Jobu Reviews the last series of the season, against the Boston Red Sox.
Let me start off this series review post with a thank you to all of you who have read these throughout the season. I didn’t realize what a daunting task it would be to write anywhere from like 1,200 to 2,200 words every few days. There were times I didn’t feel like writing these giant posts, but I’m glad I made it through and I hope you all enjoyed them.
Alright. Enough of this Gooey shhhhh….show of emotion. Let’s get on with the last Yankees Series Review of the regular season!. The Yankees hosted the Red Sox to close the year out. Normally this series would be a battle for first place between these two clubs. Unfortunately for our own Jerry Ballgame, and other Sox fans all over the nation, the Sox’ season was derailed by injuries, egos and terrible upper management. The Sox had nothing really to play for in this series (other than the satisfaction of sticking it to the Yankees), but the Yankees did. They entered play on Monday night in a tie with the Baltimore Orioles. This series, and the one in Tampa between the Rays and Orioles would decide the fate of the division. So how did it go?
Game 1: Yankees 10, Red Sox 2
The Yankees sent the recently resurgent CC Sabathia to the hill on Monday night. He faced Clay Buchholz, who was finishing out a very up and down season Fortunately for the Yankees, CC kept it going and Buttholz, as I like to call him, basically laid an egg on the mound.
Starting to Trust
There was a lot to like from Sabathia’s outing in game one of this series. First of all, he didn’t stink. Secondly, the Yankees gave him a nine run lead in the bottom of the second, and he didn’t immediately give up five runs. All kidding aside though, the big man was great in this game. Granted, the Red Sox might as well have had me leading off and eight of my knucklehead friends filling out the rest of the order with the team they ran out there. Either way, CC shut them down, only making one real mistake, a fastball down the middle that Daniel Nava hit out when the Yankees had a nine run lead.
Most importantly, CC gave the bullpen a huge rest. You might wonder why he was left in for eight innings in a blowout, but the overworked bullpen definitely needed a breather. Sabathia’s final line looked like this: 8 Ip, 4 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 7 Ks, 103 pitches and his fifteenth win of the season (15-6). He really has turned his season around nicely in the last three starts. By the way, there was a Freddy García sighting in this one. Freddy pitched a very efficient ninth inning, using only eight pitches to get three outs and seal the win.
One Inning to Rule Them All
The Yankees scored ten runs in this game and nine of them came in the bottom of the second. Buttholz, who had a pretty easy first inning, never knew what hit him in the second. Robinson Canó got it started with one of the longer home runs you’ll see at the Stadium. His blast hit off of the restaurant windows in dead center field and gave the Yankees a 1-0 lead. After a strike out by a returning Mark Teixeira (welcome back, Tex), Swisher singled up the middle and Granderson hammered a pitch just fair for a two-run homer. It was Grandy’s 41st dong of the season, which tied the career high he amassed last season.
Russell Martin came up next and hit a somewhat controversial home run to right. The ball appeared to be interfered with by a Red Sox fan (of all people) who stuck his hand beyond the fence to catch the ball. It turned out the fan missed the ball and it hit the top of the fence, but the idiot was thrown out of the game by security anyway. Nice season. Eric Chavez followed this with a walk, as did Derek Jeter, and Ichiro singled to load the bases. Alex Rodríguez remembered how to drive in runs and hit a sac fly, before Canó cleared the bases with a double to make it 7-0. After Buttholz was mercifully removed from the game, Alfredo Aceves gave up a two-run bomb to the first batter he faced, Teixeira. Swisher followed that with a double, but Grandy grounded out to end the inning.
The Yankees hit four home runs and two doubles in the inning, and two different players went 2-2 in the frame. It was impressive, and literally all the Yankees needed in this game. The only other run they got across was on an RBI single by Melky Mesa in the bottom of the eighth. It was Melky II’s first major league hit, which is always fun to see. I’m sure he spent a few hours after the game answering texts and making phone calls. Kudos, youngster.
Notable Offense: HR – Canó (31), Granderson (41), Martin (21), Teixeira (24), RBI – Canó 3 (88), Granderson 2 (102), Martin (53), A-Rod (57), Teixeira 2 (83), Mesa (1), 3 hits for Canó and Swisher, 2 hits for Granderson
Game 2: Yankees 4, Red Sox 3
This was the biggest win of the year for sure. The Yankees sent rookie David Phelps to the hill against Jon Lester. Despite nearing the end of an absolutely terrible season, Lester has had the uncanny ability to put everyone on base but not give up any runs against the Yankees this season. I predicted the Yankees would have a big time RISP fail game in this one, and they did. Then Raúl took over and the Yankees got a big extra inning win, stayed in first place and lowered their magic number to one with one game to go. Awesome
Rookie of the Year?
OK so obviously he’s not going to win it. Not while that fishy guy in L.A. is in the league (ah?). You can’t take away from what Phelps has done in his first season in the Bronx though. The kid was great again in game two of this series. He got off to a shaky start, allowing an RBI double to Dustin Pedroia and a sacrifice to hopefully not ever future Yankee Cody Ross to put the Yankees in a 2-0 hole before they had even come to bat.
Phelpsy settled down after that, only allowing three base runners the whole rest of the game. He came up huge in a game where the Yankees were basically relying on him to come up huge. That’s what makes players right there, and I’m excited to see what Phelps will have to offer (and in what role) in 2013. I thought Phelps could have stayed in the game to finish the sixth, but all of Girardi’s moves worked out great. Phelps’ final line looked like this: 5.1 Ip, 3 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 4 K, 86 pitches and a no decision.
After that, the bullpen took over. Boone Logan finished off the sixth, Joba Chamberlain came up with a huge strike out to get out of a dicey situation in the seventh and David Robertson hurled a nice eighth. Rafael Soriano came in to pitch the ninth and allowed a leadoff home run to James Loney, which is probably never acceptable anymore, let alone in the ninth inning of a possible season-defining game. Soriano’s been susceptible to the long ball lately and I’d like him to work on that for the playoffs. Either way though, Sori rebounded to not only finish the ninth, but pitched the tenth as well. It was the most pitches he’s thrown since like 2005. Nice to see him leave it all out on the field.
Next came Derek Lowe, and he pitched the 11th and 12th innings in scoreless fashion. You can see Girardi is really starting to trust Lowe in these crucial situations. He hasn’t supplanted (and won’t) anyone important in the pecking order, but he has definitely put himself on the playoff roster. His October track record is well documented, so that makes me happy. Lowe picked up the win in this one, pushing his record to 9=11.
If I Raúled the World
The first eight innings of this game were very frustrating to watch. The Yankees put nine men on base against Lester in his five innings and only scored on a “base hit” by Eduardo Núñez that should have been an error on José (Enrique) Iglesias. I will note, however that a seemingly innocuous steal of third base made it possible for that run to score. Kudos, Grandy. Anyway, lowlights of the first nine were mostly on Mark Teixeira, who came up with runners in scoring position four times and managed to hit into two double plays, ground weakly to short and pop out to center on a fastball right down the middle in the ninth. Just terrible.
The real heroics started in the bottom of the ninth, as heroics often do. Curtis Granderson led off the inning with a single off of new pitcher Andrew Bailey (that guy epitomizes the story of the Boston Red Sox in 2012). Girardi then pinch hit Raúl Ibañez for Núñez. Although Núñez was 2-3 in the game, the opportunity was there for Ibañez to tie the game with one swing. On a 1-2 fastball, the 40-year old did just that. Rocketing a line drive into the right field seats to tie the game at three. As much as Ibañez struggled in the second half, he has really turned it on of late, and has recorded probably the two biggest hits of the month for the Yankees (let’s not forget his game tying home run in the 13th against Oakland a couple of weeks ago.
But wait… There’s more! That’s right, friends. Raúl wasn’t satisfied with just tying the game. The Yankees blew a chance to win it in the rest of the ninth, and then A-Rod was robbed of a game-winning double by Jacoby Ellsbury in the 11th. This set the stage for the 12th. The first two Yankees went down without much of a fight, which brought Francisco Cevelli to the plate. Frankie had entered the game as a defensive replacement for Russell Martin in the 10th (Martin had been pinch hit for by Eric Chavez) and was down 0-2 before getting wise and working a huge walk. Granderson was up next, and he walked on our pitches. This brought up the One Raúl with a chance to win the game. Again, the old man came through, squirting a single through the hole between third and short against a guy he called “one of the nastiest lefties in the world.” I know that’s a bit of a stretch, but Miller is pretty nasty, and it was a huge hit.
Cervelli came chugging around third and basically fell and rolled over home plate in his attempt at a fancy slide and the game was over. The Yankees snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, and I couldn’t have been happier for the two guys involved in the last play. I know Stewart has done a good job this year, but Cervelli should have been the backup catcher. Is he the best hitter? No. Is he the best fielder? Nope. But he’s Frankie. We love him. He’s like our adorable son. Nobody was happier than he was to score that run. Great moment.
Notable Offense: HR – Ibañez (19), RBI – Núñez (11), Ibañez 3 (62), SB – Granderson (10), 2 hits for Jeter, Swisher, A-Rod, Canó (8 straight multi-hit games), Granderson, Núñez and Ibañez… yep still only got four runs.
Game 3: Yankees 14, Red Sox 2
The Yankees sent Hiroki Kuroda to the mound in a game that they eventually found out they didn’t need to win (because Baltimore lost). When the game began, however, they needed the win to keep the division away from the Orioles and clinch the best record in baseball. Bobby Valentine, in what is probably the last game he’ll ever manage, trotted out another failed Red Sox, Daisuke Matsuzaka. Hilarity ensued, and the Yankees won a blowout. It was a wonderful way to end a long season, and a huge boost of confidence for the playoffs.
Back on Track
OK I know the Jobu’s Rum All-Stars could probably have beaten the Sox lineup in this game (at least Dustin Pedroia played so that his boyfriend J.J. Hardy wouldn’t get angry again), but Kuroda was pretty impressive in this game. Naturally, he got off to a little bit of a shaky start, as Ross plated Ellsbury with a two-out single in the top of the first, but he settled down after that. He also didn’t immediately give up the 3-1 lead the Yankees gave him in the bottom of the second. After that, the route was on and Hiroki went into cruise control. He did his best to keep the Sox from getting on base and scoring runs. When the offense puts up 14 runs, that’s really all you need. His final line looked like this: 7 Ip, 7 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 4 K, 94 pitches and his sixteenth win of the season (16-4). The 16 wins tied him with Phil Hughes for the team lead, although Kuroda was the best pitcher on the staff this season in my opinion.
One annoying thing Girardi did (there’s always one) was to use two pitchers to get through the top of the ninth. Maybe he wanted one more look at Clay Rapada before the playoffs, but it was 14-2 at the time, and the pitching change was probably unnecessary. I think Eppley could have gotten out of his man on first, two out situation without allowing twelve runs. But that’s just me. It was nice to see Freddy Garcia pitch the ninth inning of another blowout. He looked good, striking out all three Red Sox he faced.
Don’t’cha Friggin’ Know!
There are few words that can accurately describe just how hot Robinson Canó has been the last two weeks. Over the last nine games of the season (six Yankees wins), Robbie was 23-38 (.615) with 3 home runs and 13 RBI. All nine games were of the multi-hit variety, and he raised his average from below .300 all the way to .313. He saved his best game for the season finale though. Robbie went 4-4 with two home runs, two singles, three runs scored and four RBI. The homers were his 32nd and 33rd of the year, which is a new career high. Canó had looked pretty bad in the couple of weeks prior to that, but he chose a pretty good time to get his stuff together.
The other hero of the game was Granderson. Curtis went 2-4, scoring a couple of runs and driving in four with two home runs of his own. The blasts were Granderson’s 42nd and 43rd of the season, which is also a career high. You hate to see his average be in the .230s, but at least he jumped over that the last few games. If he’s also getting hot, the Yankees could be a force in the playoffs. I’m not going to talk about the rest of the offense, because there was simply too much of it. 14 runs on 15 hits and 7 walks is a great day at the office. You’re gonna win pretty much all the games in which you play like that… I would hope.
Notable Offense: HR – Granderson 2 (43), Canó 2 (33), RBI – Granderson 4 (106), Canó 6 (94), Ichiro 2 (55), Swisher (93), Teixeira (84), SB – Ichiro (29), 4 hits for Canó, 2 for A-Rod, Swisher and Granderson, Jeter had one hit to finish with 216 for the season, his second best total.
Final, Final Thoughts
We’re going to get into playoff predictions in the next couple of days, so I won’t delve on that too much in this post, but Yankees fans have to feel pretty good going into these playoffs. The won two blowouts against the Red Sox (which they should do against crappy teams), but they also had a huge clutch, backs-against-the-wall type win in the second game too. The RISP fail will kill you every time, but the pitching has been very soild of late too. I feel good, but I think I want the Texas to beat the Orioles in the one game Wild Card round… I think. Be careful what you wish for, they say.
It’s been a very up and down season. The Yankees stumbled a little out of the gates, roared to a ten game lead in the division by mid-summer, tripped and fell all over themselves in the next couple of months and finally righted the ship in the last few weeks to hold off an Orioles team that no one thought would stick around in the standings. Coming into the season, the big rivals were the Rays and Red Sox, but perhaps Buck’s boys have something special going on. We saw a lot of things together this year. Thanks again to my readers, I’m gonna go get ready for playoff coverage!
Featured image courtesy of: Corey Sipkin/New York Daily News
- The “Roger That” Edition - February 28, 2017
- The “Nice Ring To It” Edition - February 3, 2017
- The “Shaken, Not Stirred” Edition - January 17, 2017
- The “Malcolms in the Middle” Edition - January 11, 2017
- A “Catching Up, Following Up, and Weighing In” Edition - December 31, 2016
- The “Cannon and Flowers” Edition - December 21, 2016
- The “Farm, for Sale” Edition - December 10, 2016
- The “Tebucky Jones Tribute” Edition - November 13, 2016
- The “World, Serious” Edition - November 1, 2016
- The “Easy Come, Easy Go” Edition - October 18, 2016