Matsui carries Yankees to World Series victory

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Whether it was the remnants of a weekend cold or simply not having the extra day of rest he’s often been accustomed to, Pedro Martinez showed up Wednesday with far from his best stuff. He still managed to hold his own against eight of the Yankees’ nine hitters in two times through the order. Unfortunately, he had no answer for Hideki Matsui’s hot bat.
Matsui had a two-run homer in the first, a two-run single in third and a two-run double off J.A. Happ in the fifth to drive in six runs as the Yankees won 7-3 and clinched their 27th World Series.
Andy Pettitte, working on three days’ rest, got the win by allowing three runs over 5 2/3 innings in a gutsy performance. He walked five, but he largely stayed out of trouble until Ryan Howard homered in the sixth. Before that, Chase Utley, Howard and Raul Ibanez had been hitless against him for the series.
Martinez lasted only four innings, and he wouldn’t have made it that far if not for some poor at-bats from the bottom of the lineup. There was no way the Phillies could have scratched him before he took the mound, but they must have known from the start that he was going to struggle with his velocity clearly down from where it was in Game 2.
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That’s the story of the game, with a little Mariano Rivera mixed in. The story of the series should be the Phillies’ inability to put together rallies. Both teams had a two-run homer tonight. Both teams had two doubles. Both teams had exactly 10 singles+walks. Yet the Yankees scored seven runs and the Phillies three.
It was typical of the series. The Phillies had the higher OPS, yet they just couldn’t get multiple hits in a row. 10 of their 12 homers were solo shots. The Yankees were much better at hitting with men on base. Mark Teixeira had an awful series, but the rest of the top five was able to carry a bottom four that ended up doing little.
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel never deviated from his plan at any point during the postseason. Cliff Lee didn’t start on three days’ rest during any of the first six months, so he wasn’t going to do it in October. Jayson Werth and Carlos Ruiz were red hot? It didn’t matter. They were going to keep hitting where they had in the regular season.
The Phillies needed to look for an edge or two in order to beat what was a superior Yankee team, but they just employed the same strategies that worked for them all year long. While it’s not the only reason they lost, the reluctance to adapt didn’t help matters.

Dan Straily suspended five games, Don Mattingly one for throwing at Buster Posey

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Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports that Marlins pitcher Dan Straily has been suspended five games and Don Mattingly one game for throwing intentionally at Giants catcher Buster Posey on Tuesday in San Francisco. Straily plans to appeal his suspension, so he will be allowed to take his normal turn through the rotation until that matter is settled.

Everything started on Monday, when the Marlins rallied in the ninth inning against closer Hunter Strickland. That included a game-tying single from Lewis Brinson, who pumped his fist and yelled in celebration. Strickland took exception, jawing at Brinson who was on third base when the right-hander was taken out of the game. Strickland went into the clubhouse and punched a door, breaking his hand.

The next day, Giants starter Dereck Rodriguez hit Brinson with a fastball, which prompted warnings for both teams. Mattingly came out to argue with the umpires about the fairness of issuing warnings right then and there. On his way back to the dugout, Mattingly apparently said, “You’re next” to Posey, who was standing around home plate. The next inning, Straily hit Posey on the arm with a fastball, which led to immediate ejections for both him and Mattingly.

Neither Rodriguez nor Giants manager Bruce Bochy were reprimanded, which is ludicrous because it was plainly obvious Rodriguez was throwing at Brinson. But neither team had been issued warnings. Essentially, Major League Baseball is giving free reign for teams to get their revenge pitches in. Furthermore, Straily’s five-game suspension is hardly a deterrent for throwing at a hitter. The Marlins could simply give Straily an extra day of rest and it’s like he was never suspended at all.

Beanball wars are bad for baseball. It puts players at risk for obvious reasons. When players have to miss time due to avoidable injury, self-inflicted (in the case of Strickland) or not (if, for example, Posey had a hand or wrist broken from Straily’s pitch), the game suffers because it becomes an inferior product. That’s, of course, second behind the simple fact that throwing at a player is a tremendously childish way to handle a disagreement. When aimed intentionally at another human being, a baseball is a weapon. That’s especially true when it’s in the hands of someone who has been trained to throw anywhere from 90 to 100 MPH.

Commisioner Rob Manfred has spent a lot of time trying to make the game of baseball more appealing, such adding pitch clocks and limiting mound visits. He should spend some time addressing the throwing-at-batters problem.