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Waiting for Godzilla
2003-10-22 20:17
by Mike Carminati

The Yankees squeaked by the Marlins, 6-1, tonight in Miami amid frequent rain showers and one 40-minute rain delay. You ask how a team can squeak by with a 5-run lead? Well, it was tied 1-1 in the top of the eighth with two outs and the Yankees up. A Matsui single scored Jeter for the go-ahead, and eventual winning, run. The Yankees pelted the porous Florida bullpen for four more runs on two homers in the ninth.

This game was a second-guessers paradise and if Jack McKeon were Grady Little, the Red Sox fans would have formed a lynch party by the bottom of the ninth.

First, in the bottom of the seventh with the leadoff man on first and no outs, Alex Gonzalez failed to bunt the runner to second and eventually popped out. That meant that the Josh Beckett, for whom the Marlins were ready to pinch-hit, had to finish Gonzalez's bunt. Then with two outs, Mussina walked Pierre intentionally and punched Castillo out on three pitches, the time he struck out against Mussina on the night. Gonzalez looked pathetic bunting, something McKeon should have been aware of. Having Beckett bunt leaves you just one out and takes Pierre out of the game. Basically, it just takes you out of the doubleplay. McKeon was afraid to use a pinch-hitter for Beckett unless it was an ideal situation. By not pinch-hitting he allowed the Yankees to make sure that perfect situation never manifested itself.

In the top of the eighth, McKeon then had Derek Lee play off the line allowing Derek Jeter to double the opposite way down the line.

Next, McKeon went to the ineffectual Dontrelle Willis to relieve with one out and Jeter on second in the eighth inning of a tie ballgame. Willis looked bad in his last couple of starts and had been starting to lose it against the Yankees in his other relief appearance in game 1. As a matter of fact the two men who had back-to-back hits and drove him out of that game were due up after Giambi (i.e., Williams and Matsui). Willis was wild (6 strikes in 18 pitches) and walked Giambi. After getting Williams to fly out in shallow center (allowing Jeter to tag and go to third because of Pierre's weak arm in center), he gave up an opposite field single to Matsui nearly the same as the last time he faced Matsui, putting the Yankees ahead, 2-1. It was supposed to be the Yankees middle relief that was suspect. Why not use one of your "2 closers" in a tie situation?

McKeon used Encarnacion and Hollandsworth to pinch-hit in the bottom of the ninth, but by then the game was already decided. McKeon also went with Lowell at third, who looks like he is still recovering from injury. Encarnacion was out of the lineup all together.

While McKeon was blundering through the tail end of the game, Joe Torre was pulling off tactical minor notes with ease. He brought in Delucci to pinch-run for Giambi in the eighth. When the inning was over, the right field spot was the last to bat and Delucci went into right while Torre double-switched Sierra and Mussina for Rivera and Johnson, burying the pitcher's spot in the now vacated right fielder spot and having Johnson bat second in the ninth.

Once Torre got a lead, he got Rivera up in the pen and then went directly to him to preserve the one-run lead. Torre had been able to save Rivera through the first two games, so for some this was their first glimpse at the closer (all but Pudge, Conine, and Encarnacion).

After hearing that New York benched Johnson instead of Giambi I emailed my friend Murray before the game and said that if the Yankees could muster enough offense to win tonight, they would win the series in five. If they couldn't, the Marlins would win in seven. With Clemens facing Pavano tomorrow, I am pretty confident in that statement.


Yankees 1st: Free taco from Taco Bell for everyone in America if someone hits a home run into a section peopled by schmoes who have to hold up Taco Bell signs the entire game.

Beckett—trying to run fastballs in—Soriano's first AB (strikeout of course) and first pitch to Jeter.

Jeter—Pitch 2 curve ball down the middle of the plate, Jeter frozen. Out on 97-MPH rising fastball.

Giambi—hits first pitch (low fastball) foul. Is turning on the fastball. Guesses fastball on strike 2, misses change running outside. Pops out.

Marlins 1st: Encarnacion is out of the lineup and Cabrera is in right, Lowell at third, and Conine in left. Will Cabrera's inesperience in the outfield hurt them? I would have rested Lowell, who is Giambi-ing at the plate.

Pierre—Popup. Drops between Williams and Garcia.Looks like Garcia's ball, but can't get there. Williams dives for a shoestring catch unsuccessfully. Ends up at second base. Throw is way off but Pierre can't advance.

Castillo—Shows bunt. Strike looking. Bunts foul. Foul swinging. Posada to mound. Strikeout on curve.

Rodriguez—Flies out, not deep enough.

Don Shula—in attendance. Where's Mike Shula?

Cabrera—nice block by Posada on ball one. Swings 3-0, foul. Jams him with running fastball inside, but hits it beyond Soriano. Pierre scores, 1-0 Marlins. Nice AB for Cabrera after some tough ones in game 2.

Yanks 2nd: Williams—out on warning track. Reminds me of McCarver's "That's about as hard as Williams can hit a ball" comment on a deep fly in the Red Sox series (game6?).

Matsui—tapper to mound.

Marlins 2nd: Mike Tyson—in attendance, slapping and raping fans.

Conine—Fouls off seven pitches. Grounds out, hitting ball out of the catcher's glove.

Gonzalez—Doubles to left field corner. He hasn't hit a ball like that in a series or two.

Tony Perez—having a meal in the ower's box with Jeffrey Loria, who is cleaning his teeth with his tongue.

Beckett—struck out looking.

Yankees 3rd: Boone—5th straight NY out to right side.

Jamie Moyer—in attendance.

Marlins 3rd: Pierre—2-0. Third pitch was an inside strike but Posada drops it—called ball. Same pitch on 3-1, called a strike. Grounds out.

Castillo—K's on splitter.

McCarver—"Mussina hasn't pitched with the Yankees ahead". Yeah, but look at what he did in game 7. He was a big part of that win.

Pudge—Turn-ons include Yanni and Scarface, preferably together.

Yanni—in attendance. Maybe he'll perform take me out to the ballgame.

Rodriguez—Boone indecisive on tapper. Waits for it. Rolls up his arm.

Is Boone the new Knoblauch?? He has the same look on his face as Chuck did. Is Weaver the new Whison?? Is orange the new pink?

Cabrera—fouls off ball4. Strikes out looking, thought he walked. McKeon—"Cabrera is the finest young player he's ever seen." No dis on Miguel, but Sparky Anderson loved Chris Pittaro, too.

Yankees 4th: Soriano K's (of course) on curve. Four fastballs in first AB and 4 curves here. Beckett is toying with him. Sets the MLB record with 23 K's in postseason. I think he will obliterate that record by the end of the series.

Jeter—Double in left field corner on hanger.

Giambi—ball one high and tight. Ball three—nice block by Pudge. Walks on borderline pitch, looks like a strike to me.

Matsui—HBP on lead foot by a curve.

Posada—change back-doors on strike 2. Keeps fouling off high inside fastball. Ball 3—goes away, wide by close. 3-2—runners going, walk. Looks borderline low. Tough call. McKeon is furious, signals with arm re. high pitch and low pitch. The low one looked closer. Jeter scores, score tied. Rosenthal to mound.

Garcia—grounds out to Lee behind the bag. (Editorial comment: he's guarding the line here but not later.)

Beckett—threw 29 pitches in the inning. Threw 31 through three.

Marlins 4th: Mussina retires the side on 10 pitches.

Yankees 5th: Raining hard now.

Mussina—breaking ball K's looking. Didn't look particularly good.

Mike Tyson cam again—biting fans' ears as he runs from the rain.

Soriano—strike two, curve ball hangs in the middle of the plate, Soriano still misses. Taps weakly to mound on ball 6" outside.

Boone-Mussina-Soriano—Death Valley of Yankee lineup.

Marlins 5th: Raining even harder.

Beckett—T-O'ed in dugout over calls.

Lowell—K's looking on outside corner. May have been wide.

Rain Delay—after Beckett K's (10 PM).

Mussina—has struck out 3 of the last 4 Marlins. Delay is bad for Yanks.

Selig—being interviewed but Fox botches it and does not have a camera available to film him. What, couldn't they free up the Tyson-cam? "Meat-Or-Ologists"—is this man really the commissioner? I'd love to hear a conversation between Selig, Tyson, and Grady Little.

40-Minute Rain Delay.

Pierre—liner right over Jeter's glove. Single.

Castillo—showing bunt. Pierre—goes, no bunt-ball called, slips, caught stealing.

Mussina—9-pitch inning even with rain delay.

Yankees 6th: Jeter—2-0, gets fastball right down the pike, hits it straight back for a single.

Giambi—Ball one very high. Beckett's having control problems. Didn't look like he committed but called out.

Williams—struck out on curveball. Williams is uncharacteristically angry. Hard to tell. McCarver says it was a strike, but that is his wont.

Matsui—walks on 4 pitches. Pudge to mound.

Posada—grounds out to short.

Marlins 6th: Castillo—still up. Shows bunt on ball one. Chopper to Soriano on 1-0.

Pudge—liner off left field wall on 0-1 fastball inside.

Cabrera—Hits slider to right. Garcis boots it but Pudge already holding at third.

Lee—third foul ball, Posada to mound. 1-2 knuckle-curve just foul down third base line. Tapper to Mussina, knocks it down, goes home, Posada chases Pudge up the line & out. (Anyone else think of Ramon Hernandez on that play?)

Lowell—3-2, rain starts again. Lowell strikes out on curve inside.

Yankees 7th: Garcia—driving rain now.

Nelson up in pen. Mussina due up third. Garcia lines out.

Boone—Pitch that ends up behind his shoulder—swung at for strike 2. Fouls off ball 4, low and outside (2-2). Out, changeup over the plate.

Mussina—bats for himself with 2 outs. Strikes out.

David Cassidy—Sings God Bless America. What, was Danny Bonnaducci booked?

Marlins 7th: Heredia up in Yankees pen. Willis & Fox up in Florida pen. Beckett up third.

Still raining. Cover off the tarp. Excuse the expression.

Gonzalez—Conine on first, none out. Bunts. Foul and hits himself, but in box so not out. Bunts for strike 2, popup foul. Ball one—may have gone around. Pops out foul. Big out—didn't advance runner.

Beckett—bats for himself. Fox & Willis—sit in pen. Strike one called, showing bunt. Bunts to first.

Pierre—Conference on mound. IBB. The Bunt only avoided DP.

Castillo—K's on curves. Looks very bad. Third K on the night.

Yankees 8th: Willis is up in pen.

Soriano—Beckett is toying with him, daring him to hit his fastball. Out on a curve on an appeal.

Nelson—up inpen.

Jeter—double past Lee. Slips around first. Cabrera—tiptoes through puddles in RF corner. Why wasn't Lee guarding line?

Beckett—gone. Rain stopped.

Willis—in. Umps in a conference. Assess a trip to mound to Marlins since Lee went in dugout and talked to McKeon before returning. Lee Mazzilli caught it. I love that guy, he's such a character. Willis—appeals to first. Nope. Jeter slipped on the bag, making it obvious he touched it.

Giambi—ball four borderline outside.

Williams—switches to right-side. High strike. Rivera up in Yankee pen in case they score. Ball two way outside—Pudge set up inside and has to lunge for it. Willis—Fox announces he won NL Rookie Pitcher of the Year from The Sporting News. Sorry, Webb, get yourself a gimmick and a PR man. Fly ball, not deep. Jeter—goes anyway, tests Pierre's arm, save with a head-first slide into third.

Matsui—Pudge sets up outside on ball one but pitch is way inside. Willis looks pretty bad. Only reason he's in there is that he's a lefty and they don't have a decent lefty. Singles past Gonzalez. Jeter scored. 2-1 Yankees.

Posada—walks on 4 pitches to load bases. Delucci-PR for Giambi. RF spot up next—double-switch? Torre is out NL-managing McKeon. Why is Willis still in: Posada's a switch-hitter.

Sierra—announced as PH. Willis pulled, only 6 strikes on 18 pitches. Chad Fox in. 1-0 pitch—hits straight back foul, just missed. 2-2 pitch roped, but just foul down right field line. K's.

Marlins 8th: Torre does a triple-switch (sort of) Delucci stays in right, Rivera in will bat in RF spot, Johnson in at first as defensive replacement to bat second in ninth. He's a better NL manager now than when he managed in the NL.

Cabrera—Boone on line, Johnson is not. K's.

Rivera—9-pitch 8th.

Yankees 9th: Boone—HR to left on a hanging slider. Where did that come from? Yankees 3-1. Important run.

Soriano—Foul bounces into right field seats. Cabrera can't get to it. Could Encarnacion? Walks. Fox relieved by Looper. Finally, too little too late.

Jeter—fouls strike one off foot bunting. Nicked by inside fastball.

Tejera up in pen.

Williams—2-1 rising fastball, straightaway center. HR right over fence. Yankees 6-1. Second ball he hit to that spot, this one went over.

Marlins 9th: Lowell—weak grounder to short. He has had some bad ABs today: 0-for-4, 2 K's, one ground out, one popup.

Conine—single to right after two straight balls. Nice.

Encarnacion—PH for Gonzalez. K's.

Hollandsworth—PH for pitcher. Two quick strikes inside. Shatters bat on foul ball, barrel ends up beyond Rivera. Posada—missed high heat, PB, Conine to second. Grounds out to end it.

(By the way, the headline is a reference to Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot. Get it?)

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