Friday, October 09, 2009

Almost Game Time: ALDS Game 2

Game One of Twins/Yankees provided the expected result (7-2 win), but not in the expected ways. As I noted on Twitter (@derekbaseball, if you're not following) CC was demonstrating the difference between command and control for much of the game. If you look at the box score, you'd see that see that the big lefty struck out eight and walked none, and figure that he must've really been on. Instead, it was clear throughout the game that CC wasn't hitting his spots amd was actually struggling a bit--think about how many times he crossed up Jorge Posada--even though he could still get the ball over the plate when he needed it to avoid walking anyone. The Twins did their part to help CC out, swinging early and often. It seemed like this approach could yield some fruit for Minnesota in the early innings--the Twinkies were fouling off so many pitches that Sabathia was burning 20 pitches per inning--but that same hacktasticalness also contributed to their eight Ks against CC.

There's a lesson for Game Two starter AJ Burnett here: the Twins will get themselves out. Be patient, stay around the plate, and the Twins will assist you by swinging away. In two starts against the Twins this season, Burnett gave them 10 walks in 13 1/3 innings, which is way too much to give a squad that's missing a large part of its power. If AJ can stay around the plate, hopefully it won't take 10 innings to put Minnesota down, this time. But as I said last time out, if he's too free with the free passes, this series could change in a hurry. Here's hoping stingy AJ gives us an enjoyable game.


Usually I frown on personal catchers, particularly when the performance gap with the bat is as profound as it is between Jose Molina and Jorge Posada. But the weird thing looking at Burnett the contrast between JoMo and Hip Hip Jorge catching Burnett is the way that Burnett's strikeouts disappear when Posada's behind the plate. This year Burnett struck out 18.2% of batters when Jorge's catching him, 25.2% when anyone else (Molina, Kevin Cash, Frisco Cervelli) is behind the plate. That's a big difference, and both samples are pretty substantial. Now, it's possible that Posada started when the Yanks and Burnett were facing better offenses, but it also seems likely that something about the pitcher/catcher rapport was off between Burnett and Posada, with real consequences. I just hope that Girardi has the good sense not to let Molina bury the offense if he comes up in a big spot.

1 comment:

rakeback said...

I think the catcher has a great deal to do with the success or failure of the pitcher. I think Posada has done a great job over the years, so I find it hard to believe he suddenly forgot how to call a game.