Before the game, Kazmir had explained the secret to pitching against the Yankees. "They're a very high-powered offense, so you just have to attack the strike zone," he said. "I'm going to have to be very good facing Sabathia, because he's not going to give up much. You have to match him every inning." Kazmir neither matched Sabathia every inning, nor attacked the zone: he threw 49 strikes and 40 balls, and while 55% might represent a good field goal percentage for an NBA forward, it is a very poor strike rate for a major league starting pitcher. Kazmir not only allowed four runs -- which would prove to be far more than the Yankees would end up requiring in their 10-1 victory -- but his early exit put an extremely heavy load on the Angels' bullpen, a load which, as the final score indicated, the bullpen could not carry.
Sabathia, meanwhile, pitching on three days rest, threw 101 pitches in total, and those 101 pitches got him to the end of the eighth inning. Angels hitters seemed to spend most of the game taking weak half-swings at Sabathia's offerings, which resulted in routine fielding-practice-strength ground balls to either shortstop
Sabathia's superb outing was nothing new for the Yankees this postseason. Through seven games and 39.2 innings of work, their starters now have a cumulative ERA of 2.04 and a WHIP of 0.96. What was different about this game was that it was the first one in which all facets of their extraordinarily talented club clicked at once. They made no errors; they stole two bases; and they even put together a few rallies that were not entirely dependent on home runs, or on
Every Yankee but two (
Fans at Angel Stadium spent an inordinate amount of time booing the umpires tonight, due to a bizarre sequence during the fourth and fifth innings in which the men in blue made incorrect rulings on three separate plays, two of which worked in the Yankees' favor. On the first, Kazmir spun and made a perfect throw to pick Nick Swisher off of second base -- had Kazmir only thrown with such accuracy and confidence 180 degrees in the opposite direction! -- but umpire
The third umpiring error was even more curious. With Posada on third and Robinson Cano on second, Swisher hit a groundball to the pitcher,
The fans in attendance chanted and jeered, and after the game McClelland took responsibility for the pair of mistakes for which he was personally responsible. "There were two missed calls," he said somberly. "I'm just out there trying to do my job and do it the best I can."
A lot of the post-game talk among fans as they filed out of the ballpark centered upon the umpires' ineptitude on this night, but that chatter obscured several facts: first, that none of the calls, as awful as they were, led to any Yankee runs; and second, that the Angels appear to have no chance to keep up with the Yankees when they're playing at the peak of their abilities, as they did tonight for the first time in seven playoff games. "We've got some life left, some breath left in us," center fielder
Not impossible, indeed; but if the Yankees play anywhere close to the total game they played tonight, highly unlikely.