October 2011

Super Nova and an Offensive Recipe for Success

October 1, 2011 – The Yankees collected two hits in the fifth inning, and on Robinson Cano’s double — which landed on the top of the left-field wall and bounced back onto the field of play — they took a 2-1 lead over the Detroit Tigers in Game 1 of the ALDS.

Mark Teixeira led off the bottom of the sixth with a double, and with two outs in the frame, Brett Gardner sliced an 0-2 offering from Tigers’ starter Doug Fister into centerfield, driving in two runs. Derek Jeter followed with a single, stole second base and watched as Curtis Granderson earned a walk to load the bases for Cano.

The way the Yankees got ahead of Detroit 4-1 and then kept the sixth inning alive long enough to bring Cano to the plate with the bases loaded speaks to how potent the Yankees lineup is just as much as Cano’s grand slam does.

After the Yankees batters faced Fister for the first time, they began to expose his every weakness. Teixeira jumped on the first pitch he saw in his sixth-inning at-bat, and Gardner took two fastballs before lining a change-up over the middle of the plate for a single. Granderson fouled off several offerings, while taking four pitches that he would not have been able to drive.

The way the aforementioned hitters worked the count and attacked pitches they could cause damage with was too much for Fisher to overcome.

Cano’s grand slam off Tigers reliever Al Alburquerque not only gave the Yankees an 8-1 lead, but it also reaffirmed what many experts already believe . . . the Yankees second baseman is the most dangerous hitter in the game.

Cano became the first Yankee to hit a grand slam in the postseason since former outfielder Rickey Ledee accomplished the feat in 1999, and Cano’s six RBI performance tied a Yankees postseason record.

The blend of experience and talent that the Yankees lineup features is reason for great optimism in the Bronx. The Yankees will face more difficult challenges than Fister provided, but I still believe they have a legitimate chance to put up huge numbers every time they take the field.

Of course, if Ivan Nova throws six shutout innings in every postseason game, the way he did tonight, the offensive onslaught that I expect will be more of a luxury than a necessity.

Either way, the Yankees have just defeated the Tigers, 9- 3 to take one game to none lead in the ALDS.

–Alfred Santasiere III

Autumn in the Bronx

October 1, 2011 – For those of you who have read this blog during spring training or the regular season, I appreciate your interest. I have tried to bring you behind the scenes on every experience that I believe to be interesting enough to share.

I hope some of the stories you’ve read on this blog in 2011 have compelled you to pick up a copy of Yankees Magazine at the Stadium, to subscribe to Yankees Magazine or to simply continue to read about the people I’ve been fortunate enough to interview.

All of my blog entries since the 2010 postseason have previewed Yankees Magazine features and provided the back story on my time with the subjects of those pieces. But as the 2011 Postseason begins, I am going to shift the focus, and begin to share my perspective on the action on the field with you.

I am writing this entry from the press box in Yankee Stadium, where Game 1 has just begun — or should I say — resumed.

After last night’s rainstorm, the temperature has dropped more than 10 points to a cool (and windy) 55 degrees. CC Sabathia and Justin Verlander will not be on the mound tonight for their respective teams, but if the first two frames of the action are an indication of what to expect, Game 1 just might be the pitcher’s dual everyone expected it would be.

Yankees Rookie of the Year candidate Ivan Nova has shut the Tigers out in the third, fourth and fifth innings, striking out Miguel Cabrera to end the fourth and getting out of trouble in the fifth with a Curtis Granderson to Derek Jeter to Russell Martin play at the plate.

I’m encouraged by Nova’s command, and I am impressed with his poise. As the case has been all season, Nova doesn’t show the characteristics of a rookie. He’s confident, and he’s relaxed. He was joking with teammates before what is his first postseason action, and he has pounded the strike zone thus far. Of the 40 pitches he’s thrown so far, 28 of them have been strikes.

–Alfred Santasiere III