I think I might have been just as happy with the score as I was with the fact that the Yankees won last night.
I don’t know if my heart could have handled another extra innings monument to high anxiety. A pitchers’ duel would have sent me into seizure fits. (Of course, an Angels’ hit parade would have, for all intents and purposes, ended me.)
But CC Sabathia, the 300-pound monster on the mound, delivered Yankee fans from all of that. And he did it on short rest.
Hours before the game, my good friend despite his Boston allegiances had some thoughts on this:
“Wait, I just turned on ESPN. CC’s starting?”
“Didn’t he start on Friday?”
“I hope they never fire Joe Girardi.”
The game started out like every other 0-0 nailbiter, and it stayed that way for 4 innings. But my nerves stemmed less from concern over round boy and more from the baffling horrendous officiating that presented itself in a strike zone the size of a peanut embryo and a slew of other baserunning blown calls.
“Everything evens out in the end. That just means we’re gonna get killed on a call later on.”
I just hoped it wouldn’t be an important one.
Between CC and Anaheim pitcher Scott Kazmir, there should have been roughly 10 more Ks than there were. Maybe a few more walks, but it was the quizzically defined parameters of the strikezone that was really testing both starters.
Fortunately for us, the only thing that can unsettle CC is a salad bar. Kazmir, on the other hand, gets rattled by dust.
Fox announcers Joe Buck and Tim McCarver continued their epic lionization of the Angels supplemented with rash dismissal of New York’s legitimacy. Until Juan Rivera grounds out to 3rd in the bottom of the 4th to end the inning and to inspire this line of the night:
“Yep, and CC Sabathia’s in charge now.”
Yeah, he is.
Two nights ago, the Yanks tried to win on the long ball, as they’ve done so many times, and got bested, but in last night’s game, they did exactly what they needed to do to make Anaheim crumble. Chip away, wear them down, kill them with patience, and when they’re flailing away in their own frustration, tee off on ’em.
Small ball and base hits put the Yanks on the board first in the top of the 4th, with a 2-out single from Melky Cabrera that plated Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada. It should be noted that at exactly 9:51pm last night, Jorge Posada stole second. I nominate that play for the “Ninja Assassin Key to the Game.”
(Which is quite possibly the most ridiculous sponsored game element. And this is taking into account the fact there’s apparently NOTHING that doesn’t get a corporate sponsor now. Even the “Defensive Shift.”)
A-Rod added to the lead (cue the “he only hits when they’re up by 80 runs” whine), by sailing a 2-run homer over the centerfield fence–the third straight game he’s gone deep in this postseason.
That was the first time in the game I started to resume somewhat normal breathing patterns.
But apparently in this postseason, leads mean nothing. All 3 of the ALDS games were come-from-behind wins. The Angels crawled out of a 3-0 hole on Monday. And the Yankees came back from a 4-3 deficit on Saturday. You can never score enough runs off either of these teams.
But if you got CC on the mound, you can’t score runs period.
(Well, barring a solo shot from Kendry Morales in the bottom of the 5th.)
The Angels’ lineup had nine .300 hitters in its lineup in August, and in the ALCS, they’re putting up a pathetic .201.
Johnny Damon went yard in the top of the 8th, and that may have taken all the remaining air out of Anaheim’s tires. (Speaking of wheels, where is the terrifying baserunning threat that was allegedly going to destroy poor Posada? I guess Girardi’s strategy centered on the principle that if you don’t put anyone on the bases, they can’t steal any. Makes sense.)
Around the time that Yankees started to relax a little coincided with the time, anti-Yankee fans started their dismissal-of-success-on-the-basis-of-payroll campaigning. Sigh.
Poster child for witty Sux fan scoffs to me, “Well, at least New York is good at something.”
“Even if we were losing 7-1 instead of the other way around, we’d still be doing a better job than Boston at existing in the postseason right now.”
“Well, if you have that kind of money, what do you expect?”
The Small Market Sox, ladies and gentlemen!
(For good measure, he followed it up with, “Yeah, how are the Knicks doing? Yeah, they’re pretty good, right?” What’s a bigger sign of desperation: accusing Mariano Rivera of using a spitter, or defaulting to Knicks jabs?)
I’m a little surprised he didn’t go the “Yankees get all the calls” route, which seems to be the new direction anti-fans are headed. I can brush off the payroll drivel, but I’m not comfortable being lumped in with the Mike Krzyzewski’s of the world.
However, there would have been a decent case for it today. Swisher got picked off by about 23 miles at 2nd. It wasn’t even remotely close, but was called safe. Minutes later he got called out for not tagging up (AGAIN. And AGAIN it was BS. Maybe it’s like the blown call of choice for umps.)
But just as it’s hard to throw a spitter when the spit never touches the ball, it’s hard to make a call when your eyes never touch the play in question.
The game ended with “New York, New York” sounding throughout the bar, all of us relieved about the win, enamored of this team, and — for lack of a better word — proud of what CC and A-Rod have done to shed their October reputations. The last thing I saw on the tv before I made my way home was the stats for these two heroes:
4 runs allowed
Opp BA: .205
Come back home, Yankees. New York misses you.
Read 2009 Baseball Throwdown coverage for the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Anaheim Angels.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 21, 2009