Friday, October 06, 2006

ALDS Game 3: Tigers 6, Yankees 0

Missed one, I know. Never quite caught up with Thursday's 4-3 loss, except to know that the rainout without rain seems to have destroyed any semblance of momentum the Yankees might have had.

Scratch that. As I was telling my brother-in-law as the Tigers took a commanding 2-1 lead in the series, I don't believe in momentum. Oh, I know that it exists, but in the scheme of things, it always seems that a ballclub has momentum until they don't again. In 2004, the Yanks had great momentum through three games of the ALCS. Forty-eight hours later, that momentum had not slowed, nor stopped, it simply belonged to the Red Sox now. Any force that so easily and seamlessly reverses itself can't properly be called "momentum." Give it another name. Luck, perhaps?

Anyway, Thursday's one-run loss set up tonight's duel of the old lefties, Randy "Bulging Disc" Johnson against Kenny "Poor Impulse Control" Rogers. The Gambler, as Rogers is sometimes called, has a history with New York. In 1996, he was supposed to be the final piece of the pitching puzzle. He went 12-8 during the regular season, but during the playoffs he spit the bit so badly that he pitched seven total innings over three starts and one relief appearance, and allowed 11 earned runs. That's a 14.14 ERA! Brother T famously recounts that when he was announced during the victory parade after the Yanks won the World Series, John Sterling's intro was "This Yankee didn't lose a single game in the entire postseason." Kindly omitting that he didn't win one, either (or that bit about the double-digit ERA). Then, still under the same contract he signed with the Yanks in December, 1995, in 1999 the Gambler joined the Mets, and again made the postseason. This time, he was able to pitch 12 innings, and allow "just" 9 runs, in two series against the Diamondbacks and Braves. This time, Rogers collected an 0-3 record. He was the pitcher on the mound when the Mets were eliminated in Game 6 of the NLCS, walking in the winning run for the Braves. In 2003, Kenny Rogers again made it to the postseason, this time with the Minnesota Twins--and had to face the Yankees in the ALDS. He went 13-8 for the Twins that season, but only managed one inconsequential--but scoreless--appearance as the Yankees won both the game and the series, 3-1.

So this is the part that's bugging me. I can understand losing. I can understand Randy Johnson getting raked. (Why is it that his failure doesn't mean as much to Yankee fans as A-Rod's, though?) But the Gambler comes up aces in the playoffs? Kenny Rogers shuts down the vaunted Yankee offense into the eighth inning?


So now, it's backs-against-the-wall time. If the Yanks don't sweep the next two, this will officially be the most disappointing Yankee team since 2002. The blame will go on A-Rod, even though Robbie Cano's been hitting a just-as-robust .091 so far, and Team Leader Giambi is at .125. But Rodriguez will be the only one that doesn't come through in the clutch.

Oh, and on whose arm does the fate of the Yankee season rest? Try Jaret Friggin' Wright.

That burns. It burns something fierce. See you tomorrow at two.

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