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When you’ve got the major league record of wins in a postseason, you don’t question a man’s character. And last night, after a early 3-0 lead, Pettitte never gave up.

He was not at his best, but when it came to key points of the night — Shane Victorino, Chase Utley, and Ryan Howard, he got them to go 0-9 with 6 strikeouts. Howard now has 9 strikeouts in three games, and he is on pace to obliterate the World Series record of 12 strikeouts.

Instead of writing a game recap, I’m going to defer to Greg Cohen at Sliding into Home. He always provides a good recap.

Here’s what Greg said about last night’s game

It was a gutty and gritty performance by the Yankees tonight as they fought their way back from a 3-0 deficit to win and take a 2-1 lead in the series. But the way things started out this one looked like it was going to be a total disaster.

Ed Valentine on Pinstripe Alley brought up several good points

  • Lack of reporting from FOX on the home run that was reversed — the first one ever in the World Series.
  • Praise for Pettitte from Mike Lupica of the Daily News.
  • Cole Hamels’ curveball to Pettitte that he hit for a RBI and eventually scored on.
  • Swisher’s performance last night — a hit and a home run.
  • Phil Hughes. More on that later.

I watched the first five innings of the game from Greene Turtle restaurant in my area except for the 6th inning (missed Swisher’s bomb). Then at home I watched the last 3.5 frames. I felt confident with Hughes last night in the 9th and felt he could get it done, even after giving up a home run to Ruiz. My attitude is like, ok, move on. He could have gotten the last two outs, I feel.

So, Girardi’s decision to go to Rivera was a little premature in my opinion. I can see that Girardi won’t take any chances at all, but we cannot gas out Rivera when there are at maximum four games left. IF Hughes had allowed one more run, then I’d go for Rivera, but not when there’s still 3 runs left to tie the game.

Two more links for you to read this morning — Jayson Stark’s column on ESPN.com.

Five outs into his memorable Saturday evening, he was three runs down. He’d already huffed and puffed his way through 50 — yep, that number was 50 — pitches. And he looked like a bigger threat to be heading for the nearest shower stall any second than for the winning pitcher’s spot on the interview-room podium three hours later.

But when a man has spent his whole career pitching on the October stage, his heart doesn’t pump at 4,000 beats a minute at times like that.

When a man has started more World Series games than anyone in history not named Whitey Ford, he doesn’t feel the ballpark shaking, doesn’t hear those 46,000 people shrieking.

And so, on the final night of October 2009, on the most important night of his season, Pettitte found a way to do what he had to do:

Survive.

Jim Capel talks about A-Rod.  Yes, the man some people despise, and the man some people have reconnected with after such a memorable postseason.

After all, 2009 has been A-Rod’s personal reality show, better known as “Alex & Kate Plus 28 (Counting Coaches).” The home run simply added to Rodriguez’s 2009 saga that already included Joe Torre’s book, the steroids revelations, the hip surgery, the Kate Hudson relationship, his superb second half, his extraordinary postseason … and then came the latest episode of Days of Our A-Rod in which Rodriguez homered to spark a Yankees rally, made a throwing error, was hit by not one but two pitches and helped make World Series history.

Gene Woj thinks Girardi is out of his mind with going on a three-man rotation. Pettitte needed 106 pitches to make it through 6 innings and doing Burnett and Pettitte on short rest may come back to haunt Girardi… Read an excerpt.

…Girardi is giving every indication that he’ll push all-in with his three big chips: CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte. He’s doing this because his team has a $208 million payroll, but it doesn’t have a fourth starter he trusts. This is like buying a tank but not having the Parts Department attach the gun turret.

Today will be a fun-filled sports day. My Giants vs the Eagles at 1pm. Favre’s return to Green Bay at 4:15 and the game #4 at 8:20. I hope I can watch all three and get everything else done that I need to.

 

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A lot of questions stand unanswered regarding the Yankees and the World Series, such as: who is pitching games 4 and 5; who is starting in right field in games 3-4-5 and what to do with Hideki Matsui in games 3,4 and 5.

Matsui is the Yankees full-time DH.  A former outfielder, Matsui has not played in the field since injuring his knee in 2008.  He has been either the DH or on the bench.  It seems as if Matsui will remain on the bench while the series is in Philly, despite his good bat.  Even though going with Brett Gardner, Nick Swisher, Jerry Hairston, Jr, or Eric Hinske means a worse bat at the plate, it does mean a better defensive player in the field.

Which leads me to who starts in right.  Nick Swisher was the everyday starter in the regular season, but has struggled greatly at the plate this postseason.  He is hitting .114 (4-35) with 3 walks and 1 RBI.  He has struck out an amazing 12 times in 10 games before being pulled after Game 1 of the World Series.

I would want to choose Brett Gardner, but it seems as if skipper Joe Girardi wants Gardner’s speed off the bench.  I am torn.  I can appreciate how much his speed can make the difference as a pinch-runner, but couldn’t he impact the game more with his speed in center field (move Melky Cabrera to right) and his speed as a batter with 4+ chances to get on base?  Gardner is also 2-4 in his 4 AB this postseason

Hinske and Hairston provide some veteran experience in the field and at the plate AND both were acquired in trades from National League teams mid-season – so they both have experience against Philly and national league teams in general.  I want to resist Hinske as a starter because he was a beast as a pinch-hitter this season and with no DH in games 3-4-5, I would want him available to pinch-hit for the pitcher when needed.

Finally, what to do about the starting pitching.  With no day off between games 4 and 5 like there was in the ALCS, the Yankees can start CC Sabathia in Game 4 on 3 days rest and then Burnett and Pettitte in games 5 and 6, also on 3 days rest (which I am sure both can handle) and then CC again for game 7 (if needed) on 3 days rest.  This is probably the least likely scenario.  If a Game 7 is needed, you don’t want to have tired out CC as much.

The most likely scenarios are Game 4-Sabathia, Game 5- Chad Gaudin, Game 6 Burnett, Game 7 Pettitte with Sabathia in relief or Game 4 – Gaudin, Game 5- Sabathia, Game 6 – Burnett, and Game 7 Pettitte with no Sabathia available.

My predictions?  Hideki Matsui stays on the bench.  Gardner should start in CF, Cabrera in RF, with Hinske, Hairston and Swisher off the bench and the first pitching scenario (Sabathia, Gaudin, Burnett, Pettitte/Sabathia.)

On a night where the Yankees needed him the most A.J. Burnett delivered a brilliant performance and Mark Teixeira and Hideki Matsui homered to give the Yanks a 3-1 victory.

In his first World Series start Allan James threw seven strong innings, allowed just one earned run on four hits, walked two, and struck out nine.

The lone Phillies run shouldn’t have even scored. With two out in the second Raul Ibanez hit a ground-rule double. Matt Stairs was the next batter and hit a hard grounder to third. Alex Rodriguez allowed it to sneak under his glove and Ibanez scored.

Burnett only got himself into one serious jam and that came in the second when the Phillies put runners on first and second with two out and Ryan Howard at the dish. But Burnett struck out Howard with one of many nasty curveballs. Howard would end up striking out four times on the night, the last a controversial third strike from Mariano Rivera.

For the Phillies, Pedro Martinez was also impressive. He threw his array of pitches between 78 MPH and 91 MPH. In 6+ innings the crafty vet allowed three runs on six hits, walked two and struck out 8.

Here’s what happened: Pedro pitches well, the Yankees starter does too, the Yanks put a couple runs on the board, and they wear him out by the seventh.

Mark Teixeira bombed one into the Yankees bullpen in the fourth, and Hideki Matsui’s shot in the sixth to give the Yankees their first lead of the series.

They added their third run in the seventh on a Jorge Posada RBI single off Phillies’ reliever Chan Ho Park – who now looks like an Asian Geico caveman.

Last night’s umpiring wasn’t efficient. In the seventh, Johnny Damon lined a ball to first. Howard, knowing he didn’t catch the ball on a fly threw to second to try to start a double play. The throw was wide and pulled Jimmy Rollins off the base, everyone was safe and the Yankees had bases loaded with one out. At least that’s how it should have worked out. However, first base umpire Brian Gorman said that Howard caught the ball on the fly and therefore it was a double play, inning over. Howard basically told everyone that he didn’t catch the ball by throwing to second — had he caught the ball on the fly wouldn’t he have just thrown to first to double up Posada? Also, where the hell is the home plate umpire on this play? I can understand the first base ump missing this call, he was behind Howard and couldn’t see what was going on. But what is Jeff Nelson looking at on that play? The umpires had a meeting and apparently nobody was actually looking at the ball.

In the top of the eighth inning, with Mariano Rivera now on the mound, the Phillies had runners on first and second with one out and Chase Utley batting. Mo got Utley to ground a ball to Robinson Cano and the Yankees, thanks to a great turn by Jeter, were able to turn a huge inning-ending double play. The only problem was that replays showed that Utley was safe. At least both teams got freebies from the umps.

Like game six of the ALCS, Mo followed up a rough eighth with a much less stressful ninth. He allowed a two-out double, but that was it a Mo strike out of Matt Stairs on a cutter diving down and in to end the game and send this series back to Philly tied at one. Just another six-out save for the greatest ever.

The Yankees will now look to the all-time postseason wins leader when Andy Pettitte takes the mound in game three. He will be facing another southpaw, the struggling Cole Hamels. First pitch on Saturday will be 7:57 p.m. and as always the game can be seen on FOX.

With the Fall Classic slated to start tonight, here’s the preview from Generation Third.

The Bombers are coming off a thrilling 5-2 win in ALCS game 6 to eliminate the Angels and head to the World Series for the first time since 2003. Andy Pettitte pitched great, Mariano Rivera got a 6-out save.

And right down the Turnpike is Philadelphia, the defending champs, and after winning the NLCS almost a week ago, the Phillies were resting up to see who they would face in the Fall Classic. Last year the Phillies waited 6 days until playing the Rays in last year’s WS, and this year it will be 7 days until first pitch is thrown.

Let’s get to the comparisons.

First Base: Both Mark Teixeira and Ryan Howard had huge years, but as soon as the playoffs started, Howard jumped in front of Teixeira by driving in 14 runs combined in the NLDS and NLCS, while Tex struggled and drove in only 4 combined. But, while Howard may be a bit better offensively, Tex provides much better defense at first, and after hitting that big 3-run double in Game 5 and then after picking up a couple hits in Game 6, Tex may be on the verge of a huge World Series. But it isn’t the same as actually doing it.

Edge: Phillies

Second Base: Both Chase Utley and Robinson Cano are slick fielding, power hitting, RBI machines, and both of them proved that in the regular season as Cano knocked 25 out of the park and drove in 85, and Utley slammed 31 out and drove in 93. Defensively, Cano has a better arm, but other than that, they’re pretty much even.

Edge: EVEN

Third Base: Alex Rodriguez is having the postseason of his life, as the slugger has finally gotten out of his playoff slump. ALCS and ALDS stats combine show A-Rod is hitting .438 with 5 home runs and 12 RBIs. Hopefully he can continue his dominance in the World Series, and if he does that, the Yanks have a very good chance to bring home #27. Pedro Feliz is having the complete opposite of the postseason that A-Rod is having. He’s batting .161 with just 1 walk in all 9 playoff games.

Edge: Yankees

Shortstop: Derek Jeter had an MVP-caliber year for the Yanks during the regular season, and Jimmy Rollins didn’t do that much worse for the Phillies. They’re both pretty even, regular season stats wise. But in the playoffs, Rollins has failed to pick up an RBI, while the Captain has drove in 5 and hit 3 long balls. Even if Rollins played better than Jeter this postseason, Jeter would get the edge, because of his postseason experience.

Edge: Yankees

Catcher: Jorge has more experience and is having a good postseason, hitting a couple homers and driving in 3 RBIs. The only bad thing – 7 strikeouts and leaving 10 men on base in ALCS game 6. He needs to swing at more pitches, and needs to actually make contact when he does swing. Fixes that, and he’s golden. Carlos Ruiz is in his 4th year in the Bigs, and had a pretty nice year. He hit 9 homers, drove in over 30 RBIs, and is a pretty good defensive catcher. He also had a big NLCS. But like with the shortstop comparison, its the experience that plays a factor, and Jorge has much more experience and really, is a better player overall.

Edge: Yankees

Designated Hitter: Back in May, when in Yankee Stadium, the Phillies used a better fielding outfielder twice and used Ibanez as a DH (Mayberry Jr. as the outfielder). Their DH/OF, in this case Matt Stairs and John Mayberry Jr. went a combined 3/13, with 1 HR, 3 RBI, and 3 Ks. Matsui is the more experienced DH, and obviously has better numbers than Stairs/Mayberry.

Edge: Yankees

Outfielders: For the Yankees, Johnny Damon, Melky Cabrera, and Nick Swisher, is good – offensively, at least. Defensively, Damon, even though he’s one of my favorite players, plays a terrible outfield and Swish is right about average defensively if not a bit below average. Melky really is the only really good defender out in the outfield, but thanks to the power of Johnny Damon and Nick Swisher, putting them out there inning after inning isn’t a bad thing at all. For the Phillies, you got Raul Ibanez in left, Shane Victorino in center, and Jayson Werth in right. Ibanez has power and plays an average outfield, Shane Victorino “The Flying Hawaiian” has speed and plays a very good outfield, and Werth is a big home-run hitter and plays a good enough outfield to get by.

Edge: Phillies

Bench: The Yankees have Eric Hinske and Brett Gardner off the bench. Hinske went on a mini-offensive tear when he was acquired. Brett Gardner, if he had gotten more playing time, might have gotten ROY. For the Phillies, they removed former Yank Miguel Cairo in favor of pitcher Brett Myers. I think having Cario on your bench speaks volumes.

Edge: Yanks

Pitching Rotations: CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Andy Pettitte have all shined during the postseason, and rightfully so have been tabbed as the best rotation in the World Series. CC was the ALCS MVP, A.J. tossed a couple nice games before allowing 6 runs in Game 5, and Andy has been his normal postseason self. The Phillies’ have Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and Pedro Martinez. Cliff Lee has been great as expected, Cole Hamels, has been okay, and Pedro, in his only playoff start, allowed a run against the Dodgers in Game 2 of the NLCS. Besides CC against Cliff Lee in Games 1, 4, and 7, it doesn’t look like the other matchups will be intriguing. The edge goes to the Yanks here.

Edge: Yankees

Bullpen: The Phillies have two reliable arms out of the ‘pen. Closer Brad Lidge and Scott Madson. Even though Lidge blew 11 saves this season, he’s regained his form. The Yanks have a potential unstoppable 7-8-9 bridge in Joba-Phil-Mo, along with Dave Robertson, Damaso Marte, Al Aceves, and Chad Gaudin. Lidge he does not compare to the best closer in baseball in Mariano Rivera.

Edge: Yankees

Managers: And last, but certainly not least, the managers. Charlie Manuel, coming off his first World Series Championship last year, has been the Phillies manager since 2006, and has lead the Phillies to three straight NL East titles. Joe Girardi has improved this year, and while I believe he handles the line-up better, he has made some questionable decisions regarding the bullpen. I’m hoping his bench coaches will help him make decisions.

Edge: Phillies

I don’t believe in making predictions ‘cuz I don’t want to jinx anything. It’s obvious, being a third generation fan, who I want to win.

CC Sabathia and the Yankees stopped the Los Angeles Angels cold tonight, 4-1.

Sabathia pitched eight superb innings of four-hit ball to win his second straight postseason start and New York took advantage of a sloppy night by the Angels.

The Angels made three errors that led to two unearned runs and allowing an infield popup to drop untouched for an RBI single. Even Torii Hunter allowed a single to roll past him.

New York built a 2-0 lead in the with a throwing error by Juan Rivera and a popup by Hideki Matsui that fell between Chone Figgins and Erick Aybar.

Matsui doubled in a run in the fifth to make it 3-1. Lackey’s throwing error on a pickoff attempt allowed Melky Cabrera to take second in the sixth, and Derek Jeter followed with a run-scoring single that got by Hunter.

Sabathia gave up a double and three singles, struck out seven and walked one, going to three-balls count just twice.

Mariano Rivera pitched a hitless ninth for his record 36th postseason save, his second this year. Rivera walked Hunter, but struck out Guerrero, got Rivera to fly out, then

A.J. Burnett is slated to start Game 2 for the Yankees, only if the game is still on.

There was a disputed call, with first base umpire Laz Diaz ruling Hunter out on his sixth-inning bunt. Angels manager Mike Scioscia argued that first baseman Mark Teixeira’s foot came off the bag when he stretched for the throw – Tex did not let go of first until after he had received the ball.

The rain is scheduled to hit the state of New York all day tomorrow and could push game two to Sunday, forcing the players to fly overnight to Los Angeles for an evening game on Monday. For now, the Yankees can go to bed with game number one in their belts.

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