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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Redemption Song (Verse II)

I'm not thrilled with the outcome, but it would be hard to be disappointed with last night's game. Both the Yankees and the Angels demonstrated the confidence and tenacity of champions. One couldn't help but feel that, although it was just the second game of the series, there was a whole season riding on the outcome. Of course, the Angels path isn't insurmountable even now, but that fickle mistress, Momentum, is unmistakably partial to wins like these.

When Chone Figgins came up with a man in scoring position in the 11th inning, it seemed almost inevitable, fated that he would break his 0-for-18 drought. But, of course, when A-Rod stepped to the plate in the bottom of the inning, Destiny again reared its ugly head.

One has to wonder: what was Fuentes thinking? The count was 0-2. He had just located a pair of fastballs which seemed to catch A-Rod a little off his guard. Now the closer had at least three opportunities to throw his wicked slurve, his so-called "out pitch," which was working quite well, he proved, during the remainder of the inning. He didn't have to throw it for a strike. He could test it out a bit. Keep it down and away. Three chances to get A-Rod to either chase away (something he'd done, conspicuously, in his previous at bats), or drop an unhittable bender on the outside corner at the knees. Something he'd have no choice but to spit on.

And that wasn't the only option. Fuentes could've elevated the fastball, brought it up to eye level, or run it way inside, try to saw him off. If he bloops one into left field for a single, so be it? If he walks him, so what? Then you match up, lefty vs. lefty (or switch-hitter), against the next five hitters in the Yankees lineup.

What the situation defiantly does not call for is a fastball at the letters; one of those that runs towards A-Rod, looking like a kickball on the outside half of the plate. Not many of the Yankees have opposite-field power. Even Texeira looks like pretty much a dead-pull hitter from either side of the plate. But A-Rod, he can definitely reach the short porch. He can reach any porch, anywhere, if you throw him a meatball like that. He didn't even put that great a swing on that ball, with his wet gloves, rain and all. On a clear night, he probably blasts that pitch over the bullpen. Shame on you, Fuentes. Shame on you.

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