Be afraid, be very afraid
The Yankees are returning to the Bronx this weekend, without the pennant. Although they are ahead of the Angels 3-2, there are a lot of reasons the Yankees and their fans ought to be uncomfortable….
- The Angels starter tomorrow, Joe Saunders, has given up three earned runs only once since August 6th — that’s nine consecutive strong starts for Saunders.
- If this thing goes to game seven, the Yankees will pitch C.C. Sabathia for the third time this series. While the Big Man has been nothing short of dominating in his first two starts, the Angels are one of baseball’s elite offensive teams and there’s no telling how their hitters will handle facing the same starter three times in nine days. It could be hard for C.C. to avoid predictability.
- Nick Swisher’s occasional cold-streaks were tolerable all season long, because the man was a walk-machine. Swisher was second in the American League in walks during the regular season and 20th in on-base percentage, but he has become an easy out this postseason. The Yankees need Mr. Twitch to anchor down the second half the batting order this weekend.
- We will not be able to rely on Alex Rodriguez this weekend. With a man on base or in many two out situations, the Angels will choose to take their chances against Hideki Matsui.
- Joe Girardi does not seem to have any concrete game-plan for the Yankee bullpen. If there is one guy who seems to be having difficulty handling the pressure of this stage, it’s Girardi. His decision-making has been erratic and reflects over-analysis. Some games he sticks with the starters too long (yesterday) and gives the bullpen too short of a leash (also Yesterday). Other times his starters have been given too short of a leash (Games two and three). Criticizing managers for their bull-pen decisions can often be unfair….but Girardi used four pitchers (three for just one out) through 7.1 innings in game three.
- The Yankees have been through worse than losing a 3-1 League Championship Series. Let's not relive that in this column — Tim McCarver mentions it every five minutes during his broadcasts. That’s enough of a reminder.
For more of Graham Kates' sports writing, check out his True/Slant blog "Coaches in the Crosshairs" (http://trueslant.com/grahamkates).