Phillies-Yankees: Game Six Notes, Watching the Guillotine

November 4, 2009   ·     ·   Jump to comments
Article Source: Bleacher Report - New York Yankees

Coming into tonight’s game, despite my love for Pedro Martinez, I knew that a win was going to be all on the offense. They weren’t ever going to win a 2-1 game in New York, not against this offense, and not with this bullpen.

There was hope that they could slug their way to a win, of course; the Yankee starters weren’t used to working on three days rest, and the bullpen wasn’t airtight.

It’s still a disconcerting way to start a game.

I tuned in a little late, as part of my continuing effort to avoid Fox’s pregame programming, and wound up only seeing the Utley double play to end the first. Not an auspicious start to what felt like a coronation anyway.

At no point was I seeing how Pedro Martinez’s last meaningful start against the Yankees would end in happiness. Anyhoo, eight pitches. Way to make Old Man Pettite extend himself on short rest, guys.

After one pitch, Pedro needed a conference and a new ball. Considering how often Jorge Posada has been out there this series, I’d like to see that happen after every pitch. Let’s just go all the way towards killing the sport with delays.

On a 2-2 count to Damon, Pedro turned, spit violently, then threw a 77 mph change-up to strike the man out; when you are hacking up stuff between pitches, you are officially getting them out with guile.

Fox later informed us that Martinez didn’t break 85 on the gun in the second inning. The man doesn’t look well; HD is doing him no favors.

I’m pretty sure he’s not over the illness he had in Game Two. Either that, or he’s fantastically old, which is what we were sure of before the year started.

Pedro got a little squeezed to start the A-Rod at bat, and it went to 2-0 on a near HBP. The 3-0 pitch was low and away, and McCarver was all over Martinez’s lack of velocity; one had to wonder how fast Charlie Manuel’s hook would come.

A four-pitch walk ended A-Rod’s at bat. Here we go…Matsui up, Pedro not paying any attention to Rodriguez, who used to be a threat to run before the hip problem. He got ahead of Matsui on a loud foul off of an 86 mph fastball, then got it up to 88 on a high fastball.

After ripping a 2-2 pitch just foul, Matsui took ball three inside.

Suddenly watching this game is like waiting for the guillotine.

Matsui fouled off a 3-2 change-up, then served up a home run to right, down the line, for the 2-0 lead. Yeah, that was unexpected.

Just a batting practice fastball there, and if I were Charlie Manuel, I’d be warming-up pitchers. Pedro’s got nothing, and that’s two straight at bats where Matsui has gone deep against him.

Pedro recovered with a sad little strikeout of Posada, a high 80 mph fastball that the catcher looked disgusted to have missed.

A moment of Not Happiness for Yankee Fans: Posada will make a ridiculous amount of money over the next two years to be the second coming of Jason Varitek.

Anyway, back to the game…Cano followed with a first pitch line drive at Utley, and the inning ended with a five-pitch fly ball to Francisco in left. After two innings, it’s 2-0 Yankees, and if the offense doesn’t answer fast, this will get out of hand.

Francisco started the third with a fast ground out, and Pettite worked with very few pitches to that point. Chooch Ruiz then did what he’s been doing his entire postseason, which is hit balls hard into the left field gap, slamming one off the wall. Brett Gardner misjudged the hit, which gave Ruiz the opportunity for his fourth career triple.


Rollins’ at bat quickly went to a 2-0 count, and the shortstop flied out to right, scoring Ruiz. The inning ended on a first-pitch pop up from Victorino, and that’s really not helpful on the pitch count, but at least they are on the board.  The score was 2-1 Yankees after 2.5 innings.

Martinez started Gardner with pitches on the corners for an 0-2 count, and finished him off with an up-and-away 86 mph fastball.

Jeter then used his Jedi skills to get Victorino to take a bad route to a sinking liner for a single, and that’s just a big damn deal. Really. Especially with Jeter a threat to steal.

Damon worked the count to 3-2 as part of Pedro’s game-long problem of not being able to finish off hitters, then drew a walk.

That was Pedro’s 51st pitch.

The Phillies called to the bullpen to get J.A. Happ warm.

With the kill shot opportunity on the first pitch, Pedro drilled Teixeira square on the leg, near the knee.

Good grief. Bases loaded for A-Rod, and, while you can’t bring in anyone but Happ here, he’s not ready. Considering the importance of the hitter and situation, you could argue for Chan Ho Park or Ryan Madson, but that’s not how baseball works.

Guillotine time again with the bases loaded and one out.

First pitch is 82 and on the black, and A-Rod misses it. Second is bounced, and Ruiz keeps it in front of him. Third is up and 82 again, but A-Rod misses it as well, and the called strikeout is on the outside.

Rodriguez and West get into each other, but the third basemen isn’t ejected. A man can dream.

Of course now Matsui, who has owned Pedro, is up. A first-pitch fastball is fouled off. A second-pitch fastball is crushed down the line and foul. Fox tells us the last pitch was 90 mph, a game high. The 0-2 pitch is a high fastball that’s lined to center for a two-run single, and Matsui now has all four RBI for the game.

The Japanese DH is now hitting .636 for the Series, and he just might have won it.

Posada ends the inning on a fly ball to right, and it’s 4-1 Yankees after three.

The fact that they couldn’t even waste a pitch to Matsui and see if he’d get himself out is telling.

Damon came out of left field on a pulled muscle and was replaced by Jerry Hairston, which might help if the Series goes to nine or ten games. The Yankees might be short some outfielders.

With Fox touting his 1-for-11 lifetime mark against Pettite, Chase Utley whiffs on seven pitches to start the fourth. Howard followed with a soft line drive to second.

With Pettite at just 47 pitches, we’re getting fairly close to counting outs until Rivera territory.

Werth drew his second walk of the game and advanced on a rare passed-ball swinging strike before Raul Ibanez drew a walk.

Balls one and two to Feliz continued a squeeze play by West, and strike one was in more or less the same place. Strike two was a no-doubter with late movement. Ball three was in the same place, and ye-gads, Pettite’s sharp on the black here.

The drama ends with a ground ball to third, because you only get one huge hero moment from Pedro Feliz in a series.

Martinez started the fourth, and I’m not sure why. Chad Durbin warmed up in the bullpen, and Cano sent Francisco to the track in left. Have I mentioned how Pedro’s got nothing in this game? It might be relevant.

Martinez picks up his fifth strikeout of the night up and away against Swisher. A line drive by Gardner to Utley ends the inning, and you’d think that four innings, five base runners, and five strikeouts would be better than this.

Score is 4-1 Yankees after four.

How many outs until Rivera? Probably not enough, really. Francisco goes down on three pitches, and wow, he’s been useless. Ruiz drew a five-pitch walk to improve matters.

Durbin appears to have the bottom of the fifth, and at least we’ll be spared a farewell chant for Pedro.

Pettite got ahead of Rollins, then induced a 2-2 double play, his second of the game, and that’s a fast and awful end to the fifth inning.

Six outs to Rivera, 12 outs to elimination.

Chad Durbin was in for the sixth and the top of the order, with Happ getting warm in the pen. Why not Park? One more run makes this game just about impossible, and Park’s been your best reliever in this series, but what the hey, he’s got to work the seventh, I suppose.

Jeter greets Durbin with a ground-rule double to left that’s just out of reach of the cursed Francisco, and I swear, every one of Jeter’s hits in this series has been a foot from being caught. It’s what he does.

Hairston, batting for Damon, sac bunts Jeter to third perfectly on the first pitch, nearly beating it out himself.

Teixeira, against a drawn-in infield, and the guillotine feeling is back. Shrugging off his 2-for-20 streak, Teixeira laces a single to first for the RBI, and it’s 5-1, Yankees.

This one’s just about over, with a 93 percent expected Yankee win on the ever-annoying ESPN app that I’m using to track pitch counts.

Durbin loses A-Rod inside on a one out walk to end his evening, and I’m struggling to pay attention. There’s laundry to do, and other posts to write, and a million better ways to spend the next hour…

Poor J.A. Happ gets to face Matsui for the kill shot, and he continues his postseason habit of falling behind the first hitter, because he’s really not a reliever, he’s a starter.

On a 3-1 count, Matsui sews up his MVP with a double off the wall, and it’s 7-1 Yankees.

I kind of hate that I have to watch the rest of this game.

Posada whiffs, Cano whiffs, and they might be the only people in the building who care.

Twelve outs to over.

In the sixth, Joe Buck starts to fellate the Yankees for signing Pettite to a trivial $10.5 million contract for this year, ignoring the fact that no other team in baseball had money to spend.

On cue, Victorino grounded out to start the inning, and the next hour of my life would be better spent on mute. Utley, with a loud foul on a 3-1 pitch, then drew Pettite’s fifth walk of the night.

Howard then shrugged off the goat horns to muscle a ball out to left for a two-run Yankee Stadium-special homer, as hope crept into the conversation. Werth can’t keep up the momentum, however, on a called third strike with Pettite on the black again.

Ibanez hit a two-out double, and that’s the end of Pettite’s night: 94 pitches and a very likely season-ending win.

Joba Chamberlain in to face Game Four nemesis Pedro Feliz, but really not counting on repeat lightning here. On a 2-1 count, Chamberlain reared back and threw it by the hitter, then induced the inning-ending groundout to third. Nine outs to over, and the Yankee pen has been, even independent of Rivera, better than advertised.

This is the point in the game when the Phillies give back any momentum with weak relief pitching. Happ goes 2-0 to Swisher, then fights back to 2-2 with a foul ball that The Cursed Francisco just barely misses in the stands. The at-bat ends in a lead-off walk, because the Yankee offense never takes an inning off, really.

With McCarver in full fellate mode over his bunting skills, Gardner fails to get it down on two of the first three pitches, and winds up getting rung up on a nice low fastball from Happ.

That ends his night, as Phillies manager Charlier Manuel goes to Chan Ho Park. Park got Jeter on a ground ball to Howard for the second out, and Hairston on a soft fly to right. Had Manueal gone to him earlier, this game might not be out of reach. A man can dream.

Joe Buck lobbied for a pinch hitter for Francisco, and the only problem with that strategy is that I’m not sure who else on the bench can play left field. The cursed one whiffs for the first out, and Chamberlain looks like his old seventh inning self again.

Ruiz continues the magic with a single to center, the third time he’s been on base tonight. Rollins watches a hanging slider for strike one, then grounds out weakly to second for the second out of the inning.

The leadoff hitter has been less then helpful, really. I’d have Rollins try to steal second here, just to see if it could rattle Chamberlain a little, and he just made it on a perfect throw from Posada. A four pitch walk to Victorino puts two men on for Utley, and that’s it for Chamberlain.

It’ll be Damaso Marte to try to keep the game locked down.

Utley against Marte in the last actually dramatic moment of the Series. Marte has retired his last 10 hitters. First pitch strike on the outside black, or just off. A slider with movement for strike two. And a called third strike on a checked swing.

And that’s your ball game, Utley’s MVP award, and the series, decided by pitchers that appeared to be a weakness before the Series, and were not when the game was on the line.

After the 9/11 Hootenanny, Park whiffed Teixeira, then got A-Rod to duck on a breaking ball that was almost a strike. If I were Park, I think I’d hit him with the next pitch on general principle, but instead, he gives up a bleeding eye single to left, and that’s his night; Scott Eyre in to face the most valuable porn enthusiast.

Rodriguez stole second on a checked swing strikeout of Matsui, setting up an intentional walk to Posada, and an inning-ending Cano whiff. It’s amazing to me how the Yankees are going to win this Series with auto-outs all over the lineup, but that’s the nature of baseball.

Marte to start the eighth against Howard, and he merely strikes the man out on three pitches, which means he’s gone through Utley and Howard on six pitches. Girardi over-manages and goes to Rivera now for the final five outs, because heaven knows that Marte was so ineffective, really.

It’s not going to matter, but if Rivera is actually ineffective here and the Yankees somehow blow the game, the over-managing will be the reason why. Honestly, there was no reason to replace Marte here; you let him pitch until someone reaches base.

Hey, it’s not a real save opportunity! That means Rivera’s gonna stink. Or, um, not. Werth whiffs, four outs to finish. A shattered bat from Ibanez as the rain suddenly falls, not that anyone in New York seems to care.

A Yankee fan screams for a punch-out on a pitch that’s a foot outside. Ibanez battles to a nine pitch at bat and double to center, and why Gardner was playing shallow, I’ve no idea. Rivera gets Feliz to pop up, and that’s the eighth.

Feliz with a great play on Swisher to start the bottom of the eighth, just one of those bare-hand do-or-die plays that the third basemen makes maybe one try out of ten. After Gardner grounds out to Utley, Manuel brings in Madson just to make sure he works every possible game, and to ensure that the game doesn’t end before midnight.

Oh, MLB. My grandkids will wonder what the big deal was, really. Jeter greets him with his usual inside-out single to right, and the man now has 175 post-season hits. Ridiculous. Madson gets Hairston to pop out to shallow left, and that’s eight innings.

Matt Stairs in to star the ninth, because this just always works ignore the 1-for-11 postseason to date. A tiny shred of hope on a 3-1 count, and Stairs hits an upper deck foul to make the count full. A line drive to Jeter ends the at bat, and all semblance of hope, given how Rivera is already up to 20-plus pitches from the ridiculously early move away from Marte.

Ruiz is smart enough to see a lot of pitches, and even draws a one out walk; I can’t say enough about his postseason. Rollins, the true goat of the lineup, has a chance to redeem a little, but anyone who has watched him all year knows that won’t happen; he flies out to the track in right for the second out.

Victorino tries to avoid the history at bat, and falls behind 1-2 on a cutter at his ankles. Victorino battles to a full count and nine pitches, but eventually dribbles out to Cano.

And that’s your ball game; Pettite beats Martinez, and the Yankees are the champions of baseball. My team tried hard, but the New Yorkers were just better, and not by a little.

Congratulations, you humble and plucky people, you.

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