There was a scenario I forgot to mention at the end of the last column . If the Angels were able to come back from a big deficit and beat our bullpen in Game Three, that might make this series a series again, too.
That was silly of me to overlook. I forgot about Game Three of the 2005 ALDS, when the Angels blew a 5-0 lead against Randy Johnson, wound up behind by a couple of runs, and then managed to come back again and beat the Yankees to re-take home-field advantage. Mike Scioscia's team does not fold. Not ever.
Three pivotal moments in yesterday's game not related to Joe Girardi's last call to the pen:
—Alex Rodriguez gets a fastball right down the middle, inner third, and gets a little bit underneath it—just enough to keep it in the park. With Mark Teixeira on first after a walk, and Johnny Damon's home run two batters before, Jered Weaver was on the ropes. And a 5-0 lead would have been much more difficult for the Angels to get out from under.
—Vlad Guerrero has had trouble catching up to fastballs all series long. The problem is, Andy Pettitte's fastball isn't quite as fast as, say, C.C. Sabathia's. Why not throw a breaking ball on 2-2, with a notoriously impatient hitter at the plate?
—Scioscia's call for a pitchout against Brett Gardner on an 0-1 pitch was as predictable as Gardner coming off the bench to try to steal second. With the bases back empty, Kevin Jepsen was still rattled enough to throw a cookie (if you can call a 96 mph fastball a cookie) to Jorge Posada on the next pitch. Gardner's a rookie, and aggressive—someone has to teach him to wait for an even count, or for Posada to get ahead, so that the pitchout isn't an option.
Three reasons I'm not scared yet:
—Phil Hughes, Phil Coke, and Mariano Rivera were all effective on Monday, and are all still available and likely pretty fresh for Tuesday's game after relatively light workloads (Hughes threw 19 pitches; Rivera threw 17). And I bet David Robertson's pretty fresh, too...
(Okay, a quick note on Girardi's "micro-managing" problem...Short-term? It cost the Yankees yesterday's game. Long-term? It has kept everyone in that bullpen fresh and ready to go all postseason long. I'm not saying I wasn't confused, and then furious. I'm just saying, give some credit where credit is due...and see what he does on Tuesday if the situation comes up again.)
—The Yankees are 3-for-28 for the series with runners in scoring position...and all of those three hits came on Friday night in Game One (Cabrera's walk-off grounder was an E-4). How many more innings in a row would you figure the Angels will be able to hold the Yankees to one solo home run at a time? The Law of Large Numbers predicts a big inning sometime tonight.
—Six games, six quality starts. The Yankees' rotation has been absolutely brilliant thus far, and with pitching coach Dave Eiland's assessment of Sabathia's side-session on Sunday ("He was throwing so hard, he could have started [Sunday]!"), there's no reason to expect anything different tonight.
X-factor: Derek Jeter is 4-36 lifetime against Scott Kazmir. Who wants to bet on a single through the right side to start Game Four?