RedSawx nation my arse.
Yesterday, the Wongdoer is standing on the platform waiting for his homeward bound train to open up when, just before 11:30 EDT, a symphony of cell phones starts up. The reason? Arod had just tied the Yankees' playoff game with the Twinkies with a ground rule double. Just minutes later, more cell phone barage when Jeter raced home on Matsui's short fly to get the Yanks the win.
And now for the short baseball observations:
(1) The Yanks have two quality starts this postseason. In 2002 with ClemensPettitteMoooooooooseWells, they had zero.
(2) Credit to Jon Leiber -- he pitched 6.2 solid innings and didn't really get smacked around when the Twins got a deuce in the 2nd, they did it with speed and soft hits. After that, he settled in nicely. BTW, he has a solid ERA at the Stadium, so I hope (if the Yanks are playing into next week) that Torre will keep him in the No. 2 pitching spot.
(3) Debit to Torre -- Tom Gordon has done a good job this season, but in game 2 with an 0-2 hole staring the team in the face, and a day off the next day, Torre needed to have Rivera ready to start the 8th and probably should have started him then. Rivera was not fully warmed-up when he came into the game in the middle of the inning because he only started tossing in the 'pen when Jones reached on the wild pitch/third strike. Why leave your best weapon at home when going to a firefight? The Twins have not handled a fully warmed-up Rivera (contrast his 9th inning with the 8th, and check out what Mo did against them in the regular season). The fact is that Rivera was 53/57 in save opportunities in part because Gordon helped turn him into a one-inning closer this year. Rivera's previous stats from 1997 are: 43/52, 36/40 (he was actually relieved once in '98 b/c injury but the stats always say he was 36/41 in save opps.), 45/49, 36/41, 50/57, 28/32, 40/46 and many of his blown saves through the years were multi-inning opportunities, or of the enteringwithrunnerson variety (especially in '03). But Gordon has four losses (and six blown saves) and contributed to others: he blew some VERY winnable games (May 22 at Texas, Aug. 25 at Cleveland) and contributed to complete bullpen incinerations in two games where the Yanks had big leads: July 24 at Boston (bad loss), Aug. 19 at Minnesota (Sheffield saved them). Torre's either coddling Rivera too much (think game 4 2003 WS) or having too much faith in Gordon. That must change.
(4) Credit to Torre and Gardenhire: Torre gets credit for going with Sturtze in the 10th and his faith basically paid off. Sturtze was solid and made a bad pitch to the Twinkies' hottest hitter, Toriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii Hunter, but the Yanks saved him. There are few options for the home team manager when the closer honks, but Torre played this right. Gardenhire decided to stick with his closer Joe Nathan until Hades froze over, and that was the right call too. Stay with your most potent pitcher, go for the jugular in a short series, play to win today. That last concept is how Torre coaxed 101 wins out of a team with shoddy pitching.
(5) Ugh to the Angels. How bad would they look if Pedro and Schilling had been great, instead of just solid? All that effort at the end of the season and the Halos are 27 outs away from going out like suckers. Bad pitching, poor clutch hitting, bad fielding means two bad losses and at home too! Since the advent of the LDS format in '95, there have been four sweeps ('95 Indians, '98 and '99 Yanks, '00 Mariners) and four comebacks from 0-2 deficits ('95 Mariners, '99 and '03 RedSawx, '01 Yankees). Only one of the four 0-2 comebacks started on the road -- the '01 Yankees -- and that comeback needed one of the great defensive plays in baseball history to help it get started.
As for the NLDS -- who cares? Fifty percent of previous NLDS have ended in sweeps and only three have gone five games. Expect the Dodgers to flop and Astros/Braves to go four relatively uninteresting games. Call me for the NLCS.