Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Yankees/Twins ALDS Recap/Breakdown

This post is about a day and a half overdue. I meant to write this around lunchtime Monday, but one thing lead to another and here we are. Since we're now 2 days removed from sweeping the Twins, I won't go into as much analysis as I originally planned. I'll hit up a few bullet points and then call it a night. Let's dive in, shall we?

The Yankees starting pitching in the ALDS was nothing short of awesome. CC, A.J., and Andy combined for 19 innings, allowing 4 runs (3 earned) on 14 hits and 6 walks, while striking out 21. That's an ERA of 1.42 and for you WHIP fans out there that works out to a WHIP of 1.05. Pretty impressive, wouldn't you say? The only negative I saw from those 3 was A.J.'s lack of control. A.J. walked 5 and hit 2. Lucky for him (and us) he has shutdown type stuff so the walks didn't hurt him as much as they could have. As long as the runs don't score we're good.

The Yankee bullpen as a whole was very impressive, with the exceptions of Damaso Marte and Phil Hughes. Let's face it, nobody cares about Marte. Hughes on the other hand, didn't look too sharp. Phil appeared in all 3 games, pitching 2 innings and allowing 2 runs, both earned, on 5 hits and a walk. It could have been worse if not for Nick Punto's baserunning blunder in game 3, but more on that later. The hero of the bullpen was probably David Robertson. D-Rob entered the game in a pretty tough spot (2 on w/no out), made it a little tougher for himself (bases loaded w/no outs) and got the team out of it unscathed. That was big right there. But as I said, the pen as a whole, wasn't too shabby. In 3 games, they combined for 10 innings, allowing 2 runs (both earned) on 15 hits and 3 walks, while whiffing 13. The WHIP and ERA came in at the same total, 1.80. That's great for an ERA but lousy for a WHIP. As long as the runs don't score, we're good.

The defense played error-free baseball for the 3 games and as I illustrated in the 2 paragraphs above, the pitching was very solid. The Yankees collective pitching line was 29 IP, 29 hits, 6 runs, 5 earned runs, 9 walks, and 34 Ks. That's an ERA of 1.55 and a WHIP of 1.31. Perhaps the best stat is that the Yankees didn't allow a single HR in the 3 games. As I said, impressive. As the saying goes, pitching and defense wins championships.

The offensive heroes were without a doubt Derek Jeter and A-Rod. Alex had a monster ALDS. I asked my magic 8-ball if A-Rod's October woes were behind him and it said all signs point to yes. For the series, A-Rod hit .455 (5-11) with 2 HR and 6 RBI. Alex went a combined 0-6 in his first 2 ABs of each game. If you do the math, that means he went 5-5 in his final ABs. That's clutch right there. I said it after each game. I'll say it again. Alex is going to have a monster postseason. I think his head is finally in the right place and I don't think he feels much pressure. His October will be huge. Jeter's hot-hitting spilled right over from the regular season. Jeter went 4-10 with 2 walks and 3 extra-base hits. The Captain is always on base, which is exactly what you want from your leadoff hitter.

The rest of the offense with the exception of Jorge Posada, who hit .364 and had the big HR off Pavano, and to a lesser degree, Mark Teixeira, because he had the 2 clutch hits in game 2, was rather unimpressive. Outside of Jeter, Posada, and A-Rod, the only hitter who topped .200 was Hideki Matsui, who hit .222. Johnny Damon and Nick Swisher were absolutely awful. Both hit .083 for the series and both struck out 4 times. The bats need to wake up.

The Yankees also got a little help. The Twins are supposed to be a very sound baseball team. They committed 2 huge baserunning blunders that very well could have changed things. Nick Swisher made a heads up play to nail Carlos Gomez when he slipped rounding 2nd. That blunder cost the Twins a run as Delmon Young was about to score. And as I mentioned above, Nick Punto made a critical mistake in game 3 when he rounded 3rd to far and couldn't get back to the bag in time. Jeter made a nice play right there to read the situation and get the ball to 3rd before Punto got back. Both of those plays could have changed the course of the series. As could have umpire Phil Cuzzi's horrible call in game 2. Cuzzi called a Joe Mauer fly ball foul when it was clearly fair. Mauer would have been on 2nd with no outs. Instead he ended up with a single and he didn't score, thanks to David Robertson. One can't assume though that if the correct call was made that the outcome would have been different. There's no way of knowing and it's pointless to even discuss.

Add all that up my friends and you've got a 3 game sweep and the Yankees are off to the ALCS for the first time since 2004. It should be a very good series. The Angels have always been a thorn in the Yankees' side but I think the tide is turning. The teams split the season series with the Yankees winning 3 of the last 4, including 2 of 3 in Anaheim. The Yanks also won 3 of 4 against the Angels at home. The Yankees have the best home record in all of MLB. The Angels have the best road record in MLB with the Yankees only 2 games worse. It should be fun. I hope to write a little preview of it on Thursday sometime, assuming my schedule allows. So check back for that.

Peace, love and Pinstripes,