Lots of good in tonight’s win. Moose ends what he starts, crunching six inconsequential hits on the side like soda cans and sitting down 5 Tigers on the K. The only Detroit run was unearned and came in the ninth after A-Rod’s throwing error let Polanco reach base. But how can you fault a guy that went 3 for 4 with 2 RBIs? Timely hitting from a jumble Yankee lineup trickled in 4 runs in the eighth and ninth, padding that save situation lead of 2-0. Mariano pitched a beaut last night, 3 inning relief, and the Moose gave his bullpen some pillows to rest on. Giambi’s bat swung for 3 hits, outwitting the shift strategem. Cabrera, Cairo, Phillips and Long took the field, aiding fellow Yankees with bigger names in recuperating. Overall, a beautiful ballgame, the whole roster utilized and winning together in tandem with Moose’s pitches, elusive and twinkling until that high thump of a fastball meeting leather and the umpire pulling the trigger.
The Giambino slung two loopers through gaps between third and second, responding to an impenetrable defense of gloves to his right. I remember a game last year in which Giambi bunted down the line. Just as we see Cabrera developing in the bigs, it’s a thrill to watch Giambi solve the puzzle and make that shift decision more iffy. I hope he keeps it up and normalizes that infield.
There came a play put on by Detroit in the late innings when first and second were occupied with no outs I think, and Leyland optioned for a bunt toward the charging first baseman. This allowed Phillips an empty and crystal clear path to throw out the runner at third, which he did. If the bunt was directed toward A-Rod, and if it was hit equally hard, then the only play would’ve been to first. I don’t think gambling on complications beats the sure out at first. That could’ve made a huge difference. With one out and two runners in scoring position a single could empty the bags, drastically altering the game, maybe forcing a move to the bullpen, instead it setup a potential twin killing. I don’t recall what actually happened but whatever happened allowed Moose to charge ahead unscathed and calm the home crowd to a murmur. If you were watching the game, what did you think of this play?
And what did you think of Phillips pushing for a double in the ninth? The ball wasn’t deep and a quick bobble by the outfielder didn’t add the seconds needed to slide in safely. It was 4-0 at this time, Phillips was the leadoff, and I think he should’ve settled at first base. Hustle and aggression are important though for October bound teams and seeing that from a bench player is good news, signs of the talent Torre has at his fingertips to tap at a moment’s notice. I bet that down the road in a clutch spot in a big game Phillips tries that again and pulls it off.
Chad Cordero saved his 8th game, Trevor Hoffman his 11th and Papelbon his 19th.
Boston needs to keep Papelbon. They don’t need advice, but I think being the team with the unhittable, unsolvable, dead end closer after Mariano leaves the Rivalry in a few years will play a huge part in gaining ground on New York in the bragging race. Obviously he’ll help them win and will streamline Francona’s bullpen plans during a game, but he will also serve as the trophy Boston can taunt every club with. As New York has boasted the game’s best closer during the last decade, Boston has the chance to replace them, to boast the ownership of the new pitcher who literally stops the game a few innings short. The pitcher who makes every manager leave for the clubhouse when he comes in. The pitcher who is simply the best.
I’m glad Roger stayed with the Astros. His presence will be more important and more noticed in Houston. Going to New York or Boston would give Roger more pressure than he needs, considering it would stoke the fires of this already blazing rivalry. Helping the Astros recover from their slump and challenge a National League brimming with playoff contenders will make this last season, if it is indeed his last, easier and more fun. Won’t it be awesome if he leads them to another World Series? I’m rooting for it. Go Rocket!