I don’t blame Joe Girardi for sticking with Raul Ibanez against Phil Coke in the top of the ninth in Game 3 of the ALCS.
The numbers game suggest Girardi should’ve opted for a right-hander batter, say A-Rod, given righties torched Coke to the tune of .396/.446/.604 during the regular season.
Ibanez, however, has been the best clutch hitter on the Yankees this postseason, and arguably the only hitter on the Yankees in October. Seriously, who else would New York want at the plate with the game-tying run on second base?
If it’s Aroldis Chapman on the mound, it’s a different story. But Coke is far from a ‘lights-out’ closer or unhittable ‘loogy.’
After all, Teixeira and Cano (another left-handed hitter) both singled in front of Ibanez leaving no reason to believe the hot-hitting 40-year-old couldn’t drive in the tying run.
Girardi’s decision to stay with the lefty-lefty matchup is no worse than him choosing to leave Rodriguez, hitting an ice-cold 2-for-23, on the bench.
Ibanez, of course, struck out to end the game. But it was ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ for the Yankees’ skipper.
Let’s not forget, either, how right Joe was turning the table earlier this postseason when he pinch-hit Ibanez for A-Rod. A hero when it worked, the goat when it doesn’t.
Yet, regardless of whether you believe Girardi made the right move or the wrong one, it’s no fault of Girardi’s his team is hitting a ghastly .182 in October.
What’s a manager to do–pinch-hit the entire lineup?
Baseball’s postseason is facing a dilemma that often challenges March Madness–the tournament has peaked in terms of national interest after the first weekend.
It’s been a sharp decline for baseball since the conclusion of the division series, which couldn’t have been scripted any better given each series reached a decisive Game 5–a first in postseason history.
But the outcomes of those series, unfortunately, has left us with a Final Four lacking virtually any rooting interest from the masses.
Nothing would’ve been more fun, more interesting, than watching the excitement of Moneyball II, the New Red Machine, BUCKleup and Natitude compete against each other for a World Series championship.
Instead, we’re left with another ALCS appearance by the Yankees and a Cardinals team we’ve seen reach the World Series in 3 of the past 6 seasons…and most likely 4 out of the last 7 years once they defeat the Giants in the NLCS (just a tinny little touch of sarcasm).
Aside from Buster Posey, there’s hardly anything exciting about San Francisco, whose most colorful player, Brian Wilson, was lost for the season due to injury, and whose best starting pitcher, Tim Lincecum, has been demoted to bullpen duty. Oh yeah, there’s also the Melky suspension.
Detroit, of course, offers us one of the game’s most dominating hurlers in Justin Verlander, and one of the game’s best sluggers in Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera. But the Tigers are largely thought of as underachievers for its lackluster regular season play…and who wants to rally behind that?
It’s fascinating, yet greatly disappointing, how quickly this year’s postseason has lost its luster after all the all the dramatics and thrills from the final two weeks of the regular season through the division series.
If we’re lucky, we might get a World Series Game 7, something that would give baseball fans aside from the MLB Final Four cities a reason to care again. But until then, and if a WS Game 7 even happens, what’s there to root for, what reason do we have to care?
Our postseason brackets are busted, our teams bounced. It’s March Madness in October…and the best, it seems, has already come. At the very least, the first weekend was fun.
Get ready for a St. Louis-Texas World Series.
I’m speaking ‘unofficially,’ of course, but that’s where the LCS’s are headed.
Texas has the all too commanding 3-1 lead over Detroit. And even with the Tigers throwing Justin Verlander in Game 5…at best they’ll need him to come back on three days rest for a potential Game 7 in Arlington.
The Rangers’ bullpen, more so than its potent lineup, has been the difference maker. The relief corps allowed just a single run through 15 innings of the first three games–and one run in Game 4. Simply, Lights. Out.
Meanwhile, back in St. Louis…the Cardinals and Chris Carpenter withstood Milwaukee’s best chance to gain the series winning Game 3, 4-3.
For all intents and purposes, Yovani Gallardo lost the game, and perhaps the series, in the first inning allowing the first five Cardinals to reach base. Four of those runners scored–and that was that.
Cards win game. Cards take 2-1 series lead.
In fact, the Cardinals bullpen retired the last 12 Milwaukee hitters in a row and allowed just a single base runner from the fifth inning on. Sound familiar, Detroit fans?
Now St. Louis feasts on Randy Wolf in Game 4, coming off a 7 ER performance in his NLDS start vs. Arizona. And for dessert, a tasty treat of Zach Greinke and his 9.00 postseason ERA in Game 5.
The Brewers have lost eight consecutive postseason games on the road. They don’t beat the Cardinals in Milwaukee, and now they have to take 3 of 4 to win the series.
Not impossible, but not likely either.
St. Louis vs. Texas. Who knew?
I picked the winner of Game 3 to win the ALCS. Texas in the World Series…who would have thunk it?
The series, of course, is far from over, but the Rangers have been in control since the first inning of Game 1. And with Cliff Lee, Ron Washington’s bunch knows anything is possible– including toppling the mighty Yankees.
Lee just makes it look so easy out there. Poised, in control and hardly a sweat to wipe off his brow. The man’s not only dominated this postseason, but holds a career 7-0 record and 1.26 ERA in October. Unreal!
How many pitchers in baseball can do what Lee did Monday night at Yankee Stadium? Eight innings, two hits, 13 strikeouts…against NY…in October. I know this much–not many.
Lee’s been so ridiculous he’s become the first pitcher to achieve double digits in strikeouts three times in one postseason. Which means what?
It means we’re watching one of the best postseason pitchers ever. And for those who are wondering, that is possible for players not wearing a Yankees or Red Sox uniform.