CC Sabathia sat in the Yankee dugout gazing upon the field with a look, to an outsider, that seemed suspended between resignation and disbelief, moments after his day ended two thirds of the way through the bottom of the fourth. His Detroit counterpart, Max Scherzer, who had to get past late-season shoulder barking, would remain in the serious business of absolutely throttling a Yankee lineup for another inning and a third, doing to the Yankees what Sabathia once did to the other guys.
It’s the kind of play Derek Jeter has been making since he came into the Show in the first place. The kind of play he has made often enough that you would not be surprised to learn he could have been blind and still made it.
Nothing more dangerous than a middling little ground ball up the pipe in the top of the twelfth, courtesy of Jhonny Peralta, and nothing more strenous for the Yankee captain than ranging to his left, reaching for it, and, if he was going to tumble, as he must have known he would, shoveling the ball to second baseman Robinson Cano for a relay to first to get rid of Peralta.
With righthander Jason Hammel getting the ball for the Baltimore Orioles in Game Five, New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi—somehow managing to continue shepherding his men despite the loss of his father last weekend—has had to make a second from-the-gut ruling regarding Alex Rodriguez: A-Rod won’t be in the starting lineup Friday afternoon.
“It is difficult,” Girardi told reporters Friday, after informing Rodriguez he’d sit against Hammel while Eric Chavez would play third and Game Three bombardier Raul Ibanez would be the designated hitter. “He has meant a lot to the organization, the game of baseball over the years. And he has been a very productive hitter. But he struggled against right-handers in the series, and Chavy has been good against right-handers all year long.”
On opposite coasts, the team that led the majors in extra-inning wins picked the wrong time of the year, and an American League division series, to lose one for the first time Wednesday night. And, the team that led the majors in walkoff wins picked the right time of their series to pick up number fifteen, just a couple of hours later. And they couldn’t have chosen two more opposite ways for each to happen.
About the only thing each one had in common was that the hit that finalised the decisions came on the first pitch of each opposite coast at-bat.
To hell with the calendar. Every real American knows spring begins in that blessed spell when pitchers and catchers report and the position players aren’t all that far behind.
* A.J. PIRATE?—It’s looking more and more as though the Empire Emeritus and the Pittsburgh Pirates have a deal to send A.J. Burnett to Pittsburgh in exchange for a pair of minor leaguers. Ridding the Yankees of a talented headache on the mound, though from most reports a good guy in the clubhouse.