One Down, Ten To Go

October 8, 2009 – 1:35 pm

NYY 7, Minnesota 2. It’s hard to imagine how the playoffs could have started any better than this. First off, you have CC Sabathia putting to rest this idea that he can’t pitch well in the post-season because of his performance last year (as silly as that idea was in the first place). Although a bit shaky through the first three innings, CC settled down and ended up with a proverbial “quality start”, going 6.2 innings and allowing only 2 runs while striking out 8 and not walking anyone. And then you had Alex Rodriguez proving that all these theories about him not being able to get the job done in the post-season are also pretty ridiculous. Twice A-Rod delivered clutch RBI singles, going 2-for-3 with runners in scoring position. And then you had Derek Jeter, who long ago established his October credentials, having pretty much a perfect game at the plate — getting on base on all four at bats, going 2-for-2, with 2 RBIs, and scoring 3 runs. Not a bad night, no?

Captain OctoberAnd here’s to the managing job Joe Girardi did. Twice he avoided double plays by starting the runner at first, with the second instance ending up with a run scored. And then there was how he used his key relievers in the 7th and 8th innings. What at first glance might seem to be a severe case of over managing, I think was actually pretty smart. He’s got three very young, inexperienced pitchers — Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, and Phil Coke — who he’s going to have to rely heavily on in the post-season, so he took advantage of a fairly lopsided score to get all three into the game in a somewhat low pressure situation. That could well pay huge dividends over the next couple of weeks.

So now it’s an off day, and then we get to see if “good” A.J. or “bad” A.J. Burnett shows up Friday. Plus, we’ll see how Girardi’s gambit with starting Jose Molina pays off. There are obviously lots of pluses and minuses to this move, but I think the key here is that Girardi clearly is aware of all the issues — and for exactly that reason, is carrying Francisco Cervelli on the post-season roster. So as long as A.J. and Jose are getting the job done, then everything is fine. But once A.J. is done, or he needs Jorge Posada’s bat in the lineup, he can quickly make the move as he still has the requisite backup catcher. So all in all, I think it makes perfect sense.

Photo: Newsday

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