Then National League series has been riveting except oddly, the first Halladay-Lincecum matchup. The Yankees and Rangers series has been sloppy and dysfunctional except for the defensive wizardry of Elvis Andrus, the Roy Hobbs like feats of Josh Hamilton, and the lights out pitching of Cliff Lee. Notice, no Yankee names included in that summary. Notice the Yankees are still in the hunt. Maybe even the Phillies are in the hunt.
Halladay and Lincecum go at it again tonight and, rightfully, expectations are for a historic playoff matchup. I say rightfully because their first matchup turned out to be anything but classic as neither pitcher was particularly dominant, at least not as domininant as we have, rightly or wrongly, come to expect of them. I mean really, can they meet our perfect game pitching duel for God knows how many extra innings with double digit strikeouts for both? They kept their teams in the game which is what a starting pitcher is supposed to accomplish. Lincecum obviously had a bad case of the nerves and Halladay didn’t really believe that Cody Ross was the Giants legitimate homerun threat. Ross, no discredit intended, hit two “I don’t want to walk this guy” pitches out. Halladay won’t make that error in judgment again even if Ross is obviously merely on a hot streak. Lincecum should go to his off speed pitches sooner if the fastball isn’t getting over for strikes or the Phillies aren’t biting at the high out of the zone pitch. We have to consider the strike zone of the home plate umpire tonight as well, always crucial in a big pitcher matchup. Staff aces are smart enough to know that if they can get the call on pitches out of the zone, they will stay out there. It’s a matter of how much time that will take. The Phillies haven’t been hitting. The Giants will have to shut the door tonight. They will have to score early. They will have to score enough that Lincecum can go the distance. Closer Brian Wilson, despite his stats, makes me very nervous with a slim lead. Can Buster Posey really carry this team on his back?
The Yankees have looked bad even when they win. I’d be hard pressed to think of anyone on this team who has really played up to their ability yet here they are, still in the playoffs and still making any Ranger fan nervous as hell. The Rangers had been winning on the glove of Elvis Andrus, the bat of Josh Hamilton and the arm of Cliff Lee. Sloppy defense and a definite nervousness and maybe even “I can’t believe we’re ahead of the Yankees”, look in their eyes contributed to their game five loss. C.C. Sabathia hasn’t been that sharp in either start and the Yankees haven’t been able to put many of those crooked numbers on the board. The pressure seemed to be on the Texas Rangers despite the fact that they have Cliff Lee ready and waiting should there be a game seven. Maybe subconsciously, they didn’t take game five to the Yankees as they have been doing because of Cliff Lee. This has been their game thus far. Yesterday, the Yankees seemed to take the game to Texas and forced a physical error and perhaps a mental error during their three run inning. The Rangers usually formidable defense looked lost and bewildered, throwing the ball around while Yankee base runners just kept running. The Yankees, for the first time in three games, took advantage of mistakes and kept the pressure on. The Yankees proved that, despite the fact that the Rangers are a solid team and not merely the hit the ball over the fence and nothing else Rangers of the past, they will beat you if you make mistakes.
The Giants need to win tonight, and win decisively. The Yankees are on their way back.