Winning Ugly

September 27, 2010 – 11:26 am

NYY 4, Boston 3. Back to winning ugly again, but hey, who’s complaining, right? Joe Girardi decided that it was time to go back to winning mode, and so ran out Phil Hughes as the starter instead of the scheduled Dustin Moseley, and backed him up with all the regulars in the starting lineup. The Red Sox had Daisuke Matsuzaka starting, who’s been absolutely terrible lately (September 8.34 ERA and .311 BAA), along with an assortment of AAA players filling in for injured starters. Should be an easy W you would think. But nothing comes easy for the Yankees these days. To his credit, Daisuke did appear to pitch much better than he has of late, with his control being particularly improved. But the Yankees couldn’t seem to figure that out, as they slept walked through the first eight innings. I lost count of how many called third strikes they took. Meanwhile though, Phil Hughes was matching Daisuke’s performance and then some — maybe Hughes is the missing No. 2 starter for the playoffs?

Juan MirandaIn the end the Yankees pulled it out by first taking the lead in the seventh with a clutch 2-run homer by “Clutchless” Alex Rodriguez, who is these days the only Yankee showing any kind of consistency at all. Then after Mariano Rivera had blown the save in the ninth (with more than a little help from Jorge Posada), Robbie Cano came through with the clutch hit to send the game to extra innings. And at that point it was all too much for Boston’s bullpen, and Hideki Okajima walked Juan Miranda to plate the winning run. Ugly finish to what was overall an ugly game.

The big story coming out of this one has to be Mariano Rivera — the excuse that even he will have an occasional bad game, and that’s all this was, is starting to wear a little thin. This makes four rough outings in his last six appearances, with three of those blown saves. The reality is that he’s 40 years old, and at some point age will catch up with him — and based on the last couple of weeks, that point may well be now. And could it come at a worse time, with just one week left before the playoffs? There’s virtually no room for error in the playoffs, particularly in the short 5-game division series. Would Girardi even consider not going with Mo in a save situation? And what makes the call all that much tougher for Girardi is that since joining the Yankees Kerry Wood has been to the eighth inning what Mo historically has been to the ninth inning. Wood’s stats are phenomenal — as a Yankee his ERA is 0.36, he’s allowed only one run over 25 innings, and that one run was in his second game. He’s not allowed a single run in his last 21 appearances. Do you go with the greatest closer of all time, or do you go with the best closer you have on the roster today? As if Girardi didn’t already have enough tough decisions to make about the pitching.

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