I waited a few days before writing this piece so I could read most of the reports on the great Friday night comeback for the Yankees. Most of the talk in the papers, on the sports talk radio stations and on television was about the missed call on the ball hit by Joe Mauer and how it cost the Twins the game.
Too many people now are wanting instant replay for even more baseball plays, but I thought we were stopping at only home runs. Technology creeping into the game, similar to Democrats saying the new Government Health Care Plan won't cost very much...now, but wait a few years when they need even higher taxes to pay for more stuff.
Pretty soon replay will be wanted for close plays at first, every close tag on every steal attempt and every play at the plate. Might as well have a TV monitor right behind the home plate umpire so he can consult things quickly.
But no one mentioned that Phil Cuzzi's call had no effect on the game's outcome, and all the great baseball plays and performances Friday night played second fiddle to "the mistake."
Alex Rodriguez hits a bottom of the ninth two-run homer off the Minnesota Twins closer Joe Nathan to tie the game, breaking his "drought" of clutch post season baseball. Mark Teixeira then hits a game-winner homer two innings later to win the game. That was important for Tex, because although he had a great, MVP-type season, New York fans incorrectly legacy your time in New York based upon how you do in the post season. Tex got the monkey off his back well before that animal was even born.
Other big plays included Nick Swisher throwing behind Carlos Gomez, with Derek Jeter getting that tag out on Gomez before Delmon Young crossed the plate on Nick Punto's fourth inning single. Kudos to Jeter for being in the right spot on defense once again, and for Swisher noticing Gomez' base-running blunder.
Also, David Robertson's great pitching job in getting out of that bases-loaded jam in the top of the 11th inning might have been the biggest moment.
However, many people think that Robertson never should have had the opportunity to get out of that jam due to the missed call on Joe Mauer slicing drive down the left field line. The ball glanced off of Melky Cabrera's glove, landed in fair territory and bounced into the stands.
The ball was called foul and no one on the field argued for the Twins. Mauer eventually singled in that at bat, but if the correct call was made by umpire Phil Cuzzi, there is a big difference in having a runner on second with no outs than on first.
Absolutely. After all the Twins then hit two straight singles after Mauer's hit, so he definitely would have scored the go ahead run.
Maybe, but probably not.
If Mauer was correctly awarded a ground rule double, there would be a runner on second and no outs. As I said earlier, a much different scenario for the Twins...but also for the Yankees. Do you really believe the Yankees would pitch the same way with a runner on second and no outs rather than a runner on first and no outs?
No way. The Yankees would realize that only a single would give the Twins the lead and their best way to get out of the inning would to get a double play. I venture that if the Yankees were in that situation, they would have pitched around the next hitter Jason Kubel while they had that garbage reliever, Damaso Marte, on the mound.
They would not have allowed Marte to even get a sniff of the strike zone against the power hitting Kubel, even if it was lefty versus lefty. At best, Marte would throw four straight pitches far away hoping Kubel would chase. The Yankees would rather have had the strike out machine David Robertson (yes, that is I who sponsors his BR.com page) face Michael Cuddyer with runners on first and second.
This would allow a better chance for a strikeout, and a good possibility of a double play if Cuddyer hits a ground ball.
So, the basic situation would be the same whether Cuzzi made the correct call or not. Kubel would not have had the chance at getting a hit, but would have been awarded first base when Marte threw the fourth straight pitch out of the strike zone.
The Twins would have had first and second with no outs, Cuddyer coming up and Robertson coming in to pitch.
It is the same situation the Twins (and Yankees) were in after the blown call.
And Cuddyer singled to center field and the third base coach held Mauer at third base, even with the weak armed Brett Gardner now manning center field.
Mauer was held for two reasons. First, the Twins had the bases loaded with no outs, no reason to risk getting Mauer thrown out at home with no outs, even with the weak armed Gardner in center. Second, Mauer was suffering from a sore hip, one he aggravated during Game No. 163 against the Detroit Tigers when he slipped and fell around first base on a ball into right field. But no one really knew about Mauer’s injury until after the game.
After Cuddyer’s single the Twins went in order with no runs scoring due to the great pitching of Robertson and good defense by the Yankees.
The same situation which happened with Cuzzi’s bad call.
Many people have said that because of the bad call, Mauer would have been on third with Kubel’s single and would have scored on Cuddyer’s single. What is not understood is that the game changes upon every at bat and many times with each pitch. What a certain batter does at the plate determines how the offense (and the defense) plays the next hitter, whether it be pitch selection, pitch location and defensive positioning.
So, if Mauer was correctly awarded second base, the Twins still would not have scored a run in the 11th inning.
But even if Mauer was sent in by the third base coach and scored, and the Twins took a one-run lead into the bottom of the 11th, do you really think the Yankees would have settled and only scored on Teixeira's leadoff home run?