Lee's dominance puts Yankees in early hole

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The winner of Game 1 has prevailed in each of the last six World Series
It’s a streak that started when the Marlins upset the Yankees in six games in 2003. But the truth is that none of the series since have been close. In fact, three were sweeps and the other two ended in five games.
We still figure to see a better battle this time around, but anyone who expected the Yankees to steamroll their opponent from the weaker league got a nasty surprise when Cliff Lee completely shut the team down. It was nearly the first time the Yankees had been shut out in 41 World Series Game 1s.
On the other hand, at least they avoided being shut out back-to-back series games, having been blanked by Josh Beckett to close out the 2003 series.
Besides Lee, Chase Utley was the story. The game’s best second baseman homered twice to join Babe Ruth as the only left-handed hitters to homer twice off a left-handed pitcher in the same World Series game. He also reached base in a 26th straight postseason game, breaking Boog Powell’s record.
It was an extremely well played game until the eighth. CC Sabathia was wild in the first, but he pitched out of trouble and he went on to have a fine outing, spoiled only by Utley. Utley’s solo homers, two of the four hits allowed by CC, both came on two-strike fastballs that caught way too much of the plate.
What has to concern Yankees fans is that neither Phil Hughes nor David Robertson could help keep a 2-0 game close in the eighth. Hughes walked both batters he faced, though a couple of arguable calls went against him in the second at-bat. Robertson retired just one of three hitters. As mediocre as Joba Chamberlain has looked, the Yankees need Hughes and Robertson to serve as the bridge to Mariano Rivera. There are serious questions whether either can get the job done.
The offense was simply overmatched by an ace pitching at the absolute top level of his ability. Lee might have had the first World Series shutout since Beckett in 2003 if not for another postseason miscue from the Utley-Jimmy Rollins double play combination in the ninth. He struck out 10 and walked none. The run was unearned, so he now has a 0.54 ERA in four postseason starts.
Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez combined to go 0-for-8 with five strikeouts against him.
Game 2 now seems to be pretty close to a must-win for the Yankees, who just might have to face Lee twice more. Pedro Martinez and A.J. Burnett are set to take the mound.

Dustin Pedroia leaves game with a sprained left wrist

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Bad news for the Red Sox today. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia was involved in a collision at first base with Jose Abreu of the White Sox. Pedroia stayed in the game at the time but was replaced by Josh Rutledge in the second.

The injury: sprained left wrist. Which, no, is not good, but there was some initial concern that he may have aggravated the knee which has been bothering him of late. They’ll no doubt provide an update after the game. As of now, the Sox lead the Sox 1-0 in the bottom of the third.

 

Brad Ausmus is not a fan of the Tigers’ schedule

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Everyone in baseball has a tough schedule. The season is a grind. Some teams, however, due to weather and happenstance, have stretches which are a tougher grind than others. The Tigers are in one of those right now.

Detroit played the Astros on Thursday night, and lost in a three-hour and thirty minute contest. It was a getaway day, er, night, and they didn’t get to Chicago to face the White Sox until the wee wee hours of the morning on Friday. Waiting for them: a double header which was to start at 4pm. The first game of it was rained out, though, so they woke up after a short “night’s sleep for nothing. Then the nightcap was delayed over an hour, giving them another late bedtime. On Saturday it was another double header, so it was another early wakeup and another long day at the park. And, of course, another day game on Sunday, before a flight to Kansas City.

This stretch has made Brad Ausmus grumpy. Here he was after Friday night’s late finish:

“Give some credit to the White Sox pitchers, give some credit to the schedule we have. We’ll try to get about 5 hours of sleep and come back tomorrow and play two more.”

He was particularly miffed at the scheduling of two doubleheaders in a row:

“You can’t control the weather but I think it would have been prudent to play the second game tomorrow in August,” he said. “That would have made a lot more sense to me.”

Ausmus did note, however, that it’s not the White Sox’ job to make a schedule that is convenient for their division rivals.

You can look at this in a few different ways. One one level, Ausmus is understandably upset about a particularly arduous stretch of games. On another level he’s probably trying to protect his players, who have looked flat, by changing the subject from their play to the schedule. On a different level, you could say that he’s making excuses for a team that is underachieving. And, of course, those three things are not mutually exclusive.

The thing is, though, that the Tigers have lost seven of ten, are five out of first place, four games under .500 and could conceivably leave their series with the Royals this week in dead last in the Central. Ultimately, extenuating circumstances like the weather and an unfortunate schedule don’t save a manager whose talented and highly-paid team struggles like the Tigers have. If they don’t turn it around soon, Ausmus could be hitting the bricks and the Tigers could be fixing to sell off and rebuild.