Yanks show that the difference is pitching

Where have you gone, Johnny Damon?
2009 ALDS Review/ALCS Preview Chat

After last night’s Game 3 victory over the Twins, the Yankees were quick to talk about their pitching. “Our pitching is the reason why we’re here,” said Derek Jeter. “CC started it, A.J. followed, and Andy finished. That’s how you have to win in the playoffs.” Mariano Rivera agreed. “Everything was pitching.”

Poor pitching has doomed so many previous postseason teams. In the 2005 ALDS the Yankees gave up five or more runs in three games, including an 11-run Angels assault in Game 3. In 2006 they surrendered six and eight runs to the Tigers in Games 3 and 4. Things were a bit better in 2007, but two poor pitching performances led to 12- and six-run Indians surges that buried the Yanks. No matter how powerful their offense, their pitching shortcomings were exposed in October.

The 2009 ALDS was different. The Yankees got the pitching performances they needed, holding the Twins to just six runs in the three games. Any more and they might not be in this position right now. The offense didn’t disappear, but the team didn’t hit at the level of the regular season. That tends to happen at times in the playoffs, and the only way to keep it from killing your team is to pitch well.

While there was no shortage of power, the Yankees offense generally hit poorly in the series, going 23 for 102 with six walks, three doubles, and six homers, for a slash line of .225/.288/.431. During the regular season, the team hit .283/.362/.478, so there was a noticeable decline in almost every offensive aspect. The only exception was pure power: the team had a .194 Iso in the regular season and .206 in the first round.

That meant the pitching had to take over. The Twins had more base runners than the Yankees, but that’s about it. They hit .257/.311/.301 in the series. They had more hits, 29, and walks, nine, than the Yankees, but scored eight fewer runs. That’s because of the Yankees pitchers. For starters, as you can see in the SLG, they kept the ball in the park. Just four of Minnesota’s 29 hits were for extra bases, so even when they put men on they had a hard time bringing them all the way around.

The other crucial aspect for the Yanks pitchers was holding down the Twins with runners in scoring position. The Twins came to bat 28 times with at least a runner on second, and picked up eight hits for a respectable .285 average. The difference, however, was that each of those hits with RISP was a single. The Twins couldn’t pick up that big hit in critical situations. Some of that is attributable to luck, but the Yankees pitching certainly did its part to limit the damage.

A powerhouse offense can carry a team through the regular season, but as the Yankees have proven over the past five years, it’s difficult to advance in the postseason without solid pitching. The Yanks got that this series. Their offense was decent, not great as it was during the season, but added enough power to keep the Yanks in every game. The pitching did the rest. That’s the difference in 2009.

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Where have you gone, Johnny Damon?
2009 ALDS Review/ALCS Preview Chat
  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

    Good pitching always beats good hitting, and vice versa.

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona

      Fisted!

  • moonimus

    I think you meant 2009 ALDS.

  • Ivan

    Well pitching wins period.

    If the yankees are pitching well, (and of course A-Rod continues to hit like this so far) the yankees are unbeatable and there is no way they lose in the playoffs.

    • Mike Pop

      /Joe Morgan’d

      • Tom Zig

        All of Mariano Rivera’s walk off losses have come on the road

        /Joe Morgan

  • Mike Pop

    Yeah, let’s hope that the offense wakes up a bit in the ALCS.

    I would think that they’re going to need to hit better than that in order to beat the Angels.

    • Tom Zig

      we can win if we score 4 runs a game, but I see your point. Having batting averages that resemble speed limits and interstate numbers is no way to win a postseason series.

      Now that we got that ALDS monkey off our backs let’s go rip some shit up.

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      Just for the sake of throwing it out there, the 1998 Yankees hit .253/.313/.451 in the ALDS vs. Texas. Offense comes at a premium in October. That’s just the nature of the playoff pitching beast.

    • Chris

      It’s not like the offense was non-existent. In the ALDS, they averaged 5 runs per game. Only 5 teams in baseball averaged more than 5 runs per game in the regular season:

      Yankees: 5.65
      Angels: 5.45
      Red Sox: 5.38
      Phillies: 5.06
      Twins: 5.01

  • JSquared

    Although The Yankees’ Bats were not hot in the ALDS, i do believe that Lackey and Weaver do not have great stuff from a yankee stand point.

    Seems to be that most pitchers who try to get the K against the Yankees, lose… Guys like Duensing and Blackburn seem to keep it close, Pavano was just getting lucky.

    I like the Yankees in this series, i don’t think it will go 7 games, i think CC and AJ will both dominate.

    • Bo

      lackey and weaver have great stuff. Do not sell them short.

  • Dela G

    this is the best pitching i’ve seen from the yanks since 2001

    this year, the ending of the year will be different since there won’t be a need for the yanks to even play game 7 of the world series

    • Bo

      The 2003 team had great pitching too.

  • Mike bk

    the key for our offense isnt just about the runs they put up against the opposing starter but getting into those bullpens. the quicker we arent hitting lackey or weaver the more damage we will do.

    • Bo

      quicker we arent hitting them??

      What?

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  • Jake

    No love for the defense??

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      Do we have to cover everything in one post? Keep your defensive pants on.

  • Bo

    It’s always about starting pitching. that is why we didnt win in 07 with Wang going twice, 06 with Wright starting, 05 with Johnson, etc etc.

    That is why Burnett was a must sign. Why Pettitte had to be resigned. And why they needed someone on the team on the Sabathia level.

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