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Even Steven
2006-10-06 07:48
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

The Tigers tied the best of five series against the Yankees on a sunny and crisp fall afternoon in New York. They followed the ideal formula to beat the Bombers: a few well-timed hits (the revenge of Marcus Thames), add some pop (Carlos Guillen), mix in some decent starting pitching and then get to your devastating bullpen. Final score: 4-3. Justin Verlander was effectively wild as the Yankees did not score early, which tends to mean they're going to have a long day. Other than Johnny Damon's three-run, upper-deck home run, were effectively shut down all game long. Jason Giambi hit a long ball that went foul, Bobby Abreu hit a long single that was just short of a dinger too. And Mike Mussina could not protect a 3-1. The worst of for Mussina came when he left an 0-2 mistake rigth over the plate to Curtis Granderson, who tripled home the go-ahead run in the top of the seventh.

Joel Zumaya was sick for the Tigers, striking out Jeter, Giambi and Alex Rodriguez late in the game and throwing steadily over 100 mph. Rodriguez went 0-4 and took the brunt of the fan's abuse. He didn't have a good game, however, his first and last strike outs, well, those were cases where you just have to credit the pitcher now, don't you?

For a fine re-cap of the game, check out Tyler Kepner's story today in the Times. Pete Abraham has a host of good links for a change.

Now, we've got ourselves a serious. You may have your doubts about Randy Johnson, who is looking to make-up for his lousy showing in Game 3 of the 2005 ALDS (and I think he will), but as a friend said to me yesterday, "It's not so much that I'm confident in Johnson, it is that I am positive that Kenny Rogers will be awful." Tonight gives a new twist to the title "Grumpy, Old Men." Johnson and Rogers may have different styles, but they both seem like miserabl sobs in their own special way.

I'm headed up to Vermont for the weekend. I'll be checking in and providing pre-and-post game articles, though there may be fewer links than usual, on the count of they've only got a dial-up connection where I'm going to be out in the sticks. Cliff returns on Sunday from his honeymoon. Here's hoping he'll have something to sink his teeth into (i.e., ALCS Preview) when he arrives.

If you've got free time, check out a Q&A I did with Wade Boggs earlier this week. It includes a link to one of SI's great interviews of all-time--from the 1986 Baseball Preview issue, Boggs, and Don Mattingly sit down to talk hitting with Ted Williams.

Comments
2006-10-06 08:05:27
1.   seamus
I hope folks are feeling more positive today. Sorry if I got snippy at the end of the game yesterday myself.

I feel good about this series still. The way I see it, the Yankees are a good team on the road, not just at home, and I feel good about our chances in Detroit. That said, I wish I knew what we'd get from RJ tonight. No reason not to stay positive. As Jetes likes to say, we need to go into it believing that we can achieve success!

2006-10-06 08:10:54
2.   Alex Belth
If we can't feel good about hitting against The Gambler, then I just don't know what. Look for Cano and A Rod to bust out tonight. Maybe Sheffy too.
2006-10-06 08:14:28
3.   Sliced Bread
Grumpy Old Men. Heh. Yeah, this should be billed as "One For The Aged."

Have fun in VT. Say hi to the foliage for us Banterers.

The trick tonight will be to beat up on Rogers, but slowly, so as not to force one of those sick Tigers relievers into the game too soon. Gotta bleed him 2 runs per inning for 4 innings. That should just about do it.

2006-10-06 08:20:10
4.   seamus
3 why not bust out for 4 in the 1st inning and drive him out by the 3rd and exhaust their pen?
2006-10-06 08:20:15
5.   kylepetterson
Everyone seemed to think we would just walk away with this one and forget how good Detroit was for most of the season. To quote today's opposing pitcher:

"You never count your money when you're sittin' at the table, there'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin's done."

2006-10-06 08:20:26
6.   seamus
4 realizing, of course, that you just can't plan what will happen...
2006-10-06 08:28:00
7.   Sliced Bread
4 They've got young arms in that pen. It will take some doing to tire those kids out.
Better to bleed the old man, not that you can plan this, as you say...
2006-10-06 08:28:00
8.   Simone
While I remain ticked off about yesterday's game, I'm confident about the Yankees hitting Rogers around tonight and taking out the Tigers' bullpen in the process.
2006-10-06 08:32:01
9.   Alex Belth
Hey Sliced, that's EXACTLY what my friend was telling me on the phone yesterday. Don't crush Rogers too quickly, spread it out, make it 5 or 6 over four or five innings.
2006-10-06 08:35:20
10.   rbj
Given the dearth of good pitching out there, I'm sure most here would agree to trading Cano or Melky to the Twins for Johann Santana. but would you trade both for him?
2006-10-06 08:36:34
11.   Sliced Bread
Great stuff with Boggs, Alex.

I love his account of the walk. Cone was going to hit before Joe tapped him off the bench?

And I loved how he described Yankee Stadium and Fenway as opposites, and how he reversed his approach.
Go high to right, and low to left at the Stadium, go high to left and low to right at Fenway. Beautiful.

2006-10-06 08:39:34
12.   Sliced Bread
9 Your friend Reggie Jackson?!
2006-10-06 08:39:47
13.   Count Zero
We need more than 5 or 6 tonight, though. I would like to see double digits...give 'em something to think about and make them throw a lot of pitches.

As you say Alex 2 -- if we can't bang around The Gambler, who can we feel confident against?

Let's face it -- this team is going to have to mash to get to the Serious (as Moose just proved). If they can't mash KR, then we won't be getting there, plain and simple.

Who isn't longing for a little "Playoff Pettite" right about now?

2006-10-06 08:44:25
14.   Simone
I liked your interview with Boggs, Alex. Robbie Cano could learn a thing or two from Boggs about taking pitches.
2006-10-06 08:46:01
15.   Alex Belth
No, Sliced, it was actually a writer friend.
2006-10-06 08:48:24
16.   standuptriple
I'm glad somebody mentioned Cone. We sure could use a bulldog/Cone-type performance from Randy tonight. Get nasty RJ.
2006-10-06 08:51:43
17.   seamus
I'm mystified as to why tonight's game isn't on Fox.
2006-10-06 08:56:17
18.   standuptriple
17
Buck and McCarver or Joe and Jon (or any other NEspn clown posse). That's like deciding which death penalty you prefer.
Thank you XM radio.
2006-10-06 09:05:32
19.   singledd
FireBernie says: "unless you think your memory of A-Rod in clutch situations is clouded, then you have to conclude that there is a serious problem with our # 13 that many of his teammates and many fans recognize. He's clearly a frontrunner, so expect lots of production in May and great numbers after things are all but locked up in September, but don't expect much if anything from him in a tight series in October."

My gut feeling is to agree; however
Aren't ARods number of game winning RBIs high?
Aren't ARods RISP numbers good?
Don't 35+ HRs tell us something?

I believe the problem is this:
ARod comes up 3 times with the bases loaded.
He goes 1 for 3. RISP is .333

However, when he got the hit, it 'was about time' and 'he SHOULD get hits in these situations' and 'finally earning his pay'. And then we promptly forgetaboutit.

The other 2 times he makes out, it verifys everything we 'know' about 'Clutch-Rod', and after the games we feel ARod is a failure.

Comments: Does FireBernie speak truth or perception?

2006-10-06 09:08:07
20.   singledd
10 In a heartbeat. But for Santana, we'ld have to throw in 2 other high prospects.
2006-10-06 09:14:52
21.   pistolpete
MATMD on FAN seem to think Bernie will be in there against Rogers, because he has something like a .350 lifetime avg. against him. Meanwhile, Sheff is 3 for 17 lifetime.

I'm not opposed to shaking things up a little, but with Bernie? I'd be more willing to do Melky in LF and Giambi at first, with Sheff and Matsui off the bench in the late innings.

I just can't shake this feeling that when those two came back from injury, the nature of this team reverted to its 'excessive LOB' 2005 form. I don't have any statistics to prove it, mind you, but the last few weeks of the season we were probably lucky Boston wasn't any closer than 4 or 5 games.

2006-10-06 09:23:57
22.   Sliced Bread
21 Yeah, I posted the Bernie-Sheff vs Rogers numbers on the previous thread. Giambi owns Rogers, too, in a huge way, so he should play 1B.

I figure Joe is going to DH Bernie at some point, might as well be tonight.

Funny, though, 2 of Sheff's 3 hits off Rogers are home runs.

I'll be surprised if Joe sits Sheff in favor of Bernie.

2006-10-06 09:26:13
23.   yanklifer
21 I totally agree, we need Melky's energy, enthusiasm and defense, in a big park, espescially. Let the kid play. Of course, i dont think Joe will with his veteran loyalty that loses games.
2006-10-06 09:29:38
24.   jayd
From a George King article on Jeter:

Jeter owes his Yankee skin to Groch, an area scout in 1992 when Jeter was a skinny shortstop at Kalamazoo (Mich.) High School.
By now the story is legendary throughout the Yankee universe. Bill Livesey, the Yankee minor-league head, called a meeting of scouts to discuss whom the Yankees were going to take with the sixth pick in the 1992 draft.
"Jeter,'' Groch said emphatically.
"We hear he is going to [the University of] Michigan,'' Livesey countered.
"My [butt] he is,'' Groch shot back. "The only place Jeter is going is to Cooperstown.''
After pleading with the Yankees to draft and sign him, Groch went to bat for Jeter against the voices that wanted to trade him early in his career.
"Some guys didn't want him, some guys said he couldn't play short and there were some guys who didn't think he could play at all,'' said Groch, who left the Yankees five years ago and is Milwaukee's director of professional scouting. …
"The top three high-school players I ever saw were [Ken] Griffey Jr., Jeter and Drew Henson,'' Groch said.
Yet, there was and is more to Jeter than tools.
"I was watching the game [Game 1] and I saw the Tigers on the top step of the dugout hanging on the rail,'' Groch said from his Michigan home. "They were all tense, had intense looks on their faces and showed anxiety. Then I saw Jeter fielding grounders between innings and he was smiling and enjoying himself.''

Doesn't the latter image remind you of Cano?

2006-10-06 09:29:58
25.   KJC
7 "Better to bleed the old man..."

I'm guessing that's the Tigers gameplan as well...

2006-10-06 09:43:50
26.   Mike T
Regarding trading for Johan Santana, wouldn't it make more sense to be able to hold onto our young talent, and just sign Barry Zito? Isn't he coming on the market after this season? He outdueled Santana the other day in a huge playoff game in Minnesota.
2006-10-06 09:58:53
27.   Shaun P
26 I don't know where the trading for Santana thing came from, but I doubt the Twins would ever do that. He's signed for peanuts given how well he's pitched.

Zito in pinstripes is a bad idea, IMHO. He throws too many balls and will cost way too much.

I think Bernie will DH tonight and Giambi plays first. Just so long as Sheff pinch hits for Bernie the moment KR is out of the game.

2006-10-06 10:04:43
28.   standuptriple
Yeah, Santana's agent gave the Twinkies way too much of a "hometown discount" for the premier young SP in the game. I guess $10M goes pretty far in Venezuela.
2006-10-06 10:07:50
29.   Ken Arneson
I think if you wanted the Twins to trade you Santana, you'd not only have to give up Melky or Cano, you'd have to throw in Jeter.
2006-10-06 10:21:46
30.   mehmattski
19 I was going to post something similar regarding those commments. While around here the attitude on A-Rod has been quite forgiving, it is okay once in a while to remember that we may be in the minority on this one. To answer his question, I actually can recall some "clutch" performances from Mr. Rodriguez, including three right off the top of my head: the Game Winning HR off Schilling the Closer at Fenway in 2005. The deficit erasing walk off home run against the Braves in June. His .707 slugging percentage in the 2004 ALDS. Even if we are to assume that he is the sole reason that the Yankees lost Games 4, 5, 6, and 7 in the ALCS... he still put up a .258/.378/.516 line with two home runs- he absolutely murdered the Red Sox in games 1-4.

You're right, singledd, that his 2 failures are magnified and his 1 success is marginalized. Meanwhile someone like Luis Sojo or Luis Viscaino can go 1 for 20 in a playoff series, but if that one is a key hit, then they're a hero, and the other 19 at bats don't matter.

To me, the insanity surrounding A-Rod would be like ignoring Mariano Rivera's 0.80 ERA in the postseaon. You know, he has five blown saves in the postseason:

1997 ALDS v Cleveland, Game 4
2001 WS v Arizona, Game 7
2004 ALDS v Minnesota, Game 3
2004 ALDS v Boston, Game 4
2004 ALDS v Boston, Game 5

In other words, in the last 10 years of excellence, the Yankees have lost 6 playoff series. Rivera has blown a critical save three of those. He's so unclutch!

Perception. 100%.

2006-10-06 10:25:22
31.   pistolpete
28 Provided none of your family members get kidnapped, that is.
2006-10-06 10:28:29
32.   mehmattski
29 But everyone "knows" that Jeter would be "just another player" if he played anywhere but New York. I mean, I've heard it from every baseball pundit and repteated on blogs everywhere, so it must be true. It's impossible for any other team to have a hero whose stats are overshadowed by his mystique. Surely, not Kirby Puckett. Surely, not Joe Carter. Dave Kingman. Lenny Dykstra. Pee Wee Reese. It's physically impossible for non-NY teams to inflate their player's worth, right?
2006-10-06 10:31:29
33.   bfriley76
FYI - Just saw this on the NY Post website

Chien-Ming Wang didn't accompany the Yankees to Detroit because he wouldn't be available until Game 5 at Yankee Stadium.

Even more pressure to win tonight, since it seems Joe won't be bringing Wang back on short rest.

2006-10-06 10:34:18
34.   pistolpete
33 Fabulous.
2006-10-06 10:36:35
35.   Kered Retej
I haven't read all of the media coverage, but did any reporters ask Derek Jeter what the heck he was thinking with the bunt in the first inning? Can anyone who has any kind of access to him pass him the message to stop doing that?
2006-10-06 10:51:27
36.   Shaun P
35 ny2 in comment 1014 of yesterday's massive thread:

"Derek please don't do that again:

Since Verlander's fastball tailed in on Jeter, he bunted the ball in the air, and it was caught by catcher Iván Rodríguez. Jeter said he was trying to at least move Damon to second and maybe even get a bunt hit because it was critical to score an early run.

"That's the way I play all year, so there's no reason to change anything now," Jeter said. "If I could it all over again, I would do the same thing. I probably just wouldn't have bunted at that pitch."

http://tinyurl.com/fgn72"

I too wish the Cap'n would get a clue with bunting in the first inning.

2006-10-06 11:03:41
37.   rbj
I'm the one who brought up Cano & Cabrera for Santana, just as a time filling question as to how far people would go to shore up the Yankees rotation.

Anyone have any compromising pictures of Pohlad?

2006-10-06 11:03:41
38.   rbj
I'm the one who brought up Cano & Cabrera for Santana, just as a time filling question as to how far people would go to shore up the Yankees rotation.

Anyone have any compromising pictures of Pohlad?

2006-10-06 11:49:53
39.   Knuckles
37
I heard Pohlad molested Huck Finn, but of course, cameras weren't common enough at the time to catch it on film...
2006-10-06 12:19:52
40.   Kered Retej
36 Thanks for the link. I love DJ as much as anyone, but he should really be called out on it. What bugs me most about it is that it is something he can easily control. I'm sure Alex doesn't walk to the plate when the bases are loaded thinking, gee, I'd really like to get a K here, but Jeter goes to bat with the full intent of bunting. The only time he should lay down a bunt is if he is trying to exploit a creaky infielder for a base hit (e.g., a bloody sock Schilling, or a non-1B Sheffield (hope no one from Detroit is reading this)).

In any case, I'm not worried. It was just one game, and we only lost by one run. I think we still have the pitching advantage today, and Zumaya is just one man. In fact, it's a small sample size, but he doesn't have great numbers when pitching in back-to-back games (5.14 ERA, 7H, 3 BB, 7.0 IP), and his numbers are also slightly worse (thought still good) for pitches 16-30 (.650 OPS) compared to 1-15 (.536) (all stats from ESPN). The Yanks just need to stick to their game plan of patience and wearing out pitchers. Kudos to Posada last night for doing it well (24 of Verlander's 106 pitches).

2006-10-06 13:13:37
41.   Count Zero
35 36 40 And I should add: Especially when you are trying to bunt off a guy who throws 100 mph...which makes bunting for a base hit nearly impossible unless you're like...Phil Rizzuto.

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