- Buster Olney, Senior Writer, ESPN Insider
- 0 Shares
The following is a transcript of Buster Olney's in-game analysis from Yankees-Red Sox Game 2 during SportsNation's The Show, which will be every night for postseason games. Click here for more details.
Couple of things: Count the foul balls against Mussina. Pitch count will be absolutely enormous today, because of the state of both bullpens.. 12 pitches for Pedro in the first inning...
Middle of the first: Unless Pedro dominates -- and that three-pitch whiff of Jeter was quite an opening statement -- the exhausted bullpens are obviously going to be a huge factor. From what I hear, the Red Sox bullpen is in shambles now, 16 hours after Game 4. Embree is on fumes, there was real doubt whether Leskanic could pitch LAST night because his shoulder is hurting, Myers is a mess, Timlin threw 37 pitches, and Foulke was needed for 2 2/3 innings. Francona is apparently fully prepared to used Arroyo in middle relief today. For Torre, Gordon is tired but ready to take the ball, Rivera is available for 3 to 4 outs (although Torre will ask for more, if necessary). Pedro looked great right out of the box, throwing hard, and more importantly, throwing his off-speed stuff for strikes (rung up Sheffield on a curve...)
End of the first inning: As Mussina walked off the mound after striking out Mueller, he turned to Kellogg and said, C'MON! Thirty-four pitches. It was the worst possible kind of inning for the Yankees and Mussina, following Saturday craziness and extra innings last night. Mussina typically will max out at 110 pitches, so he used up almost a third of his pitches in that frame. The Yankees are equipped for long relief, but not necessarily with good quality relief; Gordon has pitched three innings the last two days, Sturtze worked two innings last night, and everybody knows Rivera is taxed. And Torre is not going to easily trust Quantrill. A bad inning and bad situation with the ump, if you are Mussina.
I can't recall Jeff Kellogg, the home plate umpire, having a particularly big or small strike zone in the past, but he's going to have a major impact on this game if Mussina doesn't get strikes on the fringe pitches. That's 19 pitches and counting, and he's only got one out...
Middle of the second: After two innings, 22 pitches for Pedro; he threw 46 pitches in the first two innings in Game 2, and his stuff is clearly better, the command of his breaking stuff and fastball much superior so far. The Yankees swung and missed once in his first 60 pitches in Game 2 -- and they swung and missed twice in his first 18 pitches in this game.
End of the second: Nine pitch inning for Mussina, 43 pitches in all. Another couple of innings like that and he would have his pitch count back in control...
Middle of the third: He was saving something, apparently. Bernie was sitting off-speed there, looking for a breaking ball, and it looked like he started to swing at about the time Varitek was halfway back to the Boston dugout. For those who hate pitch counts, ignore the following: He threw 28 pitches in the inning, and has 50 in the game...
End of the third: Mussina at 57 pitches after three, only 23 the last two innings. He's got the same kind of durability as Pedro -- 100-110 pitches, and then he starts to tire and his breaking stuff loses its sharpness. The bullpens are going to decide this game, again, it appears...
It's a relatively minor change in the Yankees' lineup, but still major -- Clark for Olerud. Clark is awful now, his at-bats are terrible, and even when Olerud wasn't hitting, he'd still put a good at-bat out there. There is no reason to give Ruben Sierra anything to hit with Clark hitting behind him; that wasn't the case with Olerud...
Middle of the fourth: I've got Pedro for 67 pitches, 18 in that inning.
Pedro and Mussina are both smart guys and they know, undoubtedly, that their respective teams need more than the norm from them in this game, because of the state of the bullpens. It'll be interesting to see if they hold back a little with their fastballs to save some energy in the middle innings; maybe that's what both guys are doing, and maybe that's why their velocity (velocities) is down...
The Red Sox are into the Moneyball stuff, feeling that Bellhorn's walks and his high pitch counts and his occasional power offset the downside of his strikeouts and defensive deficiencies (although the Boston writers, who see Bellhorn every day, say that Bellhorn is adequate, not bad). Reese has a terrible on-base percentage, short at-bats; he can run when he gets on base and he's obviously much better defensively...
End of the fourth: Mussina is at 71 pitches now, 37 in the last three innings... Damon still hasn't adjusted to the fact that the Yankees are throwing off-speed stuff down and in. He and Varitek have had the exact same problem in their recent at-bats...
Middle of the fifth: Wow -- Pedro arrived officially with that pitch to Matsui. I've been wondering for his first 10 innings of this series when he was going to bust somebody up and in. Must say, though, Matsui looked completely unfazed. ... One thing, though -- Mussina is not a retaliation guy; can only remember one instance in which he threw inside at somebody purposefully. He doesn't like doing it, and the one time he did do it, he became very distracted and unraveled. I can't imagine he'll answer. ... Somebody else might come back and take a shot at a Boston hitter next year; there tends to be carryover with that kind of stuff. Pedro 15 pitches in the inning, 82 overall.
Boy, that looked ugly with Posada. I might think about looking to run, if I'm Cabrera, at some point in this inning, depending on the ball-strike count. 1-2 to Manny and I would run.
Middle of the sixth: Pedro's got 109 pitches and he's done for the night, for sure. ... So now you are Francona, and you have choices. Seems pretty clear there that he's going to call for Timlin to throw the seventh inning, based on who was just throwing in the 'pen. This is not the night to warm up people for no reason.
I can't believe they're thinking about sending Pedro out there for the seventh, but I guess they are. Meanwhile, with the count full and Nixon at the plate, Mussina's about to throw his 90th pitch.
Rivera's available tonight for 3-4 outs, according to Torre, but Joe might extend him to 5 outs if he has a two-run lead.
End of the sixth: I've got Mussina for 103 pitches, which means he's got only a little bit left in the tank. Incredible recovery by Mussina, after that rough first inning; 69 pitches in the last five innings, great command. I suspect that the Yankees will have their bullpen going if anybody reaches in the seventh inning; Gordon will get the first call, I'm sure. ... We're headed into some gray area with both teams, both bullpens.
Middle of the seventh: I don't know what's going to happen the rest of the way, but Timlin should get some credit for that inning. He had pure garbage, and held the Yankees at 4-2.
End of the seventh: So you are Torre and you need six outs to clinch the series, with a two-run lead. My guess is that he will send Gordon out there for the bottom of the eighth for at least one out. Once there are five outs to go, I think he'll give Gordon a one-baserunner leash; as soon as somebody reaches after there is one out, he'll call for Rivera. But the Red Sox have to worry about the top of the eighth now -- Timlin, having sat for a long time in the dugout, now coming out against Cairo, Jeter, A-Rod, etc.
Middle of the eighth: Again, Timlin deserves big credit; what a gutty outing, and supposedly he was pretty sore this afternoon. Impressive ... Coming inside on A-Rod and Sheffield.
Foulke did a good job against Matsui last night with his changeup, keeping him way out in front. You wonder if Matsui will be more attuned to the change tonight, and try to shoot it the other way and dump it in front of Manny.
The Yankees have been giving Ortiz problems throwing him breaking balls, but Gordon might be a bit weary and he's been sitting and the worst thing for him to do is walk Ortiz; you figure Gordon will be coming after Ortiz with fastballs. If he hits a home run, you still have a one-run lead.
OK, now Torre has a serious decision. When will he get Rivera? He needs an out or two from Gordon, desperately ... Millar's going to be sitting on a fastball right here ... Gordon can't walk him ... Gordon's not sure what he wants to do. If he's got big Cajones, he'd throw his curve ... Now Torre has to take a chance; he's got to go for the jugular right here, with six outs to go ... He can't leave Gordon out there.
What a bind for Torre: First and third, nobody out, Gordon dying out there, six outs to go -- and he's going to Rivera ... Incredible. Wow. First pitch from Rivera might be a clue: 92 mph, high and away on a pitch he tried to bury on Varitek. Now 2-0. ... When was the last time Rivera blew back to back saves on back to back days? I'd be willing to bet: Never. ... From 1996-2003, the Yankees' bullpen had four blown saves in 99 games in the postseason. They've got three blown saves in this postseason.
End of the eighth: Foulke is tired. Rivera is exhausted. The freshest relievers available are guys who either have pitched badly in this series (Arroyo) or guys who have not pitched at all (Loaiza). What a game.
Middle of the ninth: The stakes keep increasing for the Yankees. Win here and everything's fine, they get four days off and play the NL. But if they lose -- they'll have to play Game 6 tomorrow night with Rivera, Gordon, Sturtze all having worked like crazy, the momentum at least beginning to shift. It's getting really interesting ... Cairo is not someone Foulke wants to see now. He has trouble against hard throwers ... Soft throwers, he's much better.
So consider the logic of using Schilling now. You're not sure how much he's going to give you in a Game 6 start, how long he's going to last. And, with Jeter, A-Rod and Sheffield due to bat, he would be Boston's best chance to get through the 10th, if the game is still going. You could start Wakefield in Game 6 (or Arroyo), all hands on deck. Biggest thing in Francona's mind right now: Get through the 10th (if you don't score in the 9th). It makes sense.
Arroyo is in for the Sox (as you see), and I'm figuring that Quantrill is next for the Yankees; it's either him or Loaiza. Felix Heredia, warming up... I'm sure Steinbrenner is feeling very secure with that sight -- let alone the other Yankees ... Three straight lefties coming up, but I'm stunned that Joe would give Heredia this situation.
Two days ago, A-Rod couldn't miss. But now he's getting back into that big, long swing again, like he's fatigued from playing the last two days ... For him to miss that pitch.
The fans in Fenway are chanting to Sheffield, "WHO'S YOUR DEALER?" ... Heredia is coming in. And Ortiz is going to be looking for a fastball early in the count, undoubtedly ... Mientkiewicz is getting a better and better swing, and he's looking at the Pesky pole ... You've got to think, after watching A-Rod's swing and Sheffield's pursuit of that fly ball that the position players must be getting as tired as the relievers right now.
I second Joe Buck's opinion: How can you possibly bring Myers into this game, recalling how pathetic he was last night with that four-pitch joke ... Arroyo looked fine. And man, if he can go, you've got to get as much out of everybody as you can. ... Tip of the cap to Myers: nice job. Only one batter for Myers, but at least he gets the job done tonight.
Before the game, sometime told me that Embree was tired yesterday, and there was some question about whether he could get loose to pitch in Game 4. And now he's pitching in Game 5. Foulke, Rivera, Timlin, even Heredia, Embree showing some cajones here ... The Yankees' hitters are starting to get into the END IT NOW swings, looking to hit a bomb rather than just having quality at-bats ... Bill Mueller is a clutch player -- personally, my favorite Sox player to watch.
Quantrill injured his knee on opening day, for those who don't follow the Yankees, slamming into A-Rod. He's been playing with it hurt all year, and it's gotten worse and worse. ... Maybe Loaiza will do great. I doubt it. I think the game ends here; he looked scared to death or disinterested at the end of the season, depending on the situation. ... What a DP turn by Cairo, nice job by Jeter, nice scoop. What a killer. Loaiza lives to pitch another inning.
Part of the reason why it's stupid for teams like Oakland and Boston to never bunt during the regular season is that eventually, as good teams, they will be in close games in the postseason, and they will ask their players to bunt and manufacture a run. It's a joke that Bellhorn and Damon couldn't get a bunt down.
Amazing that Kapler was that shallow. The Red Sox positioning on defense is the most aggressive of any team outside of Atlanta, with players taking chances (except Manny, of course).
It's Loaiza until his arm falls off... Maybe El Duque, if we got into the 18th or something. ... One thing about Sheffield that surprised me this year is that he didn't run that much; I thought he was more aggressive. Maybe he had some nagging leg stuff and didn't feel great, or didn't want to slide because of the shoulder.
This game is ridiculously absurd. If the Red Sox don't score here -- Varitek bats in this inning -- then Mirabelli should come out and catch the top of the 14th. Varitek has to be wasted physically, and the knuckler is so good you need Mirabelli.
Wow, Varitek still in there. ... Let's list all of the pitchers who have been pretty damn clutch: Timlin, Foulke, Rivera (even though he got charged with a blown save, 2 innings), Myers, Embree, Quantrill, Heredia, Loaiza ... Amazing stuff.
In theory, the matchup between Damon and Loaiza should be perfect for the Yankees -- Loaiza will pound him with cutters down and in, where Damon has that big hole in his swing. Maybe it's a reverse lock situation. ... I think if Damon had thoughts of running, he might not because he's got to be exhausted. They all have to be drop-dead tired by now. ... They just announced this is the longest game in postseason history.
Boy, you can tell Ortiz is getting tired during this at-bat ... His swing gets a little longer and longer ... I bet he would've crushed that last pitch in the first nine innings.
Wow. What a game; my hands hurt from all the typing. And now the pressure is really shifting onto the Yankees in this series. Jon Lieber is fully rested and there are no limitations, as there might be with Schilling, but I'm sure the Red Sox aren't complaining. And Lieber must go very deep, with Gordon and Rivera wasted physically. I would imagine that Arroyo will follow Schilling, Wakefield available thereafter, maybe Lowe, before the short relievers. Folks, thanks a lot, enjoyed it very much. Headed back to New York.
Buster Olney is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. His book, "The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty," is a New York Times best seller and can be ordered through HarperCollins.com.