ALCS Game 5: Yankees 6, Angels 7

Burnett came back out to start the bottom of the seventh and immediately gave up a single to Jeff Mathis and a walk to Erick Aybar. Marte came out for Burnett and after a sac bunt by Figgins to move the runners to second and third, he got Abreu to ground out to first, giving up a run, but getting the second out. Phil Hughes took over for Marte and walked Hunter. He then gave up a ground ball single to Guerrero, which scored Aybar. Another single to Morales gave the Angels the 7-6 lead. The Yankees had a chance in the top of the ninth, thanks to an intentional walk to A-Rod, a walk to Matsui and Cano getting hit by a pitch, but Nick Swisher’s offensive woes continued and he hit a pop up to short to end the game and send the series back to New York.

Bronx Cheers:
Swisher: Nick went 0-5 with a strikeout and left four on base. He did make a great play in the eighth to save a run, catching a fly ball and making a nice throw to the plate to keep Willits on third.

Burnett: If only that first inning was a practice inning! Burnett was not completely awful. In fact, from the second through sixth innings he kept things under control. Unfortunately, his first inning was so bad the Yankees were in a big hole early. In the end, Burnett went 6 innings and gave up eight hits for six earned runs. He walked three and struck out three.

Hughes: Marte did his job and Hughes just needed one out to maintain the Yankees 6-5 lead in the seventh. Instead, he gave up the winning run and picked up the loss. Hughes went .1 inning gave up 2 hits and one run. He walked one and struck out one. The most damaging moment came when he got Guerrero to flail at a nasty curveball and then shook off Posada and came back with a high fastball, which Guerrero sent to center.

Curtain Calls:
Teixeira: Teix’s bat finally showed up to the ALCS. He was 2-5 with a run scored and three RBIs. His double was a big part of getting the Yankees back in the game.

Melky: The Yankees centerfielder is having a great series. He is hitting .381 and went 2-4 last night, scoring a run.

Mo: Rivera came out in a tough spot in the eighth. The Yankees were down by one with two on and one out, but he did his job and kept the Pinstripes in the game, getting the outs and giving up nothing (except Aybar’s stolen base, which ended up not being an issue).

The Section Where We Complain About Girardi:
The Yankees had just mounted an incredible comeback, rattling off six runs in the top of the seventh. AJ was in line for the win, even if he may not have deserved it as much as some of his non-decisions this season. Even better, the Yankees bullpen was rested thanks to a day off and the fact that CC pitched a solid eight innings in Game 4. So clearly Joe I like to play with matchups” Girardi would start to send out the troops from the bullpen right? Not so much. Burnett took the mound in the bottom of the seventh, despite a lengthy wait while ten of his teammates went to the plate in the top of the inning.

It is not surprising that Burnett gave up a single and a walk to start the inning. Marte came in and did his job, but Hughes gave the game away by not trusting what was working for him – namely, his nasty curveball. I cannot for the life of me understand why Girardi sent Burnett back out there. What about Robertson, or Aceves or Joba for the seventh? I think last night was a learning moment for Hughes, who shook off Posada (the young guys need to start trusting that the veteran catcher with all those World Series rings might know what he’s doing) and then tried to throw a high fastball to Vladimir Guerrero. I just wish Girardi would start learning from his mistakes.

There was one other semi-baffling move made by the Yankee manager last night. It ended up not being an issue, but was still quite puzzling. In the top of the ninth the Angels chose once again to walk Alex Rodriguez intentionally. Girardi decided to pull his superstar third basemen for a pinch runner, Freddy Guzman. A-Rod is 14-16 in stolen bases this year and has even shown some great baserunning during this series. Girardi would only pull him if he truly wanted to steal second right? But Guzman didn’t steal second – or third. If the Yankees had scored did Girardi really want to send his team out there without their All-Star third baseman? And if the game went into extras did he really want to not have his biggest bat in the middle of his lineup? In the end, Nick Swisher’s pop up made this a moot point, but it is still making me scratch my head.

Section Where You Can Laugh At My Superstitious-ness:
I was living in Cleveland in 2007 when the Tribe went up 3-1 against the Red Sox in the ALCS. I remember going to get my hair cut and my hairdresser actually was wearing a Tribe 2007 World Series shirt. I remember asking if he didn’t feel like he was tempting fate by doing that and he laughed it off. Well, we all remember what happened. That is why I cringed a little when the Yankees started selling World Series tickets the other day – when they were leading the ALCS 3-1.

In the On Deck Circle:
As the ALCS heads back to the Bronx, Andy Pettitte will toe the rubber for the Bombers. A win would make Pettitte the all-time Major League leader in postseason wins. He took the no decision in the Yankees’ extra inning loss in Game 3, giving up seven hits and three runs. Andy has had a good season, though his home ERA (4.59) is not as good as his away ERA (3.71). Joe Saunders will take the mound for the Halos. Saunders had a strong start in Game 2, giving up two runs on six hits. First pitch is at 8:07pm on Saturday in the Bronx.