Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
October 19, 2004
BASEBALL: Doubling Down on Schilling

Last night's action almost defies belief, let alone explanation - what unbelievable baseball. I mean, here we have two teams playing 26 innings in 27 hours, and as soon as the Sox-Yankees game ended, it was on to the 8th inning of a 0-0 tie in Houston. Dr. Manhattan emailed this morning to compare this to the 1999 NLCS - a comparison I'd been thinking of last night myself - when the Mets fell behind 3-0, rallied to finally beat John Rocker in Game Four, won the classic rain-soaked "grand slam single" game in 15 innings the next day at Shea, and then lost Game Six - after coming back from 5-0 and 7-3 deficits - in 11 innings two days later. That series involved the home team coming back from a deficit in extra innings twice in as many games, and ended with Kenny Rogers walking in the winning run. 1986 also comes to mind - especially with the parallel of two heart-stopping serieses running at the same time - with the Mets and Astros playing a 12-inning classic at Shea followed by a 16-inning topper in Houston the next day (again due to rain).

David Ortiz has been the anti-Manny, raising his game in the postseason as much as Manny's falls off; he's in George Brett territory right now. The two teams seem to have almost given up hope of stopping Ortiz and Matsui. It's Poppy vs. Godzilla!

The Red Sox can eschew the bunt all they want - the Yankee announcers said only 12 sacrifices all year, which sounded low to me but I'm in too much of a hurry right now to check - but if that's the strategy, they really need to use better judgment trying to steal bases. The caughts by Damon and Ortiz in the late innings last night were devastating.

Assuming no rainout tonight - and the day is certainly off to a rainy start here in NY - everything will turn on Curt Schilling. The Yankee bullpen is exhausted as well, but the Yankees are at home, they can still afford to lose one, and there's no reason Jon Lieber can't at least go 6 innings. If Schilling's ankle holds up, he may be able to give the pen a serious rest; if he goes down in the first three innings again, I have trouble imagining this one being close.

As for the NLCS, I hope you saw a happy Jeff Kent last night, a rare sight indeed.

Predictions for the rest of the serieses? You think I'm crazy? Well, maybe. I'll say this: I still, in my guts, expect the Yankees to face the Cardinals.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:15 AM | Baseball 2004 | Comments (7) | TrackBack (1)
Comments

Crank-

Two things here: Manny has had no one on base in front of him and I bet his OBP is pretty good. He's hitting an empty .333 (according to WEEI in Boston) but he's had some key walks to get Ortiz up to the plate. His defense has left me wanting though.

Second: Ortiz was safe, even Yankee apologist McCarver saw that. Ortiz also said it was a hit and run. Damon was out on a perfect throw, if that ball is even one iota off he is safe. That's the right play there I'd say 85% chance of success getting Damon to second.

-B

Posted by: BWright at October 19, 2004 10:51 AM

ONe more thing where was McCarver on Jeter's error and the muffed double play, neither lead directly to runs, but that's three more batters the Yankees depleted pitching staff had to face, as he likes to say those little things add up.

Brendan

Posted by: BWright at October 19, 2004 10:56 AM

Those were great games. Man, I would love to be Carlos Beltran's agent right now.

Posted by: The Mad Hibernian at October 19, 2004 10:58 AM

Brendan,
Concur about McCarver. He was falling all over himself to explain away Jeter's error. Jeter does not need McCarver covering up for him. Jeter is a good defensive SS and a nearly great offensive SS. It is no big deal to admit he blew a grounder.

Predictions: Schilling will give a gutsy effort tonight but his velocity will be down and the ALCS ends tonight.
NLCS, still expect St. Louis to win.

Varitek and Posada are both praying for rain. They have both basically caught an extra game.

Posted by: LargeBill at October 19, 2004 12:01 PM

I'm thinking more of Manny's overall career postseason performance.

Posted by: The Crank at October 19, 2004 12:17 PM

Manny's carreer postseason: I remember seeing a dismal stat for Manny's avg. w/ men in scoring position in the postseason (.266?), but isn't he #3 in postseason HRs behind only Bernie and Mantle?

This season: My beef with him so far has been a seeming over-willingness to take pitches and walk when I think he ought to be zoning pitches or swinging...

He's had key walks and singles laeding off or bases empty, just nobody on in front of him and no hits when he has... Ortiz's escalating dominating performance can only get him some better pitches, and perhaps a more aggressive approach.

Posted by: Mr Furious at October 19, 2004 1:03 PM

One of the biggest thing that's bugged me about Francona during this series is sending Bellhorn up to bunt late in a close game. At that point, it's time to bite the bullet and send Reese to the plate. He's a better bunter and a better defensive second baseman. At least Bellhorn was swinging the bat better last night

Damon's usually a decent bunter, he just got underneath the pitch last night. Actually, I'd like to see him try and bunt for a base hit if he can catch the infield back.

Posted by: Eric Blair at October 19, 2004 1:26 PM
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