Fan Confidence Poll: October 4th, 2010

Record Last Week: 2-4 (31 RS, 36 RA)
Season Record: 95-67 (859 RS, 693 RA, 98-64 Pythag. record), finished one game back in AL East, won Wild Card
Schedule This Week: ALDS Game One (Wednesday @ Twins), ALDS Game Two (Thursday @ Twins), ALDS Game Three (Saturday vs. Twins)

Top stories from last week:

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Yanks drop series finale, settle for Wild Card

After losing the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader, the Yankees were going to need to some from the Royals if they wanted to win the AL East for a second straight year. They would need to take care of business on Sunday against the Red Sox while Sean O’Sullivan did them a favor an topped Tampa. It was all moot by the late afternoon, because not only did the Rays beat Kansas City in extras, but the Yanks lost to Boston for the fourth time in their last six meetings.

(AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Spot Starter

It’s tough to take any game seriously when Dustin Moseley is the scheduled starter, but the righthander actually did a half-decent job through the first four frames. The problem is that he was left in to pitch the fifth.

Boston jumped out to an early two-zip lead when J.D. Drew parked a poorly located fasted into the bullpen to drive in himself as well as Jed Lowrie. Moseley retired seven of the next ten men he faced, wiggling out of a little trouble with some double plays (one a routine 6-3 grounder, the other when David Ortiz got doubled off first after Brett Gardner caught a ball at the wall), carrying the ball into the fifth. Joe Girardi indicated before the game that the starter would be limited to 75 pitches, but Moseley was left in well beyond that and it cost them.

Sticking with the theme of the month/season/decade/millennium, Moseley retired the first two men in that fifth inning before running into trouble and walking Eric Patterson on four pitches. He started Jed Lowrie off with two straight balls before dropping a curve in for a strike, but he wouldn’t fool him twice. Lowrie dropped the bat on Moseley’s 93rd pitch, sending it over the rightfield fence for Boston’s second two-run homer of the game. It broke a two-all tie, and gave the Sox a lead they would never surrender.

Punchless (Sorta)

Swish touched them all. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Well, that’s not an accuracy way to describe the Yankee offense, thought it was rather underwhelming today. They recovered from that two-zip hole thanks to a Nick Swisher solo homer and Alex Rodriguez singling in Mark Teixeira after a two-base error by Drew. They didn’t muster another threat until the eighth inning, when Jonathan Papelbon and the rest of his lolpen pals were on the mound for Boston.

Gardner doubled to lead off that eighth inning, then came around to score three batters later on a Robbie Cano single. Nick Swisher drew a walk to load the bases, but Jorge Posada couldn’t capitalize and grounded out to end the inning. Marcus Thames and Curtis Granderson then made two quick outs in the ninth before Patterson extended the game and the season when he botched a routine grounder and let Gardner reach. Derek Jeter singled him in after a defensive indifference, and before you knew it it was first and third with two outs and A-Rod at the plate with the tying run on deck. Alas it was not meant to be, because Alex grounded out to third after a hard fought at-bat to end the rally, the threat, and the season.

Just two men reached base from the fourth through eighth innings, and the attack came primarily from the top of the order. Posada, Thames, and Ramiro Pena combined to reach base just twice from the 7-8-9 spots, and Tex also went hitless from his customary three-hole. Gardner and Jeter each had two hits atop the lineup, then A-Rod, Cano, and Swisher chipped in a run scoring hit each. But otherwise that’s really it, they didn’t work John Lackey all that much (118 pitches in 7.2 innings), though they did pick up three hits in seven at-bats with men in scoring position. It certainly didn’t help that home plate ump Brian Runge had one of those “it’s the last game of the season let’s get out of here” strike zones.

Leftovers

(AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Aside form Royce Ring, who threw one pitch and allowed Ortiz to reach on a bunt hit, Girardi went to his A-relievers. David Robertson, pitching for the fifth time in eight days after dealing with back spasms, allowed three of the four men he faced to reach (one hit, two walks, one strikeout), but got bailed out Boone Logan who retired the only two men he faced. Joba Chamberlain struck out the side after allowing a solo homer to Lowrie, and then Sergio Mitre chipped in a perfect frame.

It seemed like a curious move to go with the top relievers, though the game was still very close when Ring entered and Tampa was losing at the time. However, it would have been nice to give the guys, especially D-Rob, a little blow before the ALDS. Plus I really wanted to see Andrew Brackman. Good thing they’re off Monday and Tuesday.

The season ended just like it started, with a loss in Fenway Park. The difference is that the Red Sox have no games left to play while the Yanks move on. Their ALDS matchup with Minnesota starts on Wednesday.

WPA Graph & Box Score

Yeah, wasn’t all that close. Here’s the box score, here’s the other stuff. Bring on the Twins.

2011 Draft: Yankees picking 31st overall

Now that the regular season is over for all teams, we know with certainty that the Yankees’ first round pick next season will be #31 overall. They finished with the third best record in baseball, but there are some compensation picks early in the draft that push them back a few spots. Depending on how active the free agent market is for Type-A’s, the Yanks second rounder is likely to fall the 80’s somewhere. Of course, they’re very likely to surrender their first rounder to sign one such free agent, so don’t get too attached to that 31st overall pick.

ALDS first-pitch times announced

With the Wild Card firmly in hand, the Yankees will again play the Twins in the American League Division Series. While last year’s match-up gave the Yanks home field, this year, the Twins will host the first two games in Target Field. Those games will be on Wednesday, October 6 and Thursday, October 7 and will start at 8:37 p.m. and 6:07 p.m. respectively. The action moves to Yankee Stadium for Game 3 on Saturday, and that game will start at 8:37 p.m. as well. First-pitch times for Game 4 at Yankee Stadium and Game 5 at Target Field will be announced if the series goes that long. All of the ALDS games will be on TBS, and for the full slate, check out MLB.com’s postseason schedule.

Open Thread: Bring on the Twins

Well played Mauer. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

The Yankees closed out their season this afternoon just like they started it: with a loss to the Red Sox in Fenway. The Yanks finished the year with a 95-67 record, not to mention a +162 run differential that is the best in baseball. What was their run differential last season, Mike? Well, I’ll tell you. That would be … wait for it … +162. Funny how that worked out.

The playoffs officially start on Wednesday with the Yankees in Minneapolis to take on the Twins, the same Twins they swept in the ALDS last season. This time around they’ll be in Target Field and not the Metrodome, so we don’t have to worry about balls skipping through the infield on the turf or getting lost in the roof, just a little cold weather. Until then, it’s two days to rest, to game plan, to sort out the roster, and to relax. These guys run around from city to city for eight-plus months of the year, a little time with he family is surely welcome.

Anyway, here’s your open thread for the evening. The football Giants are at home taking on the undefeated Bears this evening (8:20pm ET, NBC), and that’s pretty much it. Baseball’s over. Always a sad day when the season ends. Oh well, at least there’s baseball playoff in the Yanks’ future. You know what to do with the thread, so enjoy.

Oh, and just because he deserves to be called out, you were wrong Bret. Oh so wrong.

Yankees sign Japanese lefty Naoya Okamoto

Via the great NPB Tracker, the Yankees have signed Japanese southpaw Naoya Okamoto to a minor league contract. The 27-year-old started his career by pitching sparingly for the Yokohama Bay Stars, but spent 2010 in the Mexican League. His overall numbers on the season are underwhelming (17.2 IP, 12 H, 9 R, 7 ER, 11 BB, 12 K, 2 HR), though he did hold lefthanded batters to a cool .000 batting average (yes, super small sample).

The Yanks have a strong presence in Mexico and have enjoyed a ton of success there recently (Al Aceves, Manny Banuelos), so I’m certain they see something here. If nothing else, Okamoto is just another piece of minor league inventory, a depth move, but at best he’s a future option as a lefty specialist. And, you know, if the Yanks manage to acquire Yu Darvish this winter, Okamoto can be his friend (/Michael Kay latent racism’d).

One less competitor for Cliff Lee

Via MLBTR, the Tigers will not pursue Cliff Lee or another high-end starting pitcher this winter. Obviously, one less suitor for Lee is good news for the Yankees.

The Tigers have a ton of money coming off the books after this season, just an absurd amount. My quick math has it at $78.975M before buyouts and arbitration raises, but still, that’s a ton. Of course they also have a lot of holes to fill, so they probably think they’re better off spreading the money around rather than unloading a third of it on one starter. Either way, sucks for them, yay for the Yanks.