ALDS Game Three Review: Yankees

The only thing different about this one was that the Twins didn’t take an early lead. In their previous five postseason meetings the Twins scored early only to lose the game. The Yankees jumped out in this one and never looked back. The built up a 5-0 lead by the fourth, which was more then enough to secure the series victory. It was the Yankees’ ninth straight postseason win against the Twins.

In his first playoff start Phil Hughes starred. He had pitched 12 postseason innings previously, but all in relief. In 2007 he came on in relief of Roger Clemens, who left the game with an injury in the third inning. Hughes pitched 3.2 scoreless innings, striking out four and holding down the Indians while the Yankees took the lead. Last season he pitched in all three rounds, but ended up allowing six runs in 6.1 innings. Last night he’d eclipse his 2009 postseason innings total.

Hughes faced 25 batters through seven innings, using 99 pitches to dispatch 21 Twins. Only five opponents reached base on him, four on singles and one via a walk. The first one who reached, Denard Span in the fourth, was immediately erased on a double play. That came off the bat of Orlando Hudson, and was the biggest out of the game, -9 percent WPA. After that the Yankees broke open the game, and Hughes never again pitched with a WE of under 90 percent.

The only remotely interesting situation after the fifth came in the top of the eighth. Kerry Wood, working for the third time in the series, started by allowing a double to Danny Valencia. Two batters later Span moved him to third with a single, and then Hudson singled him home. But with five more runs to make up and just five outs with which to score them, that barely put a dent in the WE. It got as low as 93.3 percent when Wood walked Joe Mauer, but was quickly back up over 99 percent when Boone Logan and David Robertson induced fly outs to end the inning.

Only one play in this game produced a WPA of over 10 percent. That was Marcus Thames‘s home run to right-center in the fifth inning. That gave the Yankees a 4-0 lead. Thames hit 12 home runs in the regular season, none of them to the opposite field. In fact, only three of them were even to left-center (though our splits classify one as center field).

With the win the Yankees are the first team in the League Championship Series. They’ll wait until Friday, when they’ll travel to either St. Petersburg or Arlington for the start of a best-of-seven series.

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Joe also writes about the Yankees at River Ave. Blues.

27 Responses to “ALDS Game Three Review: Yankees”

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  1. Matt M says:

    For the love of God, will someone else PLEASE win the AL Central next year? This Twins team, with their mediocre pitch-to-contact staff, can’t be anyone. Boring.

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    • phoenix says:

      hey they were a good team. they have 3 or 4 good pitchers and liriano is pretty much an ace. their lineup is nothing to sneeze at either. the yanks just got stand out pitching from everyone but sabathia (that won’t last), and their lineup was in overdrive. sabathia allowed 3 earned runs in 6 innings, pettitte allowed 2 in 7 and hughes pitched 7 scoreless. it’s hard to beat this lineup when they pitch like that, no matter who the yanks play.

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    • Bryz says:

      Let us play someone other than the Yankees first, then we can talk.

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    • kc2mfc says:

      In the times that the Twins have not won the AL central since 2000 (2000, 01, 05, 07, and 08) only the 05 White Soxs have won it all and only the 07 Indians make it as far as the ALCS. And in the time that the Twins DID make it to the ALCS (2002) they were out-dueled by the Angels whom advanced 4-1. It seems to me that the teams that they’ve faced over the years (mostly Yankees) are just that much better (statistically and with better conversion of opportunities) then the Twins. The real Achilles for the Twins is the Wild Card. Since 2000 an Eastern division team has won the Wild Card 7 times (NYY twice and BOS five) which has meant that the east by rule has had to face the central (nominally Yankees vs. Twins) which results in their early departure. This year unfortunately the Yankees were ALSO the wild card (a double whammy). This speaks to perhaps a case study for either playoff reformatting or a different structure for qualifying playoff teams to face each other (division or otherwise).

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  2. pft says:

    The Twins came into the series slumping at the plate, having had a 596 OPS over their past 10 games. Not sure this was good pitching by the Yankees or bad hitting by the slumping Twins.

    Lest we forget, the Twins played this series w/o Morneau and Nathan, unlike last year. With all their injuries (including most of the IF), and the off year by Mauer (relative to last year), it’s pretty amazing they even made the playoffs. They only had 11 games with the lineup they used in the opening series of the season.

    I still have my doubts about the Yankees. They might have caught a break with the WC, and have yet to be tested IMHO.

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    • MikeD says:

      The Yankees won 95 games in the AL East, the toughest division in the game, and spent the last month of the season playing only teams in the AL East, while the other division leaders, including Minnesota, got to play much weaker competition. Even the Orioles were tough the last month. The Yankees were without their number two pitcher for two months and were banged up for most of September, with Girardi going into coasting mode a little too early in the last few weeks, blowing several games by having Chad Gaudin and Sergio Mitre pitch is key situations in games the Yankees should have and could have won, costing them the best record in the league by one game. That’s not going to happen in the playoffs.

      My point is I wouldn’t have a whole lot of doubts about the Yankees compared to other teams. They’re not as strong as last year’s team, but they’re close, and all the other teams in the A.L. playoffs have more questions than the Yankees. I could see either the Rangers or the Rays beating the Yankees because anything is possible in a series, but it’s not as if they’re better than the Yankees. The Rangers clearly are not better than the Yankees, but Cliff Lee in a seven-game series is a great equalizer.

      World Series? The Phillies should be the favorites just as the Yankees were last year. Halladay is the best, and he has owned the Yankees, yet all he can do is hope to match what Cliff Lee did last year, which is beat the Yankees twice. Is getting the other two wins against the Yankees which will be tough. Just like it was tough last year.

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    • tom says:

      Nathan would have pitched in maybe one game this series. Morneau would have helped, but that was not the difference. And it’s not like the Yankees came into the playoffs on a roll… it is almost irrelevant how a team comes into the postseason (especially if they clinch early). The Twins just got beat by a better team.

      The Twins had a very good year, but they have a team built for the regular season. A deep bullpen is nice, but that is a luxury in the postseason where you can get by with 2 (maybe 3) real good short guys and a LOOGY (in other words 2 way above average guys and 2 average guys is probably better than 4 moderately above average guys even if the overall WAR is less). Similarly having a deep rotation is nice but the contact, low walk guys that tend to do well over a long season are unpredictable in the playoffs. Liriano has the stuff of an ace, but he’s not an ace that will carry a team through a long postseason run.

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      • Thomas says:

        “Liriano has the stuff of an ace, but he’s not an ace that will carry a team through a long postseason run.”

        This is so baseless and silly. Liriano had maybe the worst control hes had all season. He is a very good pitcher and is certainly good enough to pitch against any team in any situation. Judging Extremely SSS is lazy.

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  3. nicoletti_13 says:

    I don’t know how many people actually watched Hughes pitch, but the hitters were consistently getting beat on 91-93mph heat in the middle of the plate. I’d love to see some numbers on this, but it’s been great to watch this guy grow up through the year…

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    • tom says:

      It’s not all about speed, he has a bit of a shortarm motion, which makes it a lot harder for a batter to pick up the ball right away.

      It’s similar with David Robertson – he does not throw tremendously hard but he seems to get a lot of swings and misses on the fastball (this is based on anecdotal observation, I haven’t checked his #’s)

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      • Cliff Lee's Changeup says:

        Robertson has outstanding K rates and his fast ball velocity is not nearly as high as one would expect.

        Hughes was probably throwing the cutter at that speed, as his fastball was usually around 95. His cutter is very strong, obviously Mo taught him, the pitch is possibly his best.

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      • nicoletti_13 says:

        He certainly has deception, and if it can be taught I hope Eiland is paying attention… That being said Robertson was my favorite yankee reliever before this year started because of his K rate , and for a young kid he really came through. As far as fastball/cutter speed I think his cutter was ~90mph, and primarily threw his fastball, but again, pitchfx has the answers!

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  4. Brendan says:

    Like I said before the series when Dave was throwing out WAR numbers and pointing to how the Twins have a bunch of ‘useful’ players – all meaningless in a 3 game series, and until I see it, the Twins are not a good playoff team.

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    • WRV says:

      Oh really, what was your first indication, was it the 12 CONSECUTIVE playoff losses? The Twins are most obviously a horrid playoff team, just like the sun is awfully hot and and water awfully wet.

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  5. Patrick says:

    The streak doesn’t mean too much since when it started the squad only had three of the players in this one (Kubel/Cuddyer/Crain). But it does expose the flaw in Cameron’s Twins love, in a 5 game series, 8-9 terrific players will beat out 15-16 alright ones. And that’s before we get into how the ‘best team in baseball’ could be 47-45 against everyone outside the AL Central and 41-40 on the road.

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    • Wally says:

      Twin’s 47-25 against the central .653 winning percentage, overall .580 compared to the Yankee’s 38-34 against AL East .528 winning percentage, .586 overall. I agree that playing in the AL East and playing in the AL Central are two different beasts!

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    • Raf says:

      I wouldn’t be quick to say that, given the Yankees’ quick playoff exits from 2005-2007.

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  6. Noseeum says:

    KC2MFC I think it speaks more to the inferiority of the Central. The idea of an inferior team consistenty losing to a superior team that happens to be the wild card doesn’t seem to point to playoff reformatting. It seems to point to the central teams having an easier path to the playoffs wherein they get what they deserve: a beatdown.

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  7. Samuel E. Giddins says:

    And to think I was going to see my first playoff game since 2001 game two of the world series… .he twins let me down, I was hoping (and assumed) that they would win at least one game.

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  8. fredsbank says:

    ahahaha twins fail, anyone who seriously thought they could win this should have been on medication

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  9. Sam A says:

    The Yankees won 95 games in the toughest division in baseball with A.J. Burnett pitching every fifth day. The short series allowed the Yankees to neutralize the Twins’ biggest weapon (Burnett).

    The Twins have some decent pitchers, but the Yankees superior lineup gave them the advantage in every game.

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  10. Jean Valjean says:

    What is the fascination with win expectancy stats? I understand the number, and that it is valid. But how valuable or interesting is it? Marcus Thames homerun increased the Yankees’ chance of winning by 10%, while flyouts induced by Logan and Robertson reduced the Twins’ chances by 9%. I just don’t see how this is interesting. A 2 run homer helped the team, and two crucial outs late in the game helped a team. Do we need percentages to tell us that? How about some commentary on the game? How about some observations about things which aren’t readily quantified, mixed in with the stat stuff?

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  11. BobLoblaw says:

    Can we get back to how FG overrated the Twins’ rotation? That part’s fun. I said it in the preseason and we watched it get proven in the postseason: having a handful of just-above-replacement pitchers does NOT make you good.

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