Live Blogging Game 1

Just figured I would add my observations in real time for tonight’s game.

6:42pm- Which is worse, the fact that there is an umpire specifically assigned to the Right Field Line who didn’t make that call or the joke of a replay by TBS? At least they conferred and got it right.

6:46pm-Great at bat by Abreu, from 1-2 to a walk and now comes a big at bat for A-Rod

6:49pm-I shouldn’t read too much into it, but I think A-Rod doesn’t draw that walk in the past.

6:52pm- I am really starting to loathe TBS and we are only five batters in. They start the game on TNT because the Phillies game runs over and they can’t stick with it past 6:52? I mean was anyone going to really watch the last five minutes of Law and Order? Wait for the commercial break next time guys!

6:55pm- That’s a huge lift for the Indians getting out of that jam.

7:14pm- That was an ugly inning from Wang. Hitting the first guy and then after getting the double play he just struggled. And worst of all, Kenny “Gary knows what he is talking about” Lofton with the big hit.

7:19pm- Sabathia looks like he is going to give the Yankees plenty of chances- a four pitch walk to Cano!?

7:21pm- Cabrera should have yelled “HA”

7:25pm- That is not a good inning on the scoreboard, but they made Sabathia throw 17 pitches. That’s 50 through two. They keep that up and he won’t pitch six.

7:27pm- Are you really telling me that TBS or MLB didn’t have enough money to buy www.october.com and instead had to settle for www.actober.com. What the heck is actober? Sounds like a theater company tryout.

7:33pm- Nice throw by Posada, he has become a very good catcher since Pena came to town.

7:48pm- A-Rod just missed that one.

7:52pm- Yankees need a spark and soon. That home run could be the nail in the coffin.

7:53pm- LeBron’s will probably get booed at home wearing that hat.

8:03pm- Thank you Cano

8:22pm- Was it Mientkiewicz’s ankle or is Joe just realizing he needs to try and exploit the matchup with Sabathia?

8:26pm- Time for Captain October to do something

8:30pm- I agree with not bunting there, Jeter is too good a hitter to lay it down.

8:32pm- And Abreu picks him up, now it’s time for A-Rod.

8:33pm- I know it sounds crazy, but considering all the postseason stuff with A-Rod, I would have made him beat me there. Wedge is playing it by the book, but I would have challenged him.

8:36pm- That was some pitching by Sabathia down 3-0 and then a strikeout. On the plus side, he is over 100 now.

8:38pm- Score one for Eric Wedge, now the Yankees need Wang to keep it at one-run.

8:47pm- That is just a terrible start by Wang.

8:56pm- Is it me or does Ohlendorf even look like Mussina when he pitches?

9:00pm- He really does look like Mussina. Ok, bad joke, but what exactly did Guidry say to him that led to belt-high fastball?

9:10pm- The way things are going, I am glad hockey season started. Check that, Rangers are losing too 2-1.

9:15pm- This is looking over. The Indians are smart to use their top bullpen guys to get outs here, don’t let the Yankees get things going.

9:18pm- You know I really like Frank Calliendo. The guy is incredibly talented, but I don’t think I can take an entire of October of his promos.

9:23pm- At some point you have to get Ohlendorf out of there. I know you need to soak up innings, but you don’t want to let a young pitcher take too big of a beating. I think you go Veras soon and then let Farnsworth pitch the 8th.

9:28pm- I guess Kenny Lofton never got over the way Torre used him in 2004. He is killing the Yankees tonight.

9:35pm- Hockey update: Rangers 5 Florida 2, Drury has three points in his MSG debut.

9:37pm- Interesting that they are using Perez for a 2nd inning with an 8-run lead. I assume this will disqualify him from pitching tomorrow night which helps NY.

9:41pm- That guy is nasty.

9:45pm- Phil Hughes now? Why?

9:56pm- Matsui looks lost right now, Torre has to think about either Giambi or Duncan for Game 2.

And I think that will be it for the live blog. I have some things to do and even Joe Borrowski couldn’t blow an 8-run lead in one inning. Could he?

Series Prediction

Back in April I picked the Yankees to win this series in four games.   (Yup, I picked Cleveland-Yanks in the ALDS, of course I also had the Twins winning the AL Central and while I did pick the Phillies and Cubs in the playoffs, my Dodgers and Mets picks didn’t make it.  On the plus side, my World Series of Phillies-Yankees is certainly possible)

I would stick to that if the Yankees did what I said in my original post "Hughes in the fourth game seals it".  The way I see it going down is as follows:

Game 1: Sabathia quiets the Yankees’ bats and Wang struggles, giving up runs early. 

Game 2: Pettitte pitches a beaut and Yankees pound Carmona.

Game 3: Clemens guts out six and Joba and Rivera carry the Yankees to a 2-1 series lead.

Game 4: Moose is rocked and Cleveland evens the series.

Game 5: Torre goes with experience and Pettitte starts Game 5 instead of Wang.  It works and Pettitte outduels Sabathia with A-Rod driving in the winning runs.  

Let’s face it, Sabathia is scary and I think he will pitch very well today.  If the Yankees did get Game 1, it would be a huge boost to their chances.  But, apart from Sabathia, the other Indians pitchers don’t scare me.  Carmona had a great year, but I think the Yankees will hit him, as for Byrd and Westbrook, they should shell them.  I think Pettitte really proves his worth in his two starts and Clemens will figure out a way to get it done.  I still hope they realize that Moose isn’t the answer for Game 4, but I am resigned to the fact that Hughes will probably enter that game in the third inning when Mussina has given up 5 runs.  

It should be a very good series and I imagine it will turn on a couple of key plays.  

Back after the game.   

Off and Running – 1-0 Red Sox lead in ALDS

Josh Beckett looked great in winning game one last night.  A complete game shutout is not something you expect in the playoffs.  He performance essentially gave the bullpen an additional 2 days off on top of their initial 2 day rest.

I was fortunate to be at Fenway last night and noticed Francona had many different relievers warm up last night.  I saw Hideki Okajima and Eric Gagne for certain (lousy seats yield poor scouting results) and think I saw 2 others warming up.  I assume Francona did this to keep these guys sharp.

More good news was seeing Kevin Youkilis hitting a home run in his first ever playoff at bat.  Additionally, David Ortiz got off to a great start hitting a 2-run shot to deep right.

All in all, little to complain about in very convincing victory.  But one game doesn’t establish much in the playoffs so Daisuke Matsuzaka has his work cut out on Friday as the Angels aren’t likely to roll over again.  Game 2 starts at 8:30pm Friday night and will match Matsuzaka against Kelvim Escobar.  Matsuzaka has never faced the Angels before and Escobar didn’t face the Red Sox in this past regular season.  Escobar lifetime against the Red Sox is an underwhelming 6-7, 4.64 ERA, 1.44 WHIP in 99 IP.  He has struck out 91 over that span.  At Fenway, Escobar is 4-3, 4.30 ERA, 1.40 WHIP in 58.2 IP with 57 K’s.  So not terrible, but not great.

I leave you with this, I was surprised the Angels only mustered up 4 hits last night.  They never got anything going.  What do you think, was this just complete domination by Beckett or are the Angels just not that good an offensive club?  Or maybe both?

Who Do We Root For?

Was anyone else confused tonight? You see Boston playing in the playoffs and you automatically root against them, right? Well tonight I wasn’t so sure. I don’t know if the Yankees can beat the Angels. For whatever reason, they seem to have our number. On the other hand, I think we can beat Boston. Yes, their pitching is very good, but I think we have a better shot against them than the Angels.

So, while I want a five-game series with multiple injuries on both sides (nothing career threatening, just something that keeps a player out for October) I think I want Boston to win. Is that wrong? I am going to go shower because I feel dirty.

Roster Surprise

The Yankees have announced their playoff roster and I am shocked by the fact that Ron Villone didn’t make it. That means the Yankees won’t have a lefty arm in the bullpen and considering that several of the Indians hit much better against righties than lefties, it is a curious deicsion. I guess the Yankees didn’t view Villone as a guy to call in in a big spot against a lefty hitter. In addition Ramirez didn’t make the team, as the Yankees have put both Ohlendorf and Veras on the roster with Sardinha as an extra bat.

The fact that Veras and Ohlendorf made the playoff roster after pitching 15 innings combined shows you how highly the Yankees think of them. Unlike years past, this team is willing to take chances and I can’t argue with that approach, I just wonder if it would have been better to have a lefty in the pen instead of both Ohlendorf and Veras.

In addition, the lineup for Game 1 has been announced. It is the standard lineup of recent weeks

Damon- LF
Jeter-SS
Abreu-RF
A-Rod-3B
Matsui-DH
Posada-C
Cano-2B
Cabrera-CF
Mientkiewicz-1B

Hard to argue with the idea of Mientkiewicz with Wang on the mound, getting good infield defense is critical. I was curious to see if Shelly Duncan would make the cut since they are facing a tough lefty, but I think Joe wanted to keep Abreu in there. Abreu hit .262/.329/.349 against LHP, so I would have gone with Shelly.

Round 1 – Red Sox vs. Angels

Earlier today I posted the roster and rotation for the Red Sox in the upcoming ALDS series against the Angels.  I didn’t get into my feelings on things.  Well, here it goes.

I have no problem with Josh Beckett getting things started.  He was the best starter for the Red Sox hands down and has a legit shot at the AL Cy Young award.  But, I think starting Daisuke Matsuzaka game 2 and Curt Schilling makes little sense.  Here’s why:

game 2 @ Fenway

Matsuzaka home – 92.2 IP, 4.86 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 75 K, 30 BB, 2.50 K/BB ratio.

Matsuzaka away – 112.0 IP, 4.02, 1.31 WHIP, 126 K, 50 BB, 2.52 K/BB ratio.

The 19.1 more IP on the road yielded 50 more K’s (and 20 more BB’s).

game 3 @ Anaheim

Schilling home – 82.0 IP, 4.06 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 61 K, 12 BB, 5.08 K/BB ratio.

Schilling away – 69.0 IP, 3.65 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 40 K, 11 BB, 3.64 K/BB ratio.

Ok, so far not so bad, Matsuzaka was better on the road, but Schilling was also better on the road.  So?

8-2 record, 109.1 IP, 2.09 ERA, 0.74 WHIP, 104 K’s, 22 BB, 4.73 K/BB ratio.  Those are Schilling’s career postseason numbers.  There are few better starters in the history of baseball than Schilling.  Daisuke, through no fault of his own, has no MLB postseason history.  Even though Schilling is of age, I still think they should have gone with him in game 2.

Now, before I get accused of manipulating the facts, let me share with you that Matsuzaka was 8-4 at home and 7-8 on the road despite his stats and Schilling was 4-3 at home and 5-5 on the road.  So by record only, the decision as it stands is correct, but we all know w/l records can be misleading.

Now that I’ve gotten off my chest, I think there is more than meets the eye here as Schilling himself said he was not as strong as he used to be and a long Red Sox half inning meant difficulties for him as he didn’t warm up as quickly.  His velocity is down and he is not what he used to be, but old horses don’t lose it over night and we’ve seen inspired performances on more than one occasion from Schilling in his career.  The Red Sox must be aware of some specific issues and feel that asking Schilling to step up twice in a 5 gamer is not wise.  At 14 years younger, Daisuke will get the call in game 2.

Time will tell.

All The Best Love The Yanks

Not that it matters, but here is one Cleveland athlete who will be rooting for the Yankees this week.  While the best player in the NBA is a good get, this is my personal favorite.

Red Sox Roster

The Red Sox are going with many of the usual suspects, but there are a few interesting selections (and one omission).

The usual starting 9 is on the roster with Doug Mirabelli, Jacoby Ellsbury, Eric Hinske, Bobby Kielty and Alex Cora making the roster as did 3rd string catcher Kevin Cash.  Room was afforded by omitting Tim Wakefield from the roster to allow for Cash.  Wakefield, according the Red Sox, isn’t healthy enough to help the squad, especially in a series where only 3 starters will be needed.

Jon Lester, Jonathan Papelbon, Hideki Okajima, Eric Gagne, Mike Timlin, Manny Delcarmen and Javier Lopez are in the bullpen with Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Curt Schilling handling the starting duties.

One other notable exclusion was Julian Tavarez.  Too bad b/c he was fairly helpful earlier in the season and provides endless entertainment..

A few additional notes:

It’ll be Beckett, Matsuzaka and Schilling for a rotation.  That means Schilling only once in this series.

GAME 1: ANGELS @ RED SOX 10/3, 6:30 PM ET

GAME 2: ANGELS @ RED SOX 10/5, 8:30 PM ET

GAME 3: RED SOX @ ANGELS 10/7, 3:00 PM ET

GAME 4: RED SOX @ ANGELS 10/8, 9:30 PM ET

GAME 5: ANGELS @ RED SOX 10/10, 8:30 PM ET

ESPN weighs in on the Red Sox.  They also weigh in on the series itself.  ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian tries to answer some questions.  CNNSI’s Tom Verducci gives his take on the AL playoffs.  FoxSports Ken Rosenthal gives us his Red Sox/Angels preview.

Don’t forget to vote in our poll below.

We Have Playoff Times

MLB has announced the starting time for the Yankees and Red Sox series and let’s just say they are weird. 

The Yankees will play at 6:30 on Thursday, the middle game of the day, 5pm on Friday (1st game of the day), 6:30pm on Sunday (3rd game of the day), 6pm Monday (1st game) and 5pm Wednesday (1st game) This makes sense because they will try and put the Boston series later in the day since they are playing a west coast team.

 

Boston plays 6:30pm Wednesday (middle game), 8:30pm Friday (late game), 3pm Sunday (2nd game), 9:30pm Monday (late game), 8:30pm Wedneday (late game) I suspect they play earlier than the Yankees on Sunday because the Jets play the Giants in New York on Sunday and TBS wants to avoid putting the Yankees on at the same time.

And, for those of you in the NYC area, good news, TBS HD will be available with most cable providers.   

The Year That Was

In March, I think most of us would have said 95 wins would be the minimum needed to get to the playoffs in 2007 and we were almost dead on. The Red Sox won 96 which took the division, ditto Cleveland and the Yankees and Angels won 94 which got them into the playoffs too. We will reflect on all of that later, but for now, let’s review 2007.

Let’s start with the biggest surprises and I think you have to say there are three big ones, Posada, A-Rod and Joba. Let’s start with the hitters, if you thought A-Rod would turn in the best offensive season by a Yankee in 50 years and Posada would turn in one of the best ever offensive seasons by a catcher over 35, you should head to Vegas. What that duo did is amazing and as impressive as A-Rod’s year was it overshadowed an amazing one by Posada. Jorge hit .338 and his OBP and SLG%’s were career highs. That doesn’t usually happen at 35 and the Yankees have to be careful when negotiating a new deal with him.

Joba came literally out of nowhere and transformed the bullpen. I wasn’t a fan of the move at the time and boy was I wrong. Let’s just hope the Yankees are smart enough to put the kid back into the rotation next year.

Disappointments? Well Carl Pavano’s continued fragility comes to mind, but let’s put Kei Igawa at the top of that list. It certainly looks like the Yankees threw away the $26 million posting fee, but maybe they can trade him in the offseason. Giambi and Damon had bad years and Kyle Farnsworth continues to underwhelm.

Big kudos have to go to Torre and Cashman for getting this team to the playoffs. Torre deserves huge credit for keeping a steady hand throughout an awful start and refusing to panic. 2007 showed that Cashman’s rebuilding of the farm system is real and he wisely chose to stand pat at the trade deadline. The Yankees are still not a young team, but Cashman has at least made it plausible that the Yankees will rebuild on the fly.

So, 94-68 and a 13th-straight playoff spot. Now the real fun starts.