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WS Coverage: Game Four Thoughts

Several things stood out to me about last night’s game, so I’ll touch on them each briefly with the patented notes post.

1. I’ll give Charlie Manuel this – the man has cojones the size of the Liberty Bell. No matter how many times he had to watch Brad Lidge melt down on the mound this year, he remained convinced of his abilities to get critical outs in a high leverage situation. It doesn’t get much higher leverage than last night’s ninth inning, and Manuel put his trust in Lidge again. Lidge was one strike away from justifying Manuel’s confidence before it all fell apart. As bad as he’s been this year, I’m not sure the Phillies had a better option for that spot, which is one reason why the Yankees are planning a parade right now.

2. If there was one glaring lesson from last night’s game, it was how quickly a dominating pitcher can get humbled. Joba Chamberlain looked like he was at the top of his game, blowing away Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez with 97 MPH fastballs. After getting ahead of Pedro Feliz with two swinging strikes, Phillies hitters had missed on the six of seven swings they had taken against Chamberlain that inning. And then Feliz hit one out of the park to tie the game.

Fast forward to the ninth inning, and Lidge had no problems dispatching Hideki Matsui and Derek Jeter. All three strikes to The Captain were of the swing-and-miss variety, as Lidge showed the stuff that caused Manuel to still believe in his closer. And then, after getting to within one pitch of ending the inning, he allowed the next four guys to reach base and lost the game.

Forget hindsight – at the moment of their failure, both Chamberlain and Lidge looked great. There was nothing to suggest that a problem was lurking. They were throwing the hell out of the ball, and then they got hit. Trying to predict the future is really hard.

3. Joe Girardi has made a lot of small mistakes in the playoffs, but he got one thing right that dwarfed all of those – the decision to use a three man rotation has given the Yankees a huge advantage. Just like in the ALCS, 84 percent of the innings thrown by Yankee pitchers have been handled by CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Andy Pettitte, and Mariano Rivera. Eighty-four percent. Expect the trend to continue tonight – Girardi knows who his horses are and he’s planning on riding them to a World Series title.