Commentators rarely refer to either the Yankees or the Angels as “fundamentally sound,” mostly because players on both teams make a lot of money, and usually pundits save that type of praise for “scrappy” teams like the Twins. (Who, as you might have noticed in the ALDS, are not fundamentally sound.) But usually, that’s exactly what they are except for this series. Both teams have been dreadful, ignoring coaches’ signs, miscommunicating on fly balls and, mostly, making egregious fielding errors. This five-hour, 10-minute ballgame had to end on an error. It’s the only way it could have gone down.
Maicer Izturis’ horrific throw to second in the bottom of the 13th was pointless; there was no way he was pulling off a double play, and trailing runner Cano didn’t matter in a tie game. It gave the Yankees a 2-0 ALCS lead and was fitting punctuation on a series that so far, frankly, has barely resembled real baseball. The teams played hard, and Alex Rodriguez’s 11th inning homer on an 0-2 count in the pouring rain to tie the game won’t soon be forgotten, but this isn’t what baseball is supposed to be like.
There were a total of eight errors in the first two games of the ALCS five by the Angels, three by the Yankees and neither team has looked remotely in sync. There’s a logical explanation for this: Human beings were not meant to play in weather this freezing. It’s impossible to blame the players for their errors, mental and otherwise. It is ungodly, unconscionably cold. Everyone will look a lot sharper when they get to Southern Calfornia and thaw out. The baseball will be cleaner, and the sun will be brighter. Though when you win two games, and you’re two games away from the World Series … who cares how it looks?
Other notes from the evening:
1). By the way, an interesting twist in the A.J. Burnett pie saga: For the first time this season, the “pie” went to the man who started the rally (Jerry Hairston, Jr.) rather than the man who finished it (Melky Cabrera, or, Maicer Izturis, we suppose). It’s the 20th Yankees walkoff of the season. A.J. Burnett is turning into the Rally Monkey.
2). What an odd pitcher Burnett is. He was fantastic for four innings tonight, totally in control (we insist that his core stuff is better than CC Sabathia’s), and then in the fifth inning, his brain fell out. He went bonkers wild, hitting a man, walking another and letting the tying run home on a wild pitch. For the inning, he labored through 36 pitches, only half of which were strikes. It looked like he would be taken out of the game on a stretcher. Then he went out for the sixth inning and was totally fine, setting the side down in order. But that one inning was all that mattered. This has been his problem all season. It has returned.
3). It seems a little unfair how the Joba Chamberlain situation has played out, doesn’t it? The Yankees have screwed around with Chamberlain all season, pinballing him between starting, relieving and odd-three-inning pseudo starts. The “strategy,” by the end, was so confused that even the Yankees themselves admitted they had no idea what would ultimately happen with the once-dominant-intimidator-turned-Faberge-Egg. Well, what ended up happening was Joba’s re-emergence as a shut-down reliever, giving the Yankees yet another bridge to Mariano Rivera. If he keeps this up and it was nice to see him screaming and yelling and generally annoying everyone in the other dugout again they’ll pretend this was the plan all along. And we’ll go through all this crap again next season.
4). The Yankees are booking a charter flight and working out at Angels Field in Anaheim at 3 p.m. Pacific time tomorrow. We suspect their flight will seem shorter than the Angels’ flight will.