Results tagged ‘ Raul Ibanez ’
Masahiro Tanaka and Jon Lester, who were paired against each other Saturday night at Yankees Stadium, first hooked up April 22 at Fenway Park. At the time, Tanaka was still an unknown quantity although he had already opened plenty of eyes. But in the tense atmosphere of Boston’s old yard, the Japanese righthander was going to face some strong scrutiny.
He passed with flying colors. Tanaka pitched 7 1/3 innings and allowed two earned runs and seven hits with no walks and seven strikeouts in improving his record to 3-0. The Yankees pounded Lester for 11 hits and eight runs, although five were not earned due to errors by catcher A.J. Pierzynski and first baseman Mike Napoli.
Tanaka’s record was up to 11-2 entering play Saturday night. The Elias Sports Bureau put together some interesting information on the American League Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year candidate.
Tanaka has pitched at least six innings and allowed three runs or fewer in each of his 15 starts. In the past 103 seasons since earned runs became an official statistis in 1912, he is one of only two pitchers to produce such an outing in each of his first 15 major-league games. The other was the Expos’ Steve Rogers, who did so in each of his first 16 games for Montreal in 1973).
Tanaka is the only pitcher to produce such an outing in each of his first 15 starts with the Yankees and one of only three Yankees pitchers to produce such a start in 15 consecutive starts at any point in their careers. The others were CC Sabathia (16 games) in 2010 from June 3 to Aug. 22 and Ron Guidry (15 games) in 1978 from April 8 to June 22.
No pitcher has recorded a longer such streak since the Giants’ Ryan Vogelsong had 16 consecutive quality starts in 2012 from May 3 to July 29.
Elias also pointed out that Friday night’s 6-0 victory over the Red Sox marked the first time in franchise history that two non-pitchers each age 40 or older started a game together for the Yankees in shortstop Derek Jeter and right fielder Ichiro Suzuki. The last pair of 40-year-olds to start for the Yankees prior to Friday was pitcher Andy Pettitte and outfielder Raul Ibanez in 2012.
Yankees fans should take note that the rainout makeup game against the Royals at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City will be at 7:10 p.m. Aug. 25.
The Yankees were probably due for one of these games, but it always painful to watch when it happens. The offensively-challenged Mariners bolted out of the game with seven runs in the first inning and kept adding to their light-hitting totals on the way to a 12-2 victory Wednesday night behind the solid pitching of the latest Japanese sensation, Hisashi Iwakuma.
Leading the way was none other than Raul Ibanez, who has been a terror against his 2012 team. Showing that he has lost none of his power stroke at Yankee Stadium, Ibanez belted two home runs, one a grand slam, and knocked in six runs. That gives him three home runs and eight RBI in the past two games. What does he think this is, the American League Division Series or the AL Championship Series?
The Yankees have had 11 come-from-behind victories, but this proved too uphill a climb for them. Iwakuma gave up solo home runs to Vernon Wells and Chris Stewart and little else in his seven innings as he improved to 5-1 with a 1.84 ERA. Iwakuma, 32, is proving that his 9-5, 3.16-ERA record in 2012 for Seattle was no fluke. He and Felix Hernandez have been a dangerous 1-2 pitching combination, although they rarely get this kind of run support.
Phil Hughes suffered his poorest outing of the season and one of the worst of his career in giving up seven runs, six hits and two walks in two-thirds of an inning, which shot his ERA up from 4.43 to 5.88. It was only the second time a Yankees starter failed to complete the first inning in the current Stadium. It also happened May 21, 2009 with Joba Chamberlain against the Orioles (2/3 innings, 2 hits, 0 runs).
“Phil was up in the zone,” manager Joe Girardi said. “You can pitch up in the zone, but he got too many balls in the middle of the plate.”
“I didn’t have much of a fastball, so I tried changeups and sliders,” Hughes said. “I kept trying to find something. I’m going to have trouble sleeping the next four nights. You have to put the team in a situation like this where eventually some guys are playing out of position. The last thing you want is for someone to get hurt.”
Girardi did resort to some musical chairs in the blowout. Stewart moved from behind the plate to play first base. In the ninth when poor Brett Marshall in his major-league debut was wiped out by throwing 108 pitches, Girardi had shortstop Alberto Gonzalez get the last out.
“I didn’t want to use another reliever and asked Alberto about it before the inning,” Girardi said. “I picked him because shortstops usually have the most accurate arms.”
In the same move, Wells, who had been the designated hitter, played second base. Last week, the career outfielder played an inning at third base.
There were not too many bright sides for the Yankees, but there were some. Preston Claiborne added to his scoreless stretch of pitching with 2 1/3 innings of one-hit, two-strikeout relief and has now been unscored upon in five appearances and seven innings. Triple A Scranton call-up David Adams made his major-league debut on his 26th birthday and had a single in four at-bats and handled five chances in the field without incident.
Lyle Overbay had two more hits, a double and a single, to continue his terrific job at replacing Mark Teixeira at first base. Over the Yankees’ first 40 games, Overbay is batting .266 with 10 doubles, one triple, six home runs and 24 RBI. Through 40 games a year ago, Teixeira hit .229 with nine doubles, five homers and 22 RBI.
The only good thing the Yankees could say about the top of the first inning Wednesday night is that they still had 27 outs to try and get back into the game. Man, was that one ugly frame.
Many folks were still walking to the seats while the Mariners were running all around the bases on the way to a 7-0 lead that they gave to starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma, the former Japanese Olympics and Pacific League star who has gotten off to a great start here in the U.S. (4-1, 1.74 ERA).
Yankees starter Phil Hughes could not get into a rhythm and was gone before the lengthy inning was over. Seven consecutive Seattle batters reached base at one point, four of whom scored on one swing, a familiar swing at that, by Raul Ibanez, who crushed a 0-1 fastball to right-center for his fifth home run of the season and second in this series. In his first five at-bats in his return to Yankee Stadium since last October’s postseason heroics, Ibanez has wounded his former team with two home runs and six RBI.
Hughes had no command of his breaking pitches and was forced to rely on his fastball, which the Seattle hitters knew was coming since nothing else was working for the righthander. A one-out walk to Dustin Ackley got the rally started and was followed by three singles that produced two runs and another walk before Ibanez lowered the boom.
Home runs tend to be rally killers, but not this time. Former Yankees prospect Jesus Montero joined Ibanez in haunting the Yankees with a single. After a fielder’s choice, Michael Saunders chased Hughes with a run-scoring double. Fans were none too kind to Hughes, whose ERA rose to 5.88, as he walked to the dugout. The fans’ attitude improved when reliever Preston Claiborne ended the inning with a strikeout.
This was a stunning development considering that the Mariners rank next to last in the American League in team batting average and runs scored. Seven runs are often the most they can score in a whole series let alone one inning.
It was also a wild start in a major-league debut of David Adams, the starting third baseman who was called up by the Yankees from Scranton. Chris Nelson was optioned to the Triple A affiliate to make room on the 25-man roster for Adams, who turned 26 Wednesday. That’s some birthday present.
It is not entirely true that the marquee matchup Tuesday night of the Yankees’ CC Sabathia and the Mariners’ Felix Hernandez, a couple of former American League Cy Young Award winners, did not materialize. Each had impact in the game. It is just that the outcome occurred after they had departed.
Neither starter was involved in the decision, although for a time it seemed that Hernandez would be the winner and Sabathia the loser. This was a game that ended up decided by the bullpens. In that case, it is no contest against the Yankees these days.
Shawn Kelley took over for Sabathia in the seventh with the score 3-1 Mariners, runners on first and third with one out and retired Kelly Shoppach on a strikeout and Raul Ibanez on a fly to left. After a botched attempt for a force on a sacrifice bunt gave Seattle runners on first and second with none out in the eighth, David Robertson worked another of his Houdini tricks by striking out Michael Saunders and getting pinch hitter Justin Smoak to line into a double play. Mariano Rivera provided a spotless ninth to make it 16-for-16 in save opportunities this season.
The relievers’ 2 2/3 combined innings extended the pen’s current scoreless streak to nine games covering 23 2/3 innings. The relief corps has pitched to a 0.77 ERA and held opposing hitters to a .161 batting average with seven walks and 36 strikeouts over that stretch.
One of the three runs off Sabathia, who pitched 6 1/3 innings, was not earned due to an error by first baseman Lyle Overbay that led to a run in the third. Overbay would atone for that bobble in the seventh with a sacrifice fly that unlocked a 3-3 score. Overbay had doubled in a run to get the Yankees on the board in the sixth against Hernandez, who came out after that inning because of back spasms. That was the opening the Yankees needed.
Seattle’s bullpen was not the support system for King Felix that the Yankees’ was for CC. Yoervis Molina gave up a leadoff single in the seventh to Chris Nelson and wild-pitched him to second base. One out later, lefthander Charlie Furbush walked left-handed batting Brett Gardner and yielded a two-run, game-tying double to right-center by lefty-swinging Robinson Cano, the Yankees’ only hit in 11 at-bats with runners in scoring position.
Furbush walked Vernon Wells intentionally to get at another left-handed batter, back from the disabled list Curtis Granderson, and walked him quite unintentionally. Overbay, also swinging from the left side, put a charge into a 3-2 fastball for a drive to deep enough center to score Cano with the go-ahead run. The Yanks’ pen handled matters from there.
The other two runs off Sabathia, who walked two batters and struck out 10, came on a home run in the sixth by Ibanez, who returned to Yankee Stadium for the first time since he was a 2012 postseason hero for the Yankees. CC enjoyed when Ibanez poked homers to right field last October against the Orioles and Tigers but not at all when he found his favorite area for homer No. 4 this season.
No one at the Stadium was expected to cheer Ibanez when he homered against the Yankees, but the reaction from the crowd of 41,267 to Ibanez when he first came to the plate, in the second inning, was curious to say the least.
Considering the dramatic impact of his heroics seven months ago, it was somewhat surprising that Ibanez received such a tepid response from the fans, who applauded politely but with few of them standing. There were even some sounds of boos, although that might have been chants of “Ra-oool.” You can never tell when guys have names that rhyme with “boo.” Think of Moose Skowron or Lou Piniella or Goose Gossage, for example.
Rivera could see Ibanez in the dugout in the ninth and was determined to keep him there. Ibanez was in the hole two batters away when Mo ended the game.
NASHVILLE – There was good news and bad news for Yankees fans coming out of baseball’s Winter Meetings Monday at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center.
First, the good news; another person associated with the Yankees was elected to the Hall of Fame. The Pre-Integration Era Veterans Committee elected former club owner Jacob Ruppert to the Hall, along with 19th-century catcher-third baseman Deacon White and umpire Hank O’Day.
Among Ruppert’s many contributions to the Yankees in his time as owner was the design of their pinstriped uniforms, the purchase of Babe Ruth’s contract from the Red Sox and the construction of the original Yankee Stadium, a palace among baseball parks in the 1920s. Ruppert’s nickname was “The Colonel,” even though his time as a colonel in the National Guard was short, certainly less than his four terms as a United States congressman from the Democratic Party.
“The election of Jacob Ruppert to the Hall of Fame is a great honor for the Yankees organization,” managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said. “Under his leadership, the Yankees became the most popular and successful team in baseball, setting the standard which we try to uphold today.”
Ruppert becomes the 48th individual enshrined in the Hall to have played, managed, coached, owned or been a general manager for the Yankees. He joins Ed Barrow, Larry MacPhail, Lee MacPhail and George Weiss among Hall of Famers who had ownership stakes or were general managers of the Yankees but never played for, coached or managed the club.
The bad news, however, is quite grim. Alex Rodriguez will require surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left hip and will likely miss at least the first half of the 2013 season. The news, first reported by George King in the New York Post, is a severe blow to the Yankees but also serves to explain in part why the third baseman may have struggled so much during the past postseason when he hit .120 with 12 strikeouts in 25 at-bats.
“I do think that it’s a likely scenario that the struggles we saw in September and in October are more likely than not related to this issue,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said during a press conference here. “Clearly Alex was dealing with an issue that although he might be asymptomatic but the lower half and the way the mechanisms work, he wasn’t firing on all cylinders. There were times that we thought watching him that he was all arms and no legs, but again, there were no complaints, no pain, and then in the playoffs when he got pinch hit for, he did have a complaint that he felt his right hip wasn’t working right, and that was all clear.”
According to Cashman, Rodriguez told manager Joe Girardi in the dugout the night of Game 3 of the American League Division Series against the Orioles when A-Rod was lifted for pinch hitter Raul Ibanez, who hit a game-tying home run, that his right hip did not feel right. Rodriguez had an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) exam after the game at New York Presbyterian Hospital that did not reveal any damage.
Rodriguez had a checkup during the offseason in Vail, Colo., which showed a tear in the left hip that was confirmed in a second opinion by Dr. Bryan Kelly, who will perform the operation at the Hospital for Special Surgery after A-Rod completes a four- to six-week pre-surgery regimen. The procedure is expected to require four to six months for recovery.
With the surgery likely to be scheduled in January, the earliest Rodriguez could be expected to play would be June and more realistically after the All-Star break in July.
So what do the Yankees do about third base for the first half of next season? Cashman all but ruled out the possibility of Eduardo Nunez playing there (“We see him as a shortstop,” the GM said) and pointed out that the club got through 2012 with several players in left field filling in for injured Brett Gardner.
Jayson Nix, who has re-upped with the Yanks for 2013, could be used in part of a platoon. Eric Chavez, who played in 64 games (50 starts) at the position last season, is now a free agent.
“My sole interest is just improving the entire club,” Cashman said. “Whether we solve any issue specifically at that position of third base, I can’t really answer.”
Not to be flippant about it, but the Yankees saved their worst for last. Their season ended with a thud Thursday as Detroit completed a four-game sweep of the American League Championship Series with a convincing 8-1 victory. It marked the second consecutive season that the Tigers eliminated the Yankees from the postseason, becoming the first team to do that since the New York Giants in the World Series of 1921 and 1922. A year later, the Yankees won the first of their 27 championships, so maybe this will be a good omen.
Nothing feels good to the Yankees now. Getting swept in a postseason series is something the franchise is not used to. It had not happened to the Yankees since the 1980 ALCS when they lost in three games to the Royals back when the series was still a best-of-5. The Yankees had played 36 postseason series without getting swept before Thursday.
It is not at all that difficult to analyze what went wrong for the Yankees. They simply did not hit. They scored in only three of the 39 innings of the series and only six runs total. They never had the lead for a single inning in the series, something that happened to them only once before, in the 1963 World Series when they were swept by the Dodgers.
Actually, the Yankees’ offense was pretty scarce throughout the postseason, but they were picked up by their pitching staff. The remarkable work of the rotation also ended Thursday as CC Sabathia, who got the Yanks into the ALCS with a complete-game triumph over the Orioles in Game 5 of the AL Division Series, came apart.
But what the Yankees needed more than a big game from CC Thursday was a big game from the lineup. Nick Swisher came up with his first run-scoring hit with a runner in scoring position in this postseason with a double in the sixth inning, but that was it as the team that set a franchise record with 245 home runs this year continued to falter in the postseason. A team that averaged 1.5 home runs per game during the regular season had only seven home runs in nine postseason games.
Raul Ibanez supplied most of the muscle with three dramatic home runs, but the Yankees got no homers from their usual sluggers – Swisher, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano. It was not just a power outage, either. The Yankees’ team batting average was .157 in the ALCS and .188 overall in the postseason.
Ibanez’s heroics pinch hitting for Rodriguez in Game 4 of the ALDS unfortunately created a media circus around A-Rod, who had been rendered helpless against right-handed pitching in postseason play (0-for-18 with 12 strikeouts) and was benched in the final game of the ALDS and the last two games of the ALCS. Rodriguez has taken the blunt of the blame for the Yanks’ ouster, which is unfair.
He was part of the problem but by no means all of it. Eric Chavez, who replaced Rodriguez at third base, was hitless in 16 at-bats and made two costly errors in the ALCS. Curtis Granderson, who hit 43 home runs during the regular season, homered in Game 5 of the ALDS but was 0-for-11 in the ALCS. He had only two hits other than the home runs in 30 postseason at-bats and struck out 16 times. Swisher hit .167 with 10 strikeouts.
Then there was the strange case of Cano, who endured one of the cruelest postseasons for a New York player that brought to mind the struggles of Yankees right fielder Dave Winfield (1-for-22 in the 1981 World Series) and Brooklyn Dodgers first baseman Gil Hodges (0-for-21 in the 1952 World Series).
Cano entered the postseason as the hottest hitter in baseball with a streak of nine multi-hit games in which he went 24-for-39, a .615 tear. The All-Star second baseman managed only three hits in 40 postseason at-bats (.075), including 1-for-18 (.056) against Detroit pitching. Cano went 29 at-bats without a hit over one stretch, the longest postseason drought in club history, which covers a lot of ground. This was the Yankees’ 51st postseason covering 73 series.
As it turned out, 2012 was a season in which the Yankees peaked too soon. They were running away with the AL East by mid-July with a double-digit lead and then had to fight and claw to finish in first place at season’s end. The same Baltimore team that hounded them in the regular season pushed them to the full five games of the ALDS. A talented Detroit staff headed by the game’s most talent pitcher, Justin Verlander, kept the Yankees’ bat silenced.
Now silence is all there is left of the Yankees’ season.
Hours before the Presidential debate at Hofstra, Yankees fans had plenty to debate about the team’s lineup for American League Championship Series Game 3 at Detroit’s Comerica Park. No Alex Rodriguez. No Nick Swisher. Eduardo Nunez is playing shortstop. Where do we begin?
Well, the starting point is that the Yankees are down 0-2 in the series with no Derek Jeter, the next three games (they hope; it could be only two) in the other club’s yard and the reigning AL Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Award winner on the mound Tuesday night. How’s that for backs against the wall?
Yankees manager Joe Girardi decided that the lack of production from A-Rod and Swish in the postseason needed to be replaced by something different. Brett Gardner, who has had three at-bats since April, was inserted in left field and the leadoff spot with Ichiro Suzuki moving to right field and batting second.
Gardner joins Ichiro and Curtis Granderson to give the Yankees their swiftest outfield, which is important at spacious Comerica and a fly-ball pitcher, Phil Hughes, starting for them. Despite hitting two home runs during the regular season off Verlander, Rodriguez has been struggling big-time right-handing pitching in the postseason, which has resulted in Girardi lifting him for pinch hitters twice and benching him in the final game of the AL Division Series.
Using Eric Chavez at third base allows Girardi to get another left-handed batter, Raul Ibanez, the postseason batting star for the Yankees, in the lineup as the designated hitter. Nunez at short is definitely a gamble. He is a liability on defense, but the Yankees need a boost in offense (they were held scoreless in 21 of 22 innings in the first two games).
Let’s face it; the whole lineup is a gamble. When you are in the situation the Yankees are, rolling the dice is all that is left.
Derek Jeter has become so synonymous with postseason play that it was difficult to accept the fact that the Yankees were in a playoff game Sunday without him on the roster. The Captain is gone for what remains of baseball in 2012 with a broken left ankle that he sustained in the 12th inning of Saturday night’s 6-4 loss to Detroit in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series.
Eduardo Nunez took Jeter’s spot on the ALCS roster, but it was utility man Jayson Nix who got the starting nod at shortstop, batting ninth in the order. Taking Jeter’s place in the leadoff role was Ichiro Suzuki. Manager Joe Girardi basically pushed his lineup one batter up with Robinson Cano in the 2-hole, followed by Mark Teixeira third and Raul Ibanez cleanup. Alex Rodriguez was also in the lineup in the 6-hole.
In Game 1, Jeter collected his 200th career postseason hit, a single to right field in the second inning. The closest player to him on the all-time postseason list is former teammate Bernie Williams at 128. Jeter also holds career postseason records for runs (111), total bases (302), doubles (32) and triples (tied for first with five).
Saturday night’s game was only the second ALCS Game 1 to reach the 12th inning. The first was Oct. 4, 1969, the first year of the LCS, when the Orioles defeated the Twins, 4-3, on a walk-off single by Paul Blair. The 12-inning game Saturday tied the Tigers’ record for longest postseason games. Detroit’s three other 12-inning postseason games were all in the World Series: Oct. 8, 1907 against the Cubs; Oct. 4, 1934 against the Cardinals and Oct. 8, 1945 against the Cubs.
Ibanez’s two-run, ninth-inning home run was the 114th home run in postseason history in the ninth inning or later that tied or gave a team the lead. Ibanez is only the second player to do this three times in one career, joining Hall of Famer Johnny Bench. Raul is the only player to accomplish the feat three times in the same postseason and the only player in history with three homers in the ninth inning or later in a single postseason.
With his single in the first inning, third baseman Miguel Cabrera has reached base safely in all 17 career postseason games with the Tigers. His streak is the second-longest in franchise history, trailing only Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg’s 18-game streak from Oct. 3, 1934 to Oct. 4, 1945. . .Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte was the sixth player to appear in a postseason game under the age of 24 and at the age of 40 or older, joining Hall of Famers Willie Mays, Eddie Murray and Rickey Henderson as well as Greg Maddux and Chipper Jones. . .Tigers Game 1 starter Doug Fister allowed 11 base runners in 6 1/3 innings (six hits, four walks, one batter who reached on an error) but did not allow a run. No pitcher in postseason history had allowed 11 or more base runners in fewer than seven innings in one game while allowing no runs. The only pitcher to allow 11 or more base runners in seven innings while allowing no runs in a postseason game is Johan Santana, who did it against the Yankees at the original Yankee Stadium in Game 1 of the 2004 AL Division Series for the Twins. . .Tigers designated hitter Delmon Young hit his sixth postseason home run, taking over the franchise lead in that category. Young’s eighth-inning homer broke a tie with Greenberg and Craig Monroe atop the Tigers’ postseason homer list. Four of Young’s six postseason homers have come against the Yankees. He has homered in four of his past six postseason games against the Yanks. Y0ung has homered in three different postseason games as a visiting player against the Yankees, joining six other players on that list: Hall of Famer George Brett as well as Juan Gonzalez, Trot Nixon, David Ortiz, Reggie Smith and Jason Varitek.
The one sight no Yankees fan ever wants to see was the one remaining from Saturday night’s ALCS Game 1 loss to the Tigers. Derek Jeter was assisted off the field by manager Joe Girardi and trainer Steve Donohue. It was not difficult to determine which loss was greater.
The Yanks’ extra-inning magic this postseason hit a snag as Detroit atoned for blowing a 4-0, ninth ninth-inning lead by winning, 6-4, in the 12th. That was also the inning when Jeter fell to the ground in pain while fielding a ground ball that became an infield single for Jhonny Peralta.
X-rays revealed a fractured left ankle, which knocks the game’s greatest postseason player from the postseason. It is a crushing blow for the Yankees, who had stirring moments Saturday night, all in the ninth inning when two-run home runs by Ichiro Suzuki and Raul Ibanez (yes, that man again) off Tigers closer Jose Valverde evaporated a 4-0 deficit.
Jeter’s left foot has presented problems for several weeks. He has been playing with a bone bruise since mid-September, fouled a ball off another portion of the foot during the ALDS. Now this. There was no talk of surgery yet, but the prognosis with or without an operation is a three-month recovering period.
“Jeet has always been as tough a player as I’ve ever seen,” Girardi said. “And you know what he showed was toughness. I mean, even when we went to the field, and I was going to carry him in, he said, “No, do not carry me.’ He is going to play through injuries and everything. And you can see the disappointment in his face.”
Girardi had a flashback to when Mariano Rivera collapsed on the warning track in Kansas City back in May while shagging a fly ball that resulted in a blown-out anterior cruciate ligament that ended his season.
“It brought me back there,” Girardi said. “Oh, boy, if he is not getting up, something’s wrong. We have seen what he played through in the last month and a half and the pain he has been in and how he found a way to get it done. Just like Mo said, we have to move on. Some people left us for dead when Mo went down, and here we are in the ALCS. I’m said for him because I know how much he loves to play and play in these type of situations, but he would tell us, “Let’s go!”
How the Yankees will go remains to be seen. They will activate Eduardo Nunez to take Jeter’s ALCS roster spot, but Girardi did not say whether Nunez or Jayson Nix will play shortstop. It is likely that Suzuki would inherit the leadoff spot, but that is only speculation. Not to belittle the ability of Nunez or Nix, neither is anywhere near comparable to Jeter. Even when Mo got hurt, the Yankees could turn to someone like Rafael Soriano, who led the league in saves one year.
The truth is, there is simply no way to replace Derek Jeter. The Yankees will just have to figure out a way to overcome this loss the rest of the way.
What I looked forward to the least in this American League Championship Series was having to watch Tigers closer Jose Valverde at work. This guy is torture. He takes forever to throw the ball and goes through all sorts of gyrations on the mound after saving a game. So it was deliriously delightful for me to watch the Yankees beat up on him in the ninth inning as he failed to protect a 4-0 lead in Game 1.
The Yankees looked absolutely dreadful for eight innings, leaving 11 runners on base, including the bases loaded three times. Pathetically anemic were the Yankees. But just as the Athletics had mounted a comeback against Valverde during the AL Division Series, the Yankees awoke from their offensive slumber and got even on a pair of two-run home runs by Ichiro Suzuki and Raul Ibanez.
Russell Martin began the rally with a single. He took second on defensive indifference before Derek Jeter struck out. Suzuki got his first career postseason home run by pulling a low liner into the right field stands. Such homers are often known as rally killers because they clear the bases with a deficit still facing the team at bat. And when Robinson Cano struck out on high gas and Mark Teixeira fell behind 0-2 in the count, the Yankees appeared doomed.
I was thinking my usual thoughts about Teixeira in those situations – why not bunt when the defense is in an over-shift to the right side leaving most of the left side vulnerable? Even if Tex had hit a home run, it would not have tied the score. The Yankees needed a base runner at that time, and the Tigers were essentially conceding him first base.
Of course, once the count got to 0-2 that thought had to go out the window. Teixeira did the next best thing – he worked out a walk, which gave Ibanez, this year’s postseason batting hero for the Yankees, an opportunity to create more drama. And he came through again by driving a splitter that stayed up over the right field fence that brought the Yankees all the way back.