifth inning through the ninth inning — will prove to be a great test for the Yankees bullpen. The task at hand for Joba Chamberlain, who replaced CC Sabathia at the start of the fifth inning, is to put a few zeroes on the scoreboard. If he can do that — and specifically that — the Yankees will have a chance to climb back into this game. But it really starts with Chamberlain and whoever replaces him in the later innings of the game. There is no margin for error tonight.
–Alfred Santasiere III

Hot Night in Texas

October 15, 2010 — The American League Championship Series begins tonight at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Texas Rangers president Nolan Ryan just threw out the ceremonial first pitch — and what a pitch it was. The Hall of Fame pitcher threw a fastball over the plate, which ignited an already wild crowd. The Texas faithful have not stopped waiving their white towels in the five minutes since Ryan tossed the pitch — and the game hasn’t even begun yet.

It’s 81 degrees outside, but it feels like it’s about 100 because of the humidity.
The Yankees are primed to hit the mute bottom tonight because they’re sending 21-game winner CC Sabathia to the mound. Sabathia has won big games in equally as hostile of environments, as have more than three quarters of the Yankees lineup. Derek Jeter has been in so many big games that when he was asked about a postseason contest in which the Yankees came from behind to beat the Rangers in the late ’90s, he couldn’t even remember it.
“That was a long time ago,” Jeter said yesterday during a press conference. “If we came from behind to win, we must have been pretty good. I’m focused on this series, and we’ve got our hands full with the Rangers. But we like the team we have, and we like the where we’re out right now.”
The Yankees are in the heart of Texas right now. And they are four wins away from going back to the World Series.
–Alfred Santasiere III
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2010 ALDS… in the books

October 9, 2010 – CC Sabathia (pictured below with Kerry Wood) gave the Yankees a gutty
performance in Game 1 of the ALDS — and Yankees hitters gave him a big comeback.

Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes were nothing less than
brilliant in Game 2 and Game 3, respectively.

As most people in baseball would acknowledge, the postseason
is about pitching. Good pitching always seems to beat good hitting or even
great hitting.

The Yankees won this series with strong pitching. Besides
Sabathia, no starting pitcher was looked at as a sure thing going into this
series, but they all came through in a big way – as did relievers Boone Logan, David Robertson
and Mariano Rivera.

Now, as the Yankees await the Texas Rangers or Tampa Bay
Rays, their pitching staff is stronger than it was a week ago. They will go
into the ALCS well rested and with more confidence than they could have
possibly had at any other time during this season. That increased level of confidence
has a lot to do with the performances of Pettitte and Hughes. In Game 2,
Pettitte proved that he’s healthy, and tonight, Hughes showed that he’s got the
stuff that it takes in to get it done in October.

The Yankees’ next challenge will be significantly more difficult than their latest conquest, but they are a team of experienced players who know how to win when it counts. And October is when it counts.

–Alfred Santasiere III

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Huge Performance

October 9, 2010 – It’s the sixth inning and Phil Hughes has
not allowed a run. He has only walked one batter and he’s struck out five.

Hughes has done all of that in a very economical fashion.
He’s only thrown 75 pitches, and he faced the minimum number of batters through
the first four innings. Of those first 12 hitters, only one reached first base
- Denard Span led off the fourth with a single – and he was erased with double
play that Orlando hit into.

After the Yankees scored three runs in the bottom of the
fourth – which lasted nearly a half hour – Hughes gave up a hit and a walk with
one out and then retired the next two batters.

That’s about as close as Minnesota has come to rattling
Hughes’ cage thus far. He’s working quickly and pitching with confidence – as evidenced
by the fact that he’s thrown 50 strikes
(and only 25 balls).

–Alfred Santasiere III

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5-0, Already!

October 9, 2010 — The Yankees are winning, 5-0, in the fourth inning and they’ve already chased Twins’ starter Brian Duensing from the game.

The Twins’ bullpen hasn’t been been the strong in Game 1 or Game 2, and tonight will be its longest test — by far.
–Alfred Santasiere III

Quiet Contributions

October 9, 2010 – Jorge Posada’s RBI single in the second
inning of tonight’s game gave him 41 career postseason RBI. Posada just passed
Mickey Mantle and moved into ninth place on the all-time list for postseason
RBI.

While it’s difficult to compare players’ postseason stats
from this era with players from the past (because when Mantle played, the ALDS
and ALCS did not exist), Posada has had a remarkable October run.

Of the Yankees Core Four players – which also includes,
Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte – Posada’s October success has
come with the least amount of fanfare.

During 27 postseason series, Posada has been consistently
good at the plate and behind it – compiling a .286 batting average with 11 home
runs and 41 RBI.

This series has served as a microcosm of Posada’s postseason
career. Posada collected two huge hits in two games — the first coming in the
sixth inning of Game 1, when he lined an RBI single that narrowed the Yankees’
then deficit to one run. Posada has also been behind the plate for every inning
of this ALDS so far.

Posada won’t receive as much credit as Rivera or Jeter or
any of the great starting pitchers of this series, but he certainly deserves
it.

–Alfred Santasiere III

Battle Tested

October 9, 2010 – Phil Hughes entered spring training amid a
four-person competition for the fifth spot in the Yankees starting rotation.
Hughes pitched well enough in spring competition to win the job, and he
certainly made the most of it, winning 18 games and earning a trip to the 2010
All-Star Game.

Last season, Hughes solidified a shaky bullpen and became an
eighth inning dominator. Hughes shortened games last year, and that went a long
way in the Yankees’ ability to come from behind to win the AL East.

Hughes struggled at times during the 2009 postseason, and
several New York City journalists (and fans) questioned whether the Phil Hughes
of the 2009 and 2010 regular seasons or Phil Hughes of the 2009 postseason will
show up tonight.

In my opinion, the Phil Hughes of the 2010 regular season
will be in the house tonight, and here’s why…

Last October, Hughes, who had never pitched in the
postseason before that, came into crucial games in key spots. In those
late-game situations, there is no margin for error, and he needed time to
adjust to those conditions. I’m not making an excuse for him, but I am more
than optimistic that those experiences -although not all of them were good -
will benefit him tonight.

He looked relaxed before the game, and he is mentally ready
for the biggest start of his life.

–Alfred Santasiere III

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A Great Competitor, Pettitte Silences any Doubters

October 7, 2010 — Andy Pettitte
answered a very important question with his performance in Game 2 of the ALDS.


In the weeks
leading up to the postseason, New York City voiced its collective concern about
the 38-year-old lefty. Yankees fans and the many journalists who cover the team
wondered if Pettitte, who only made three starts in the second half of the
regular season after staining a muscle in his groin, could re-gain his
early-season form.

Pettitte
silenced any doubters by giving his team seven innings of work, in which he
only gave up two runs on five hits and one walk. Behind Pettitte’s gem, the
Yankees won the game, 5-2, and took a two games to none series lead back to New
York.

Pettitte is one of the great competitors the game will ever see, and he proved it again.

–Alfred Santasiere III

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Hard Hitting

October 7, 2010 — The Yankees just took a 2-1 lead in the fifth inning when Lance Berkman hit a solo home run.

While Twins starter Carl Pavano has pitched well enough — thus far — to keep the game close, it very easily could be out of reach.
Including Berkman’s 423-foot home run, Yankees batters have hit seven of Pavano’s pitches to the deep reaches of the ballpark — and they’ve all been line drives. Of those seven slices, three of them were caught on or near the warning track. And with two men on base in the fourth inning (as a result of a double by Granderson that came within a foot of clearing the wall and a single by Teixeira that reached the wall), Pavano got Nick Swisher to ground into an inning-ending double play.
If the Yankees continue to hit the ball as hard as they’ve been, they’re bound to eventually get some lucky breaks and add to their lead.
–Alfred Santasiere III
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Opportune Time

October 7, 2010 — The Yankees came back from a 3-0 deficit last night. They beat Francisco Liriano. They beat the Twins ace on the road. And most significantly, they took a 1-0 lead in the best out of five ALDS.

The vibe around the team after last night’s game and in the hours leading up to tonight’s tilt can best be described with the word opportunity. The Yankees put together a gutty performance last night, and they know that a win tonight will put Minnesota against the ropes.
Think about it… Tonight presents the Yankees with an opportunity to go back to New York needing one more win to advance to the next round.
With that said, putting Andy Pettitte on the mound tonight was the right decision. Pettitte has won more postseason games than any other pitcher in history, and he’s gotten it done in the harshest road environments. Even if Pettitte is not throwing the ball as hard as he did in the first half of the season, his playoff pedigree figures to keep him and the Yankees in the game. And if the Yanks are in this game during the middle innings, Carl Pavano and the Twins bullpen — which got lit up last night — will have their hands full.
Pettitte gets it. He knows what’s at stake, and he knows how to compete.And in a few minutes, you’ll see one of the great competitors take the ball.
–Alfred Santasiere III
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