Short Nerd Chief

Posts Tagged ‘ALDS’

ALDS Recap: And a Dynasty Crumbles

Posted by Fred on October 9, 2007

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The dynasty crumbling seems to be the prevailing theme. Jerry Crasnick says that the Tribe “can take satisfaction in knowing they’ve rescued a large segment of the American baseball-viewing public from another dose of Armageddon fatigue.” Howard Bryant points out that “the old dynasty finally fell, and for good Monday night in the Bronx.” Thus the baseball punditocracy does what they always do, and points us to the ways the Yankees lost, not to how the Indians won. Let us now turn to the victors, who vanquished the New Yorkers 6-4 in Game 4 for a 3-1 victory in the series.

An Open Letter to Eric Wedge

Dear Wedgie:

Never doubt a Playoff Beard. As fans, you’d think we would have learned this lesson by now. Obviously, you and Carl Willis knew something we didn’t, and your insistence that Paul Byrd get the start in game 4 over CC Sabathia on short rest paid off. Maybe it was rewarding loyalty, handing the ball to a 15-game winner with underpowering stuff. Maybe it was playing the odds – starters operating on short rest in the post-season have a woeful winning percentage (witness Chien-Ming Wang’s 1+ IP), and Sabathia has only pitched on three days’ rest once in his career, and that hardly counts (5 IP three days after a 5 inning start). Maybe you saw something in Byrd or his numbers that we didn’t – fans focused on his 2-3, 5.21 ERA September, but Byrd was significantly better on extra rest (with 6+ days rest, he was 1-2 with a 3.86 ERA in 6 starts).

Be all that as it may, the fans wanted you to fly by the seat of your pants, starting CC and Ryan Garko over Byrd and Kelly Shoppach, but you didn’t and it paid off. Shoppach was 2-3 with two doubles, a HBP and a run scored. Byrd gave up hits, as a 84 MPH “pitch to contact” pitcher is wont to do, but he kept the damage to a minimum, and left the game with a 6-2 lead. And in a sense, Byrd’s outing wasn’t that much worse than Sabathia’s was last Thursday:

		IP    H   R   ER  BB  SO  HRSabathia        5.0   4   3   3   6   5    2

Byrd            5.0   8   2   2   2   2    1

And you stuck with Borowski, too, even though Cleveland sports bars were full of fans yelling for you to leave Betancourt in for another inning. Joe B. made it interesting, like he always does, but in the end your plan worked, and the next game will be in Boston, with CC starting on full rest, to be followed by a rested Carmona. You were right and we were wrong.

Sincerely,

The Fans

So now it’s on to Boston for a Sabathia-Beckett matchup. The Sabathia-Wang battle was anticlimactic.  Maybe the BoSox’s Cy Young candidate can do better.  Game 2 will be either Carmona-Dice K or Carmona-Schilling before moving to the back of the rotation. Will Carmona be lights out again? Will the Tribe keep hitting with 2 outs and RISP (one presumes they can’t keep hitting .500 in that situation)?  Will Papi and Manny do what A-Rod, Jeter and Posada could not? The answers will start to be filled in on Friday night.

For now, Cleveland fans can relish the taste of victory, and baseball fans everywhere can be happy ESPN and Fox won’t try to force-feed us more of the most Overhyped Rivalry in Sports.  Here’s a useless stat for today – the Red Sox-Yankees “rivalry” is almost entirely a creation of six-division realignment and cable sports news. From 1920-1994, the Yankees and Red Sox finished 1-2 in the standings seven times. During that same period, the Yankees and Indians finished 1-2 eight times.

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Game 1 recap: what year is it again?

Posted by Fred on October 5, 2007

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On a night that ace C.C. Sabathia was stymied by old fogy umpire Bruce Froemming’s paper-thin strike zone, it was 1995 all over again as Kenny Lofton helped the Indians spank the Yankees to take a 1-0 series lead.  Lofton, Victor Martinez and Ryan Garko went a combined 9-17, with 2 2B, 2 HR, 6 R and 9 RBI.  Kenny even had his 33rd postseason stolen base.  Asdrubal Cabrera added a HR and scored twice.  In the 44 games since Cabrera was inserted as the regular second baseman and #2 hitter, the Indians are 32-12. In the 36 games since Lofton was put in the 7 hole on a fairly regular basis, he is hitting .296 and the team is 27-9.

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Sabathia ended up walking six in five innings (including an intentional pass to A-Rod to get out of a dicey 5th with a one-run lead intact), but was able to limit the damage to three runs.  He clearly didn’t bring his A game – those six walks match his total for all of September – but Froemming’s strike zone clearly didn’t help matters any.  More importantly, he put the team in a position to win, and Jensen Lewis, Rafael Betancourt and Rafael Perez finished with four strong innings, giving up only a meaningless ninth inning single and striking out six while walking none.

On the other hand, Chien-Ming Wang looked like a shell of an 18 game winner, A-Rod went 0-2 with two walks, and Joe Torre’s bizarre decision(s) to start Doug Mientkiewicz (0-1 before being lifted in the 5th) and Hideki Matsui (0-4, 2 Ks, 5 LOB) backfired as the Yankees lost their fourth postseason game in a row.

One game does not a series make, and the Tribe remains in a tenuous position.  Andy Pettitte starts tonight for the Yankees, who has a reputation as a stopper (70-39 career in games following a Yankees loss).  The Yankees are also a veteran team unlikely to be fazed by being blown out – in games following losses of five runs or more in 2007, the Yankees went 10-5.  Fausto Carmona takes his 19-8 record to the hill for the Tribe.  It will be important for Carmona to eat some innings, as Wedge used his three best relievers for four innings last night.  Perez pitched two innings, which would suggest he may be unavailable.  Twice this year he has pitched following a 2+ IP appearance.  On August 8 he pitched 2 1/3 innings against the White Sox, and pitched an inning the next night (0 H, 0 ER, 1 K, 0 BB).  Then on August 26 he pitched 2 innings against the Royals, appearing the next night against the Twins for a three-pitch inning (the 5-4-3 triple play).  Overall, Perez has been pretty good pitching on no rest (7 appearances, 7 1/3 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 5 K, 0 BB).

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Game 1: Tribe vs. Yanks

Posted by Fred on October 4, 2007

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In a couple of hours, it’ll be Game On (cue the Imperial Death March music). With the other three series starting yesterday, commentary on the Tribe-Yankees series has been a battle of dueling conventional wisdom. Conventional Wisdom A says that in a short series, pitching reigns supreme – no matter how well the Angels play the rest of the way, Beckett’s performance yesterday places them in a huge hole. Advantage here would appear to go to Cleveland, with two legitimate Cy Young contenders facing one semi-legitimate Cy Young contender and a bunch of old guys. Conventional Wisdom B says go with experience, of which the Yankees have a closetful and the Indians have Trot Nixon.

The early trend seemed to be for pundits to go with Cleveland’s pitching over the Yankees offense, with the majority of the ESPN prognosticators picking Chief Wahoo over Pinstripe Man. Late returns suggest it’s going the other way, as the burden of that 0-6 record against the Yankees looms larger. Looks like a 5 game series that could go either way, with the first game even more important than usual. If the Indians win tonight, the Yankees know they have to face Sabathia again and Carmona twice, and the Tribe knows the 0-6 record means nothing. If the Yankees win, do the kids from Ohio see a first-round loss as inevitable?

Tonight’s game features Sabathia and Wang:

		Starts    W-L    IP  	K      BB    WHIP    ERA
CC Sabathia     34        19-7   241    209    37    1.141   3.21
Chien-Ming Wang 30        19-7	 199    104    59    1.294   3.70

Over the last ten starts, Sabathia is 5-1 with a 2.43 ERA (74 IP, 61 K, 14 BB). Wang is 6-2 with a 4.16 ERA (62 IP, 40 K, 25 BB). Over the last five, the edge goes to Sabathia as well, 4-0, 2.37 vs. 3-1, 2.37.

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ESPN predicts Tribe in five games

Posted by Fred on October 1, 2007

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OK, so now I’m worried. Yankees and Red Sox fans remain confident that the inevitable will happen and we’ll reprise 2004. Before New Yorkers assume that that 0-6 mark will mean a sweep of the NLDS, recall that 2004 was also the last time the pinstripers faced Sabathia.   And that the sixth and final victory occurred on  August 12. Two games later, Eric Wedge inserted Asdrubal Cabrera as the everyday second baseman and the rest is history (31-12 the rest of the way).  Also, Pronk finally woke up from his five-month slumber, and posted a .965 OPS with 23 RBI in September.  I still worry about the Yankees more than any other team, but it’s not what NYY fans think it is, especially if Sabathia and Carmona keep the game away from Borowski.

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