The Yankees weren't hitting with runners in scoring position and relying too much on the home runs and Yankee manager Joe Girardi was heavily criticized for over-managing and taking out David Robertson for Alfredo Aceves, who ended up giving up the game-winning double to Jeff Mathis when Robertson looked dominant and Aceves looked flat.
Going into Tuesday night's Game Four, it was a game the Yankees had to have, because if the series went to Game Five being tied 2-2, the Yankees would be in some serious trouble.
The Yankees were sending back up their ace in CC Sabathia, pitching on three days rest. The short rest is nothing new to Sabathia, as he pitched every game in September of 2008 and in the postseason on three days rest for the Milwaukee Brewers, who made the National League Playoffs as the Wild Card.
If it weren't for Sabathia, Milwaukee would have never made the postseason. Tonight, they needed that same magic from Sabathia.
The Angels were countering with Scott Kazmir, an opponent familiar to the Yankees from pitching with the Rays and has had success in the past against the Yankees. For the first three innings, Sabathia and Kazmir traded scoreless innings and were pitching well early.
In the top of the fourth inning, the Yankees struck first blood.
Alex Rodriguez singled to center and then Jorge Posada doubled to left field, setting up a second and third with no outs. After Hideki Matsui struck out, Robinson Cano hit the ball to second, which allowed A-Rod to break for home. Howie Kendrick threw home, but A-Rod beat the throw and the Yankees took a 1-0 lead.
After a Nick Swisher walk to load the bases, Melky Cabrera hit a single to left field to score Posada and Cano and the Yankees were now up 3-0.
After a Derek Jeter walk, Johnny Damon hit the ball to center where Torii Hunter caught it, which allowed Swisher to tag up for a sacrifice fly to allow Swisher to score. However, umpire Tim McClelland ruled that Swisher left third base before Hunter caught the ball and ruled Swisher out for a double play to end the inning.
On FOX, the replays clearly showed that Swisher clearly left after Hunter caught the ball and the score should have been 4-0, plus McClelland clearly was looking at center field and not Swisher's foot, so how he made that call was beyond anyone watching the game.
In the top of the fifth, after a rough fourth, Kazmir walked Mark Teixeira to start the inning and Mike Scioscia came out to pull Kazmir, who looked to be ineffective on this night against the Yankees. Jason Bulger would come in to replace Kazmir.
Up first for Bulger was the red-hot Rodriguez, who took a fastball and drilled it into the left-field seats for a two-run home run and the Yankees were now up 5-0.
In another strange call from umpire Tim McClelland, after Posada walked, stole second and got to third after a Cano double, Swisher hit the ball back to Darren Oliver, who threw home to Mike Napoli, who had Posada caught in a run down.
As Posada was running back to third, Cano was almost to third, but never touched the base. As Posda ran back, he went past third base and Napoli tagged Cano and then Posada, and most thought both runners were out and the inning was over.
But McClelland only called Posada out and allowed Cano to stay at third, even though Cano should have been ruled out for never touching the base. But the Angels got out of the inning with no further harm done.
For the Angels starter in Kazmir, he only went four innings, allowed six hits, four runs, walked four and struck out three in 89 pitches. Kazmir didn't pitch well in Game Three of the ALDS against the Red Sox and clearly, he did not pitch well tonight against the Yankees. Kazmir's ERA in the 2009 Playoffs is 8.10, which is terrible.
But clearly, two bad umpiring calls by McClelland in this game.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Angels finally got on the board with a solo home run to center by Kendry Morales and the score was now 5-1.
The Angels attempted to get more off Sabathia in the inning with consecutive singles by Napoli and Erick Aybar. But after Chone Figgins hit into a fielder's choice and Bobby Abreu flied out to center, Sabathia avoided further damage from the Angels and the score stayed at 5-1.
After the fifth, Sabathia kept the Angels off the runners off the base-paths and away from any chance of coming back.
The did have one final chance in the bottom of the seventh to get back in the game. Hunter walked and Guerrero singled to right to put runners on first and second. But Sabathia got Juan Rivera to ground into a double play and Howie Kendrick lined out to Teixeira to keep the game at 5-1.
In the top of the eighth inning, with Cabrera on, Damon hit a towering two-run home run to right field and the Yankees were now up 7-1.
In the bottom of the eighth, Sabathia came out for one final inning. He got Figgins to ground out to short. Abreu struck out swinging, and Hunter grounded out to second to close out the night for Sabathia.
Sabathia again pitched eight solid innings, allowed five hits, one run, walked two and struck out five in 101 pitches. Sabathia's ERA in the 2009 Playoffs is 1.19, which is outstanding and clearly, has been dominant for the Yankees.
In the top of the ninth, with Matt Palmer pitching, Rodriguez doubled to left field. Posada flied out to right field, which allowed A-Rod to tag up and move to third. Abreu went to throw towards third, but the ball got away from Figgins and ended up in the dugout, which allowed A-Rod to score and the game was now 8-1.
After Cano walked and Brett Gardner singled to center, Cabrera ripped a double to right field, which allowed Cabrera and Gardner to score and make it 10-1.
In the ninth inning, Chad Gaudin came in to pitch for the first time in the 2009 Playoffs. Guerrero flied out to right field. Rivera flied out to center field. Gary Matthews, Jr. grounded out to second for the final out and the Yankees took Game Four with a decisive 10-1 victory.
Sabathia took the win, his second of the ALCS and his third overall in the 2009 Playoffs.
For the Yankee hitters, Jeter continues to swing the bat well, going 2-for-5, A-Rod had a tremendous game going 3-for-4 with two RBI and three runs scored. After starting out slowly, Cabrera had a nice game at the plate going 3-for-4 with 4 RBI and a run scored.
The Angels hitters are dangerously struggling in the series. Figgins is batting 2-for-16 (.125), Abreu is batting 2-for-15 (.133), Hunter is batting 4-for-17 (.235), Rivera is batting 2-for-17 (.117), Morales is hitting 2-for-16 (.125), Napoli is batting 1-for-9 (.111). The only one who is hitting well is Kendrick, batting 4-for-11 (.363).
After a disappointing loss, the Yankees rebounded very nicely with a much needed win in Game Four. The Yankees take a commanding 3-1 lead in the ALCS and are one game away from winning the American League Championship and reaching the World Series.
With only one more game left in Los Angeles and two more at Yankee Stadium, it gives the Yankees a really good chance to clinch the series in any one of the three games.
The teams will have Wednesday off and will resume with Game Five on Thursday night. The Yankees will send up A.J. Burnett to attempt to close out the series while the Angels will put their ace back up in John Lackey and look to keep the series going by pushing it back to New York.
In their last games, Burnett was good in a no decision in Game Two while Lackey was not sharp in a Game One loss. Both Burnett and Lackey will be looking to bring their A-game stuff on Thursday night.
For the Yankees though, this win was so critical because they didn't have to go into Thursday night's game tied 2-2 while putting a series changing game in the hands of Burnett. Instead with a 3-1 lead, Burnett can go into Game Five relaxed and pitch his game with Jose Molina and give the Yankees his best effort to win.
A relaxed Burnett for the Yankees is a very good thing, because his effectiveness in this postseason has been very key.
For Yankees Universe, six wins down, five wins to go until World Series Championship No. 27.