Derek Jeter SS
Johnny Damon LF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Hideki Matsui DH
Robinson Cano 2B
Nick Swisher RF
Melky Cabrera CF
Jose Molina C
Pitching: RHP A.J. Burnett (0-0, 2.19 ERA in postseason)
Chone Figgins 3B
Bobby Abreu RF
Torii Hunter CF
Vladimir Guerrero DH
Kendry Morales 1B
Maicer Izturis 2B
Juan Rivera LF
Jeff Mathis C
Erick Aybar SS
Pitching: RHP John Lackey (1-1, 1.38 ERA in postseason)
TIME/TV: 7:57 p.m., FOX
WEATHER: More of the same – clear skies, temps in the 60s and 70s and plenty of sun. Check out the full forecast here.
STATE OF THE STRIPES: The Yankees are on the verge of their 40th AL pennant and first World Series berth since 2003. No one needs to be reminded what happened the last time the Yankees were this close (hello, 2004) but the odds are certainly in their favor: 58 of 69 teams that have taken a 3-1 lead in a best-of-seven series have gone on to win it.
A.J. WANTS A ‘W’: Burnett pitched decently in his first start of the postseason and very well in his second, but hasn’t earned a win in either one. He pitched into the seventh inning of Game 2 and allowed just two runs and three hits, but got a no-decision when the game went 13 innings and 310 minutes. Burnett did come back out to deliver a walkoff pie to Jerry Hairston, who scored the winning run.
HOT ROD: Alex Rodriguez had a single, double and homer in Game 4, continuing what has been an insane postseason for him. A-Rod has driven in a run in every Yankees playoff game (and eight straight dating back to 2007), and has 11 total RBI. If he continues to hit this well, he’ll shatter the franchise record of 15, held by Scott Brosius (1998) and Bernie Williams (1996).
MELKY WAY: Melky Cabrera had a critical RBI single in the fourth inning of Game 4, and that hit snapped a personal 0-for-7 slide with runners in scoring position, as well as a team-wide 0-for-28 with RISP. As a team, the Yankees are 7-for-45(.156) with RISP during the ALCS.
SENIOR MOMENTS: Game 3 was the first time that four teammates – in this case, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada and Johnny Damon – aged 34 or older homered in any game, postseason or otherwise.
BENCH THREAT: Joe Girardi wouldn’t commit one way or another during the off day, but he’ll have a decision to make at DH if Jose Molina is catching. Jorge Posada, who has been on the bench this postseason when Molina catches, is hitting .333 this postseason (8-for-24) with two homers and three RBI and is 12-for-29 lifetime against Lackey. Hideki Matsui is at .261 (6-for-23) during the postseason and is coming off an ugly 0-for-5 in Game 4.
NO LACK OF CONFIDENCE: The Angels have their ace, Lackey, going in the elimination game tonight and Lackey gave up only two earned runs in 5 2/3 innings of Game 1. If you’re looking for a weird prop bet on the game tonight, see if someone will give you action on how long Lackey will stay in the game; in each of his three postseason starts against the Yankees, he’s lasted exactly 5 2/3 innings each time.
RANDOM QUESTION OF THE DAY: Why do we celebrate things with Champagne as opposed to Chardonnay or, say, chocolate milkshakes (which I happen to like better than both)?
IF THERE WERE WALK-TO-THE-PLATE MUSIC IN REAL LIFE, TODAY’S WOULD BE: Don’t Sweat the Technique by Eric B. & Rakim
Back with much, much more later.
UPDATE, 5:15 p.m.: Lineups for both teams are out: Matsui DH, Molina catching, Swisher still in right. I know he’s done it all year, but I’m a little surprised that Izturis is in the lineup. I thought if Scioscia made any changes, he might keep hot-swinging Howie Kendrick in there. Back with more from Girardi shortly.
UPDATE, 5:44 p.m.: The Angels are on the field taking BP and CC Sabathia is out in the bullpen throwing his side. He played long-toss before with Andy Pettitte.
UPDATE, 5:49 p.m.: Here’s the audio from Girardi. His first answer is in response to a question about whether he ever considered a situation where A-Rod would have been out for much of the season following his hip surgery.
UPDATE, 6:29 p.m.: Yankees are on the field stretching and getting loose. Kurt Russell is on-hand, sitting in the field box seats. He’s wearing a Yankees hat.
UPDATE, 7 p.m.: Interesting story here that says that MLB has decided to break with its usual custom and use only experienced umpires in the World Series because of the rash of missed calls so far in the playoffs.
UPDATE, 7:10 p.m.: Not much news from Joe Girardi’s session with the beat writers.
• Girardi did not rule out the idea of using Mariano Rivera for four outs, or even six outs.
• CC Sabathia “feels good” after pitching on short rest two days ago.
• The decision to keep Jorge Posada on the bench despite great numbers against Lackey (.414/.469/.586) had to do with Posada’s relative lack of experience as a DH. But, Girardi said it’s possible Posada could pinch hit for Jose Molina even if A.J. Burnett is still in the game.
• Johnny Damon is “staying in his legs a little bit more,” not lunging at the ball.
• Girardi watched the Phillies clinch the National League pennant last night. “Until you knock them off, they’re the champs,” he said.
UPDATE, 7:57 p.m.: And we’re off. It’s 78 degrees at first pitch and Derek Jeter has already singled to right, continuing his nine-game postseason hitting streak. Enjoy the game.
UPDATE, 8:06 p.m.: The Thundersticks rise as one, and Lackey gets out of it – nice pitch (albeit just off the plate) to Tex, a foul-out for A-Rod and groundout for Matsui. You can bet the Yankees would have liked to give Burnett a lead to take to the mound. Now we’ll see which A.J. showed up tonight.
UPDATE, 8:10 p.m.: Just how the Yankees drew it up: Fail to cash in on a two-on, none out in the top half and then have Figgins leadoff the bottom with a walk. Burnett now has to go right to work with runners on. Look for Figgins to be on the move.
UPDATE, 8:13 p.m.: This is exactly what the Yankees didn’t want – the walk to Figgins started it, and Abreu and Hunter smoked line drives to make it 2-0 before Burnett has even recorded an out. Now Guerrero just crushed one to the left-center field wall and it’s 3-0.
UPDATE, 8:17 p.m.: This is nightmare stuff for Burnett. Four straight hits, all of them crushed, and it’s 4-0. Still no one moving in the Yankees pen. Don’t you have to get Gaudin up?
UPDATE, 8:22 p.m.: Juan Rivera ends the madness with a 5-4-3 double play and Burnett walks off down 4-0. Lackey was hittable in the first inning but you have to figure his confidence increases after being handed a big lead.
UPDATE, 8:29 p.m.: Not exactly an inning to make Lackey work there. That took all of nine pitches and Burnett is back out on the mound. A 4-0 deficit is hardly insurmountable but Burnett needs to keep the score right here and hope the bats wake up with runners in scoring position.
UPDATE, 8:37 p.m.: After a leadoff single from Mathis, Jeter came in for a quiet word with Burnett. Whatever he said worked, as Burnett then got a double play and fly out for a quick inning.
UPDATE, 8:41 p.m.: For a moment I thought Damon was going to spike his helmet there after being called out at first. Girardi gave a short argument but then returned to the dugout. Replays looked like Damon barely beat the throw, but it was very, very close.
UPDATE, 8:45 p.m.: If you’re looking for good signs from Burnett, that curveball to Abreu had the nasty bite he had in Game 2.
UPDATE, 8:49 p.m.: And if you’re looking for bad signs, letting Torii Hunter steal second base without even really noticing would certainly qualify.
UPDATE, 8:51 p.m.: Score that 6-2-5-1-6 on the rundown play. Guerrero went all the way to second.
UPDATE, 8:58 p.m.: It was just announced that, should Game 6 be necessary, the broadcast will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday with first pitch at 7:57 p.m.
UPDATE, 9:02 p.m.: A-Rod was looking for something else there. He just watched a 91 mph fastball go by for strike three. Now it’s up to Matsui.
UPDATE, 9:05 p.m.: New thread up as we play the fourth. Come on over.