Yankee fans, including myself, had basically gnawed their fingernails to the bone by gametime yesterday, fretting over the big question: would we got good AJ, or bad AJ? If the latter, our season would be on emergency watch. But our worrying was in vain; the confident, dominating AJ took the hill, complete with his ridiculous curveball. Check out this line:
7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 9 K
Pretty effin' strong, on the surface of it, especially against a lineup full of tough lefties. But take a look at those four hits:
1) 2nd inning, Raul Ibanez reaches his bat out in desperation and pokes the ball into left, where it barely stays fair and careens into the stands for a ground rule double. Lucky hit.
2) 2nd inning, Matt Stairs hits a grounder that A-Rod couldn't field. Should have been scored an error.
3) 4th inning, Jayson Werth bloops a lazy single to right.
4) 5th inning, Carlos Ruiz rips a double to left.
So of the four hits, one was truly hit hard. Otherwise, the Phils couldn't touch him. Through seven innings, this was arguably an even better performance than Lee's gem on Wednesday. Unreal.
AJ, you saved our season. Sorry for doubting you. Now please do it again in game 6.
Some things to think about for the rest of the Series:
*Currently, Philly manager Charlie Manuel has Joe Blanton slated to start game 4. This would be a huge mistake, regardless of what happens in game 3. If the Yanks are up 2-1, it pits the worst Phillies starter against CC, with a loss meaning the series is basically done at 3-1 with two games left in the Bronx. Even if the Phils take game 3 and are up 2-1, the match-up is still very, very unfavorable. If you lose that game and the series is tied 2-2, you can maybe win game 5 with Lee, fine, but then you have to win two on the road, against AJ and CC, without your ace. I can't imagine anyone but Lee on the mound for game 4; handing Blanton the ball would be a fatal error.
*This might not be Pedro's last start in Yankee Stadium. If the series goes to 6, he'll probably be on the spot again. Our offense last night was infuriating; to watch a guy who can't break 90 with his fastball stymie us on low junk over and over nearly sent me through the proverbial roof. Thank God he didn't win that game. Seriously. 38 year-old Pedro giving the Phils a 2-0 lead in our house would have been just more than I could handle.
*This may be premature, and I hope it is, but I'm worried about A-Rod. FOX threw out an interesting stat last night, which is that he had gone 93 pitches (or somewhere thereabout) without swinging and missing at a pitch. In the past two games, that's basically all he's done. He's back to flailing at low, outside junk, which was a common theme during his old postseason tours. Granted, he faced two very crafty pitchers in two days, so maybe his 0-for-8 start signifies nothing. Still, the media has already picked up on it, and I'm hoping it doesn't gather steam in his head and became an 'issue.' He needs to come out hot in game 3 to put this story to bed.
*IMPORTANT NEWS: Joe Girardi has braces. Apparently, his 8 year-old daughter needed them and was terrified. To mollify the frightened gal, Joe promised that he'd get them too, and they could suffer alongside one another. Awwwwwwwwwww!!!!
In related news, Charlie Manuel went out of his way to slaughter a puppy en route to Yankee Stadium yesterday.
That's all for today. Sunday brings with it the apotheosis of the New York-Philly rivalry, with Giants-Eagles at 1, and Yanks-Phils at 8. The good news: Joe Buck won't be able to announce both games. Have a great weekend and a happy Halloween. Stay safe.