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The ALDS between the Yankees and Orioles is headed to a decisive Game 5 after an absolutely putrid showing by both teams' offenses tonight.
Tanya: I hope David Phelps can tap into some of Hughes' magic from earlier. ... Awful.
Steve: I thought that was out. ...There was only so long they could go on like that.
Tanya: I guess that's true.
Tanya: He's been ok, though, surprisingly.
Steve: Well, he was good enough to limit the damage here. Last chance for the Yankees.
Tanya: I'd say a run isn't insurmountable, but it might be. It's the right part of the lineup, if there is a right part right now.
Steve: Yeah, but A-Rod is coming up... There's your redemption story.
Steve: Teixeira down on the Lowe curve. One out.
Tanya: Froze him.
Steve: Cano hit it right, but right at someone. Two down. Eric Chavez pinch-hitting for A-Rod and TBS doesn't even mention it. It's no longer notable. ...They finally mentioned it after three pitches.
Tanya: I don't trust Chavez at the plate either.
Steve: He's been quite good... He hit it hard, on a line to Machado, and we go to a Game 5. See you tomorrow afternoon, Tanya?
Tanya: Hey, look at that.
Steve: Joba survives his long layoff, Nunez survives his first chance.
Tanya: Now win it here so we don't have to worry about either thing again.
Steve: Until the next series. Which I'm not ready for. This one has been exhausting.
Tanya: Pedro Strop! So there's a chance!
Steve: As we've been waiting patiently here, Justin Verlander is working on a two-hit shutout with one out in the sixth. It's just unfair that you battle back to tie a series and the other guy responds with the MVP/Cy Young winner in the next game. Stop had a 6.48 ERA in September, opponents hit .333.
Tanya: Wonder when the media will get sick of highlighting A-Rod's failures even when he's far from the only one coming up short.
Steve: He gets the big money, so he'll always be the magnet.
Tanya: Obligatory Maier reference, there.
Steve: I thought you said "Mauer" for a moment and was confused. And on we go to the 12th. Seriously, what has Joe Mauer ever done to you?
Tanya: Nothing, I can safely say.
Steve: Goodness. Look out, Joba!
Tanya: What is this game? What is this series?
Steve: Poor Joba. In the back of the elbow. He really has had some kind of year.
Tanya: He's not the guy you want to be next to in a thunderstorm.
Steve: They should not let him pitch at this point. You don't want to second-guess this. ...Good choice.
Tanya: I agree.
Steve: Talk about a fluke play. Imagine if they lose on that -- like the 1960 World Series play when Tony Kubek got hit in the throat by a bad-hop grounder.
Tanya: Only Joba.
Steve: I hope we hear the results of the "precautionary X-Ray" before this is over. I will not mention David Phelps' home run rate. I will not mention...
Tanya: You had to...
Steve: It hasn't hurt anything so far...
Tanya: Which means it's due!
Steve: True. The game will hit it's fourth hour sometime soon... I have a doctor's appointment in 12 hours. Think this game will be over by then?
Tanya: It doesn't seem like it. Is it too late to offer my kingdom for that ground ball at someone...again?
Steve: How many times can you give away the same kingdom?
Tanya: I haven't had to yet! I just want a win. Getting desperate. That wasn't the pitch for the ground ball, David.
Steve: He was just a touch below average in DP rate. For what it's worth. Great job by Phelps in the top of the 12th. ...I was just looking at the schedule. If the Yankees don't win tonight, they play tomorrow at 5, and then the ALCS starts Saturday, no break.
Tanya: And burn CC in the process.
Tanya: Sounds like a good reason to end this thing now.
Steve: Half the audience's bladders have probably burst at this point. Granderson was finally ahead in the count and I thought, another non-K at-bat! This is his chance! But then he went to 3-2, and then he swung at a pitch in the dirt.
Tanya: Oh, wow. That...was exactly what I expected.
Steve: You were more cynical than I that time.
Tanya: He wanted to swing at Ball 1. I knew it was going to be ugly.
Steve: Good arm by Machado there. Bringing him up really made a huge difference to the Orioles defensively. The Captain with a walk-off?
Tanya: I hope, but I don't expect.
Steve: Hope for the best, expect the worst. Looks like Detroit is about to put that series on ice. Will it be Tigers-Orioles or Tigers-Yankees? When I was growing up in the 1980s, Tigers-Yankees was not something that ever went well for New York. Not a walk-off, but a hit!
Tanya: Can't really depend on Ichiro for the long ball.
Steve: No you can't, and so we go to the 13th.
Steve: Granderson flies out, not K-ing again is progress, and here comes Raul.
Tanya: For Nix? I don't think I like that.
Steve: Because if there's another inning it leads to Eduardo Nunez?
Steve: Good first guess on that, Tanya. I don't want to see him there either.
Tanya: Is it too late to put A-Rod at short for the next inning?
Steve: I think that ship has sailed. ...Two down in the bottom of the tenth while we were dealing with some technical issues, and it's up to Teixeira.
Tanya: I felt like they really needed to win it here.
Steve: Teixeira could... If he gets anything to hit.
Tanya: Something fat and down the pipe, please.
Steve: That 3-0 pitch might have been it. Ball four, and here comes Robbie again (again). Pedro Strop warming for the O's. He really faded at the end of the season.
Tanya: Ugly swing there.
Steve: Pop-up, and off we go to the 11th.
Tanya: Is this a rally?
Steve: When the Yankees used to play only day games, they would win games late and call it 5 o'clock lightning. This is 10 o'clock lightning. It's also the 900th pitching change.
Tanya: I'd want no part of Robinson Cano in this situation. Scuffling or not.
Steve: Agreed. But it is a double-play situation.
Tanya: You just had to bring that up.
Steve: Like I said: cynical mood.
Tanya: Pitch around him to get to A-Rod? Can you imagine?
Steve: As we said last night, how the mighty... Cano has grown out of getting himself out by chasing bad pitches...except with RISP this year. He can revert. I don't think he's going to get the chance here, though. Can you do that with no outs, though? Even with A-Rod all slumpy?
Tanya: Depends on if it works or not, I guess.
Steve: As I said, he reverts. That looked like ball four. At least it wasn't a GDP.
Tanya: I don't like the matchup with O'Day.
Steve: They have seen so much of him you'd think that familiarity would breed some success here.
Tanya: I think I might want this for him more than he wants it for him.
Steve: I think that's the human response. Most of the hostility to him is unearned...although if he strikes out here, I might change my mind. Aaaargh.
Steve: Up to Swish Nicker. You could walk him with the base empty here...and that proved to be unnecessary.
Tanya: Such an opportunity missed.
Steve: We'll see if it costs them, but they have a good bullpen too.
Tanya: I said I didn't see a way they would win last night without a home run. Feeling that way again tonight.
Steve: Yup. That cuts both ways, though.
Tanya: Definitely. Whoever breaks through first here will win, I think. Meaning I don't see a comeback from the Yankees if they go down a run.
Steve: Unless Jim Johnson struggles again...and Showalter abandons him. I don't know how well you remember 1995, but he bailed on a certain John Wetteland against the Mariners then...cost the Yankees in a big way. And Nix fails to grapple with the bad hop. Jeter doesn't have a lot of range, but he doesn't make a lot of mistakes.
Tanya: I never did get that ground ball right at someone I offered my kingdom for earlier. I'd like to cash that in now.
Steve: Good thing you didn't promise your kingdom for a pickoff!
To the bottom of the ninth, folks!
Tanya: The starting pitching in this series has really been fantastic.
Steve: Or the hitting has been really bad!
Steve: Given the way guys like A-Rod and Granderson have looked, I'm inclined to credit the hitters, in a negative sense, more than I am the pitchers. McLouth squared it up, but right at Robbie, and on we go.
Tanya: Can we please win without the drama tonight?
Steve: Girardi looked like the bullpen had put him on hold.
Tanya: Ow, my heart.
Steve: Could Flaherty be the goat?
Tanya: Desperately hope so.
Steve: At least Granderson didn't K there?
Tanya: Small favor. Do you second-guess the lack of a pinch hitter for Granderson there?
Steve: I thought about it, yeah. If only Andruw Jones were still alive.
Tanya: Nix wants a piece of the magic.
Steve: And that chases Patton. Our old friend Ayala.
Tanya: Hope he remembers how badly he fails with inherited runners.
Steve: His Yankees season really was something of an illusion.
Tanya: Does Jeter's foot have a magnet in it?
Steve: They are going to need to replace it with a wheel at this rate. Looked like it went around the plate, but hard to tell from my vantage point.
Tanya: Probably too close to take at that point. Zone is a little bit weird anyway.
Steve: Jeter certainly thought so. These endless periods of stasis are killing me.
Tanya: Reminds me a bit of last night, but I'll take being on the tied side instead of the trailing side.
Steve: I don't think either of these teams can win. They were 9-9 in the regular season, they're going to stay tied in the postseason. This series will never conclude, and the World Series will be cancelled.
Tanya: There's that Future Closer Robertson stuff again.
Steve: He won't be a closer for the Yankees because they'll always sign someone else's closer. Apparently I'm in a cynical mood.
Tanya: At least there is still Jim Thome.
Steve: He always struck out a lot -- he's second to Reggie! on the all-time list, I think, but this is just sad. I don't want a social dugout app. I do not want a social anything app. I want an anti-social app. That was probably a double all the way from Jeter, but I thought Davis played that a little tentatively. He came up as a third baseman, not an outfielder.
Tanya: More bunting.
Steve: I guess they're playing for the tie, and Ichiro tends to hit things the other way, so there's a possibility a grounder wouldn't have advanced Jeter. Not that I'm defending it.
Tanya: I'd like to see a plot of this strike zone. Seems...inconsistent.
Steve: Not a lot of complaining by the hitters so far. And Saunders is bending.
Tanya: If TBS is to be believed, he didn't throw a single pitch in the strike zone.
Steve: Those strike zones are purely hypothetical (though I wish YES used one).
Tanya: Thought that might have been two at first.
Steve: Me too. Cano hits into a lot of them. Teixeira's jump made it too difficult a play. Tommy Hunter: one of the Orioles' vast collection of failed starters. I guess Joe is saving Ibanez for later.
Tanya: I am ok with that decision.
Steve: So am I. You almost can't use him in this game. The pressure would be so great...
Tanya: Greater than last night? Pinch hitting for an all-time great down a run with an out in the ninth?
Steve: I think so, because now you have to do it again. When Rodgers and Hammerstein had a huge success with "Oklahoma!" Samuel Goldwyn said to them, "You know what I'd do next? Kill myself!" Because they just weren't going to top that. (They sort of did, but the point remains.)
Tanya: I don't know if I love Hughes being back out there. I'll happily be wrong, though.
Steve: You can first-guess it, because another home run could be coming. I think this is another Joe Girardi give-him-a-chance-to-get-in-trouble thing. Which makes little sense, but it's what he does.
Tanya: I just worry about that one-batter-too-long thing.
Steve: He won. He won't see McLouth again, will he? And the answer is...No.
Tanya: Guess he showed me.
Steve: And he didn't even get in trouble!
Tanya: A hit! I'm happy for Alex.
Steve: And yet, no runs.
Tanya: Let's not walk the leadoff hitter this time, eh Phil?
Steve: Charity begins at home, and Phil is pitching at home. Still, he'll have to work to walk him after getting ahead 1-2.
Tanya: Can we go back to the walk?
Steve: There's the answer to your question, Tanya. He could do it until the fifth.
Tanya: I wish I could say I'm surprised. I'm not. I don't think anyone is more infuriating with 2 strikes than Hughes.
Steve: You think he nibbles at that point?
Steve: Not that time, but yes, in general. And another K. The Yankees have to score at least one run, right?
Tanya: They should. If they can't off Joe Saunders, they have no business winning anyway.
Steve: That's sort of a tautology, isn't it?
Tanya: It would be hard to win with zero runs, yes.
Steve: Having said that, would it really surprise you if they didn't? This is clearly not the 1998 Yankees. They seem closer to the 2000 Yankees in some ways.
Tanya: It would surprise me if they were shutout in this game, absolutely.
Steve: In this part, against this pitcher, they should really do a lot more than just that. But I meant in general. I don't mean to be pessimistic, but...I'm pessimistic. Especially when Granderson bunts to go down 0-2.
Tanya: Awful. Flailing again.
Steve: Time to rethink that option?
Tanya: Why is a guy who can't buy a hit giving away strikes?
Steve: Just trying to change his karma, I think. OOOOF. I shouted, "It's gone!" Apparently I fooled Russell Martin.
Tanya: I thought it was gone, and that that was too good to be true. Apparently it was.
Steve: Okay, so we know what our excuse was, but where was Martin?
Tanya: Forgot how many outs there were?
Steve: Boy, I hope not.
Tanya: Can't figure out why else he was that far off the base.
Steve: Because it's a free country?
Tanya: Jayson Nix. Can't predict playoff baseball.
Steve: I've always liked him. Good fielder, really poor hitter, especially against same-side arms. This is the best spot for him. Oh, no bunting, guys. You've got no outs. Push your advantage, don't give away outs. Every out spent brings the game closer to its conclusion. If you were only going to live 27 years, you wouldn't bargain your way down to 26, you'd hold on to each one. With white knuckles.
Tanya: I hate bunting. In the third, no less.
Steve: It should be outlawed.
Tanya: I agree. Make it so.
Steve: Great at-bat for Jeter here, regardless of the outcome. Saunders is hardly a dominating pitcher most of the time, but there's something about these soft-tossers that just rocks the Yankees to sleep. Three strikeouts in a row. He might not have done that in his whole career.
Tanya: The Yankees tend to make that kind of stuff happen, it seems.
Steve: And another walk. How many pitches is that for Hughes now?
Steve: Not as bad as I thought.
Tanya: Flyballer putting guys on ahead of people with ridiculous power. How long can he keep that up without damage?
Steve: This offer available for a limited time only, Tanya.
Tanya: I don't doubt it.
Steve: Especially with Ryan Flaherty at the plate. That was a little irony there. Maybe it wasn't irony.
Tanya: How does he do it?
Steve: A strikeout of the kid. At this point, Hughes is going to steal David Robertson's Houdini rep.
Tanya: This is the kind of outing where I hope he gets pulled before it's one batter too late.
Steve: Maybe he'll just sort of bumble his way through a complete game shutout.
Steve: Joe Saunders is a pitcher who has won a lot of games without being very good, but he provided a needed upgrade for the Orioles at the end of the season. Another smart move by Dan Duquette.
Tanya: A walk! They still know how to do that!
Steve: They've actually had nine in this series vs. just three for the Orioles, which is great, but we both missed them amid all the strikeouts.
Tanya: None last night, though. Yankees need to be able to do that.
Steve: They can turn it off. That was what happened in the infamous 2004 ALCS against the Red Sox. After the first three games, they just stopped walking.
Tanya: Thome has looked pretty awful this series.
Steve: He's looked finished.
Tanya: Much better that time around for Phil.
Steve: Much. Jitters out of the way, perhaps.
Tanya: Slightly easier part of the lineup to navigate, as well.
Steve: The walk is a big thing for A-Rod, both because of the number of times he's struck out in this series and because that's something that Saunders can't afford to do and generally doesn't do.
Tanya: I'd have loved to see him crush a 3-0 pitch, but I'll happily take the walk.
Steve: He's crushed fewer every year since that last MVP.
Tanya: I really thought Swisher had gotten more of that one.
Steve: So did I. I don't want any bonus camera angels, thank you.
Tanya: You don't need a close up of Ibanez's face after everything A-Rod does?
Steve: I think it's more vivid in my imagination. Granderson, six Ks in 11 ABs to this point.
Tanya: He looks terrible at the plate right now.
Steve: Make that 7/12. That's abysmal.
Tanya: It's not even close. His swings look awful, like he's unable to read the ball at all.
Steve: Exactly. He just doesn't look like the same guy at all right now.
Tanya: Walk a guy who hasn't proven to be a consistent hitter in the majors yet to lead off an inning. Yuck.
Steve: Yeah, you have to try to walk him right now. And with that hit, there's a rally going for the Orioles.
Tanya: Going to be difficult for the fly ball king to work out of this cleanly.
Steve: Very. And with the way the Yankees have been going on offense, two runs would be a mountain to climb. Well, we didn't think of a play at the plate.
Tanya: Wow, smart play.
Steve: A young player's over-aggressiveness there.
Tanya: My kingdom for a ground ball at someone here.
Steve: Davis was crazy hot in September and has hit well in this series, but he strikes out a lot, so you have a better chance at that. As I said...
Tanya: Atta boy, Phil
Steve: Amazing. He did it.
Tanya: I thought the chances of that were beyond slim.
Steve: They were!
Tanya: Hughes isn't making it easy on my nerves tonight.
Steve: Teams with runners on second and third and no out scored an average of 1.9 runs this year. So it wasn't just Hughes, it's just you get into that position, there aren't too many escape routes.
Steve: Well, Tanya, the Yankees could move on with a win tonight, but I don't know how anything can top last night's dramatic ending.
Tanya: I don't think I've even recovered from that yet.
Steve: Being ancient compared to you, I've seen so much of this kind of thing from this franchise that I don't get worked up like that. I just quietly say, "Oh, yeah. That's what they do."
Tanya: Even in the lesser time I've had, you'd think I'd get used to it at some point. Not yet.
Steve: Before anything bad happens, let me just point out that scary home run machine Phil Hughes had an ERA a little more than a full run lower at home -- that despite all those longballs. As good as he is, he might be more valuable to another team than to the Yankees. It's just scary that opponents slugged .460 against him this year. And with that bunt, he's already in trouble.
Tanya: Stupid dirt. That looked like it was going foul.
Steve: So first and second, none out, and a pitcher who can give up a HR at any time.
Tanya: Slightly terrified.
Steve: I think I said this last night, but there are pills for that.
Tanya: I might have to look into that.
Steve: If you ever come up this way, you can try out some of mine. Come to think of it, maybe THAT'S why I can stay subdued after a walk-off home run. Or a massive explosion.
Tanya: This is a fantastic spot for Phil...
Steve: My, Wieters did him a favor there. You would think he would take one, but good for the Yankees.
To the bottom of the first!
The Yankees attempt to close out this series and move on to the ALCS without giving the Orioles a chance in a Game 5. It's Joe Saunders vs. Phil Hughes.
Jeter is DHing, Nix is in, A-Rod is down to 5th in favor of Tex at #4, and Ibanez is not in it.
I would have started Raul Ibanez because he's hitting well right now, even against the lefthander Joe Saunders on the mound. He's a soft-tosser anyway, so I don't think it would have affected him much. Oh well. It will just give him another opportunity for pinch-hit devastation. It's not a big deal anyway since I understand the need to shore up outfield defense with Phil Hughes on the mound and Jeter needing to be at DH due to the bone bruise on his foot.
It was just announced that Joe Girardi's father passed away. Girardi will apparently manage tonight, and we can only hope that he can find solace in his activities. Jerry Girardi was 81 and had been suffering from Alzheimers' disease. From all of us here at the Pinstriped Bible, our respect and condolences to the manager of the Yankees and his family.
UPDATE: The Yankees just issued a clarification, explaining that Jerry Girardi actually died on Saturday. We always knew that Joe Girardi was a tightly controlled personality, but this is Thursday and it's the first we've heard about it. Girardi has managed all three of these games while in mourning. It is simultaneously very brave and a bit sad that he would think we would ask him to do that -- I think any fan, no matter how invested in the Yankees winning this year, would say, "It's okay if you sit this one out, Joe." I respect his decision to keep going, to honor his father this way, but I hope it didn't come out of any sense of obligation.
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