Game 2 is in the books, and it’s a little gloomier outside this morning, and not just literally. The Yankees have tied the series, even if MLB poster child Derek Jeter made one of the all-time stupid mistakes last night and it was discussed less than Jay Z and Alicia Keys.
Jeter came to bat in the seventh inning with men on first and second and no outs. There were two strikes. He tried to bunt, he bunted foul, and he was called out. Derek Jeter hit .334 this year, and his lifetime batting average is sixth among active players. Even after his 3-for-5 game on Wednesday, the bunt attempt shows that the pressure of the World Series might be getting to him. Or, at least, that it affects him sometimes. He should talk to his buddy A-Rod (0-for-the-series) about it. Maybe a sleepover is in order.
Cheap shots aside, the story of last night wasn’t Pedro—who pitched pretty much in line with expectations—but A.J. Burnett, the angry-looking, unpredictable Yankee hurler. Burnett’s certainly got the stuff to dominate on any given night, but every pitch is like a coinflip: it either zips, unhittable, over the corner of the strike zone or careers away from it, often into the batter (Burnett was fourth in the league in hit batsmen this year, with 10. The leader? Joba, with 12). The story with watching Tim Wakefield, the Sox’ knuckleballer, is that things can fall apart in an instant, with no real warning signs: the knuckler is fickle. So is Burnett. Every inning, he looked dominant, but there was always that chance that he began to unravel. It never happened.
The Yankee bullpen managed to lock the game down, but not without some trouble. Characteristically, Mariano got the team out of danger, but uncharacteristically, he was also the one that put them there. It’s not unusual for closer to flirt with danger before sealing the deal, but it is unusual for this closer to do it. Whether that’s a harbinger of things to come or an aberration might determine who’s sizing their ring fingers in a couple weeks.
Back to Pedro. He pitched well, if laboriously, through the first few innings, displaying virtuoso skill with sub-master power (Imagine Picasso, too old to hold a brush, or Will Arnett playing the straight man). His changeup was a sight to behold during his prime, and now it’s really amazing: it’s one of the slowest pitches thrown by anyone in the entire league, and it’s brutally effective. Teixeira’s a terrible matchup for Pedro, however, and Tex made him pay. When he was finally pulled (in the seventh inning!) he walked off the field to chants of “Who’s Your Daddy?” and couldn’t help but break into a big smile. He’s Yankee Stadium’s ultimate heel, and he loves every second of it.
The series heads to Philly tomorrow with bizarro-Philadelphian Cole Hamels chucking against Andy Pettitte, whose pot-luck postseason history might be due to turn against him. Hamels, confounding on and off the field, has the ability to shut down the Yankees, but will he? If he does, the Phillies will be in a good spot. They’d get a crack at CC Sabathia on short rest in Game 4, and follow that up with the Unstoppable Cliff Lee® in game five going back up against Burnett… and those coin flips can’t keep coming up heads, can they?