Stay in the Game, Joe, We’re Not There Yet
I’m just as stunned as anyone else right now. I’ve always liked Brian Bruney. I liked that he came in last year and was one of the only guys who could throw hard and had a good bender. He was a guy that you could have some faith in. His issue this year has been his inability to throw strikes. This year he simply could not be counted on to throw strikes. And tonight he was single-handedly responsible for puking away a four run lead. I should mention that I’m in the blue room a bit early and listening to the game, which is currently in the bottom of the seventh. Another excruciatingly long New York Yankee game. Joe Torre is notoriously quick with the hook under normal circumstances, but give him 16 pitchers in his bullpen, like he’s had lately, and he’s good for a four hour game. And it looks like we’re headed in that direction tonight.
The strange thing is that right now I’m not sure who I’m more p*ssed about; Bruney or Bobby Abreu. I realize the right answer is Bruney, but Abreu has still got me pretty lit up about his at-bat last inning. The Rays have a lefty on the mound. Damon led off with yet another base hit, and Jeter battled like a ninja at 3-2. Eventually he smashed a ball off the pitcher’s leg and got thrown out at first, Damon to second. Up comes Abreu. Before you know it he’s ahead 3-0. None of them were close. Then the obligatory pump-it-over pitch, which was a debatable strike. So it’s 3-1. So what does he do? Swing at a bad 3-1 pitch. The guy can’t find the plate, he barely got it over when he was trying to put it right down the middle, and Abreu swings at a bad 3-1 pitch. Absolutely awful. Dude, you need to be smarter. Especially when it comes to playoff time. So he popped out weakly on what would have been ball four, and then with a base open and two outs, the Rays practically fell over laughing intentionally walking Allie. With first and second with one out, you have to pitch to him because you can’t load the bases with one out for the Ferocious Lion. And pitching to Allie would have necessitated changing pitchers, because they aren’t going to leave the lefty in the pitch to the MVP. So needless to say, we don’t score. Although the Ferocious Lion got pumped out on an awful strike call. [Posada just led off the eighth with a double. And there’s Acc calling. Okay, while I was on the phone with Acc, the Yankees tied the game when Bronson Sardinha, running for Posada, kicked the ball out of Dioner Navarro’s glove as he crossed the plate. He would have been out by a country mile if not for Navarro losing the ball. Then Damon got his fifth base hit of the night, and they held Cano at third. The ball was hit right to Gomes, who had just gunned the previous ball that Navarro dropped. Then Jeter struck out to end the inning on a 3-2 pitch.]
I’ve said this many times. Make Gomes throw you out. I know he just threw a bullet that had Sardinha gunned, but make him do it again. There are two outs. Make him gun you. You know how hard it is to do it once, let alone twice? If he gets you he gets you. Odds are you aren’t getting another hit, so you might as well take your shot. Worst-case scenario you have Jeter leading off the next inning. Instead they got out anyway. I just think you need to keep them on edge. Scoscia would have been running even if it was Garret Anderson…..
So what are we headed straight towards? A walk-off win for the Devil Rays. This game is going to be their season. They really don’t care after this. And the Yankees don’t finish well. They have trouble coming back, and when they do come back they stall at “tie” and still end up with the “L.” They have had a lot more instances this year in which they have coughed up a big lead to lose than those in which they have made up a ton of ground to win. This has been their lot this year. I don’t know if there is rhyme or reason to it, but it’s just been that way. [Allie is clearly snapping out of his funk. He already has a bomb tonight, and he just hit a line drive to the warning track that was caught because Johnny Gomes was literally playing him on the warning track, much to Michael Kay and Al Leiter’s surprise.]
Michael Kay actually brought up an interesting point during the broadcast concerning home field advantage in the playoffs. He said that the winning percentage for the home teams in the playoffs during the Wild card era was about .533, which is only slightly better than flipping a coin. The one game is which it plays a huge role is the seventh game of the World Series, where, in the Wild Card era, the home team is 8-0. He was making two points. First, he likes to say that baseball is the one game in which there is not such a stark home-field advantage. I don’t necessarily agree, as I think that last licks things is a pretty big advantage, particularly in an extra-inning game. [Here we go, bottom of the ninth. I do not have a good feeling about this… And man are we close to four hours deep here…again…] The second point he was making was that the one game in which it does make a difference historically, the seventh game of the World Series, isn’t even decided by the best record. It’s either alternating or it’s the winner of the All Star game. So I guess the point is that winning the division doesn’t get you a whole lot. [Jose Veras just walked Carlos Pena with one out in the ninth. These walks have really crushed us. B.J. Upton is up. Which is good because he’s only hitting about .480 against the Yanks this year… Well, he just got a ball call from Gerry Davis – Hey Gerry, how’s your buddy Willie Bloomquist doing? Good? Full count. And then he got a close strike call on the very next pitch. And then he jawed with Davis for about two minutes on the call. How is he not getting thrown out of this game? Three outs. This is sad. The Yankees have out hit the Rays 12 to 4, and yet we’re in extra innings again…]
Well there it is. Dioner Navarro in the 10th with a walk-off bomb. The Yankees are now 4-8 in extra inning games. I hope this evens out come playoff time, because these Yanks just do not finish well. Well, the Tigers live another day, and the Red Sox can breathe a sigh of relief. The Tampa bullpen, which has an ERA over 8, limited the Yankees to one run in five innings, and that’s only because Navarro dropped the ball that would have had Sardinha gunned. Way to go guys. And Joe Torre is already squarely in coast mode. You know, don’t they always tell you that coasting is a bad idea? Like senioritis in high school? Torre had already conceded the game, preferring instead to throw every call-up in the clubhouse out there. First he lets Brian Bruney walk in a run and then continue to pitch, and then he puts the extra inning game in the hands of Jeff Karstens. Once again, winning is lower priority for him than using all of these clowns. I’m really not the most pessimistic guy in the world. But I knew as soon as this game was tied and the Yankees didn’t come right back on the board that this was over. Case in point, I started this post with the game in the seventh inning saying it wasn’t going to be good. Why should that be? Why is this game being handed to Jeff Karstens? He has no shot at making the postseason roster. There is no need to see “how he responds” because he’s going home on Sunday. This was just an out and out concession. I guarantee you Joba and Mo will be pitching in garbage-time games over the next few days just to get them work. And yet they could have contributed to such an eminently winnable game tonight and Torre chose to throw in the towel. Honestly, I hate it. I don’t think it’s the right approach and I hate it….