OK, so the Yankees didn’t beat the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim tonight, and they aren’t returning to New York as the American League champions for the first time in six years. Instead, they’re returning home to play a Game 6 on Saturday night. This is, on the surface, not good. But we have some things to be happy about:
1. Because there are no more games in Anaheim, you will not have to see any more Thunderstix. More important: You will not have to see Scott Boras hovering over every pitch like some mafiaso Jambi from “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.” Admit it: You wouldn’t have been surprised to see him say, “Mecca lecca hi, mecca hiney ho” and, suddenly, Mark Teixeira grows a second head.
2. Robinson Cano proved he can, in fact, come up with an important hit in the postseason. Teixeira did too. No, really, both of them did.
3. If you had tickets to Saturday night’s game, you now get to go.
Yeah, that’s all we got.
All told, the Yankees are still in control of this series. They have two chances to clinch the title at the new Yankee Stadium where they are 4-0 this postseason and one of those games, if needed, will be started by CC Sabathia, who is unstoppable right now. But if it goes that far, this town will be near a collective coronary by Sunday.
It’s always dangerous to give too much weight to managerial decisions that fail in the postseason: Managing might not be a hard job, but it is one that’s prone to random occurrences that ultimately end up being blamed on you. But hey: Let’s do it anyway. The goat of this game was almost Angels manager Mike Scioscia, who had the misfortune of taking out his starting pitcher in the age of high definition, when you could clearly see John Lackey say “Come on, Scios, this is mine. You gotta be shitting me.” Lackey had a 4-0 lead, and one pitch by Darren Oliver Darren Oliver! later, the game was 4-3 … and then it was 6-4 Yankees. Scioscia, generally considered one of baseball’s best managers, might never have lived that one down.
Thankfully for him, Joe Girardi is just having a dreadful series. It’s not so much that his moves are failing though many are it’s that he insists on thinking so damn much. The most painful mistake was keeping A.J. Burnett who had pitched well since the four-run first inning but was clearly tiring in for the seventh. The first two batters reached, and next thing you know, the Angels had a lead they would never relinquish. We guarantee that wherever you watched this game, someone in the room/bar screamed “Get him OUT of there!” loudly and with considerable vigor. For our money, though, the strangest move was pinch-running for Alex Rodriguez in the ninth inning. It didn’t end up mattering … but, you know, that’s the hottest hitter on earth right now, and you’ll eventually need a second run when you’re behind by one. Imagine what Girardi would look like had Freddy Guzman come up with the bases loaded behind by one in the 11th inning while A-Rod twiddled his thumbs in the corner of the dugout.
There is blame to go around in this one Nick Swisher has now left 15 runners on base this series, without a single RBI, and Phil Hughes hasn’t looked as poor all season as he did in the seventh but we suspect Mark Lisanti, the former Defamer editor turned Epic Tweeter, was not alone when he wrote: “Don’t think I’m overreacting to say that if the Yankees lose this series, Girardi should be fired. Then put in a rocket & shot into the sun.”
None of this will matter if the Yankees win Saturday night. But the fact that they’re even playing this weekend … it makes one a little nervous.