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October 3, 2006

O Captain! My Captain!
by SG

Thanks to Derek Jeter's 5-5 night, the Yankees took the first game of their ALDS with Detroit, 8-4. After neither team could score over the first two innings, Jeter's double after an infield single by Johnny Damon got the Yankee offense going. Bobby Abreu's post-season debut as a Yankee went well, as he proceeded to drive them both in with a double to deep RF. Gary Sheffield followed with a single to CF, and then Jason Giambi lined a HR to RF.

Chien-Ming Wang was pretty solid, but shaky at times. He managed to work around a few leadoff doubles, and was getting the ball up more than he typically does, which led to him giving up a HR to Craig Monroe. With two outs in the seventh, at 93 pitches Joe Torre decided to go to Mike Myers with Curtis Granderson due up. Most of the opinions I've seen about this move was that it was wrong, but I thought it was the right decision. It didn't play out well, but here's the way I saw it.

1) Wang had been scuffling most of the game, and had pitched several high-stress innings.

2) He was up to 93 pitches, and was pitching in his 225th inning of the season, after never topping 160 prior to this season.

3) Any chance the Yankees have of advancing in the postseason are going to require Wang to be available and effective. If they somehow end up down 2-1, you may want to have the chance to bring Wang back on short rest.

4) Mike Myers was brought in to do one thing, and that's get lefties out.

So Wang was pulled to a nice ovation after a quality start, and Myers didn't do what he gets paid to do. The result was sub-optimal, but the decision that went into it was defensible. I'm sure many will disagree with me, and that's your right, but I didn't think it was a bad move at all.

So Wang exited in the seventh with two outs and a 7-3 lead, and Myers gave up the HR to Granderson. Torre went to Scott Proctor, who seemed to be nervous and gave up two hits before getting the final out. The horror show that is Kyle Farnsworth pitched a shaky eighth. Jeter punctuated his night with a deep HR to left center in the bottom of the eighth, and Mariano Rivera did what he has done better than anyone in postseason history in the ninth, and the Yankees take a 1-0 lead in the best of five series.

This game showed me a few things. One, Detroit's not intimidated by the Yankees and this series will not be easy. Two, the Yankee bullpen is a scary thing. Three, the Yankee offense can explode at any time. Four, Gary Sheffield made a really nice stretch on a low throw in the early innings. He doesn't look smooth at first, but he's looking more and more capable.

Let's hope Moose can back Wang up tomorrow against Justin Verlander, and the Yankees can head to Comerica with a 2-0 series lead.