Joe Girardi confirmed that Johnny
Damon will start in left field for Game 3. While he didn’t make it
official, this all but guarantees that Hideki Matsui will be sitting on the bench to start Saturday’s game in Philadelphia.
While Nick Swisher and Damon have
batted a combined .176 with two home runs and six RBI during the
postseason, Matsui has been one of the club’s most reliable
contributors, batting .278/.422/.472 out of the No. 5 hole, including a
go-ahead solo home run against Pedro Martinez in Game 2. However, his
surgically-repaired knees will have him relegated to the bench.
“We’ll use him in a role to pinch hit when we feel that he can be most
valuable to us,” Girardi said. “It might be a situation where you might
think about a double switch, but you don’t want to lose his bat.”
Matsui hasn’t played a single game in the field all season, and when asked if he would be capable of doing so, his answer wasn’t very encouraging.
“I can’t tell you what my confidence level would be,” he said
through interpreter Roger Kahlon. “My knees are pretty calmed down
right now, in that sense I feel pretty good.”
“I haven’t been in the outfield in more than a year. I have to see how I feel once I get out there.”
Girardi is surely hoping that the Yanks can chase Cole Hamels early and he won’t even have to worry about using Godzilla.
The magic number to clinch a wild card spot is still 1, but the Mets have at least secured a wild card tie after defeating the Phillies 5-1 on Friday night.
Jay Bruce powered the offensive drive, going 3-for-4 with a pair of RBI singles and his 33rd home run of the season, ripped from an Alec Asher fastball in the seventh inning. On the mound, right-hander Robert Gsellman limited the Phillies to seven hits and one run over six frames, striking out seven batters in his eighth appearance of the year. Behind him, a cadre of Mets relievers turned out three scoreless innings to preserve the lead and anchor the Mets in the wild card standings.
The Cardinals aren’t out of the race quite yet, and can still force a tiebreaker with the Mets if they manage to win the remainder of their games this weekend and the Mets lose the rest of theirs. Any other scenario will ensure the Mets’ exclusive rights to a wild card spot next week. While a wild card clinch is unlikely to happen tonight, with St. Louis leading Pittsburgh 7-0 through 7.5 innings and just entering a rain delay, it remains a distinct possibility over these next two days.
In a season that boasts the likes of Max Scherzer (he of the 20-strikeout masterpiece) and Clayton Kershaw (he of nine separate games with at least 10 strikeouts), there hasn’t been anyone who’s done exactly what Carlos Rodon did this week.
During Friday’s series opener against the Twins, Rodon retired seven consecutive batters via strikeout. His streak — and the beginnings of a perfect game, if you can call it that after just 2 ⅓ frames — ended on a Logan Schafer double that found right field well before Rodon managed to put up two strikes. With seven consecutive strikeouts, Rodon became the first American League pitcher to strike out seven batters to start a game since right-hander Joe Cowley did it for the Sox back in 1986. Had Schafer whiffed on a couple more fastballs, Rodon would have tied Mets’ starter Jacob deGrom for most strikeouts to start a game in major league history.
Not only did Rodon manage to quell the first seven batters in Minnesota’s lineup, but he extended his strikeout streak to 10 consecutive batters dating back through his last start against the Cleveland Indians. Per MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger, the last major league pitcher to do so was reliever Eric Gagne, who accomplished the feat for the 2003 Dodgers during his first and only Cy Young Award-winning season.
Any way you slice it, this is an impressive look: