Ever since one of my blog comment contributors was nice enough to point out that we were in fact 3.5 games back in the AL Wild Card race and not 4.0 games back, I have began keeping a more jaundiced eye on games that involve Oakland, Detroit, and Seattle.
Today Seattle received a unmerciful beat down by the Astros as the lost their game 10-3 and got swept by the ‘Stros in Houston and as of this moment the Athletics are leading the Cardinals in their game in Oakland.
So, As a diligent Yankees supporter — I am hoping for a Cardinals come back in that game.
That leaves me with the Phillies and the Tigers…
The Philadelphia Phillies beat the Tigers yesterday and had a 3-1 lead going into the top of the 7th inning today.
I had high hopes for a hard fought win for some of the most raucous fans in Major League Baseball out at Citizens Bank Park today and a heart breaking loss for the Tigers.
That would have put us just 3 games behind in the Wild Card race and just 2.5 back if we could beat the Mets later tonight.
Things were looking pretty good when Pudge flew out to start the top of the 7th and Adam Eaton had looked pretty crisp for the Phillies thru 6 and a third and I had no reason to expect the implosion that was only a few short minutes away.
It started out with a double by Brandon Inge and then followed with a base hit single by Guillen that had the Tigers set up with runners on the corners and one out.
I gritted my teeth as I watched Gary Sheffield (who hadn’t been in the line up) stride out onto the one deck circle to pick up a bat and pinch hit for Justin Verlander.
The Phillies countered this move by going to their bullpen to fetch Geoff Geary.
Both Eaton and Geary are lefties and Geary doesn’t have anything eye popping in his numbers that would make me think he’s the guy to get Sheff out so I assume it’s just to get a fresh arm out there (Eaton had pitched 101 pitches in the game (66 for strikes)).
I was thinking that they should walk him and then try for a double play on Granderson who was due up next.
But they pitched to him and Sheff hits a line drive single to left that scores Inge and moves Guillen to third with one out.
Now the Phillies lead is 3-2 and they again have runners on the corners with one out and their grasp on this one has almost slipped away.
The Phillies then bring in lefty Mike Zagurski to face Granderson which prompts Jim Leyland to send out Omar Infante to pinch hit.
Zagurski is successful in his assignment and grounds out Infante for the second out.
On the play, however, Guillen goes to third and Sheff goes to second.
Now with first base open and Placido Polanco at the plate the Phillies summon Voel Hernandez who comes into the game and walks Polanco to load up the bases.
Now with the bases loaded Craig Monroe singles on a ball off of Jimmy Rollins’s glove that scores both Guillen and Sheffield and gives the Tigers a 4-3 lead.
What a bad break for the Phillies !
They had seemingly done everything right up to that point in the game…
Then comes the move that, in my opinion, may have cost them this ballgame…
With Polanco at third and with Monroe at first and with two outs they allow Hernandez to pitch to Magglio Orndonez.
These are the moments where games are won or lost.
There are the moments when coaches make the decisions that earn their salaries and have fans and sports writers either singing their praises or calling for their resignation in the papers and around the water coolers the next day.
Your team has two outs and your two run lead has metamorphosed into a one run deficit.
Two outs in the top of the 7th with runners at the corners and Maggs at the plate and Sean Casey on deck?
What do you do?
Well, if it’s me I walk him.
Isn’t that the obvious decision here?
Magglio is only leading both the NL and the AL in batting average (.367), 2nd in the AL in RBI’s (64), and tied for 7th with home runs (13).
And, oh yeah, he’s only hitting a paltry .395 in the last 10 days.
Why do you let him have a chance to beat you?
If you walk him and load the bases and then Casey (who’s batting .286 with 22 RBI’s and zero homers) scorches one — then you just tip your cap and move on.
You don’t let their best hitter (and maybe the league’s best hitter) beat you with a base open and two outs.
But that’s what they did.
They pitched to Maggs and he hits a laser to right field and brings in two more runs to give the Tigers a 6-3 lead and he all but ended the game with that one swing in the top of the 7th.
Oh yeah, then Casey comes in and pops up to end the inning.
Obviously he was the threat you really didn’t want to face with the bases loaded.
The Tigers end up scoring one more run and the Phillies get one more and the Tigers end up winning 7-4.
If Maggs hadn’t gotten that hit maybe things would have shaken out differently.
All I know is it looked foolish to me to let the league’s leading offensive player take you like that.
I mean, the Phillies are looking up at the Mets in the NL East race and we’re looking up at the Tigers in the AL Wild Card race.
I thought we could help each other and help ourselves by beating the Tigers and the Mets respectively.
We would have both benefited by a Phillies win today.
Oh well, hopefully we can give you a boost by beating the Mets later tonight.
METS – YANKEES : RUBBER MATCH:
Tonight the Yankees take on the Mets in the last game of a three game series that is tied at 1-1 after yesterdays win by the Yankees.
Pitching for the New York Yankees will be Chien Ming Wang who is six and four on the season with an ERA of 3.49.
He started things off a tad rocky in the 2007 season but has earned wins for the Yankees in each of his last three starts.
In this last three games he’s averaging seven innings per start and has an ERA of has an ERA in his last three games of just about 2.04. In his last start against Arizona this past Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium, in his first start against that team, he pitched 7 solid innings
and allowing just one earned run off of six hits
against two strike outs.
Tonight’s game will be Wang’s 11th start of the season and his first career start against the Mets.
Wang has looked very good to me in his last 3 or 4 starts and regardless of what Roger Clemens does or doesn’t do in a New York Yankees uniform in 2007 — Wang will still be the undisputed ace of the Yankees pitching staff until somebody comes along and proves other wise.
I’m also hoping that his ground ball style and propensity to coax batters into double plays will help slow down the relentless New York Met base stealing.
Especially that snotty little Jose Reyes…
And like I said yesterday, if the situation dictates it or if we get up by a substantial amount of runs I wouldn’t be crying in my beer if somebody decided to plunk Reyes.
I’m just saying…
Opposing him on the mound for the New York Mets will be former Yankee, and a personal favorite of mine, "El Duque" Orlando Hernandez.
Hernandez is 3-2 with a 2.38 in 9 starts so far this season for Willie Randolph’s New York Mets and has looked very good.
He’s averaging about 5 strike outs per game and his pitches have had good movement.
He did have a few control issues in his last start this past Monday against the Los Angeles Dodgers and that game, while not bad, was one of his poorer outings control wise this season for the Duke.
He gave up 4 runs on 7 hits and walked 3 in his 3 and 5 and 5 and two thirds innings in a 5-3 loss to the Dodgers.
It should be a real pitchers duel tonight as both Wang and Hernandez look to be on their respective games tonight.
Now if we can just keep Reyes off of the bases….
LETS GO YANKEES !!!