Well, Mets – welcome to the 2005 Yankees. I know you had already played 3 games against the Yanks before tonight, but this was really your first look at the team they have been all year. I have seen this game a million times. I have seen the first six innings of this game about 10 times over the last 7 years. Pedro on the mound. You get him on the ropes in the first or second. At least you think he’s on the ropes. But every time it happens, you look up at the scoreboard and there are two out. He proceeds to slip out of it, and you realize that you never really had him like you thought you did. Not then, anyway. He then throws more pitches than he wants to, and finds himself at a crossroads. This is where the Yankees have always had his number. The formula has always been to bleed him out of the game by the seventh and then devour the bullpen. Tonight they were on track, and then broke down. Should be noted that they don’t always beat him. He’s had a few monster wins against them, of course. His record against the Yankees has always hovered around .500. It’s his teams’ record against the Yankees that is abysmal. And that’s the trick.
Tonight’s game was a brilliant mix of a typical Yankee/Pedro game and the recent cookie cutter Yankee losses that have all followed the same maddening pattern. Pedro was forced to throw 64 pitches in four innings. The Yankees, meanwhile, found their way to two errors in one inning (could easily have been scored three, as Marlon Anderson’s ball came right out of Tino’s glove – he needs to make that play) and allowed two gift runs to cross the plate for the Mets. Then everything settled down. The Mets got a few, the Yanks got one more, but the Yankees, curiously, went away from their time-honored, “beat-Pedro” secret sauce. They had the guy at 64 pitches through 4 innings. He got through the next 4 innings with 42 pitches. This speaks directly to Mike Sherry’s comment on yesterday’s BPS (by the way – one comment? Come on people, you’re better than that). Where were Joe Torre and Donnie Baseball? For that matter, where were Jeter, Bernie, Tino, Posada, and everybody else who have done this a thousand times? Why weren’t they giving clear instructions on how to beat this guy? Why are they swinging at the first pitch and letting everybody else swing at the first pitch? After 93 pitches with one out in the seventh, all you need to do is make the guy throw ten more pitches or so and he’s done for the night. He doesn’t come back out in the eighth. The next sequence in the seventh was a major breakdown. They not only let him out of that inning with only 6 more pitches, but then they let him sneak through the eighth on only 5 pitches. Five outs, eleven pitches. Inexcusable. At that point, the Yankees need to play smart. Instead, they all start swinging away. Didn’t matter – nobody on, two out – who cares? Swing away! The leaders of the team need to call the team together and set the strategy on what needs to be done, instead of reverting back to the new (is it too early to call it Nightmare III?) standard of waving at the ball all night while never puncturing the four run ceiling.
I’m going to throw something out there that’s going to sound strange. Tino hit a bomb in the ninth inning tonight. Great. Tino Martinez should never have been in this lineup. Why isn’t Giambi in this game? Tino misplayed a ball in the second that eventually came around to score, but more importantly, he was meat in his first three at-bats. The guy has been awful. When he finally did hit the bomb, it was too little, too late. Giambi takes pitches and bleeds pitchers. He has a .400 obp. He’s exactly the type of hitter we need against Pedro. If there ever was a game he should have been in, this was the one. Pedro pitches him carefully. And he has a history of hitting big bombs against Pedro. I seem to remember bouncing around the lower tier of the upper deck during game 7 (we all know which one) with Cousin Bobby, Cousin Angelo, and Stevie D.
So now it’s up to Sean Henn. You have to be kidding me. The only way we have a shot at tomorrow’s game is if we tee off on Glavine. If we don’t put up at least seven or eight runs tomorrow, we’re going to be staring at yet another Sunday Night prayer to try to salvage a season series. And we all know how well those Sunday night games have gone….
I will be there with Sean (unless mlb.com calls him away) and our dates (wives). If I’m not too furious, I’ll try and post some pictures….