Results tagged ‘ Ron Washington ’
The Rangers got an immediate dividend in their trade for Matt Garza Wednesday night at the expense of the Yankees. Garza had trouble with the Yankees (1-4, 4.48 ERA) in his years with the Rays, but in his first start against the Bombers in four years the only one who hurt him was himself.
The run off Garza in Texas’ 3-1 victory was not earned, although it was his two-base error with a bad throw to first base on an infield single by Brett Gardner in the sixth inning that led to the run that scored on a single by Robinson Cano. But that would be it for the Yankees, who were back to hitting only singles – five of them – as they got only two runners past first base after the first inning. It was back in the first inning that the Yankees had a chance to go some damage against Garza. Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki each singled, but Garza came back to strike out Cano and Lyle Overbay and get Vernon Wells on a ground ball.
The momentum the Yankees felt after Tuesday night’s somewhat miraculous victory ebbed quickly, which can happen when a pitcher is on his game as was Garza (7-1), who pitched into the eighth inning with no walks and five strikeouts.
Andy Pettitte (7-8) took the loss, a tough one. He gave up eight hits but only two runs, both driven in by A.J. Pierzynski on a two-out single in the first inning and his 10th home run in the sixth. Give Pettitte credit. It was not a fat pitch to Pierzynski for the homer but a 1-2 slider that the Rangers’ designated hitter caught just above his shoelaces and got up into the humid Texas air.
Pettitte had two strikeouts with both coming in succession in the second inning that pushed him past Sandy Koufax and tied him with former teammate Kevin Brown for 39th place on the career list with 2,397. For the fifth consecutive game, Pettitte was scored upon in the first inning, but he pitched well enough to win.
David Murphy provided an insurance run with a home run off Shawn Kelley in the eighth. Texas manager Ron Washington elected to have lefthander Neal Cotts, who had gotten the last two outs of the Yankees eighth, to face the left-handed Cano and Overbay in the ninth. Cotts retired both before Washington brought in his closer Joe Nathan, who blew Tuesday night’s game.
The move looked questionable when Wells greeted Nathan with a single that brought the potential tying run to the plate in Eduardo Nunez, who hit a game-tying triple off Nathan the night before. No such luck this time as Nunez made the final out on a soft liner to shortstop.
Gardner had two hits and a stolen base, the 154th of his career, which shot him past Mickey Mantle into eighth place on the Yankees’ all-time list.
I’ll be heading for Cooperstown, N.Y., Thursday for the National Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Weekend and will file reports on the induction of former Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert and the ceremonies honoring former Yankees pitcher Tommy John and Dr. Frank Jobe and Lou Gehrig, who will finally officially be part of an induction ceremony. More on that in my next report.
The strange thing about Hiroki Kuroda’s no-hit bid Tuesday night was that while the Rangers went six innings without a hit the Yankees went just as long without a point. The teams that are 1-2 in runs scored in the American League (Texas 580, Yanks 577) were scoreless through the sixth.
So for all of his brilliance, Kuroda was always one pitch from disaster. Rangers lefthander Matt Harrison matched Kuroda with zeroes in the runs column if not the hits column. The Yankees had four hits off Harrison through six but were unable to score.
Texas ended Kuroda’s dream when Elvis Andrus led off the seventh with an infield single. A lot of Yankees fans will probably argue whether Derek Jeter would have been able to do what Jayson Nix could not, which was to throw out Andrus at first base after making a diving stop. My take is that it did not matter who was playing shortstop. Andruw was going to beat the play. Jeter would have also had to leave his feet to prevent Andrus’ ball from going through the infield as Nix did. But once on the ground, a shortstop would have scant chance to throw Andrus out. It was a pretty clean single in my view.
Kuroda and the Yankees should send a thank-you note to Rangers manager Ron Washington for helping them finally put some numbers on the board in the seventh inning. Washington removed Harrison from the game after he gave up a one-out single to Jeter, who was the designated hitter, in the seventh.
The manager knows his personnel better than I do. Perhaps Harrison was fried after throwing 106 pitches. That really isn’t the point. What is the point is bringing in a righthander, Alexi Ogando, to face switch-hitting Nick Swisher, turning him around to the left side and taking aim at Yankee Stadium’s tempting right field porch. Washington paid for it, too, because Swisher ended up hitting a two-run home run, one night after he belted a grand slam, also batting left-handed, that buried Texas.
Swisher’s numbers this year are decidedly one-sided. He is batting .271 with 13 home runs and 52 RBI as a left-handed hitter and .250 with three home runs and 13 RBI as a right-handed hitter. Swish had a great at-bat as well. He fought off some high-octane gas (Ogando’s fastball ranged from 95 to 99 miles per hour), took a nasty 2-2 slider just off the plate to run the count full before he caught up with a 98-mph heater for his 16th home run.
“I wanted to put velocity on Swisher,” Washington said. “I think the ball that Swish hit was eye-level, but he caught it. He saw so many fastballs in that at-bat that he finally timed one.”
Ogando had barely recovered from that when Mark Teixeira also went deep for his 25th home run.
That was all Kuroda needed, and he has often needed better run support this year. He is 11-8 with a 3.06 ERA, but Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that with better run support Kuroda “could have 15 or 16” victories by now. Two starts ago, he pitched brilliantly for 6 1/3 innings allowing one run and seven hits but ran into a buzz-saw named Felix Hernandez, who pitched a two-hit shutout. This time, Kuroda was the buzz-saw. This time, he pitched the two-hit shutout.
“This is a very great lineup he shut down,” Girardi said, referring to the Rangers, who lead the AL in batting with a .278 average. “It was probably our best pitching performance of the year.”
Kuroda threw 21 first-pitch strikes, using sinkers and sliders to get ahead in the count and then resorting to a devastating splitter to finish off hitters, particularly left-handed ones. Some of the Rangers’ swings against Kuroda’s nasty stuff were downright ugly.
During his time with the Dodgers, Kuroda pitched a one-hit shutout against the Braves, losing the no-no on a hit by Teixeira. Asked to compare the two games, Kuroda told WCBS radio’s Suzyn Waldman that Tuesday night’s game was bigger because the Texas lineup was far more muscular. He also told Suzyn that “the best is yet to come.”
That should be music to the Yankees’ ears.
Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira and new pitcher Derek Lowe were named to the Arizona Fall league Hall of Fame Tuesday, along with Rangers manager Ron Washington. All three men were at Yankee Stadium Tuesday night for the second portion of the four-game series between the clubs with the top two records in the American League.
Arizona Fall League director Steve Cobb said of the election, “Mark and Derek have been remarkably consistent professionals throughout their standout careers, and Ron has become one of the most respected managers in baseball.”
The Arizona Fall League, which was founded in 1992, formed its Hall of Fame in 2001 to honor the top major-league players and managers who honed their skills in the AFL. The selection committee, chaired by lone-time baseball executive Roland Hemond, based its appointments on individual achievement at the major-league level since participating in the Arizona Fall League.
Teixeira, who played for the Peoria Javelinas in 2002, is the fastest switch hitter to 300 career home runs and is also the first switch hitter to reach 30 home runs and 100 RBI in each of the past eight seasons (2004-11). Teixeira holds the major-league record of homering from each side of the plate in a game 13 times. Defensively, Tex is the AL career fielding percentage leader among first basemen with a minimum of 1,000 games. He is a two-time All-Star, four-time Gold Glove winner and three-time Silver Slugger recipient.
Lowe, who pitched for the Sun Cities Solar Sox in 1993 and Peoria Javelinas in 1995, is one of three pitchers with more than 160 victories and 80 saves, along with Dennis Eckersley and John Smoltz. Lowe is one of five Arizona Fall League pitchers to hurl a no-hitter, along with Jered Weaver, Clay Buchholz, Roy Halladay and Phil Humber. Lowe’s no-hitter in 2002 was the first at Fenway Park since 1965. He was the winning pitcher in all three clinching postseason games in 2004 when Boston went on to its first World Series championship since 1918.
Washington, who was a hitting coach for the Sun Cities Solar Sox in 1992 and the Tucson Javelinas in 1993, is the first manager in Rangers history to increase the team’s victory total in four consecutive seasons. He guided Texas to back-to-back World Series appearances in 2010 and ’11 and is the only manager in the history of the Rangers/Senators franchise (1961-2011) to win a postseason series.
The Arizona Fall League Hall of Fame increased its membership to 31 with the elections of Teixeira, Lowe and Washington. Other AFL Hall of Famers connected now or formerly with the Yankees are Derek Jeter, Jason Giambi, Alfonso Soriano and bench coach Tony Pena.
PHOENIX – Derek Jeter’s name has been bandied about quit a quite a bit at the All-Star Game, and it has not always been flattering. Several team officials and a few players have commented that Jeter should have come here for the game even if he did not intend to play. The situation got to the point that commissioner Bud Selig felt it was necessary for him to nip it in the, well, bud.
The commish made his annual appearance at the Baseball Writers’ Association of America meeting Tuesday afternoon at the Sheraton Phoenix Hotel for a question-and-answer session with the writers and addressed the controversy surrounding Jeter, who decided not to come here so that he could use the time to rest his right calf to be ready for the second half.
“There isn’t a player than I’m more proud of in the last 15 years than Derek Jeter,” Selig said before taking questions. “He has played the game like it should be played. He is even a better human being off the field than he is a great player on the field. I know why Derek Jeter isn’t here, and I respect that. I think I would have made the same decision Derek Jeter did.
“He has brought to this sport great pride. He has been a role model. He has earned it, and he keeps earning it. Any suggestion that I or anybody else around here is unhappy with him not being here is false. I am proud of what he has done. I told him that Saturday when I spoke with him on the phone [after getting his 3,000th hit], and I have told him that quite often.”
Sitting at the front table while Selig spoke was the vice president of baseball operations, a fellow named Joe Torre, who was Jeter’s first manager with the Yankees, and nodded with approval at the commissioner’s every sentence.
I was glad to hear Bud go on the record about this matter because some of the talk the day before during the workouts was a bit nasty. More than one player suggested that Jeter was not grateful to the fans for voting him into the American League starting lineup when he didn’t really deserve it. For all we know, DJ’s choice not to play could have been one way to assure that the Indians’ Asdrubal Cabrera got to start the game.
There is nothing new about players passing up the All-Star Game for health reasons. I have been around Derek Jeter for 16 years and know how much he enjoys going to the All-Star Game and all the festivities around it. He has always considered his Most Valuable Player Award from the 2000 game at Turner Field in Atlanta one of the top moments of his career (although not as much as his World Series MVP the same year in the Yankees’ triumph over the Mets).
Jeter just got over a three-week recovery period from a strained calf muscle. He is 37, not 27, and has been under a ton of pressure to get over the 3,000-hit hump at Yankee Stadium rather than disappoint his fans by reaching the milestone on the road. This was all pretty draining, so cut him some slack. DJ would rather sit out a game that doesn’t count in the standings than not be as close to 100 percent as possible in a Yankees regular-season game.
One player here told me one of the reasons some players were sniping at Jeter is because they wanted to get autographs themselves from the newest member of the 3,000 Hit Club. At All-Star Games, players are signing all kinds of things, from baseballs to pictures to gloves to bats, you name it. There are quite a few items that are signed by every player on a league roster, which are a lot more valuable if a player who just reached 3,000 career hits is on there.
An All-Star who summed up the situation best was White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko, who said, “I promise you his injury is not 100 percent. Nobody ever comes back from an injury in the middle of the season at 100 percent. It’s never gone. So he’s playing with it, I guarantee you that. It is one of those things where I understand people voted him in and wanted to see him, but if there is any guy in the game who bought a rain check for one of these, he’s the one. Let’s move on and not make such a big deal about it.”
And believe it or not, Yankees fans, another of the Captain’s major supporters was Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz. “If he’s not here, there’s a good reason for it,” Big Papi said.
I wrote the other day that what Jeter and Mariano Rivera and Alex Rodriguez were doing by not coming to the All-Star Game while nursing ailments was justified. As for coming out here just to wave to the fans, well, that would have been nice (except for A-Rod, who would have to leave a hospital bed), but what would be the point?
In an indirect way, Mo’s decision allowed AL manager Ron Washington of the Rangers to make an All-Star of David Robertson, which was fitting. A lot of the people who were criticizing Jeter had no explanation for why CC Sabathia was not an obvious choice for the AL staff based on his pitching in the first half. You can’t have it both ways, guys.
PHOENIX — The Yankees-Red Sox rivalry extended to the All-Star Home Run Derby Monday night at Chase Field. Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano beat Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez in the annual power-hitting event, 32 home runs to 31.
It got pretty dramatic. In the first round, Gonzalez hit nine home runs and Cano eight. Cano hit 12 in the second round to Gonzalez’s 11, so each had 20 going into the final round. Gonzalez, whose pitcher was Indians manager Manny Acta, banged out 11 in the third round, which placed quite a challenge to Cano.
Cheered on by Yankees teammates Curtis Granderson, Russell Martin and David Robertson and with his father, Jose Cano, pitching to him, Robinson more than met the challenge by slamming 12 home runs, the most in any final round, to come out on top. It was quite a display by someone who has only the third highest home run total on his team.
“It means a lot to me,” Robinson said. “To be in the big leagues, I get to face him back home in the offseason. He is the kind of guy who is always there for me, not only as a dad but also a friend. Who better deserves than him to be there for me to throw BP?”
The American League dominated the competition, which made AL captain David Ortiz of the Red Sox look like a genius since he picked Gonzalez and Cano for the competition. The AL outslugged the National League, 76-19. It was a bit weird in an NL park that the captain of that league’s quartet, Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder, was booed throughout the contest because Diamondbacks fans were upset that he did not choose local favorite Justin Upton to take part.
The senior Cano, 49, who also pitched batting practice to Ortiz, was signed by the Yankees in 1980 but eventually released. He wound up pitching in the major leagues in 1989, for the Astros appearing in six games, including three starts, and had 1-1 record with a 5.09 ERA.
Robinson Cano’s performance just might make AL manager Ron Washington of the Rangers re-think his batting order. Cano is scheduled to bat eighth for the AL. Granderson will bat leadoff.
Cano is the third Yankees player to win the competition, joining Jason Giambi in 2002 at Miller Park in Milwaukee and Tino Martinez in 1997 at Jacobs (now Progressive) Field in Cleveland.
Joe Torre, the former Yankees manager who was the AL manager at the All-Star Games in which Tino and the Giambino won the Home Run Derbies, presented the award to Cano in his new role as vice president for baseball operations.
The good news is that the Yankees will have six players on the American League roster, four in the starting lineup, for the All-Star Game July 12 at Chase Field in Phoenix. The bad news is that several deserving players from the Yankees will not be making the trip next week to Arizona.
Let’s start with the positive. The Yankees will make up three-quarters of the AL starting infield for the third time in franchise history with second baseman Robinson Cano, third baseman Alex Rodriguez and shortstop Derek Jeter.
The only other time the Yankees had three infielders elected to the starting unit was for the 2004 game at Minute Maid Park in Houston with Rodriguez, Jeter and first baseman Jason Giambi.
The Yankees also had three starting infielders in 1980 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, but only one – shortstop Bucky Dent – had been elected by the fans. Graig Nettles started at third base as a replacement for injured George Brett of the Royals. The Brewers’ Paul Molitor was voted the starter at second base but had to be replaced due to injury as well. The Angels’ Bobby Grich was added to the roster, but the Yankees’ Willie Randolph started the game at the position.
This will mark the 10th time that the Yankees have had at least three infielders on the All-Star roster. First baseman Mark Teixeira’s failure to make the squad this year cost the Yankees the chance to have four infielders overall for the third time. The Yankees had four infield All-Stars in 2002 at Miller Park in Milwaukee (Jeter, Giambi, 2B Alfonoso Soriano, 3B Robin Ventura) and in 1939 at Yankee Stadium (1B Lou Gehrig, 2B Joe Gordon, 3B Red Rolfe, SS Frankie Crosetti). Giambi and Soriano were starters in 2004 and Gordon in 1939.
Other years in which the Yankees had three All-Star infielders were 1950 at Comiskey Park in Chicago (1B Tommy Henrich, 2B Jerry Coleman, SS Phil Rizzuto), 1957 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis (1B Moose Skowron, 2B Bobby Richardson, SS Gil McDougald), Game 1 in 1959 at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh (Skowron, Richardson, SS Tony Kubek), Game 2 in 1959 at Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles (Skowron, Kubek, McDougald) and 2006 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh (Cano, Jeter, Rodriguez).
Yankees catcher Russell Martin had led in the voting until the last week when he was passed by the Tigers’ Alex Avila. At least Martin made the team as an alternate. His handling of the Yanks’ pitching staff has been superb.
Mariano Rivera was an obvious choice for the staff despite his blown save Sunday, which ended a 26-save streak against National League clubs in inter-league play.
Now for the head-scratching stuff – why no Teixeira or CC Sabathia? And has anyone other than Yankees fans been paying attention to the season David Robertson is having?
Tex fell out of the balloting lead at first base last month behind the Red Sox’ Adrian Gonzalez, an admitted Most Valuable Player Award candidate, but still ran a strong second in the voting. The Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera cannot compare with Teixeira defensively and trails him in homers, 25-17, and RBI, 65-56, but his .328 batting average is 80 points higher than Tex’s.
Now, here’s the rub. Teixeira has been invited to participate in the Home Run Derby. Nice. He can’t be on the team but he can fly all the way to Phoenix and take part in an exercise that could ruin his swing. Ask Bobby Abreu or David Wright about that? Say no, Tex.
All Sabathia has done is lead the AL in victories with 11 and posted a 3.05 ERA. Oh, that’s right. Pitching victories do not count anymore. I guess that’s why there was room for Felix Hernandez on the staff. The word is that CC pitching Sunday before the Tuesday night All-Star Game hurt his chances of making the team. Dumb reason.
To his credit, AL manager Ron Washington of the Rangers said nice things about Robertson when Texas was in town and that he was given him strong consideration. With so many other Yankees on the team, Robertson didn’t stand much of a chance, particularly since every team needs to be represented. When you see the Royals’ Aaron Crow in the pre-game announcements, think of Robertson. Crow, also a set-up reliever, is Kansas City’ lone representative.
It is a tough break for Robertson, but he is no more deserving than Sabathia, so it is hard to say he was snubbed. A lot of people don’t like the baseball rule about All-Star Games having to have players from each team, but I think it is a good thing. The 2012 game is supposed to be in Kansas City. It would be a shame if someone from the Royals was not on the team.
Each club no matter where it is in the standings has someone who deserves All-Star recognition. That the Yankees have so many is a testament to the terrific season the team is having.
The Yankees sure know how to salvage a homestand, don’t they? Thursday’s 3-2, 12-inning victory completed a three-game sweep over the Texas team that beat them out for the American League pennant last year and followed taking three of four from AL Central leading Cleveland (the Indians were in first place during that series, that is).
That’s a pretty impressive finish for a homestand that began with the Red Sox clobbered the Yanks in three games by an aggregate score of 25-13 in a series in which Alex Rodriguez said “Boston embarrassed us.”
Most of his teammates felt the same way, but they showed their resilience by bouncing back against the Tribe and the Rangers, whose pitching staffs rank sixth and seventh, respectively, in the AL. And the Yankees’ one loss in the past two series was by a 1-0 score to the Indians.
The Yankees finished off the homestand with one of the feel-good stories of the year so far. Brian Gordon, 32, who has spent 15 years in the minor leagues originally as an outfielder and until this year as a reliever, gave the Yankees 5 1/3 effective innings as a starter Thursday in front of a Yankee Stadium crowd of 47,487 that included his wife, two kids, parents and some other friends and relatives.
“I was more nervous with everything leading up to this,” he said. “But my agent told me to concentrate on my pitching and he’d do the rest. To do this against the Rangers made it even more special. Much of what I learned is due to my time with them.”
Gordon had what they call a cup of coffee with Texas in 2008. It was more like a sip. He got into three games totaling four innings and had a 2.25 ERA. Gordon went back to the minors and was eventually released by the Rangers after the 2009 season before the Phillies signed him, released him and then re-signed him. Gordon’s deal allowed him to opt out of the contract if he was not called up to the major-league club by June 15. He was 5-0 with a 1.14 ERA for the Phils’ Triple A Lehigh Valley club, but with the strongest rotation in baseball there was no room for Gordon at Citizens Bank Park.
There was room at Yankee Stadium for a pitcher, what with Phil Hughes and Bartolo Colon on the disabled list. Gordon showed Thursday that he might fill the bill.
“He has definitely evolved,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “I don’t remember him being able to move the ball around like he did.”
Gordon said his development of a cut fastball has been a major part of his success, although he said he did not have much of a feel for it Thursday, which may be why he walked three batters and hit two. But he pitched out of trouble effectively and earned a stay in the rotation.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi likes the idea that Gordon, who hit 119 home runs in the minors, can handle the bat because his next start will be Tuesday night in Cincinnati, a National League park where pitchers have to hit in inter-league games.
Another twist for the Yankees is that the game-winning hit came from Brett Gardner off a left-handed reliever, Michael Kirkman, a single to right field. Gardner was not in the original lineup against Texas starter C.J. Wilson, a lefthander, and ended up being the hero. Gardner’s hit scored Curtis Granderson, who no longer has problems with lefties as his leadoff single suggested.
Grandy moved into scoring position with one out when Robinson Cano was hit by a pitch. That was the fifth HBP of the day, an unusually high number for a game in which the teams did not get into a fight. Several were of the ball bounced on the foot variety with no harm intended. The winning pitcher was Corey Wade, another Triple A find (from the Rays’ organization) that the Yankees signed this week. Chalk this victory up to the scouts.
It has been suggested by some columnists that the Baseball Writers’ Association of America should allow its voters for the Manager of the Year Awards to include post-season play. Just as is the case with the Most Valuable Player, Cy Young and Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Awards in the BBWAA jurisdiction, voting is done prior to the start of post-season play and includes only the accomplishments during the regular season.
Some writers argue that while players, pitchers and rookies are eligible for separate awards related to post-season play, managers are not. Also, they add, steering a team throughout the post-season is a function worthy of being included in an honor that recognizes managerial skill.
In my view, the problem with that is that you would no longer need an election, would you? The heck with polling writers, just hand out the trophies to the two guys whose teams reached the World Series every year. I am sure there are some people who though the Giants’ Bruce Bochy and the Rangers’ Ron Washington were more deserving than the managers who won, the Twins’ Ron Gardenhire and the Padres’ Buddy Black.
You have probably read reports that Major League Baseball is toying with the idea of another round of playoffs by adding two more wild-card teams into the post-season mix. That’s just what we need; more November baseball with pitchers already overworked trying to keep their tongues off the mound.
All an additional round of playoffs would do is to continue to weaken the impact of the 162-game schedule, still the most demanding test in team sports. If I’ve heard this once, I’ve heard it a hundred times from managers, coaches and players that the post-season is a “crap shoot.” Why base an award that is supposed to honor achievement over the course of a year on a crap shoot?
Managing a team involves more than just what takes place three hours a night during games. It is the day-to-day handling of two dozen-plus players over six months upon which a manager is judged. By adding post-season to the Manager of the Year Award mix, the eight managers whose teams reach post-season play, maybe 10 by 2012, will get a distinct advantage. Isn’t the field already small enough? There are 16 managers in the National League and 14 in the American League.
Again, why bother to have an election if post-season inclusion would likely lead to eliminating nearly three-quarters of the field?
Gardenhire, who won the award for the first time after five second-place finishes in the voting, directed the Twins to a 94-68 record and their sixth AL Central title in his nine seasons at the helm despite the loss to injury of closer Joe Nathan for the whole season and slugging first baseman Justin Morneau for half the schedule. Yet all that good work might have been discarded by voters after the Twins were swept in the Division Series by the Yankees.
Black’s victory in the NL by merely one point over the Reds’ Dusty Baker was a testament to the overachievement of the Padres, whom many thought at season’s start to be a last-place club. In his fourth season in San Diego, Black got the Padres within one game of the NL West title with the fourth best record in franchise history. But if the post-season had been included, mightn’t Cincinnati’s quick exit have hurt Baker so that the vote would not have been so close?
What takes place over a period of less than three weeks should not hold the same weight as what transpires over six months. A manager who does the best job in the post-season will get the best award there is – a championship ring. That is reward enough.
Did Cliff Lee hurt his bargaining power with his two losses in the World Series? Although he pitched brilliantly for six innings Monday night, the three-run home run Lee allowed to Edgar Renteria in the seventh essentially lost the World Series for the Rangers, who will have to dig deep into their pockets, which aren’t exactly Texas size, to retain the lefthander bound for free agency.
The Yankees haven’t made any secret of their interest in Lee, who beat them twice in the 2009 World Series and again in Game 3 of this year’s American League Championship Series. General manager Brian Cashman tried to trade for Lee in July and almost had a deal in place before the Rangers swooped in and grabbed him from Seattle.
Lee was not exactly lights out for Texas during the regular season (4-6, 3.98 ERA) after a terrific start with the Mariners (8-3, 2.34 ERA). That’s a combined record of 12-9 with a 3.18 ERA, which is not all that imposing. Lee is looking for CC Sabathia-type money, but those statistics aren’t CC Sabathia-type numbers.
Speaking of numbers, Lee went from 2-0 with a 2.81 ERA in the 2009 World Series to 0-2 with a 6.94 ERA in the 2010 World Series. Now I’m not forgetting his two victories over the Rays on the road in the Division Series or his Game 3 gem against the Yankees in the ALCS, also on the road. In fact, Lee did not lose on the road or win in Texas in the post-season, so maybe Rangers Ballpark In Arlington is not the place for him.
One thing the Yankees have to be careful about is how they look at a pitcher who has been successful against them (9-4, 3.81 ERA, including post-season play). Not to pick on A.J. Burnett, but his attractiveness to the Yankees two off-seasons ago was based a lot on how he pitched against them. The problem is that if a player goes to his “cousin,” then he doesn’t have that “cousin” anymore.
Don’t get the idea that I’m ranking on Lee. He would be a great addition to the Yankees. I’m just saying his price tag may have to be re-arranged a bit.
For old-time Giants fans, the ones still sore at their leaving the Polo Grounds for San Francisco in 1958, you will have to admit that the Curse of Coogan’s Bluff is over now that the Giants have their first championship in the Bay Area. The 1962 Giants of Willie Mays, Orlando Cepeda, Willie McCovey and Juan Marichal couldn’t do it. The 1989 Giants of Will Clark, Kevin Mitchell and Matt Williams couldn’t do it. The 2002 Giants of Barry Bonds, Jeff Kent and Robb Nen couldn’t do it. Managers as talented as Alvin Dark, Roger Craig and Dusty Baker couldn’t do it.
It came down to the Bruce Bochy-directed Giants of Renteria, Juan Uribe, Aubrey Huff and Cody Ross, plus a string of excellent young pitchers Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner, plus an exceptional rookie catcher Buster Posey, plus a paint-it-black bearded closer Brian Wilson, not to be confused with the Beach Boy.
Lincecum outpitched Lee in Game 5, which was also characterized by Bochy out-managing Ron Washington. In the sixth inning, Mitch Moreland led off with a single for the Rangers in what was then a scoreless game. Instead of playing for one run against the overpowering Lincecum, Washington eschewed the sacrifice and had Elvis Andrus swing away on a hit-and-run play, but he lined out to center and Moreland had to scurry back to first base. Again, no bunt with one out, and Michael Young flied out to center as well.
In the seventh, when the Giants put their first two runners on with singles by Ross and Uribe on two-strike pitches, Bochy ordered the bunt from Huff, who did not have a sacrifice in a 13-season career. A pro, Huff got the ball down and put the runners in scoring position. Lee got the second out by punching out Pat Burrell, who had a brutal Series (0-for13, 11 strikeouts).
Again, Washington blundered by not ordering Renteria walked intentionally and let Lee go after Aaron Rowand. Lee appeared to be pitching around Renteria, but why take the risk of a pitch going awry, such as the 2-0 cutter that the Giants shortstop clubbed for a three-run homer? Never mind that Lee didn’t want to walk Renteria; who’s running the club, the pitcher of the manager?
It was the second game-winning hit in a World Series clinching game for Renteria, who won the 1997 Series for the Marlins against the Indians with an 11th-inning single. Only two other players have done that in Series history, both Yankees – Lou Gehrig (Game 4 in 1928 against the Cardinals and Game 6 in 1936 against the Giants) and Yogi Berra (Game 4 in 1950 against the Phillies and Game 7 in 1956 against the Dodgers). Joe DiMaggio also had two game-winning RBI in Series clinching games (Game 4 in 1939 against the Reds and Game 5 in 1949 against the Dodgers), but the latter was not on a hit but a sacrifice fly.
Renteria’s were far more dramatic than the others because in each case the hits broke ties from the seventh inning on. The Giants simply shut down the Rangers after Texas got back into the Series by winning Game 3. The Rangers scored one run (on Nelson Cruz’s seventh inning solo homer off Lincecum) in the last 21 innings and did not get a single runner in scoring position in Game 5.
It was hard to believe this was the same team that had, in Cashman’s word, “manhandled” the Yankees.
The television ratings for the World Series between the Giants and the Rangers have been dreadful. Oh, how Fox would have loved Yankees vs. Phillies.
I hope that the ratings for Saturday night’s Game 3, which started an hour before the others, are impressive enough that the powers that be in baseball realize that World Series starting times have been too late for a sizeable part of the population and will hold fast in the future on a first pitch at 7 p.m. Eastern time.
I can dream, can’t I?
I always go back to this situation. When Bill Mazeroski homered to win the World Series for the Pirates against the Yankees in 1960, I as a schoolboy saw it happen. When Joe Carter homered to win the World Series for the Blue Jays against the Phillies in 1993, my school-aged children were in bed. Game 7 in 1960 was a day game. Game 6 in 1993 was a night game with a first pitch of about 8:45 Eastern.
It helped that there was a decent game with enough drama going on Saturday night to keep channel surfers stuck to the Series.
The drama was clearly from the Texas point of view. Down 2-0 in games, a loss by the Rangers would have been disastrous. Colby Lewis, whom I had suggested was as deserving of Most Valuable Player designation in the American League Championship Series as Josh Hamilton, had another gutting start and gave up two runs on solo shots by Cody Ross and Andres Torres in 7 1/3 innings.
For all those experts that chided Rangers manager Ron Washington for not getting rookie closer Neftali Feliz’s feet wet in the Series at some point in the first two games in San Francisco, the smoke the righthander threw in the ninth inning was all the evidence needed that his knees have stopped banging together in the post-season.
And it was all over in 2 hours, 51 minutes. Go ratings!
Helicopters were hovering over Rangers Ballpark In Arlington as part of the security coverage with former President (and Rangers owner) George Bush in attendance. Sunday night, he and his father, another President named George Bush, will be in Arlington to throw out the ceremonial first pitch(es). My money is on No. 43 throwing a strike the way he did during the 2001 World Series at Yankee Stadium after the terrorist attacks, still among the most spine-tingling moments I have ever witnessed.