Friday, October 05, 2007

Game 1 post-mortem

Ultimately, for all the grumping I had about Torre, the fact is that the players bonked game 1 last night, and none of the loss is ultimately the manager's fault. Torre put Posada right where Jorge could do serious damage to the Tribe, and the All-Star catcher failed miserably in two crucial situations. Cleveland Manager Eric Wedge's decision to pitch around A-Rod in the fifth worked.

Wang is the staff ace (19-6 in '06, 19-7 in '07) and needs to handle that responsibility, even if his home/road splits are out of whack (2.75 ERA at the Stadium, 4.91 on the road). He's the winningest pitcher in baseball over the past two seasons and it's not a fluke (20 quality starts in 30 games started this year -- the same rate as Josh Beckett).

This year, Wang allowed 9 HR in 199.1 IP during the regular season, and just 3 in 88 IP on the road; last year, he allowed 12 HR in 218 IP -- that's 21 HR over 417.1 IP in the past two years. It's an excellent rate of one HR per nearly 20 IP. But in his two playoff starts in those years, he's allowed 3 HR in 11.1 IP; overall in three playoff starts, Wang has allowed 4 HR in 18 IP -- A Kei Igawa rate of one every 4.5 IP. That's a small sample, but it's atrocious.

By the numbers, the Indians are toast -- the Yanks are 14-10 in playoff series game 1 under Torre and 8-2 in the series after losing game 1. Better yet, they're 5-0 in the ALDS after bonking game 1, and they have Pettitte (3-1, 1.98 in ALDS game 2 after Yankees' loss in game 1) pitching tonight. Then again, past results are not predictive of future occurrences.

Note that size of the victory for the Indians is irrelevant -- ask Kenny Lofton how much it meant that the RedSawx whupped Cleveland 11-3 at the Jake in game 1 of the '98 ALDS (Cleveland won the series in four). Talk to the members of the '96 Braves (16-1 in grabbing a 2-0 lead over the Yanks in the WS) too -- there are plenty still playing (Glavine, Maddux, Smoltz, Chipper, Dye, Andruw, Klesko). Nonetheless, Tom Verducci is entirely correct that the Yanks' playoff starting pitching from game 4 of the ALCS (and it sucked in game 3, but they won) to present has been brutal: 2-8, 6.47 ERA, 90 hits in 70+ IP. Only Wang (game 1, 2006) and Mussina (game 1, 2005) had wins; only Wang (game 2, 2005; game 1, 2006); Chacon (game 4, 2005) and Moooooooooose (game 5, 2004 ALCS) had quality starts over the course of fourteen games, and no one has pitched at least seven and won.

Momentum is only as good as the next game's starting pitcher. If Pettitte honks, the Yanks are in deep voodoo.

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