Now That’s A Big Win

September 23, 2009 – 11:57 am

NYY 6, Los Angeles 5. What a roller coaster ride! For four and a half innings it looked like the old post-All Star Break Yankees were back. Three home runs along with some excellent pitching from Chad Gaudin had given them a 5-0 lead. Just get one more inning out of Gaudin, then turn things over to the pros in the bullpen, and this should be an easy win, right? Well, in the bottom of the fifth everything hit a brick wall — the pitching went down the tubes, the hitting disappeared, the fielding got ugly, and Joe Girardi’s bullpen management couldn’t get anything right.

Back To The PlayoffsThe pitching failure was at least a bit understandable. Chad Gaudin just ran out of gas, which seems to be his pattern. But it’s a pattern that Girardi hasn’t picked up on, as he left him in one or two batters too long. Alfredo Aceves getting pounded is a bit disturbing, but I guess you can chalk that up to his not having been used in eight days. Again, how Girardi let that happen is a legitimate question. But maybe that had to do with the whole cruise control mode they had been in? Then there was Damaso Marte failing to get his one assigned batter out. But I never have understood this whole concept of “match up” pitchers who are expected to come in to a game once a week for the sole purpose of pitching to one and only one batter. That’s a recipe for disaster from the git-go, so I don’t hold Marte or any pitcher who is used like this responsible. It’s the manager who is using this strategy who is culpable.

But then as quickly as the game turned ugly, the Yankees all of a sudden woke up in the ninth to play excellent ball in what for all practical purposes was a playoff environment. To Girardi’s credit he managed some great small ball in the ninth, sticking with it even after Damon got two strikes on him. And it worked to perfection, with A-Rod getting the sacrifice fly and the go ahead run. Then in the ninth it was Rivera back in his usual form, and Posada more than made up for his shoddy defense in the eighth by gunning down Reggie Willits trying to steal second.

So all in all, this was a very big win. It was almost an aside that earlier the Rangers lost, which effectively clinched a playoff position for the Yankees. The real goal here is best record in the league, and so the Rangers loss wasn’t really all that relevant. This was the game they needed to win, and they pulled it out. Not only that, it was a win against LA in Anaheim, so possibly that monkey is also off their backs. Certainly winning in the fashion that they did will be a huge confidence booster should they find themselves back here in Anaheim in October. A good start to getting in playoff form, for sure. Now to see if A.J. Burnett can keep things moving in that same direction.

Photo: Newsday

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