There are roughly 75 other pitchers in baseball that I’d rather have starting for my team in an elimination game than A.J. Burnett. And yet, this is the situation that the New York Yankees will find themselves in later tonight when Game Four of their American League Division Series begins.
The Yankees are in this predicament after this year’s Cody Ross, Delmon Young, slapped a solo home run off of Rafael Soriano (do you still want to pay a bunch of money for a reliever?) in the bottom of the seventh inning to put the Tigers ahead for good, eventually winning 5-4. Detroit starter Justin Verlander wasn’t quite his dominant self, but he managed to (as the hackish journalists are prone to saying) gut out eight innings, striking out eleven and giving up four runs, before making way for Papa Grande’s wild ride. Tigers closer Jose Valverde managed to get the save despite throwing 34 pitches and walking two batters.
So, now, Yankees manager Joe Girardi is in the awkward position of having to rely on a starter whose 5.15 ERA ranks him 92 out of the 94 qualified starting pitchers this season. However, before the doom and gloom in the forecast gets too severe, let’s remember that the opposing starter tonight, Rick Porcello, hasn’t exactly had a Cy Young caliber year. The Tigers starter ranks 85th on that list that measures ERA for qualified starters. In other words, we could see a bit of a shoot out tonight, and in that situation, my money is on the Yankees lineup.
Speaking of which, Alex Rodriguez drew two walks and drove in a run last night with a groundout in the first inning, but he remains hitless in the series. Mark Teixeira isn’t doing much better. After going zero for four with two strikeouts last night, Tex only has a single hit during the series. The most frustrating part of all this is that with the Tigers putting a defensive shift on for what seems like his every at bat, a carefully placed ground ball or two would not only guarantee he get on base, but likely force the Tigers infield defense to play him differently. In poker, you have to call a bluff every once in a while, just to show that you’re willing to do so.
Meanwhile, the way Brett Gardner is getting on base this series, it’s difficult to watch him bat so low in the lineup. He’s exactly the player that the Yankees need to give more at bats to, not less. While the team as a whole has been underwhelming in the last two games, there’s not doubt that they remain the better lineup and they must show it tonight to avoid head shakingly bad headlines in the New York Post tomorrow.
Game Four of the ALDS between New York and Detroit is scheduled for 8:37 PM EDT tonight.
And The Rest
Don’t judge the gas gauge from the passenger seat, and please don’t think that you have the best perspective on balls and strikes while sitting on your couch at home.
There might have still been some genuine issues with the strike zone last night, though.
Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington is a firm believer in himself.
Really, ESPN? Really?
The definitive answer on whether or not Red Sox pitchers were drinking beer in the clubhouse during games from Kevin Youkilis:
I mean, that’s another thing too, that’s… I don’t know if that’s been out there, that’s in the media, what we have and what we don’t have. I don’t know if I’m allowed to say if there is or there isn’t.
The house cleaning in Anaheim continues. It’s almost as though the management team made a universally panned trade last winter.
Phillies slugger Ryan Howard doesn’t mind going home again and again.
Joe West got the message, and then some.
Philadelphia Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin is the latest name attached to the rumoured list of candidates for the Boston Red Sox open manager’s job.
Jim Leyland doesn’t care for the New York Yankees pregame videos. Doesn’t he, you know, have other stuff on his plate?
If you love it, let it go. Why the New York Mets should leave Jose Reyes well enough alone.
Rafael Palmeiro is still maintaining his innocence.
Sure. Points to anyone who understand this: