Can you smell it? I know you can. The Yankees are cooking and it smells like World Series No. 27. The Yankees gained the upper hand after winning an exciting game against the Phillies that gave the Yanks a 3-1 lead. And the exciting part is the Yankees won 2 out of their 3 wins in Philadelphia's home turf.
The Yankees have the chance to clinch it in Game 5 with AJ Burnett starting. However the Phillies won't give the series on a silver platter. They will fight tooth and nail if they have to. The Yankees must not be to confident and must take every opportunity that they can get. Game 5 is next. Here are some roadblocks in Game 5 that stands in the Yankees way:
Every Yankee fans will not forget what Cliff Lee did to the Yanks in Game 1 of the World Series. Cliff Lee dominated and played a complete game. He played 9 innings with 10 strikeouts and no earned runs. Lee completely shut down the Yankees offense giving the Phillies and early advantage with a 1-0 lead in the series. Cliff Lee is a former Cy Young Awardee and has a good season this year. He has a nice, four-pitch arsenal featuring low-90s heat, nasty slider, curve and change. When he is on, Lee gives an automatic win for his team. Cliff Lee has a fluid, sometimes sneaky delivery. So how do we beat this guy?
- Stock as many right-handers and switch hitters on the line-up.
- Work his pitch counts. Lee is in the zone if his pitch counts is low. Make him work and get more pitch out of the Phillies Ace pitcher. Try to make his pitch count to 25-30 per inning. Tire him out and get him out early in the 5th or 6th inning. The Phillies will go to their bullpen, that is where the Yankees can take advantage and make this game like a Home-Run derby.
The Yankees offense somewhat dried up in Games 1 and 2 of the World Series. But the Bombers came alive in Games 3 and 4 scoring 8 and 7 runs respectively.
The Yankees problems in their defeats in the post-season is producing with runners in scoring position. They always leave man on base. They were thinking to much of playing long ball and hitting home-runs. Little did they know that they can play small ball and manufacture runs if they have to.
Getting on 1st base on a hit or walk is important. It starts the offense running. A bunt here, a hit there, stealing a base or two, hitting doubles can help the Yankees get enough runs to win a ballgame.
The Yankees are deep from 1-9. All of them can hit and produce. There are no easy outs. So get the Yankees batters on base and keep the ball rolling. Runs will be easy if they keep on pressuring the Phillies pitchers by putting runners in scoring positions.
Bridge to Mariano Rivera:
I know the bullpen have been dissolving in the post-season leaving Rivera all alone. Joe Girardi lost faith in his relievers and gave his starters like CC Sabathia longer innings to bridge the gap to the Yankees closer. Mariano Rivera even played two full innings just to close a game. The Yankees lost their set-up man and long relievers. The normal trend is from the Yankees starting pitcher jumping to their closer. There is no one in between.
In the World Series, a light somehow shine in the Yankees bullpen. Some of their relievers somewhat became a little reliable (good enough for Mo).
With the Phillies having majority of their feared sluggers as left handed batters (Utley, Howard, Ibanez) the role of the Yankees left handed specialist became important. This gave way for Damaso Marte. Marte rose to his expectation by getting outs when they need it the most.
The other one is Joba. Joba is now their set-up man and is performing well as of late. With the rise of a few Yankees relievers, this will give Rivera to save his strength for the 9th inning (where he is at best).
Froze the Phillies offense:
Here is the statistics of some of the Phillies sluggers in the post-season:
- Ryan Howard: (NLDS stats .375 AVE, and 6 RBI's), in the NLCS (stats .333 AVE, 2 home runs, and 8 RBI's)
- Jimmy Rollins: (NLDS stats .263 AVE), in the NLCS (stats .227 AVE)
- Shane Victorino: (NLDS stats .353 AVE and 1 homer), in the NLCS (stats .368 AVE, 2 HR, 6 RBI's)
- Raul Ibanez: (NLDS stats .308 AVE and 5 RBI's)
- Ryan Howard: .176 AVE, no HR and 10 strikeouts
- Jimmy Rollins: .200 AVE, no home runs and 1 strikeout
- Shane Victorino: .200 AVE, no homers and 1 strikeout
- Raul Ibanez: .188 AVE, no HR and 9 strikeouts
The Yankees place this 4 powerful hitters in the freezer and kept them there freezing. The 4 Phillies were invisible and did not not provide offense that the Phillies badly needed.
So if the Yankees need to advanced, minimize the Phillies offense to 1-3 runs. Get their lead-off hitter out every inning to shut down their running game and throw a lot of strikes.
The Yankees are cooking and it smells like World Series championship # 27.