Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Yankees ALDS Game Two postgame notes

Here are the postgame notes after the Yankees lost game two on Monday night in Baltimore.  The series will now shift to New York for the remainder of the series.  The Yankees hope they can win the next two and move on but if it goes to a fifth and deciding game they will be home for that also.  Hiroki Kuroda will take on Miguel Gonzalez in Game Three.  The notes are courtesy of the Lohud Yankees blog. 

This was Andy Pettitte answering about how he pitched. “No, because I didn’t,” Pettitte said, offering the most predictable answer of the night. “… It’s a playoff game. The bottom line is that you know that if you give up too many runs, that number doesn’t have to get up too high before it adds up to a loss. Like I said, we had a lot of guys in scoring position, a lot of opportunity. We just weren’t able to take advantage of it.”

Leading the series one game to none with a one-run lead against the Orioles and Pettitte on the mound, that was the opportunity. There were a lot of other opportunities sprinkled in — bases loaded in the fourth, tying run at third in the seventh, two on with no outs in the first — but the Yankees got just two runs, and that wasn’t enough. Two runs meant Pettitte’s three runs were too many, which meant the series is shifting to New York tied.  I thought Pettitte pitched well but the Yankees offense just didn't get the job done and didn't help him much. 

“No one this time of year is going to lay down for you,” Alex Rodriguez said.

Thing is, tonight was the broken record that was supposed to stop playing months ago. Ten runners left on base, five of them in scoring position, three of those with fewer than two outs.  This has been their achilles heel all season and it hasn't gotten them yet but if it keeps up it will in this series and then they will go home. 

“I believe these guys are going to come through,” Joe Girardi said, for the hundredth time this year. “I believe they’re going to put good at-bats, they’re going to keep putting runners on, and they’re going to break through. I believe in them.”  Girardi is loyal and they have bounced back all year so why shouldn't he believe they will do it again. 

The Yankees came through in a big way late last night, not so much tonight.

“Wasted opportunity?” Russell Martin said. “I don’t know. You have to win the series, that’s really what it comes down to. We split on the road, and we come back home, and we believe we can win two out of three over there. It’s part of the game. You’re trying to make something happen, and sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you hit the ball hard and it gets caught. Sometimes you drop one at the right time. So it’s not something to go crazy about. I feel like we’re a good team, and we’re going to bounce back, and we’re going to give them a hard time at home.”  I would agree that going home to Yankee Stadium should be a huge advantage.  I know the Orioles played well this year but this is a new season and a different animal.  We will see how the crowd is and how the Orioles react to it. 

 Legitimately tough break for the Yankees in the first inning when Rodriguez actually hit a ball pretty hard, only to have Robert Andino make a great diving stop, turning an RBI single into a deflating double play. “I can’t believe he made that play,” Rodriguez said. “It was really an incredible play. I thought that ball was by him. I saw it into center field, it’s first-and-third, 1-0, and here we go. … That’s a big momentum change for them. That ball goes through, we might score two or three in the first and the momentum changes for us. The one thing about the playoffs, you might have the biggest play of the game in the first inning. I think tonight we saw that.”  I would agree with him, that could of changed the whole game, definitely that inning. 

Bad luck on that play, but Rodriguez also went 1-for-5 with two more strikeouts tonight. Hard to make too much of two games, but this feels more like a continuation of the last three weeks of the season. Girardi once again said he plans to keep Rodriguez batting third. “Right now, I don’t plan on making any chances to our lineup,” Girardi said.  If I had to guess, I would bet that Cano will hit third in game three and Arod fourth or fifth. 

Maybe he’s just being his usual self, but Pettitte was especially hard on himself tonight. “I felt really good early, and pretty suspect after that,” he said. “I don’t really feel like I lost command of the strike zone, really. When you’re out there, and there’s certain pitches you want to make. For the most part my stuff wasn’t as sharp as I would like, but I feel for the most part I was able to get it to the area where I was trying to.”

Martin didn’t really see it that way. “It was just one pitch (to Chris Davis), really,” Martin said. “I felt like he was pretty good all game. … If there’s one pitch he didn’t command probably as well as he wanted to it was his cutter. That’s a really big pitch for him. At times it seemed like he had a really good feel for it, and at others it looked like he wasn’t making great pitches with it. He’s definitely tough on himself, but on our side, we’ve got to score more runs and we’ve got to produce when we have the opportunities.”

The biggest blow was the Davis two-run single in the third. “Trying to go low and away, just left it up over the middle of the plate,” Pettitte said.

Why didn’t Nick Swisher try to throw home on that play? “Davis hit it so hard, just a big one hop,” Swisher said. “Really, just trying to keep them there are first and second rather than try and make a throw home and maybe get a little antsy and overthrowing the cut and next thing you know it’s first and third or second and third. I just thought it was a smart play at the time.”

Speaking of defensive plays on the right side, should Robinson Cano have knocked down Mark Reynolds’ RBI single? Girardi said he didn’t think so because of where Cano was playing, and Cano said he didn’t think a dive would have kept the ball in the infield. “We all know he’s a guy that pulls the ball, so the last thing in your mind is that he’s going to hit the ball the other way,” Cano said.

The Yankees highlight was surely Ichiro Suzuki giving them a 1-0 lead with his tag-dodging play at the plate in the first inning. “I’ve never done it before,” Ichiro said. “Obviously you look at the size of me, and look at the size of the catchers, I’d probably have to have some kind of weapon to make something happen when I went into the plate. I knew that if I just went into home, it would be an out. So I thought that if I could make something happen, maybe I would be safe is what I was thinking. Obviously I was trying to use my head and see if maybe I could use my head to make something happen.”

Ichiro said his teammates were calling him “ninja” and “Matrix” in the dugout. “In baseball, there’s times when it’s not that you’re not hustling, but slowing down and speeding up sometimes can make a difference,” he said. “It’s not that you’re not hustling, but it’s not just all going fast.”

Cano on the decision to intentionally walk him in the seventh: “Wieters said, ‘We’re going to walk you.’ I started to laugh. I thought he was joking.”

Why walk Cano with a lefty on the mound? Swisher is 1-for-18 against Brian Matusz. “The numbers speak for themselves,” Swisher said. “I don’t really hit him as well as I would like to, but man, go there in that 3-2 count. Angel’s zone was kind of a little bit big at times. Got that fastball down, just trying to line it right back up the box, just kind of got underneath it.”

Girardi on not using Brett Gardner to run for Teixeira in the eighth: “I knew we weren’t going to be able to run on Matusz in that situation. If I’m going to use Gardy, it’s going to be a situation where I think we can run.”

Phil Hughes was throwing in the bullpen late in the game. He was just throwing his between-starts bullpen, not warming up to pitch.

Give the final word to Girardi: “We get to go home, and we’ve played very well at home and we’re going to have to continue to do that if we’re going to move on. It seems like Baltimore and us have kind of went back and forth all year, and that’s what we did here. … Whoever plays the best (is going to win). I mean, that’s the bottom line. Whoever pitches the best and scores in their opportunities is really what’s going to make the difference.”

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