Nowhere to hide against the Yanks, not even with Johnny Damon
ANAHEIM -- You probably know that the New York Yankees hit their best in the late innings. Here's a little chart that shows the numbers of the Yankees offense this season:
• Innings 1-3: .279 average, .346 on-base, .452 slugging.
It played out this way again on Tuesday in Anaheim. The Yankees plodded around the first three innings and didn't score a run. They scored five in the middle innings --
Now, many people will tell you that this has something to do with the Yankees' grit, their determination, their ability to rise to the occasion and perform when the chips are down and raise their own game in the clutch moments and summon the ghosts of Yankees past. And so on.
Well, I'm not sure about, you know, the ghost thing, but one thing it seems the Yankees can do better than any other team in baseball is wear people down. Pitcher after pitcher will talk about how it's just such a mental grind to face the Yankees because there are no breaks in the lineup, no easy outs, no hitters you can relax against. They all take pitches. They all have power. The Yankees are just constant pressure -- the ocean beating against the shore -- and like boxers working the body they feel confident that they will get you in the later rounds.
But no matter what you mean, you probably would not say Damon is a more dangerous hitter than A-Rod or
Only, of course, he doesn't want to face Damon at all. And that's because: Johnny Damon IS dangerous. It doesn't look that way on this billion-dollar Yankees team*, but this guy is making a Hall of Fame case for himself.
Look: Damon has slapped and looped and backhanded and bunted and smacked his way to more than 2,400 career hits -- he has a pretty decent shot a 3,000 in his career. He has scored more runs in his career than
• $275 million for A-Rod.
That right there is $1.118 billion for 10 players (and I'm rounding down). You will note that the Yankees use more than 10 players. Talking about how much money the Yankees spend is such well-trodded ground that it generally seems pointless and overkill to bring it up. But yeah, you can put a pretty good team together for a billion dollars.
So, Tuesday, Damon came up in the eighth inning with two outs. New York's
And so, what did Palmer do? Well, you know what he did: He tried to throw precisely the same pitch to Damon. It makes sense, right? Damon had looked
No. Of course it doesn't make sense. Damon is a good hitter -- you don't give a good hitter the same pitch twice. Palmer threw the second curve about two inches higher than the first, and Damon crushed it for a home run to right field. That was that.
The Yankees have won a number of ways this postseason. They have been given games by opponents' blunders. They have won because of the dominance of pitchers