Derek Jeter SS
Johnny Damon LF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Hideki Matsui DH
Jorge Posada C
Robinson Cano 2B
Nick Swisher RF
Melky Cabrera CF
Pitching: LHP CC Sabathia (1-0, 1.37 ERA)
Chone Figgins 3B
Bobby Abreu RF
Torii Hunter CF
Vladimir Guerrero DH
Juan Rivera LF
Kendry Morales 1B
Howie Kendrick 2B
Jeff Mathis C
Erick Aybar SS
Pitching: RHP John Lackey (1-0, 0.00)
TIME/TV: 7:57 p.m., FOX
WEATHER: Double sweatshirt, at least. Temps in the 30s, winds whipping around the Stadium and the threat of rain looming over the whole thing. Check out the forecast here.
STATE OF THE STRIPES: Back to zero. After getting past the Twins in three games, the Yankees have a clean slate against the nemesis Angels, who eliminated them from the postseason in the 2002 and 2005 Division Series. This year, the teams split 10 games during the regular season and they’re meeting in a best-of-seven series for the first time.
CC’S WORLD: The plan – weather permitting – seems to be for CC Sabathia to pitch three times in the series if it goes the distance, and he’s shown in the past that he can handle a heavy workload. The Angels, though, have given him trouble: he was 0-2 with a 6.08 ERA in two starts against them this year, and is 5-7, 4.72 in 14 career starts.
BIG AL: Alex Rodriguez broke out of his postseason slump with a monster Division Series and his performance against the Angels this season would indicate the hot run will continue. A-Rod was 8-for-24 with five home runs and nine RBI in seven games against the Angels – far better than the 2-for-15 showing he put up against LA in the 2005 ALDS.
OH, JOHNNY: Johnny Damon was the only regular to take part in a simulated game on Tuesday at the Stadium, and you could understand why. Damon finished the ALDS 1-for-12 and is hitless in his last 10 at-bats.
MIGHTY MO: While closers on other playoff teams were melting down all over the first round, Mariano Rivera remained the gold standard. Rivera appeared in all three games and didn’t allow a run while striking out seven. Look for Joe Girardi to go to him often; Girardi has said he won’t hesitate to ask Rivera for more than three outs in the postseason.
SOFT UNDERBELLY: The Yankees have made a living off shaky relievers this season as they amassed 15 walkoff wins plus one more in the ALDS. While the Angels of 2002 and 2005 had lockdown bullpens, this year’s version isn’t nearly as dominant: closer Brian Fuentes led the league in saves but also blew seven opportunities, and had a 1.40 WHIP. Behind him are untested/aging pitchers like rookie Kevin Jepsen and veteran Darren Oliver, who figure to give the Yankee hitters a chance to come back late.
RANDOM QUESTION OF THE DAY: Is it just me, or have others sent an e-mail or IM to someone this week and accidentally referred to the Angels as the “Angles” because you were typing too fast? (I know – it’s just me)
IF THERE WERE WALK-TO-THE-PLATE MUSIC IN REAL LIFE, TODAY’S WOULD BE: ATLiens by Outkast (because everyone is going to be colder “than a polar bear’s toenails” at the frigid Stadium tonight)
Amazingly, Chad Jennings somehow didn’t predict that a) he’d have a job in New York; and b) he’d be covering the Yankees when he planned several months ago to be away at a wedding this weekend. Sources tell me it is not his own. He’ll re-join us in L.A.
Josh Thomson, Rick Carpiniello and I are on the scene at the Stadium though, and will have all the news throughout the night. Back with much more later.
UPDATE, 3:15 p.m.: Not quite sure why it was a secret yesterday, but David Cone will throw out the first pitch tonight.
UPDATE, 3:47 p.m.: Weather update: It’s really pretty cold. Joe Girardi is meeting the media at 4:10, so I’ll have the lineup and any other news (along with audio) shortly thereafter.
UPDATE, 4:42 p.m.: Here’s the Girardi audio from his pregame press conference. As you might imagine after four days off, there isn’t much news in it but he does talk a little about how the weather may affect the game, as well as other assorted topics.
UDATE, 4:48 p.m.: And here’s the A.J. Burnett audio. The best part is when he’s asked about how he’s been able to fit into the clubhouse and he says, “pies aside, I’m pretty quiet.”
UPDATE, 5:03 p.m.: Yankees are on the field taking batting practice and they’re showing the NLCS on the big screen in the Stadium. Phillies just went up 1-0 on Ryan Howard’s solo homer.
UPDATE, 5:35 p.m.: Josh here. A few quick notes and quotes from Girardi’s pregame session with the beat writers:
• The staff watched video of Swisher’s at-bats against Lackey, who has held Swish for 5 for 43 (.116) over the course of his career and were satisfied, in spite of the numbers. “Swish has battled Lackey,” Girardi said. “I know the numbers aren’t great, but he has battled Lackey. When a guy has tough at-bats it affects the whole lineup.”
• Girardi has not told Molina, Posada or Burnett who will catch Game 2. Girardi wants his players to focus on Game 1 and Game 1 alone. “Tomorrow’s game doesn’t mean anything right now,” he said. That said, “It worked pretty well last time,” he noted.
• Moving Posada out from behind the plate doesn’t mean he wouldn’t DH. Girardi said it will depend on what happens tonight. Both Posada and Matsui have had a small sample size against Joe Saunders so that won’t factor into the decision. Neither will the fact that Saunders is a lefty. As you all well know, Matsui has shined against LHP this year.
• Freddy Guzman is primarily here to pinch run. Girardi would consider him to sub into the outfield — say, for Swisher — but that is not why he made the roster. Jerry Hairston is another option as a defensive replacement.
• Here’s why Girardi chose Damaso Marte over Brian Bruney: “Morales is a guy you like turning around. Figgins is a guy you like turning around. On a day like today where Bobby follows Figgins, that scenario may come up twice.” The Angels switch hitters are stronger batting lefty.
• Lastly, he doesn’t know the contingency should Games 1 and 2 not be completed by tomorrow night. FOX has football on Sunday, of course, and that could impact the start time. But what also complicates matters is that Monday’s Game 3 is scheduled for a 1 p.m. start, California time. Girardi would worry if the clubs had to fly cross-country with less than 24 hours between games. He expects Brian Cashman and Tony Reagins to speak with the league about the situation. Tomorrow night’s forecast on AccuWeather.com calls for temps around 40 and rain.
UPDATE, 6:20 p.m.: Forgot to mention, Hinske is still here. He took BP with the team.
UPDATE, 6:40 p.m.: They’re showing the Phillies-Dodgers game in the press box and is Chase Utley becoming the new Chuck Knoblauch? Suddenly his throws around the bag have become an adventure. Big break for the Dodgers there.
UPDATE, 6:42 p.m.: On-field sightings during batting practice: Tino Martinez and Frank Thomas, wearing one of the coolest pinstriped suits I’ve ever seen.
UPDATE, 6:46 p.m.: Kobe Bryant – what a phony. They just showed him on TV and he’s wearing a Dodgers cap. He grew up in Pennsylvania!
UPDATE, 7:18 p.m.: Josh back again. I just wanted to post the audio from Mike Scioscia and Joe Saunders, who talked about Game 1, the weather (of course) and Game 2 tomorrow (?) —
UPDATE, 7:39 p.m.: Sabathia and Lackey throwing in the bullpens. Gigantic American flag being walked on to the field. Marching band doing the anthem getting place. We’re getting close to baseball in the Bronx.
UPDATE, 7:42 p.m.: And now it’s starting to rain. Nothing heavy, but umbrellas are popping open.
UPDATE, 7:45 p.m.: Lots and lots of empty seats right now. Like, Royals in July empty.
UPDATE, 7:52 p.m.: Cone threw what appeared to be a slider on his ceremonial first pitch. Is he available for a rain-delayed Game 4?
UPDATE, 7:55 p.m.: Meeting at home plate with the umpires. Scioscia goes for the Angels; Mick Kelleher there for the Yankees.
UPDATE, 7:56 p.m.: The dulcet tones of (LoHud Blog favorite) Big Poppa pierce the air and Carsten Charles takes the hill.
UPDATE, 7:58 p.m.: Sabathia pumps a strike to Figgins and we’re off. It’s 45 degrees and raining at first pitch. Enjoy the game everyone.
UPDATE, 8:04 p.m.: Cold weather is supposed to make it harder for pitchers to spin the ball, but CC got Abreu looking at a tight slider for his first strikeout (even if it appeared to be a little inside).
UPDATE, 8:06 p.m.: Good start for Sabathia, particularly keeping Figgins off base. Even though he struggled in the Division Series, Figgins has been the spark to the Angels offense for years and always seems to kill the Yankees.
UPDATE, 8:10 p.m.: Good AB all around for Jeter. He worked eight pitches off Lackey and then led off with a hit for the second time in four postseason games. Now Damon trying to break out of his slump.
UPDATE, 8:13 p.m.: Score that a single, with Jeter going to third on the hit and Damon going to second on the throw. Bad job by Juan Rivera, who wasn’t sure whether to throw to second or third and ended up throwing the ball somewhere in between. Heads-up play by Damon to take the extra base with no one covering. That’s Johnny’s second hit in 13 at-bats this postseason.
UPDATE, 8:15 p.m.: Let’s not waste any time. Teixeira can’t get the run in and it’s Alex’s first crack at continuing his run.
UPDATE, 8:17 p.m.: It’ll do. Deep enough to center and it’s 1-0 Yankees. That’s A-Rod’s seventh RBI of the postseason. His career high (in 2004) is eight.
UPDATE, 8:19 p.m.: Yup, those fundamentally sound Angels just won’t beat themselves. So far we’ve had Rivera throwing to no base in particular and Figgins and Aybar watching a pop-up fall in between them. Lackey must be thrilled. 2-0 Yanks on Matsui’s RBI “single”.
UPDATE, 8:29 p.m.: Kendrick – the pride of Jacksonville, Fla. – continues to hit the Yankees. He was .468 with 10 doubles against them the past three seasons. CC gets out of it, though, with a tapper from Mathis. He’s at 30 pitches through two; Lackey is at 24 through one.
UPDATE, 8:33 p.m.: Cano, apparently, isn’t a fan of the cold weather. He’s got his face wrapped up like he’s going ice-fishing. Meanwhile, Lackey’s in short sleeves.
UPDATE, 8:42 p.m.: Scorer just changed the play on Damon’s hit in the first. Now they’re calling it a single, with an error that allows him to go to second. That means of the two runs, one was earned and one was unearned.
UPDATE, 8:46 p.m.: No question about that one – CC gets Abreu looking for a second time. As John Flaherty said earlier today, look for the pitchers to go their fastballs more in the cold weather since it’s hard to grip and spin the ball when the temps are low.
UPDATE, 8:53 p.m.: Yup, it’s those gritty, gutty, pesky Yankees again. A-Rod chops one up the middle and Teixeira goes first to third when he sees Hunter not charging the ball. Smart play. It was like it never occurred to Hunter that Teixeira might try to take the extra base.
UPDATE, 8:56 p.m.: Matsui hits it hard but right at Morales. Lackey at 55 pitches through three.
UPDATE, 9:02 p.m.: So apparently there’s a jet-stream running in from left-center because that ball that Guerrero just hit sure looked like it was going out. Even Damon seemed to think it was gone, but it died very suddenly right near the track and Guerrero ends up on second with one out.
UPDATE, 9:08 p.m.: Morales isn’t a rookie, but in his first year as a regular he’s quickly become a very dangerous hitter. That was a clean single to left and it’s 2-1 now.
UPDATE, 9:13 p.m.: Cano, who looks like he’s going for a sort of faux bank-robber-in-a-ski-mask look, skies to short and everyone screams as Aybar – miraculously – makes the catch. Lackey at 59 pitches.
UPDATE, 9:21 p.m.: That was an eight-pitch walk from Melky. Now Jeter needs to make it count as Lackey is up to 73 pitches.
UPDATE, 9:23 p.m.: Nothing doing. Jeter swings through an 89 mph fastball and leaves two on. Still 2-1 going to the fifth.
UPDATE, 9:30 p.m.: Nice easy inning for Sabathia, who’s thrown 69 pitches. He’s also kept Figgins off base all three times, which is always a good place to start against the Angels.
UPDATE, 9:34 p.m.: Two hits for Johnny tonight, which is more than he had in the entire ALDS. Lackey’s at 81 pitches and the sooner the Yankees can get into the weak Angel bullpen, the better off they’ll be.
UPDATE, 9:37 p.m.: Up to A-Rod again.
UPDATE, 9:40 p.m.: A-Rod takes 3-0, and watches a 77 mph pitch go by for a strike. Then he takes ball four and walks. I would have liked to see him swinging on 3-0 but now it’s up to Matsui.
UPDATE, 9:43 p.m.: Wow, that was an ugly play all around. First Juan Rivera sort of fell over for no reason in the outfield, then A-Rod ran right through a stop sign – Rob Thomson basically had a red light emblazoned on his chest – and tried to run over Jeff Mathis, who hung on to the ball despite Rodriguez dropping an elbow. Did Mathis ever actually tag A-Rod? Hard to say. But either way, it was a foolish play, if only because any time your $30 million guy goes into a collision with a catcher wearing all his equipment, there’s a good chance he comes out with some kind of injury.
Gritty play? Yup. But he would have been better off a) stopping at third; and b) sliding to the outside. Either way, nice hit by Matsui and it’s 3-1 Yankees now.
UPDATE, 9:50 p.m.: On that note, let’s go to a new thread.