ALCS - Perspectives After 2 Games

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Well, the Yankees are down two games to none again.  I guess if they came back last series, they can do it again in this one.  As long as there are games to play, there is always hope!

I have to keep reminding myself that this is all gravy.  This year the Yankees weren't supposed to even make the playoffs.  At the start of the season, I just hoped that they'd be competitive.  The Yankees were building for tomorrow.  And I am grateful and thrilled this season has been as exciting as it has been.  That being said, now that I am at the table, I don't just want the gravy.  I want the roast beef.  I want the potatoes.  I even want the vegetables.  Let's go Yankees.  Gravy is good, but it is no fun watching the Yankees lose.

Can we say enough about the Yankees' pitching?  The pitchers have been spectacular.  Other worldly.  One thing that hurts about the two loses is that the Yankees wasted two games that were pitched unbelievably well.  In my book,  you need to win the games that are pitched this well.  It's frustrating that the Astros have scored only two runs in each of the first two games and the Yankees lost both games.  

I know the answer to the above is that the Astros pitchers have pitched better.  That's true.  It has to be.  But, and I understand that this is just a frustrated fan talking, it seems the Yankees hitters have given away more outs.  Watching the Yankees batting right now is painful.  Painful.  Flailing away at pitches out of the strike zone at bat after at bat...  It's hard to watch.

Again, this is just a fan talking, but boy it seems that the Yankees batters get strikes called when the pitches are well out of the zone.  I know every fan sees the game that way.  I get it.  But, just when it seems that a batter is going to be in a hitter's count, a ball of f the plate or under the knees is called a strike changing the at bat.  This seems to happen to Aaron Judge all the time. 

Joe Girardi (who deserves a huge ovation when he is announced on Monday night) needs to do something with the Yankees lineup.  Before the series, I opined that Aaron Judge should not be hitting second.  I hoped to be wrong about that.  At this point, he has to be moved down in the order.  If he was hitting hard outs, a case could be made that the balls will fall and that he's hitting into bad luck.  But, right now, he is completely lost at the plate.  Aaron Judge, right now, is historically bad.  He cannot be hitting second in the line up.

Some people will now say that Aaron Judge isn't "clutch."  That I do not believe.  He's in a slump and he looks terrible right now.  That doesn't mean that he chokes or that the moment is too big for him.  This is just what happens in baseball.  Every player has slumps.  Judge's slump is just coming at a horrible time.  I believe that he will figure it out.  (This is gravy remember.  Judge is learning.  He might be a monster in next year's playoffs.)

Just a little perspective on the whole "clutch" thing:

  • Mickey Mantle hit .120 (3 for 25) with no home runs and no rbi's in the 1962 World Series.
  • Babe Ruth hit .118 (2 for 17) with no homers and 1 rbi in the 1922 World Series.
  • Joe DiMaggio? .111 (2 for 18), 1 HR, 2 RBI in the 1949 World Series
  • Derek Jeter hit .118 in the 2001 ALCS and followed that up by batting .148 in the World Series.
  • Reggie Jackson, "Mr. October", hit .125 against the Kansas City Royals in the American League Championship Series in 1977.  (He followed that up by hitting .450 with five homers in the World Series.)

Great players get into slumps.  "Clutch" players have bad periods - even in the spotlight when they supposedly shine (according to legend).  Aaron Judge will be fine.  Maybe he'll pull a Reggie and start hitting a ton of homers... But, until he starts hitting, at least a little, I think he needs to be moved down the line-up.  

Gary Sanchez has looked just as bad as Judge.  In the ALCS, he is 0 for 7 with five strikeouts.  OUCH!

The Yankees won't win if Judge and Sanchez continue to not hit. (Statement of the obvious.)

What are the Yankees going to do at DH?  I am amazed that they have zero production from that spot.  Zero.  Maybe they should just let the pitchers hit.  The pitchers can't do worse!  (If only the Yankees had Shohei Otani!)  Could the Yankees find a way to put Headley, Ellsbury, or Holliday on the disabled list?  Can one of them pull a muscle?  The results might be the same, but I'd at least have hope if Clint Frazier, Tyler Austin, or even Miguel Andujar was batting.  The law of averages says that one guy playing DH is going to get a hit...right?  Eventually?

I understand why Joe Espada (the third base coach) is being so aggressive.  He's "trying to make things happen."  If the close plays where the Yankees have been thrown out on the bases went the other way, all would be praising Espada for his "guts" and the way he can read the situation.  That being said, he has cost the Yankees in two big spots.  Sending Greg Bird home in Game 1 was a terrible call.  Bird is slow.  He's coming off a foot injury.  And the left fielder had the ball as he was rounding third.  I was surprised the play was as close as it was.  To me, that was a clear situation where the runner shouldn't be sent.  Similarly, last night, it seemed that Brett Gardner was slowing down as he headed to second base, content with a double, when Espada called for him to try for third.  Having Gardner on third with two outs (as compared to second) would have been no advantage.  Why gamble and make the third out of the inning at third base?  Again, this seemed like a very clear situation to not send the runner.

I have found the television commentary during the game to be sub-par.  At one point, one of the announcers, I think it was John Smoltz, when reviewing the play with Gardner getting thrown out at third base, said, "Coaching third is the hardest job in the world."  Really? I get what he was saying, but the hardest job in the world?  Talk abut hyperbole.

And the love fest for Jose Altuve?  My goodness.  The man can do no wrong according to the announcers.  He's good.  Exceptionally good.  Great!  I wish he was on the Yankees.  He's exciting to watch.  But the commentary where everything he does is so wonderful is a bit much.  At one point they were praising Altuve for never taking a pitch.  (I don't think that's a good thing necessarily.)  At another point they said, "He just takes any bat and swings with it."  Well, if I were his teammate and he took my favorite bat and broke it, as happened last night, I think I'd be a little upset!  To be fair, again, I wish that guy was on the Yankees and helping spark that team to two wins to begin the series.  I also wouldn't mind, if the announcers were praising Didi Gregorius or Starlin Castro or Aaron Judge - if any of those guys were doing all the things Altuve is doing!

So we look ahead to Monday.  C.C. Sabathia will be called on to pitch another HUGE game.  I think he can come up big again.  And maybe, just maybe, the Yankees hitters will come alive.  It could happen.  

If you're at the game, Joe Girardi deserves a cheer!

Let's go Yankees!