Monday, October 10, 2005

And so the season comes down to Ervin Santana, who's on like eight days rest, is twenty-two, and started the season in AA Arkansas.

This is some sport we're watching ...

UPDATE: As you know, he did it.

Ervin wasn't spectacular, but after taking an inning to settle in he pitched pretty well, allowing only one run on a homer to Jeter, which wasn't even on all that bad a pitch. Santana ends his showdowns with the Yankees in 2005 with a 3-0 record and a 3.78 ERA in 16 2/3 innings. Not bad for a 22-year-old rookie.

The offense was able to take advantage of some shaky defense with some good baserunning and timely hits. Since I'm in general negative on his signing, I should allow that Orlando Cabrera is a fantastic baserunner. And Vlad got a good read on a Bengie blooper that fell in front of Gary Sheffield -- it was a ball that probably should have been caught, but the Yanks are designed more for bashing the ball than catching it.

A few other moments from the game that stuck out to me, randomly collected ...

... one was the look on Bartolo Colon's face when Mike and crew came out to visit him in the second. He looked in pain, nearly in tears, as he declared, "I can do it." He was pretty obviously giving it his all, and had really gutted out that strikeout of Matsui that closed the first. But it was obvious that he couldn't, and obvious that this lack upset him greatly. Let us never question the man's desire and commitment.

Another was the defense of Adam Kennedy, as exemplified on plays in the first and ninth off of balls batted by A-Rod. In the first, A-Rod lifted a fly ball to medium right center. Finley, playing A-Rod deep and to pull, plus having no range, had no chance. Vlad apparently didn't see the ball well. Kennedy went rushing out to make the catch. It wasn't a spectacular, highlight-reel play, but it's exactly the kind of play that separated the Angels from the Yankees in this game and series.

The other was A-Rod's double play in the ninth. Kennedy's turn was nothing short of magic, as the ball was hit slowly to Chone Figgins, who double-clutched. Not only that, but Kennedy had to hang in against Derek Jeter, a quick and tough baserunner. He made the turn at lightning speed, just nicking A-Rod. Getting the DP instead of a fielders' choice there was huge as the Yankees were able to pick up a couple of cheap two-out hits. Not every second baseman makes that turn, which we should remember as the media begins its inevitable jump on A-Rod for "choking."

And if I may interrupt the joy with something negative, it's truly incredible how clownish Joe Buck and Tim McCarver manage to be. I was appalled and annoyed as they repeatedly expressed amazement that Angel bullpen wasn't busy when Ervin got into trouble in the fifth. Buck claimed that Donnelly should be up ... had either of these guys done any research, they'd have known that Scioscia lost faith in Brendan Donnelly quite some time ago, and Santana was easily more trustworthy in that situation.

They also expressed some degree of surprise that Santana was able to remain calm and collected and deal with the "pressure." Color me less than surprised. Ervin's composure has been one of his most impressive traits, I believe. We knew he had good stuff, by his rep anyway, but he's always kept it together on the mound, even during his rough stretches and outings. I didn't worry for one moment about how he'd handle the pressure, and I don't think Mike and Bud Black did, either.

Another ridiculously comical moment was when McCarver expressed such shock that the Yanks went to Randy Johnson and not Al Leiter. Now, Leiter was warming up, so I understand that had to be addressed, but I think it's a pretty easy choice when you have The Big Ugly Unit warming up next to Al Leiter. It's like mulling over a choice between Jessica Alba and Frances Conroy.

There were several other idiotic moments. Buck and McCarver claimed that Vlad was shocked and surprised to see Jeter go for third on a single in the first; it sure looked to me like Vlad slowed down because the ball had rolled to a stop and he didn't want to overrun it. And when Bengie double-clutched on the pitchout in the second, they never realized that he did so because he wasn't in the mood to throw a ball through Santana, who was standing in his way. Well, maybe they realized it eventually ... I was watching that part of the game on tape in fast forward, and I wasn't going to listen to every little word to see if Buck and McCarver could figure out something that was right in front of their faces.

Of course, someone could write a volume on the nonsense those guys spew, so I should slow down and let it go.

I also want to issue a reprimand to Fox for not showing us Ervin's ovation as he left the game. They cruelly cut away to commercial. Yes, I know, that's how they make their money, but it was a huge moment in a dramatic game. You think if it was a Yankee rookie out there in Yankee Stadium that they would have cut away before he even left the mound, and wouldn't even have shown a replay of the ovation afterward? It was a no-class move, representative of how little Fox cares about actually covering the sport. It's the little details like that that will lead baseball fans to rejoice the day the sport is moved off that pathetic little network.

I'm not all that worried about having to go into Chicago tomorrow; it will probably be good to keep the intensity up. I plan to get to a series preview in the morning. Until then, the Halo shines tonight ...

Buck and McCarver have that East Coast Bias - but after today we can't say that can we? I guess its "mid west" bias, but then who really respects the AL West Anyway?

We watched the game with the volume on very low. Great re-cap! GO HALOS!
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