Since last night was a downer and I focused my post-game on what went wrong, I’d like tonight’s reaction post to be all about what people did right and save the Game 5 analysis for tomorrow:
Burnett Was Great – AJ started out with a rough first inning, walking three to load the bases. But when Don Kelly sent a shot to deep center Granderson ran straight back and made a diving catch to hold the Tigers scoreless. Burnett settled in nicely after that, going 5.2 innings with 4 H, 1 R, 4 BB, and 3 K. Most would agree that Burnett’s regular season was somewhat of a disaster, but the slate is wiped clean in the postseason and Burnett came through in a huge way when the Yankees needed him most. The bullpen did it’s part to protect AJ’s lead, going 3.1 innings and holding the Tigers hitless and racking up 6 strikeouts.
Jeter Came Through With Big Ribbies – Prior to tonight Jeter had failed to drive in a single run during this series despite leaving 12 men in on base. In the 3rd inning he came through with a double to center that drove in two runs and got the Yanks on the board first.
Granderson Was Everywhere He Needed to Be – In addition to Granderson’s fantastic catch in the 1st inning he somehow one-upped himself and made an even better catch with a runner on first in the bottom of the 6th. And when Jeter botched a bunt in the 5th inning and failed to move base runners to second and third, Granderson came up right behind him and hit a hard double off the right field wall, driving in Gardner and sending Jeter to third base.
A-Rod Got 2 Hits Tonight – And though he has struggled at the plate, his outs have been productive. He picked up his 3rd RBI on a sac fly in the 5th and knocked a solid single to center in the 8th. And he seems to be making up for his offensive struggles with his excellent defense – he has made absolutely no missteps in the field during the first 4 games.
Teixeira Got an Infield Hit – Talk about things going your way. Teix denied the Tigers’ shift and hit a dribbler right down the third base line, giving the Yankees runners at first and second with no outs to start the 8th inning. And on defense he continues to do what he does best: make fantastic plays to save who-knows-how-many errors.
Gardner and Cano Continue to be Red Hot at the Plate – Not much more to say than that.
The offense still isn’t firing on all cylinders, but it’s getting a whole lot closer and tonight we saw a life and a passion that seemed to be lacking in Games 2 and 3. The postseason is all about delivering timely performances when the pressure is greatest, and I loved what I saw from the Yankees tonight.
And as a final note, how about the THREE balks we have already seen in this series? I’m not sure if it should be chalked up to nerves and base runners doing a good job distracting the pitchers, or if this umpiring crew is just hyperaware of the balk movement. Either way, for something you don’t see very often in the regular season, there is no shortage of them in this particular series.