ALDS Game 1: Debating the starting rotation


So here it is. The moment we’ve all been waiting for since the Yankees bottomed out at 21-29. It’s time for Game 1 of the ALDS and time to take another stab at securing that elusive 27th World Championship.

So far, in preparation for the playoffs, we’ve looked at why the Yankees won’t beat the Indians and why they will win. We worried a bit about Bob Sheppard and watched three other games yesterday as well as a riveting and controversial Wild Card playoff on Monday. What’s left to do?

Oh, that’s right. We have to debate the Yankees’ choice of Game 1 pitchers. The comments from here on down in the post on the Yankees’ playoff roster began a discussion I was planning on having, and Jay Jaffe over at Baseball Prospectus elaborated in his massive playoff preview piece. Let me quote the relevant passage from Jay:

Make no mistake: this Yankee rotation and its deployment may be the team’s downfall in this series. As good as Wang is, he’s shown a decisive enough home-road split (2.75 home/4.91 away this year; 3.04/4.62 career) to prefer that he not start in Cleveland once, let alone twice if the series goes five games. Pettitte has enough postseason experience (34 starts, 212 innings, 4.08 ERA, 14-9) to add a line to his resume virtually identical to his 2007 stats.

Therein lies the rub. While Chien-Ming Wang may be the ace of this staff for now, does it make sense to expose one of your weaknesses in starting your ace on the road? Andy Pettitte could easily be your games 1 and 5 starter based on his season success, and going with Pettitte, Hughes, Wang, Mussina/Clemens isn’t exactly terrible.

Hopefully, Jaffe is wrong. Joe looked through some of the game logs, and Wang’s bad starts on the road are few and far between. While the Taiwanese sinkerballer has a higher number of better starts on the road, which pitcher doesn’t? Last night, the numbers weren’t in John Lackey’s favor in Boston and he had another rough Fenway outing. But Wang’s numbers on the road are much better than Lackey’s were at Fenway.

But, hey, what fun is a playoff game without a little pitching controversy beforehand? Meanwhile, I’m standing by my prediction: Yanks in 4 after a game 1 loss. Maybe I’ll be wrong there too.

The lineups:

Johnny Damon LF
Derek Jeter SS
Bobby Abreu RF
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Jorge Posada C
Hideki Matsui DH
Robinson Cano 2B
Melky Cabrera CF
Doug Mientkiewicz 1B

Chien-Ming Wang P

Play nice in the comments. Big game today.

Update 4:21 p.m.: There were rumors of an accident involving Doug Mientkiewicz this morning, and we can confirm the info right now. Mark Feinsand at Blogging the Bombers has the story. Mientkiewicz, leaving the team bus, was run over by a Cleveland photographer. His ankle is taped, but he should be good to go at first tonight. Not only has Doug been stellar in the field, but he’s hitting .424 over his last 10 games. We’ll update this if something changes.

Categories : Game Threads


  1. Count Zero says:

    Sorry, but I just don’t buy this theory no matter how many times I hear it. If your ace can’t be counted on to pitch well on the road, then he isn’t your ace is he?

    Wang’s home/road split is tremendously skewed by his one bad game in Toronto (2.2, 8ER) and one bad game in Baltimore (6.0, 5ER). All other road games? 87.2, 35ER, 3.59 ERA). This guy has pitched well in big games since the day they first called him up. He has nerves of steel.

    I can’t believe anyone thinks using the rookie Hughes in game 2 on the road against Carmona is a good idea.

  2. dan says:

    From the Phillies Rockies game today, the two announcers (don’t know who they are) were talking about Chien Ming Wang. One guy asked the other, “What makes Chien Ming Wang so good?” His partner responded:

    “Thats a good question. I think he’s a guy that, when he looks at you, he’s not afraid. He’s nasty at times”

    You’d think that the guys calling the playoff games would at least know that Wang throws a sinker, and doesn’t get by on guile and manliness.

  3. Zack says:

    FWIW, Pete Abe reports that it was a YES camera guy, not a Cleveland one. Conspiracy theories be damned!

  4. kanst says:

    If I was running this team I would line the rotation up Wang, Pettite, Hughes Wang Pettite…thats just me. I think Wang would actually be better on short rest, and right now out of the bottom 3 starters I trust Hughes the most.

    That being said that rotation would never happen

  5. Pete says:

    looks like this game is gonna go long, ie past 6:30. Whats gonna happen with the coverage? tbs has managed to screw everything else up so far so my bet is they will stay with the phillies game till its over.

  6. Ivan says:


  7. dan says:

    a question/suggestion for the hosts: Is it possible to have a “new comment” feature? For example, the little link to comment would have a little symbol or something show when theres a new comment (posted last 20 mins or something like that)…. and maybe once you get to the comments section, you can see which posts are new (with the same little symbol), because it’s sometimes hard to find newly threaded posts in long threads. The first suggestion seems more important than the second.

  8. eli says:

    now were talking. screw all the “experts” picking yanks to lose

  9. Ben K. says:

    Hideki is 0 for 9 in his career against Sabathia. That’s a good day to start Shelley. Alas.

  10. Ben K. says:

    Wang is all over the place so far. Gotta calm down here.

  11. Batty says:

    Damn, easy does it Wanger – you got ‘em; you got ‘em. You can do it – we all have faith!

  12. cjc says:

    fucking terrible just absolutly terrible way to show up Wang

  13. Count Zero says:

    Wang Doesn’t look like he has any good movement. So much for my theory… ;-)

  14. Ben K. says:

    Stellar way to begin.

  15. cjc says:

    and thats why he’s not a “ace” he’s a very good pitcher but an “ace” doesn’t have an era of almost 5 on the road

  16. cjc says:

    looks like a 7-5 game may breakout here

  17. Ben K. says:

    Melky has to stop trying to hit a five-run HOUR every time up.

  18. Ben K. says:

    And by hour I mean home run. Stupid auto-correct on Blackberry.

  19. cjc says:

    all we need is a nice big error and the embarassment would be complete

  20. Mike A. says:

    49 pitches for CC through 2

  21. Count Zero says:

    Much better inning for CMW.

  22. cjc says:

    oh goodie sabathia has found his groove

  23. Ben K. says:

    Cleveland sure has a lot of fans who never showed up during the regular season.

  24. NYFan50 says:

    Watch A-Rod tie the game right here.

  25. Ivan says:

    it’s only bottom of third inning. Sure we are not leading but there is alot of baseball left. ALOT.

  26. Ben K. says:

    A-rod just missed that one. He was on the pitch but got under it.

    Wang meanwhile is making Jay Jaffe look smart today.

  27. cjc says:

    boy this is ugly

  28. cjc says:

    very nice keep mking him work

  29. NYFan50 says:

    Go Robbie!

    Sabathia at 78 pitches.

  30. Count Zero says:

    Robbie with a big hit…little wake up call.

    I better not see Matsui come up with men on base against CC again in this game.

    C’mon CMW — keep us in the game buddy.

  31. NYFan50 says:

    I hope CC passes 100 this inning. Not that the bullpen is going to be easier to hit.

  32. cjc says:

    wow tight zone tonight good for us

  33. cjc says:

    well thats 99 for cc

  34. NYFan50 says:

    A-Rod time. Just Do It.

  35. cjc says:

    just need a sac fly here

  36. cjc says:

    or not have some balls wedge ;)

  37. NYFan50 says:

    Shit. Shit.

  38. Count Zero says:

    What did I say – why is Matsui hitting there? He doesn’t have a clue against CC…

  39. kunaldo says:

    thank goodness torre made the right decision w/ matsui

  40. kunaldo says:

    he hasnt had a clue for the past month….but dont worry, he’s a vet, and he’s been here before……..0 for 12!!!

  41. Ivan says:

    don’t worry, Matsui will erupt soon. And when he doesn it will spell trouble for every team in baseball that’s in the postseason.

  42. kunaldo says:

    ivan, that may or may not be true….but i can tell you one thing….it wasnt happening against CC

  43. Count Zero says:

    You’re right Ben — Jay looking genius.

  44. cjc says:

    given this team no chnace this is as bad a performance as you can have a total blow up from the”ace”

  45. Carson says:

    I’ve always been a huge supporter of Wang, but giving up 2 homers in the 1st game of the postseason from our supposed “ace” is inexcusable.

    The ball is moving all over the place, and he can’t seem to throw strikes to save his life. When he DOES throw a strike, the Indians are lifting it into the stratosphere.

    This is incredibly frustrating to watch, especially because we’ve taken Sabathia out of the game.

    This is DEFINITELY not the “ace” of our staff. He is a good pitcher, but if his sinker isn’t working, he’s got nothing else to work with. A good #2 or #3 pitcher for us.

  46. Relaunch says:

    Another example of Torre’s in game management. Jorge should have not had the green light. Wang should have been pulled after the leadoff walk. He has shown nothing today.
    Great job Torre, keep in Wang longer. Fucking idiot.

  47. Carson says:


    FUCK TBS. This is the most amateur display of “broadcasting” I have ever seen. It looks like they spent all of their money outbidding FOX, and didn’t have any money left to hire a decent staff.

    FUCK. Everything is pissing me off right now.

  48. NYFan50 says:

    Why are they calling him “Ohlendorfer”?

  49. Relaunch says:

    Team pathetic. Both teams have had the same situations (starters not on their game). Same situations at the plate. Indians have gotten hits while Posada and Matsui have shit in their pants. Keep up the great work guys when you had CC on the ropes. Pathetic

  50. Mac says:

    Man. I hope that doesn’t land Ohlendorf of Torre’s shit list for all time.

  51. Count Zero says:

    The good thing here that Jay ignored is that Wang doesn’t have to pitch a game 5 — Pettitte could pitch game 5 on normal rest if he starts game 2 as planned.

  52. Ivan says:

    Is it me or people forgot this is just game 1.

  53. cjc says:

    look at it this way we lose when we win the first game of a series

  54. Count Zero says:

    I can’t fault Jorge — he’s come through too many times to count. DHing Matsui was folly though. Letting him hit with the bases loaded in the fifth with Giambi on the bench was just stupid.

  55. Ivan says:

    besides, cleveland is average at best in risp hitting like .255. They not gonna do that game two trust me. The difference in the ball game was that Sabathia got big outs when he was on the ropes and Wang didn’t. It’s just that simple.

  56. Carson says:

    Man, I’m going to be PISSED if we lose in the first round AGAIN.


  57. Ivan says:

    Count Zero, what makes you think a cold Giambi could hit Sabathia. The point is that pitching was bad in this nothing else and guys didn’t hit in risp.

    • Count Zero says:

      I doon’t know if Giambi could get a hit — but I know he has a better eye and I know Matsui was never going to get a hit off CC even if he had ten more tries.

  58. Lil Jimmy Norden says:

    now would be a good time to pick up some runs boys

  59. Ivan says:

    Yea but Giambi was not gonna hit CC trust me.

    When matsui is right, he can usually take those pitches the other way but right now ( and maybe it’s becuase of the knee) he’s cleary pulling off pitches.

    Remember when Giambi had problems with his knee was pratacally a dead pull hitter because his knee gave him too much problems to go the other way.

    Maybe that’s wrong with Matsui right now. That said I am not worried trust me. Matsui will put his stamp on this series to say the least sooner or later.

    Besides did we guys forget it’s game 1.

    • Relaunch says:

      What has Matsui shown you in the last month for you to think that? he has been awful. The Yanks may comeback, but I can’t see why you think Matsui will be the reason

  60. Count Zero says:

    OK – now it’s time to think about game 2. Leave Ohlie out there to take some lumps. ;-)

  61. Pfistyunc says:

    Well, I think that we can mark tonight down as Ohlendorf’s one and only playoff appearance. No way Torre goes back to him after this debacle.

  62. Ivan says:

    Because Matsui all of a sudden didn’t turn into a fucking scrub, that is why I think he can turn it around. It’s amazing how you guys turn on this guy.

    Hey is he struggling yes but I am not losing faith in him trust me. What all of a sudden Shelly Duncan a guy who was in the minors for 6 years is a better overall hitter than Matsui. I understand he’s struggling and he’s not putting up good abats but this guy is too good of a hitter to struggle. Hey Johnny Damn was awful from game 1-6 in the 2004 ALCS against the yanks and we all know what he did in game 7.

    The point is Matsui to me sooner or later will breakout huge just watch. Hey after all he has been streaky right? So once he breaks out, he will be just killing the ball watch.

  63. Adam says:

    No worries kids.

    Carmona? A sinkerballin contact pitcher?
    Westbrook? A hardly average contact pitcher?
    Byrd? It’s Paul fricking Bird.

    I really think the Yankees could massacre the Tribe in the next three games.

    • NYFan50 says:

      Adam, I agree. I never counted on winning this game. I mentioned last week Wang’s home/road splits over the last 3 years were night and day, and facing Sabathia isn’t easy. But the next 3 games? We have a great shot at winning those games. Don’t worry yet. Worry if we go down 0-2.

  64. Mike A. says:

    Bah, it’s aight. Tomorrow’s another day, and Wedge is doing his best to make sure Raffy Perez is unavailable for that game.

    Torre gave Ohlendorf a nice little encouraging talkin’ to when he yanked him, so I don’t think he’s been banned from the Circle of Trustâ„¢ forever…yet.

  65. cjc says:

    adam I agree I told my friend this afternoon that Wang was going to lose didn’t think he would throw up on the mound but I felt the tribe was a bad match for him and that we would win in 4

  66. Ivan says:

    Well Carmona can give us trouble no doubt so I wouldn’t be surprise att he pitches phenomenal. That siad, the games at home are gonna be interesting thought. I mean Jake Westbrook has been good but he can a similar fate like Wang with his sinker and he doesn’t have Wang’s stuff not even close to it. And Paul Byrd is well…….Paul Byrd

  67. Adam says:

    No worries kids.

    Carmona? A sinkerballin contact pitcher?
    Westbrook? A hardly average contact pitcher?
    Byrd? It’s Paul fricking Byrd.

    I really think the Yankees could massacre the Tribe in the next three games.

  68. NYFan50 says:

    Hughes coming in for relief. I guess that makes Moose the game 4 starter officially.

  69. Pfistyunc says:

    My only thought watching this game is that a silver lining to yet another first round debacle will hopefully be Cashman’s pink slip. That more than anything is what this team needs.

  70. Ivan says:

    Hughes looked pretty good that inning.

  71. Pfistyunc says:

    Not at all. Cashman is absolutely atrocious. His success depends solely upon his huge financial advantage and his ability to piggyback on Stick Michael’s achievements. The Yankees win in spite of him, not because of him.

  72. Mike A. says:

    Is this really the best use of Phil Hughes? Keep Veras out there for the rest of the game. All he’s good for is mop-up duty.

  73. Pfistyunc says:

    Agreed. The kid who should be our #4 starter is relegated to mop-up duty, yet we will throw a complete washed-up BP pitcher in game 4 instead. Makes me want to vomit.

  74. Pfistyunc says:

    The man signed Tony Womack and Miguel Cairo more than once. How is his incompetence even a debate?

    • Count Zero says:

      He also stole Abreu, got Betemit for Proctor, got Molina for junk, and traded away a finished Johnson for Vizcaino and Ohlendorf…who gave us a lot more than Johnson gave the snakes.

      Every GM makes mistakes sometimes and I bet Torre had a lot to do with Cairo’s return. The question is, on the whole how does it work out?

      But I hear Pags is looking for an assistant if you’re interested…

      • Mike A. says:

        And let’s not forget that whole A-Rod & $67M for Soriano & Joaquin Arias deal either. That was kind of a good move by the guy who signed Tony Womack & Miguel Cairo (twice).

        • Pfistyunc says:

          Not saying he hasn’t made good moves, but I think overall his misses far outweigh his hits. It took him until 100 games in to give Torre any kind of a bench, which is better than our bench for the past several seasons. I just see Cashman as the beneficiary of a giant checkbook and some great work by Stick Michael rather than an even competent baseball mind. If he were the GM of a small to mid market team, I think his true colors would be shown. Instead, in NY, he gets to write huge checks to erase the other huge checks he mistakenly wrote.

  75. Pfistyunc says:

    Good question. How does it work out? Hmm, how is the whole “use my whopping financial advantage to build a softball lineup and club my way past mediocre pitching to make it into the playoffs” working out? Seems to me that this will be our third straight first round beat down under Cashtard’s current plan. Apparently playoffs teams need good starters and/or bullpens. Fuck it, maybe we can score 1000 runs next year!!

    • dan l says:


    • Mike A. says:

      By constantly dumping on Cash like this, you should never be allowed to cheer for Joba, IPK, Hughes, etc in the future.

      Seems to you that this will be our 3rd straight first round exit. To the rest of us it seems like it’s only Game 1.

      • Pfistyunc says:

        Why would Damon Oppenheimer’s work have anything to do with Cashman’s complete ineptitude? I applaud Cash for hanging onto them, but he didn’t discover them by any means.

    • Count Zero says:

      What Mike said.

      It’s the fans like you that make life miserable for the real Yankee fans. “OMG we didn’t come out and win game 1 25-0! It’s over! We suck so much! We’re all doomed!!!!!!!!! Fire Cash! Fire Torre! Trade Joba for a first baseman!” Give it a rest.

      If you’re going to do this all series long, don’t bother coming back because no one else wants to hear it.

  76. cjc says:

    history tells me lose game 1 win the series

  77. Travis G. says:

    i called it: start Wang in game 3, and start Shelley over Matsui. another bad call by Torre was leaving Wang out there after his 5th inning (?) walk. we knew he’d had, but Joe left him out there and whoever it was hit the 2-run HR making it 6-3.

    Wang had 2 outs and none fucking on in the 1st and allowed Cleveland to take the lead. If he doesn’t we might be looking at a different ballgame. very little good about the game save for Abreu, Cano, and to an extent Hughes. but dont forget, the Yanks won Game 1 each of the last 2 years only to lose the series, so maybe this is a reverse of that.

    • Count Zero says:

      I’ll give you your due — I was with you on Shelley but I really that the Wanger would do the job.

      Ah well…I’m going with the cjc game 1 loss theory now. :-)

      To paraphrase Jorge, “We play tomorrow, we win tomorrow.”

  78. Pyropos says:

    Torre shouldn’t pick up Wang for todays game.
    He’s awful in the road game.

    Once the hurt is done, Torre couldn’t take Wang out.
    Just look at the bullpen, they can’t stop the bleed.

  79. Pyropos says:

    I was afraid that it’s a severe traumatized to Wang’s confident.

  80. yankz says:

    I think it’s a prerequisite that all the Cashman bashers propose exactly who he should have gotten and how he should have done it. The only thing I’ve ever heard is “Trade Wright and Unit for better SP,” which is a perfect example of why people hate Yankee fans.

  81. Pyropos says:

    How about today’s offense?
    They just stood there and got strike out.

    • yankz says:

      Wait. That’s Cashman’s fault??? Cleveland having a 3.20 team ERA over the past 30 days had nothing to do with it? What an asshole!

      The offense he constructed was first in the league in HR, AVG, OBP, SLG, H, and who knows what else.

      Now I know you’re just joking around.

  82. Pfistyunc says:

    For those who know me (Joe can attest to this) I have been calling for Cashman’s head since 2001, so this is hardly a reaction to last night’s debacle. I think Torrre is a goner, but I actually would like him to return.

    • yankz says:

      Saying something a million times doesn’t make you right. You suggested that Cashman put a bad offense together. You are wrong.

      • Pfistyunc says:

        No, I never suggested anything of the sort. I suggested he put together a team that is flawed for the playoffs because all it is an offensive juggernaut. Our bullpen consists of 2 pitchers, one of which had to be converted from a starter.

  83. Pfistyunc says:

    Pitching and defense wins in the playoffs and bullpens are important. Our softball lineup mentality is great for bashing past the TB and Kansas City’s of the world to get into the playoffs, but it fails miserably once we get there. Cashman can write big checks to assemble such a softball lineup but he can’t assemble a pitching staff to save his life.

    • Count Zero says:

      See I don’t disagree with you about the pitching vs. slugging thing. This is a common theme of the last three years. Good pitching beats good hitting is a cliche because it’s true.

      That said, I don’t know what you would have done differently last off-season. Paid big bucks for a declining Zito? Overpaid for Meche? Bid $60 million for the rights to Dice-K? There really wasn’t any starting pitching out there to be had that wasn’t way over-valued.

      What we have done to address the problem is built our pitching down on the farm — next year we will have a slightly seasoned Hughes, Joba and IPK. That is shaping up to be a great rotation with Wang and Pettitte. Honestly, I thought all along this season that next year would be our year. But I’m also not ready to start throwing people under the bus right now because we lost game 1. :-)

      Sometimes, there are no quick fixes. Quick fixes to our starting pitching problem (Brown, Vasquez, Pavano, Johnson) is exactly how we got into this position.

  84. RJ - Ct says:

    Bottom line is Duncan should have been the DH over Matsui, who has terrible numbers against Sabathia and is a shell of his physical shelf right now. Second, Jeter has to bunt there, move the runners over and let Abreau bat, all he has to do is not strike out and it’s possible he walks because CC was losing it right there, then A-Rod might have gotten a chance with bases juiced and no where to put him. Plus, you have to try to at least tie the game when on the road, must tie it before taking the lead Torre. Lastly, Wang has to be pulled after the lead-off walk, they cut the lead to 1, are right there and can’t afford to let the lead grow again. Wang obviously didn’t have it and must be pulled at that point, not 5 batters and 3 runs later!! That was typical Torre, not having a clue how to manage a pitching staff. Then, on top of that he brings in Orhlendorf in a killer spot, 2 men on, game about to blowup! The guy pitched 6 innings this year with the Yanks! Are you kidding me?!? I know they probably couldn’t use Hughes, knowing he may have to start game 4 if Clemens can’t go game 3, but that is over 3 days away and it would’ve been a perfect spot for him. But it’s only one game, get to young Carmona early and leave with the one game we needed on the road.

    • Relaunch says:

      His management of Wang and Hughes yesterday really pissed me off. If Hughes came in, it should have been to relieve Wang in the bottom of the 5th

  85. Relaunch says:

    Didn’t the offense lead the league in almost every category for the last 3 years? What has been the result every year? Good pitching always stops good hitting.

    Problem is, yesterdays pitching (CC) wasn’t even that good. Matsui and Posada were awful in every possible way.

  86. Bart says:

    Jaffe says it – we hope he is wrong — i said it and was accused of being negative

    If Torre used Hughes last night in a mop up to see what he might have for game 4 — he is a genius — if he simply used him in a no win situation he is an idiot

    I have always loved jeter – everyhting about him is wonderful – my kids love him – but he can’t play SS on bad knee – NO range at all to the glove side — the yankees have to fix this in the spring — to better the defense and prolong his career – flip him with Alex, move him to 1B or OF

    No one said a thing on the GB hit lofton should not have had — or the failure to move the runners in the 5th – maybe the knee again — we ave to cheer him (want to cheer him) throught the next 11 wins but then he needs to be realistic

    Problem is the yankees have to deal with Posada Mo Arod, Abreu — they won’t give Derek a thought

    • Pfistyunc says:

      Well, I guess Jeter has had a bad knee for several years now. His range is pretty bad overall and terrible up the middle. The knee might be making it slightly worse, but that is like throwing a deck chair on the Titanic and saying that is the reason it sank.

  87. Pfistyunc says:

    Again, this is not a reaction to Game 1 or even this year. Cashman wore out his welcome in 2001. I just happened to bring it up last night.

Leave a Reply

You may use <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong> in your comment.

If this is your first time commenting on River Ave. Blues, please review the RAB Commenter Guidelines. Login for commenting features. Register for RAB.