Not Your Average W

September 15, 2009 – 11:16 am

NYY 5, Los Angeles 3. For a 1-game series/make-up game, I would submit that this was a pretty important game. Of all the teams that appear headed to the playoffs, the LA Angels are the one team that the Yankees seem to have significant problems with. It would be nice to get that monkey off their backs before October. Plus, LA is the one team standing between the Yankees and home-field advantage for the playoffs. So this game was a “two-fer” — but the bad news was that LA had their No. 1 starter, Jered Weaver, on the mound whereas the Yankees had their No. 4 starter hybrid, Chamberlain/Aceves, pitching.

Godzilla Goes YardSo for all those reasons, this one was a pretty big W. “Good” Joba actually showed up for the first time in a long time, surrendering only a solo home run to Vladimir Guerrero over four innings. Alfredo Aceves got touched up for a run in the fifth, and Phil Hughes actually looked human in giving up the lead with a run in the eighth. But all told, the Yankees held the Angels to 3 runs on 8 hits. Not bad at all, considering that LA is second only to New York in runs/game (5.51 compared to 5.75 for NYY). And LA has much the same type of “circular” lineup that the Yankees have — six of the regulars have BAs over .300, and only one starter is under .290. So anytime you limit either of these two teams to 3 runs, you’ve done your job.

In the end, the game was won with a pretty gutsy call by Joe Girardi, pinch-running Brett Gardner for Mark Teixiera in the eighth. Gardner stole third and then scored on catcher Mike Napoli’s throwing error. Lots of people were questioning Girardi’s call, but I liked it. You’ve got a great base-runner in Brett Gardner and Napoli has a dismal 15% caught-stealing rate. Why not put in Gardner, have him steal third, and then give Hideki Matsui and Jorge Posada two chances to drive him in? Yeah, more small ball, and that’s never ever a good idea under any circumstances — but once again, it worked and won the game. So kudos to Girardi.

And oh by the way, look who drove in the insurance run later that inning? None other than Robbie Cano, who can never ever hit with runners in scoring position. When is that nonsense going to stop?

Bottom line, a big win against the Halos. Of course, the real test comes next week with the 3-game series in LA — but this win takes some of the pressure off that series. Just winning one game there would mean splitting the four September games with LA and more than likely clinch home field for the Yankees. To say nothing of permanently getting the Halo monkey off their backs.

Photo: New York Post

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