Pettitte + Swisher = Offense!

November 1, 2009 – 12:04 pm

NYY 8, Philadelphia 5. The Yankee offense finally woke up after napping through the first two games, giving Andy Pettitte his 17th career playoff win, more than anyone else in baseball history. And who else to kick start the offense than Alex Rodriguez, getting his first hit of the series with a 2-run homer off a TV camera in right-field in the fourth inning. Then to prove the point that the offense was indeed back, Nick Swisher came to the plate in the next inning nursing an ugly .111 postseason BA and got a lead-off double. Then who else but Pettitte himself to drive in the tying run with a single to left. And if Andy can hit Phillie pitching, then why not everyone else? Sure enough, Pettitte’s hit seemed to open the flood gates, and the Yankees scored twice more in the fifth, and proceeded to score a run in the next three innings, including another big hit by Swisher, a solo home run in the sixth. From there it was pretty much easy coasting to an 8-5 win and a 2-1 series edge.

Swish Is BackProbably the best news of all coming out of this game is that Joe Girardi seems to have returned to more sane ways of managing the bullpen. There were lots of opportunities for Girardi to go to his mix-and-match-let’s-see-who-can-blow-this-game strategy, but instead he stuck to the tried and true strategy of letting his relievers do what they are supposed to do — get men out. In the seventh Joba Chamberlain easily got a 3-up-3-down inning. Hopefully Joba has now established himself as the go-to setup guy in the pen now, as he’s now sporting a 2.08 postseason ERA and has given up a run in only one of eight appearances. Then in the eighth, it was Damaso Marte of all people pitching a perfect inning, with two strikeouts. I’ve always wondered what Marte would be like if he were ever allowed to pitch to more than one batter per appearance (which I’ve always maintained is absurd) — and this was his third straight multi-hitter outing, and in all three he’s retired every batter he’s faced. It’s going to be interesting to see if Girardi continues to use more of Damaso in this way.

Then in the ninth, Girardi brought in Phil Hughes, which I suspect got a lot of Yankee fans a bit upset — but I think even that was the right move. With a 4-run lead and Mariano ready to go one inning, why not give Hughes one more shot at getting himself back on track? If he can do what Chamberlain and Marte did, that’s a real positive all around. But alas, Hughes gave up a solo home run to a weak hitting Carlos Ruiz and that was that. Mariano closed things out by throwing all of five pitches, so no damage done. And Girardi should now be pretty much convinced that Hughes just can’t be trusted for the rest of the series. So even the move to bring in Hughes proved to be a good one.

So now it’s CC Sabathia vs. the Phillies No. 4 starter, Joe Blanton in what is clearly a critical game for the Phillies. The stars are starting to line up very nicely for the Yankees. Onward.

Photo: Yahoo! Sports

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