Alex Rodriguez added to the Yankee lead in the top of the fifth when he sent a two-run bomb over the fence, for his third straight playoff game with a homerun. Posada worked a walk and stole second, a feat he hasn’t pulled off in a playoff game since the 2003 World Series. Cano doubled to center, but poor base running by Posada kept him on third, instead of scoring. In what was a truly bizarre play, and another example of terrible officiating, Swisher grounded one to the pitcher, who got Posada caught in a run-down. Cano had run towards third and merely stood by the bag watching. Posada stepped on the bag but immediately stepped right off it, Napoli tagged both runners and Cano quickly put his foot on the bag after he had been tagged. While both runners should have been called out, Cano was called safe.
Kendry Morales took advantage of CCs one mistake in the bottom of the fifth, driving a homer to center and finally getting the Halos on the board, 5-1. The Yankees continued to get some distance from the Angels in the eighth inning, when Cabrera walked, and scored on a big two-run shot to right by Johnny Damon. They did not stop in the ninth, when A-Rod drove a double to left, leaving him a triple shy of the cycle. Posada flew out to right, but a throwing error by Bobby Abreu allowed A-Rod to score. Cano walked with two outs and Gardner singled to center. Melky then doubled down the right field line scoring Cano and Abreu and giving the Yankees the 10-1 lead as Game 4 came to a close.
Baserunning: Even though the Yankees got the benefit of some atrocious calls, there were a few instances of really awful base running by the Bombers. Nick Swisher was slow to get back to second on a check throw in the fourth and should have been called out. Posada should have scored from second on a double but on managed to get to third. He then got caught in a run down that should have resulted in both Cano and him being called out. What Cano thought he was doing standing right next to third watching I will never understand.
Matsui: Godzilla was the only starter who failed to get on base. He was 0-5 and stranded five base runners. Luckily, the rest of the offense clicked and a slow night by the DH did not seem to make a huge difference.
CC: Pitching on short rest, Carsten Charles dominated the Halos. He gave up one run on five hits over eight innings, using only 101 pitches to do so. CC worked his way through the early innings keeping his pitch count way down and showing no signs of pitching without full rest. He struck out five and gave up two walks.
A-Rod: Alex continued his postseason tear, going his third straight playoff game with a homer. He went 3-4 and scored three runs with two RBIs and a walk.
Melky: Cabrera proved to be a handy weapon in the nine hole last night. He went 3-4 with four RBIs.
Last night’s game had a plethora of really horrendous calls on the base paths. Swisher should have been out at second, but when he later scored was called out for leaving third early. Replays showed not only that he did not leave early, but that Tim McClelland was not even looking at Swisher, rather his eyes were on Hunter making the catch in center. Following that, there was the debacle at third, where Mike Napoli really made a good play on some really atrocious base running by Posada and Cano. Still, somehow McClelland decided Cano was safe, despite him not stepping on third until after he was tagged. That call really shouldn’t have been hard to make – Napoli can only tag one person at a time and its not like the umpire needs to be watching center field while he does that.
This, of course, leads to more discussion about instant replay. I personally have always been against it for more than home run calls. Human error is just part of the game and sometimes you benefit (Cano/Swisher) and sometimes you don’t (Swisher). Last night did not do much to change my mind, with one small exception. This is not the first time during the playoffs we have seen a strange call regarding tagging up. It is hard to see how any umpire can see both a catch in the outfield and a runner tagging up at the same time, so perhaps this is the one area I could understand expanding the instant replay rule.
The real bummer about all this talk is that these awful calls really did not impact the score of the game, yet it is the focal point. Perhaps the Yankees should have won 11-1 if you count Swisher’s tag up play, however, he never should have gotten there after being tagged out at second. There were some incredible performances by CC, A-Rod and Melky. Overall, it was a great rebound from a disappointing Game 3, but the umpires seem to have stolen some of the limelight.
In the On Deck Circle:
AJ Burnett and John Lackey will square off in Game 5 of the ALCS Thursday night. AJ had a solid outing against the Angels in Game 2, going 6.1 innings and allowing only two runs. AJ didn’t get the decision, but he did deliver the pie in extras. AJ was a victim of his own wild pitch in that game, an ongoing problem this season. Lackey will be looking for some revenge for Game 1, where he took the loss at Yankees Stadium. He gave up nine hits and four runs (two earned). The Angels’ ace has been good at home, with a 3.86 ERA in thirteen starts. He is 5-7 with a 4.66 ERA against the Bombers. First pitch will be at 7:57pm Thursday night at Anaheim Stadium.