Thoughts from Saturday Night’s Epic 13 Inning ALCS Game 2

When Jerry Hairston scored in the bottom of the 13th inning, it ended another improbable New York Yankee win. Improbable because the Angels played a pretty decent game, and had the Yankees down one with three outs to go.

The Angels had so many opportunities to score and win, but their inability to get the big hit really hurt. The Halos had 20 base runners last night, but scored only two runs, and their hitters left 28 runners on base!

I love when people scream about OBP and how that is the most important thing in the game. Tell that to the Angels last Saturday night who had the 20 base runners, several times with bases loaded. They got their guys on base, but could not get them in. Every team gets guys on base every game.* But you need the productive hitters to drive them in.

 And the Angels did not do that in Game 2. And for the most part, the Yankees didn’t get their runners in either.

*Well, runners did not get on base for a single game 17 different times, most recently this past season in Chicago.

PITCHING INSIDE

Have you noticed all the inside pitching going on the ALCS? The Yankees were pounding the fastball inside to Chone Figgins, Bobby Abreu, Torri Hunter and Vlad Guerrero in Games 1 and 2. Basically the entire lineup but primarily those four. And you know what? They were a combined 6 for 36 with one RBI, which was Figgins’ bloop single down the left field line in Game 2’s extra innings.

And a few of those six hits were bloops or bleeders because the Yankees are pitching inside.

There are a variety of reasons why it is important to pitch inside, namely it is the toughest area for a hitter to put the good part of the bat on the ball. Guerrero and Hunter can not catch up with the fastball, espcially Vlad, who looked very slow with the bat. And when he starts to look inside, Joba whiffed him on a slider low and away, the second spot impossible to consistenly hit the ball hard.

Also, about this time of year, hitters are tired, their legs are sore and this slows their swings. Hitting is all in the legs.

So, the Yankees are throwing inside hard stuff to the Angels hitters and daring them to show they can hit the hard fastball inside. Since the Angels have yet to do that look for the Yankees to continue to pound them inside.

It also could be that the Angels are not used to the cold, weather, especially all the Latin players on their team, and getting pitched inside in the cold is not the best feeling in the world.

The Yankees are being pitched inside, too. Alex has had a hard time with the inside pitch. He takes most of the inside fastballs, has popped up others (Saturday night with the bases loaded), but on three big middle to outside pitches, he has powered game tying home runs the other way.

Jeter had his home run to right field, but has struggled most of the time inthe ALCS with the hard inside pitches. Same with Cano, whose only big hit was a breaking pitch AWAY which he pulled for the RBI triple.

Maybe it was the colder weather that played a role in this pitching attack by both sides, but I am postive this method will continue in the warmer climate of Anaheim.

GUERRERO’S STRUGGLES

He can not hit the inside pitch, and since legs are a big part of  a players bat speed, it makes me wonder if Vlad’s numerous leg and back injuries over the years have taken a toll. He hit many weak ground balls Saturday night with AJ Burnett and a crew of relievers pounding him in.

This is not a good time for Guerrero to show weakness as he is a free agent this off season. As his ego will want him to get big dollars, it does not look like the Angels will bring him back, and Vlad might have to settle for a one year deal somewhere with lots of incentives. Maybe the Twins (between Mauer and Morneau) would be interested in this right handed power bat, or maybe the Red Sox if Jason Bay gets away via free agency.

Baseball is a game of adjustments. An idea at the major league level to hit the inside pitch is just to look inside ONLY with less than two strikes, and hit pitches early in the count. Never “work the count” if you are struggling as getting behind early is only going to cause a hitter to think more at the plate. Look for the fastball inside early, and if you get it, rip the pitch.

DEFENISIVE STRUGGLES

It simply amazes me that both team are making serious mistakes in the field. Not just with the physical errors of Jeter and Cano, plus the throw in the 13th by Cesar Izturis, but the mental mistakes too. Physical errors can be overcome, but mental errors are game changers.

Their is no way Izturis should have tried to turn that double play. Fielders have to understand the speed of the runners (including the batter/runner) and Melky Cabrera moves very well down first base line, and he has beaten out several double play relays this season. With one out, the play was to first base. The way the hitters were failing with runenrs in scoring position all night, gettign the secure second out at first base was the right move.

I always teach my second basemen in youth leagues and high school that where the ball is hit usually dictates where you go with the ball. When Melky hit that ball into the seocnd base hole, the only play was to get the out at first.

SAFE CALL AT SECOND BASE

A tremendously gutsy call for the second base umpire. Eric Aybar never even came close to touching the bag, and that was caused by Cabrera’s hustle from first to second in trying to break up the double play. Normally, Aybar would have come forward to the bag, taken the throw then moving still moving forward, touched the base and made the throw.

But when he saw Melky charging into second base like the second coming of Don Baylor, he did not move forward, and never touched second. The hustle of the runner caused this and it was rewarded I can not believe that the two announcers continued to speak how it was a bad call.

McCarver especially. He also mentioned that he did not realize that the speed of the baseball was slower when it reached the plate as opposed to when the pitcher initially releases the ball. This is shown on FOX’s new pitch tracker gadget.

 

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One Response to Thoughts from Saturday Night’s Epic 13 Inning ALCS Game 2

  1. Matt Anello says:

    I don’t think the call at second base was bad at all. Aybar never touched the bag, and baseball rules say that in order to record an out in that situation you have to touch the bag. Buck and McCarver were extremely displeased with what was by rule the right call. I know there is such thing as the phantom tag at second, but Aybar was at least a foot away from the bag and didn’t even make an attempt to touch it. Good call by the umpire(that’s one good call by umpires this postseason)and bad job of announcing by in my opinion the two worst and most bias announcers, Joe Buck and Tim McCarver.
    http://manello33.wordpress.com

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