Let it be

Generally, we like to do a few things. We like to hear narratives and we like to categorize/classify things. In 2011, we live in an age where narratives can change in 140 characters or fewer and in no time at all. Because of that age of immediacy, we’re also apt to blow things out of proportion. Perhaps the fleeting nature of our collective attention span or the fleeting nature of new media, but we always feel the need to pump something up. Maybe we figure that it’ll be forgotten soon enough, so we might as well milk it for all it’s worth.

This popped up yesterday in the wake of Curtis Granderson’s marvelous catches against the Tigers in Game Four of the ALDS on Tuesday night. Friend of the blog Sean McNally made a great point:

Why does everything that just happened have to be “the best ever?” Can’t things just effing be?

I’m with Sean. Granted, I’m sure I’ve been guilty of in-the-moment-aggrandizing before, but I think we need to take his simple words to heart.… Click here to read the rest

Yankees have the Game 5 starter they wanted

And now he’s starting the biggest game of his life, Game 5 of the ALDS at Yankee Stadium. It’s his second appearance of the series, after a pretty darn good performance in Game 1 when he went 6.1 innings after the suspension of play, allowing just 2 runs on 4 hits and 4 walks while striking out 5. And both of those runs scored after Nova left the game in Luis Ayala‘s hands in the 9th. With all hands on deck tonight, Nova probably won’t be asked to do that much, and he’ll probably be on a bit of a short leash once the middle innings role around. It feels weird to say, but A.J. Burnett is basically the benchmark for this start. If Nova can do more or less the same thing Burnett did in Game 4, we’ll be able to chalk the start up as a success and the Yankees will be in a very good spot.

But still, we’re talking about a rookie who kind of came out of nowhere to an extent this year, and now he’s pitching a deciding game at Yankee Stadium.… Click here to read the rest

2011 ALDS Game 5 Preview | Ivan Nova vs. Doug Fister, the sequel

It's on.

Matt already previewed Ivan Nova and Doug Fister, tonight’s do-or-die ALDS Game 5 starters, in his preview piece last weekend, so rather than rehash all that, let’s recap what these two pitchers did last Saturday night:

Ivan Nova

6.1IP, 2ER (though they were inherited runners Luis Ayala was unable to strand), 4H, 4BB, 5K, 101 pitches, 3.34 FIP. First-pitch strikes to 15 of 25 batters faced. 15 called strikes, 12 swinging strikes, 20 foul balls, 15 in-play strikes. 6 ground balls, 7 fly balls.

Below is a chart of Nova’s pitch selection on October 1 compared to on the entire season (numbers c/o Joe Lefkowitz). The usual caveats apply here with regards to trying to make comparisons and draw conclusions from PITCHf/x data — especially with a pitcher like Nova, who has noticeably continued to refine and tweak his arsenal over the course of the season.

The primary things that jump out to me here is Nova’s increased use of both a two-seamer and slider against both righthanded and lefthanded batters, at the expense of fewer four-seamers.… Click here to read the rest

How the Yankees have fared in playoff series that have gone the distance since 1995

(photo c/o NY Daily News)

The Yankees’ lopsided 10-1 victory in Detroit on Tuesday night ensured that the Bombers would have the opportunity to return home to the Bronx to finish the Tigers off in a winner-takes-all Game 5 of the 2011 American League Division Series. The victory was the Yankees’ second-ever road win in an ALDS Game 4 to force a Game 5 at home — the first was against Oakland in 2001. The last time the Yankees played an ALDS that went the distance was in 2005, when they lost to the Angels in Los Angeles.

The Yankees have played five previous ALDS Game 5s — compiling a 2-3 record all time — but they only had home field advantage in one of those five — that 2001 series against Oakland, which they won. The Yankees have played three Game 7s in the DS era, going 1-2 in those contests, giving the team a 3-5 record overall (though 2-1 at home) in playoff series enders.… Click here to read the rest

Crazy thought of the day: Bat Jorge 3rd

So here’s my crazy idea given that the next game is a deciding game, and that all of the chips have to be put in this pot, why have your hottest hitter batting 7th? Why not move Posada up in the lineup. Say, to third? I wouldn’t necessarily want to move Granderson out of the two-hole, but given how adept Posada has been at getting on base against the Tigers, why not stick him in front of Robinson Cano, and just move the normal 3-6 hitters down a slot?

This isn’t going to happen, of course, in part because Joe Girardi just isn’t the type of manager to make these kind of changes in the spotlight, and also because there’d probably be at least a small “oh my god they moved A-Rod they out of the cleanup spot!” reaction. But are either of those things really that bad? The latter seems particularly silly, both because moving from fourth to fifth in the lineup isn’t really that big of a deal (fifth is where Robinson Cano has spent the bulk of the past two seasons, after all), and because I very much doubt A-Rod would be too bent out of shape about being asked to make the switch for one game.… Click here to read the rest

Game of Inches

6 inches.

The pitcher who couldn’t throw a strike threw a fastball down the middle, and the ball took off into the cold Detroit night sky. The merry-go-round of baserunners started to move, while the reliever warming in the bullpen continued to throw. The ex-Tigers’ star patrolling center field froze for an instant, as many centerfielders do on low liners hit right at them. In that instant of hesitation, a race between fielder and ball began, a race for the game, the season, and the baseball fate of the man on the mound. A race that was decided by no more than 6 inches.

Baseball is a fickle game. One pitch called a ball rather than a strike, one broken bat bloop that finds grass, one ball that just makes it inside the foul line can change the course of a game and, at the right time, a season. It is part of the unpredictability of baseball, where luck often infiltrates the sport and overrides skill, surprising us in fantastic ways at the most fascinating moments.… Click here to read the rest

One more on A-Rod

After Game 2, I opined that, while I wouldn’t object to Joe Girardi moving him down in the lineup if his thumb injury warranted it, I thought people were pretty drastically overstating how bad A-Rod was struggling in the first two games of the series. Heck, some people were calling for him to be taken out of the lineup altogether in favor of Eric Chavez!

Well after two more games and two hits, I think we’re pretty much right where were two games ago with A-Rod. His overall line in the series is still an uninspiring .143/.278/.143, but as will be the case when you’re working with a sample size of only four games, there’s a lot that’s not accounted for in those numbers. For example, A-Rod’s driven in three runs through the first four games, all of them scoring on outs. That’s not as good as bringing them in with a base hit or blasting a ball over the fence, obviously, but it’s much better than making an out without bringing the runner from third base.… Click here to read the rest