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Bumbling Scioscia can't blow Game 5

Oct 23, 2009, 12:06 AM EST

The ALCS victory was theirs for the taking even after an awful first inning, but the Yankees couldn’t reach out and grab it. Instead, the series will head back to New York for a Game 6 on Saturday. The end result came in spite of the efforts of one Mike Scioscia, the AL’s likely Manager of the Year for 2009.
Let’s run down the mistakes:
- He sat down his hottest hitter, Howie Kendrick, to go to Maicer Izturis, just as he had done during the regular season. Izturis did make one notable defensive play, snaring a grounder that had deflected off Kendry Morales’ glove, but he went 0-for-4 while batting sixth in the lineup. Kendrick is 4-for-11 with a homer and a triple in the series.
- In the seventh, he made the bizarre choice to let John Lackey face Johnny Damon with the bases loaded, only to pull him in favor of Darren Oliver once Damon was retired. Removing Lackey prior to Damon’s at-bat would have been defensible. Letting Lackey face Teixeira after retiring Damon would have been defensible. Instead, Scioscia went the one route that made no sense at all. It’s not like he even had history on his side, as Teixeira went 2-for-3 with a walk lifetime against Oliver. Teixeira delivered a three-run double, and Oliver never got an out in what ended up being a six-run inning.
- Scioscia twice played small-ball in bad situations. In the seventh, he had Chone Figgins put down a sacrifice with two on and none out, even though Figgins has grounded into a double play once every 91 plate appearances in his career. The Angels went on to score three times in the inning, and perhaps they would have broken the game open if not for giving up an out. In the eighth, the red-hot Jeff Mathis was asked to bunt against Joba Chamberlain with a man on second and two outs. He failed to get it down in two attempts and ended up striking out.
- Scioscia actually made a great call in the eighth, turning to probably Game 7 starter Jered Weaver in reliever. Weaver was dominant in retiring Melky Cabrera, Jorge Posada and Derek Jeter on two strikeouts and a comebacker. Scioscia, though, couldn’t resist going to closer Brian Fuentes in the ninth. In the end, it worked out. Fuentes loaded the bases on two walks — one intentional — and a HBP, but he got out of it by retiring the ice-cold Nick Swisher to end the game.
So, now we’ll see a Game 6. Joe Saunders vs. Andy Pettitte. It means both teams will resume using their best lineups, with Jorge Posada catching for New York and Kendrick playing second for the Angels. The only thing in doubt is whether Mathis or Mike Napoli will catch. Napoli caught Saunders in Game 2, but Mathis is too hot to be benched now.

  1. WallaceN - Oct 23, 2009 at 12:38 AM

    RedSox fan – you’re right about “Bumbling Scioscia”. Always thought over the years he was on of the best but watching him in this NY series is painful. Between the umpires (nice call at 1st tonight on Teixeira(?) and Scioscia it’s distressing to say the least). Easily safe at 1st. Almost getting used to these umps. My sons disagrees with me but in the 8th can Figgins try a delayed squeeze. He’s not gonna hit it deep enough for a sacrifice fly. It fact he can barely hit it at all in this series. There’s no force at home so why not try it. And making Mathis bunt was stupid. The guys smacking the ball. On fire. He’s the one you trust, not Figgins. But they won. Bats and confidence coming back but Scioscia has to get it right or they’re done. Yanks are not world-beaters. Have mostly looked underwhelming, especially against the Twins. They have upper hand but could easily go into a funk.

  2. John - Oct 23, 2009 at 12:54 AM

    It matters not that Scioscia mismanaged this game for the “W” is all that counts. As for NY the chinks in the armor have been exposed and with this loss doubt has begun to creep in as memories of 2004 are not that far out of the minds of Yankee players, whether they were on the roster back then or not for everyone knows about the historical collapse of that team. Saturday Pettite takes the mound and he is far too old to count on shutting down a revived Angels line-up and the Yankee bullpen once again proved they aren’t as good as everyone says. Which brings us to game seven where Sabathia will HAVE to come through for a third time and that will asking too much of him as anyhting can happen when it comes down to one game. Angels in seven!!! MARK MY WORDS!!!

  3. cannuck - Oct 23, 2009 at 12:58 AM

    Heading should read Bumbling Girardi…OMG someone should kick this guy in the nuts and wake him up….we are not playing the twins….burnett is a mental midget, just a matter of time he and posada would not mesh, and it had to happen in the seventh…why was robertson not up, why was hughes not brought in right away, why? why? why?

  4. dondo - Oct 23, 2009 at 1:39 AM

    You forgot to mention that he has one of his best hitters, Aybar, batting 9th. He should be benching Rivera because Rivera always takes the first pitch which is right down the middle and then starts swinging at pitches out of the strike zone (tonight was an aberration when he got a hit which shows if your manager is dumb enough to leave you in, you will occasionally hit something)

  5. John - Oct 23, 2009 at 1:44 AM

    One thing I found quite amusing today, and even moreso after tonight’s game, was the fact that no matter where you turned all of the so-called experts already had the Yankees and Phillies in the WS. On all of the ESPN talk shows nobody even bothered to mention the fact that even though they’re down 3-1 LA just might comeback to win the ALCS and instead were comparing how the Phillies offense and pitching would stack up against NY’s offense when the WS starts next Wednesday. Now all of a sudden all of those same “experts” can’t say enough how good the Angels hitters look coupled with just how bad the Yankee pitching looks.
    The choking has begun!!! ;-)
    ANGELS IN SEVEN!!! MARK MY WORDS!!!

  6. carol - Oct 23, 2009 at 2:13 AM

    SCIOSCIA SHOULD HAVE LET LACKEY FINISH HIS GAME. ONCE SCIOSCIA TOOK LACKEY OUT OF THE GAME IT LOOKED LIKE WE WERE DONE AND BURIED. I SOMETIMES WOULD LIKE TO TAKE THE MANAGERS AND SHOVE THEM ASIDE AND LET SOME OF THE PLAYERS SHOW THEIR TALENT.

  7. truenyyankee - Oct 23, 2009 at 2:26 AM

    The game came apart for the Yanks once Burnett walked Aybar. It had nothing to do with Posada. The Bullpen just coughed it up. I’d say the biggest goat of the game is Swisher. I said he should have been benched games ago. He’s moving his body like he has turrets at the plate. Gardner should have been playing. He couldn’t have done worse. Fuentes is awful and I’m not just talking about his face. Pettitte may not have the best stuff by far, but his postseason experience outways every starter in the playoffs combined. He’s up to the challenge. Yankees down the Angels on Saturday. Big games from Pettitte, Teixeira, and Arod.

  8. John - Oct 23, 2009 at 2:34 AM

    Postseason experience? Does that include being a part of the biggest choke in the history of baseball? Yes it does and both Pettite and A-Rod were in on it. Those are the two players we’ll see on Saturday as they have the entire flight to stew on this loss as well as all day tomorrow with reporters reminding them of ’04 everytime they turn around. ANGELS IN SEVEN!!! MARK MY WORDS!!!

  9. Michael - Oct 23, 2009 at 2:44 AM

    I like how everyone thinks they can manage a team. It’s not enough to be able to juggle personnel and make game day decisions and game time decisions, there are aspects of team management that help to create the situations you eventually see on the field and camaraderie and trust among players and coaches.
    Scioscia mis-managing the team? BS. Writers will say that for shock value. Bumbling idiots don’t lead teams into the playoffs. Otherwise, we’d definitely see Manna Acta’s face on TV right about now.
    On a side note: Scioscia taking out Lackey when he did was the right decision – Lackey was clearly throwing strikes that the ump was calling balls, and that was just making Lackey more infuriated. Scioscia knew that he had to bring in a reliever to give the umps a blank slate for the umps to work with; those umps would be less inclined to favor Lackey the more pissed off he became at them. Umps hate being shown up by players. Lackey badmouthed the umps during the post-game interview. Yep, still ticked even then.

  10. Jim - Oct 23, 2009 at 3:38 AM

    The way to beat Pettit is to keep the lead at first small enough that there is no need to throw over. That keeps the batter focused on the at bat instead of wondering if there will be a pitch or a pickoff attempt. They can beat Pettit if they don’t let themselves get caught watching the game while they’re supposed to be hitting. There is a rythum to hitting.

  11. Steve P. - Oct 23, 2009 at 5:56 AM

    Michael,
    Great analysis of Scioscia and Lackey. Y
    Ya oughta be on ESPN. But then they’re not interested in intelligence, just motormouthing. It’s amazing what these guys can-Not say in 30 minutes.

  12. MARK MY WORDS - Oct 23, 2009 at 7:00 AM

    The Yanks have too much, just like the Civil War. The Angels are in for a HUGE beat down – MARK MY WORDS!!! The Phillies are too much for the Dodgers. Manny is nothing without his “lil helper” to shoot up his veins. Dodgers lose – MARK MY WORDS!! The only problem with the Yanks is Girardi – he was an idiot player and is continuing that history as a manager. He will not be with the team in two years – MARK MY WORDS!! It might only take one – MARK MY WORDS!!!! The Angels suck because they really have nothing to offer. Pitching? Hitting? Give me a friggin break, they have nothing. They appear pretty good when EVERYONE actually plays 100%. That is once in a blue moon because they are all emotional trauma cases. Angels will lose – MARK MY WORDS!!!!!!!! Yanks will win – MARK MY WORDS!!!! The Sun will rise in the morning – MARK MY WORDS!!!! The moon orbits the earth – MARK MY WORDS!!!! Water seeks its own level – MARK MY WORDS!!!!!! The Cubs will never win the NLCS, much less the WS – MARK MY WORDS!!!!!!!

  13. art - Oct 23, 2009 at 7:13 AM

    think yanks should have hinski on world series roster?????

  14. chris - Oct 23, 2009 at 8:41 AM

    ummm MarkMyWords……..the Dodgers have already lost. I think you forgot your meds this morning…mark my words!

  15. Joey B - Oct 23, 2009 at 8:54 AM

    I’m not a fan of the bunt, but these are two tough situations to criticize Scioscia for.
    Figgins is hitting .065, and followed by three superior hitters.
    As hot as Mathis is, Aybar is also hitting pretty well. Mathis has also been carrying a K-rate of about 1:3 ABs for the past couple of years, with a lifetime .200 average.

  16. RickyB - Oct 23, 2009 at 8:54 AM

    Uh, John, check your facts before spouting off. Pettitte was with Houston in 2004. Last night was one game. Settle down.

  17. dcfan - Oct 23, 2009 at 9:03 AM

    Interesting how no one noted all the errors in this blog, which you all like to do. Mathis was trying to bunt with 1 out, not 2 of course. And Fuentes actually walked 3 to load the bases, 1 intentional, 1 non intentional, and 1 HBP. And decisions like this get managers fired. Just ask Jimmy Williams for his decision to keep Pedro Martinez in the game in game 7 of the ALCS in 2003 against the Yankees with a fresh bullpen warmed up and ready and Pedro at over 100 pitches.

  18. Purnell Meagre - Oct 23, 2009 at 9:37 AM

    How ridiculous! Scioscia is a brilliant manager – two games before Jepsen was pitching and through no fault of his own put a couple of guys on. Scioscia came out talked to him – left him in – when any other manager would’ve yanked him – and the guy got out of it no problem.

  19. jonny5 - Oct 23, 2009 at 9:38 AM

    Mike, I totally agree with you. All these “armchair managers” crack me up. If you know so much, why the hell are you at home getting fat in your lazy boy recliner???? Seriously Baseball is half skill, a quarter knowledge, and a quarter luck. It’s a very tough game to manage. And you’ll always be second guessed by folks that should just keep their mouths shut!!! Because they couldn’t manage a little league game!!!!! :>)~ end rant.

  20. aceshigh - Oct 23, 2009 at 9:41 AM

    I believe Grady Little was the Red Sox manager who got canned for leaving Pedro in too long.
    Didn’t watch the game last night…just checked the play-by-play online. Seems Fuentes is determined to melt down no matter the situation. That is NOT what a good closer does. Hard to believe he got as many saves as he did this year.
    At any rate, the Yankees lost, and that’s good news…however, I’m sure they will come back gangbusters Saturday and put the Angels away. LAA is a great team, but this the Yankees’ year, as much as it pains me to say it.

  21. dcfan-1212450 - Oct 23, 2009 at 9:46 AM

    Yes, your right. It was Grady Little.

  22. Billie Bob - Oct 23, 2009 at 9:47 AM

    Mike just needs to remember the baseball credo, “the only good yankee is a dead yankee”. I would start anybody in his bullpen that can throw 95 plus and place one in Aroids ear. The quarter billion dollar man would turn to jelly. Good luck anybody facing the Fankees.

  23. NYC777 - Oct 23, 2009 at 9:54 AM

    Well if game 6 is rained out tomorrow night and rescheduled for Sunday then Girardi had better pitch CC on Sunday and if the Yanks win then have Pettite pitch on Wednesday vs Philly and Sabathia pitch on Thursday in game 2.
    Let’s pray for a whole lot of rain tomorrow night.

  24. aceshigh - Oct 23, 2009 at 9:56 AM

    “the only good yankee is a dead yankee”
    Wow, and I thought my contempt for the Yankees was unparalleled. Heh.

  25. Jeff P. - Oct 23, 2009 at 10:02 AM

    Can’t anybody here report the facts? The Mathis bunt attempt was with NO OUTS, not two, and not one. Which made it even more idiotic. You pinch run a fast guy and then give up an out with a guy at the plate that has SIX straight hits? I generally like Scioscia, but he crapped the bed at least five times in the last three innings. Make one mistake against the Yanks, whether it’s throwing a ball away or throwing an inning away, and 9 out of 10 times they will stomp you to death. The Halos got VERY lucky.

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