That game was exactly what everyone expected it to be. The two best teams in baseball with their two best pitchers didn't disappoint. David Price and C.C. Sabathia pitched amazingly well, each going eight innings while allowing no runs and only five total singles. Each team's bullpen was very effective as well; the Rays happened to be one pitch better.
There's not much more I can say about David Price's outing. In arguably the Rays' biggest game of the season their ace pitcher did exactly what he was supposed to do. Price threw 98 of his 113 pitches for fastball, getting nine swing and misses. Some starts Price reminds me of Yankees' closer Mariano Rivera; everyone in the stadium knows exactly what pitch is coming and its up to the batter to do something with it. Tonight, the Yankees were clueless. Maddon decided to lift Price after the 8th inning and 113 pitches, something I had no issue with. No, Price didn't look like he was struggling at all, but Joaquin Benoit and Rafael Soriano are there for a reason. A fresh Benoit or Soriano is better in a high leverage situation than a 113 pitch Price.
The only thing that took away from this fantastic game was the home plate umpiring of Tom Hallion. The strike zone was one of the worst I've seen all season, and he ejected Carl Crawford pretty quickly late in the game. Take a look at the balls and strikes he called last night:
Look at all of the green marks (balls) low in the zone, and all of the red marks (strikes) on the left side. I don't care that it was called evenly for both sides. Players shouldn't have to make that large of an adjustment during the game. If this isn't a giant endorsement for robot umpires, I don't know what is.
Aside from the duel between Price and Sabathia, the game didn't offer much else. Each offense was shut down, with each team racking up just four hits in the 11 innings. Joe Maddon is loving having an expanded roster. He used 14 different hitters, a pinch runner, and sacrificed the DH once again. The only reason Brignac was in the position to hit the walk off home run was because Crawford had been ejected previously. Giving tons of extra possible pieces to a manager who already loves to play the match ups as much as Maddon does doesn't seem like its going to be quite fair.
- Did Mariano Rivera and David Robertson die? The fact that neither of them got into the game, while Chad Gaudin and Sergio Mitre did, is beyond puzzling.
- I haven't felt that much joy for a player in a long long time. If anyone needed that walk off home run it was Reid Brignac. The semi-circle of that formed at home plate reminded me of Cliff Floyd's walk off homer against the White Sox in 2008, if only for this picture: