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With the New York Yankees on the brink of elimination after a 10-3 Game-4 loss to the Texas Rangers, fans are searching for answers. I’d like to say I can provide some but I’ve been wrong for four-straight games. However, I do know there are a lot of talking heads out there that think they can.
Here are some answers to two critical Game-4 questions.
Question No. 1: Did Giardi go too far with A.J. Burnett?
Former Yankees third-base coach Larry Bowa on The Dan Patrick Show:
“I think Giardi might have gone a little too far with Burnett. He got the most out of him for a guy who hadn’t pitched in awhile. I thought he was throwing the ball decent. You could see him (Giardi) talking over there when (Bengie) Molina got up, and I don’t know what they were talking about obviously, but I would think (Giardi) was saying what do you think? Does he have anything left? And bam, first pitch, center-in fastball and he hits it out.”
“I think they tried to get as much out of (Burnett) as they could before going to that bullpen,” said Ricciardi to host Colin Cowherd. “You know, it’s always a tough call for a manager, ‘when do I take that guy out or when do I leave him in?’ A.J. wasn’t pitching great and he wasn’t pitching bad and he was just trying to get him through another few outs and try to shorten the game the best he could. But I thought Joe was in a tough spot and I thought he handled it the best he could.”
“Yankees relievers have allowed 11 runs in 14 innings in the series. Whom can Girardi trust other than closer Mariano Rivera, who has been rendered irrelevant by the Rangers outscoring the Yankees 25-5 over the past three games?”
“It still wouldn’t shock me if the Yankees won three straight to advance to the World Series. But they’re in this position party because of Girardi’s questionable decision-making.”
“Should the Yankees have pitched to Murphy? Lefty specialist Boone Logan had allowed three hits to Murphy in four at-bats. A small sample size. At the least, if Girardi felt compelled to walk Murphy, he should’ve brought in a fresh arm – Joba Chamberlain was warming up – for Molina, who slammed Burnett’s first pitch inside the leftfield foul pole.”
Sports Illustrated baseball columnist Joe Posnanski on his blog breaks down the intentional walk to David Murphy (his opinion is too complex to sum it up in two paragraphs. Just take a read, it's great stuff).
Question No. 2: Are the Yankees finished?
“I think so. They have looked terrible,” was Heyman’s reply to Tony Bruno, who is filling in for Dan Patrick on Wednesday. “I say if they lost some close games they can come back. Anything is possible. They have a lot of talent on this team but (Mark) Teixeira is now hurt. Some of their guys are looking rather old and they’re all in a slump. They need to face (Cliff) Lee again. It doesn’t look good. Nobody has pitched well. (Phil) Hughes did not pitch well. C.C (Sabathia) did not pitch well. I think C.C. will come through with a good game today but I would say more than likely they are done.”
MLB.com tries to give reasons why the Yankees will win Game 5
“The Yankees led the Major Leagues with 48 comeback wins this season. Their manager, Joe Girardi, was the catcher on the 1996 New York team that lost the first two games of the World Series at home against Atlanta and then won the next four to take the crown.”
“There’s no such thing as panic in the Bronx right now, and that comes from the experience of being a champion.”
“For what it’s worth, Texas is 1-3 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington during the postseason. But history doesn’t count for much when a young team is bonding and on the verge of tapping its destiny.”
“… Even though they won 95 games during the regular season and blitzed Minnesota in the first round of the playoffs, this just may not be their year.”
“The history of this event does not smile upon the Yankees at this juncture. In the best-of-seven LCS era, the team that has gone up, 3-1 has won the series 42 of 48 times. The six teams that successfully came back from a 3-1 deficit were the 2007 (Boston) Red Sox, the 2004 Red Sox, the 2003 (Florida) Marlins, the 1996 (Atlanta) Braves, the 1986 Red Sox and the 1985 (Kansas City) Royals.”
“The Rangers have a Hall of Fame-caliber DH from the Dominican Republic named Vladimir (who is still seeking his first World Series), a shortstop from Venezuela named Elvis (who made a superb and crucial diving stop Tuesday) and a catcher from Puerto Rico named Bengie (who hit a stadium-silencing three-run homer). And of course, they have an owner from Texas named Nolan, who opened this series by firing the ceremonial first pitch with such a smoke that co-owner Chuck Greenber said ‘I wonder whether he’s available for duty later in the series.’”
“Win one for The Boss or win one for Nolan?”
About 10 hours after the New York Yankees lost 10-3 to the Texas Rangers in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series, YES play-by-play announcer Michael Kay was on ESPN 2 with Mike and Mike In The Morning. Here’s Kay’s reactions to Game 4 and other Yankee topics:
“I really didn’t have a problem with it. I thought, he was pitching very well. I know his line, when you look back at it, will not indicate that. But watching him that is as sharp as he’s been in a long time. You know, occasionally he will let the ball leak back over the plate. Yesterday, what was happening was he was leaking the ball away instead of over the plate. This time, he was trying to get the ball in (to Molina) and it leaked-out over the plate and Molina turned on it. But, I actually would have walked (David) Murphy there and I would have kept in A.J. Burnett as well.”
Why have the Yankee bats been so silent?
“That’s a great question. In Game 3, you could say it was Cliff Lee and I would by that. No disrespect to Tommy Hunter or Derek Hollad but the Yankees can’t be shut down like that. The Yankees setup that opportunity where they get burned by Molina because they had so many opportunities that they didn’t cash-in offensively. Alex Rodriguez isn’t hitting before (Mark) Teixeira got hurt. (Rodriguez) hadn’t had a hit at all during the entire series*. The only one who’s hitting is Robinson Cano. You don’t win in the situation they’re in right now.”
*Rodriguez is 2-for-15 in the series.
What has to happen for the Yankees to come back in the series?
“It’s what (Mike) Golic said, they have to hit. Everyone keeps saying that CC (Sabathia) has to pitch well today. Well, everyone assumes that CC is going to pitch well. But if he gives up a run or two and the Yankees don’t score; then the Yankees will end up losing. They didn’t show any indication that they can hit C.J. Wilson in Game 1. So, they better scratch every run they can and they will have to do this without Mark Teixeira. So, that even makes it more difficult. Is it impossible? Absolutely not. But now, you put yourself in a situation to not only win three straight games but the final game you need to win has to be against Cliff Lee. That’s why yesterday was so important.”
Is the play of the Rangers making the Yankees look old and tired?
“That’s what Paul O’Neill said yesterday on the YES post-game show. ‘This makes the Yankees look like they’re playing at a different speed.’ You know what it is Mike? I say this in all sports. If you don’t hit, you look old. When you don’t hit, you look slow. When you don’t hit, you look lazy. I don’t think the Yankees are lazy. I don’t think they are a slow team. I think the Rangers, (this is) all new to them. They’re excited. I think, the Yankees are shellshocked right now. It’s almost like a roller coaster. The Yankees played like this much of September. And then all of a sudden we all thought it was over because of the series with the Minnesota Twins.”
Is Cliff Lee going to be a Yankees next season?
“I thought that was the case. But I talked to some people in the (Yankee) Stadium yesterday and supposedly, the Rangers are really dead set on keeping him. And Lee really likes it there. And I asked how the Rangers will outbid the Yankees and somebody told me they just signed an $80-million television contract. Which they did. So, that puts them at a little different level then they were previously. If it becomes a bidding war, then the Yankees will win. But if maybe this guy is comfortable and they do give him a representative offer. Then maybe he stays there.”
Bronx, NY (Sports Network) – Bengie Molina smacked a go-ahead three-run homer off A.J. Burnett in the sixth inning, helping the Texas Rangers put themselves on the brink of their first World Series appearance with a 10-3 win over New York in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium.
The Rangers, winners in all five of their road games this postseason, lead the best-of-seven series three games to one thanks to four home runs and four relievers shutting down the defending World Series champions over the final 5 2/3 frames.
Molina finished 3-for-4 with two runs scored, while Josh Hamilton hit a pair of solo homers for Texas, which has hit at least one long ball in each of its nine playoff tilts. Nelson Cruz also went deep in the lopsided affair.
Burnett (0-1), called upon despite his late-season struggles, yielded five runs on six hits and three walks over six innings in a loss further exacerbated by a strained right hamstring to first baseman Mark Teixeira.
In Game 5 on Wednesday, CC Sabathia will have the task of keeping New York’s season alive opposite C.J. Wilson in a rematch of Game 1 starters. Sabathia lasted just four innings in the opener and was in line for the loss before the Yankees rallied for the win against the Rangers’ bullpen.
Teixeira was injured while trying to beat a relay to first base after hitting a groundball to Texas third baseman Michael Young. Teixeira flopped safely into first base to avoid a double play, and was replaced by Marcus Thames.
Quade was named interim skipper when Lou Piniella retired late in the season.
There had been much speculation that Girardi, a Chicago native and former Cubs’ player whose contract is up after this season, would entertain a move to Chicago.
No chance of that now. I have no idea if Quade’s hiring is good for the Cubs. I do know, however, that is is good for the Yankees.
(Sports Network) - A.J. Burnett hopes to put a miserable regular season behind him this evening when he takes the ball in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series trying to draw the New York Yankees even in the best-of-seven set against the Texas Rangers at Yankee Stadium.
Burnett went into last year's playoffs as the team's No. 2 starter, but he has yet to pitch this postseason following an awful year that saw the righty go 10-15 with a 5.26 earned run average.
"I mean, I'm not taking anything away [from this season] -- I'm not trying to ignore the year and say it wasn't a big deal," Burnett said of his career-high 15 losses. "It was a big deal."
He hasn't pitched since October 2 and was a miserable 1-7 with a 6.61 ERA in his final 12 starts.
"I haven't pitched in a long time, so I haven't struggled in a long time," Burnett said. "I feel like I'm where I need to be. It's been a long time since I've been on the mound, but I'm sharp and I expect things to go as 'normal A.J.'"
Burnett was 1-1 with a 5.27 ERA in five postseason starts for the Yankees last year, but pitched to a 1.86 ERA in his three outings in the Bronx.
"If you can understand it and really look at it and be honest with yourself, [you can learn from it]," Burnett said of his rocky season. "I don't ponder too much about what happened, but I've got a pretty good idea why. The thing is, it's the playoffs. It's October. So it brings the best and the worst out."
Burnett actually had some success against the Rangers this season, as he was 1-0 with a 2.50 ERA in three starts against them. For his career against Texas he is 4-3 with a 3.66 ERA in 12 games (11 starts).
No matter how Burnett pitches, though, New York's bats are going to have to be better than they were against Cliff Lee in Game 3 on Monday. Lee added to his spotless playoff resume and continued his mastery of the Yankees by outdueling postseason stalwart Andy Pettitte in Texas' 8-0 Game 3 victory.
Josh Hamilton's two-run homer in the first inning spotted Lee (3-0) with an early lead, and that was all the left-hander needed, as he tied a career-high with 13 strikeouts and allowed only two hits and one walk over eight innings for the Rangers, losers of 10 straight postseason games to New York before a Game 2 victory on Saturday.
The Rangers have homered in all eight postseason games, longer than any streak they had during the regular season.
"Any time you can get that deep in the game and not give up any runs in the postseason, that's huge," Lee said. "Josh hitting that home run in the first made things a lot easier, that's for sure."
Over the past two seasons, Lee has quickly established himself as the standard for pitching prowess in the playoffs. Texas' midseason acquisition became the third pitcher in MLB history to win his first seven playoff decisions and is the first pitcher with three games of 10-plus punchouts in one postseason.
Hamilton added a double in the ninth to jump-start a six-run inning that turned a two-run game into a lopsided rout.
Pettitte (1-1), unbeaten in his previous nine postseason starts, was sharp despite a 10-day rest between outings, yielding only five hits with no walks in seven innings for New York, which has dropped only two games at home the last two postseasons. Lee was the winning pitcher in both, with the other coming in Game 1 of the World Series while he was with the Phillies.
"We've played three great games and we can't wait to get the next game going," Rangers catcher Bengie Molina said. "It's a great feeling knowing [Lee's] going to spot the ball where you ask him. He's a dream come true for catchers. He's an amazing pitcher."
The Yankees have managed to hit just .194 so far in the ALCS and have struck out 30 times through the first three games.
Hoping to give the Rangers a two-game advantage this evening will be righty Tommy Hunter, who will be making his first-ever Yankee Stadium start.
"It's probably going to be loud," Hunter said. "I would expect it to be. You know, it's a baseball game. That's what these other guys keep telling you; all of us young guys. We probably have the youngest bullpen ever in the ALCS. I mean, probably. You know, just being out there with those guys, being out there with [Darren] Oliver, he pretty much says, 'It's just another game.'"
Hunter was 13-4 in the regular season, but was charged with the loss in Game 4 of the ALDS against Tampa Bay, as he allowed three runs (two earned) and six hits in four innings.
Hunter has faced the Yankees twice and is 0-1 against them with a 6.75 ERA.
"I mean, you know, there's a lot of tradition. Everybody knows that," Hunter said. "There's 20-some-odd world championships that have been won here. Everybody knows that. We would like to win our first. So you've got to go out there and you've got to play baseball, and as soon as you step in between the lines, it's still a game. You've just got to block it out."
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