Game One Hundred Sixty-Five: Yankees 8, Indians 4

Box Score
Win Probability Added @ Fangraphs

Highest WPA:

Jhonny Peralta .103
Travis Hafner .078
Trot Nixon .064

Lowest WPA:

Jake Westbrook -.368
Aaron Fultz -.104
Casey Blake -.087

Roger Clemens wasn't fooling any of the Indians hitters - the guys on the TBS broadcast mentioned that they weren't even flinching at his split-finger. Trot Nixon, who was put into the lineup because of his history of hitting Clemens, lined a home run to the short porch in right in the second to make the score 2-0. An inning later, Clemens walked Travis Hafner and got Victor Martinez on a mediocre four-seamer, Joe Torre had seen enough, removing Clemens after 2.1 innings pitched. I think the Rocket is finally done as a major-league pitcher; 2007 was an injury-plagued year, and I really don't see him trying to come back again after all he went through this season.

Replacing Clemens was Phil Hughes, the Yankees' best pitching prospect, and he was expected to eat a couple innings. He did more than that, pitching 3.2 innings, allowing just two hits. By the time he left the game, the Yankees had taken the lead, so they could go directly to Chamberlain and later Rivera.

Jake Westbrook through the first four innings was the type of pitcher you had hoped for: giving up his share of base hits, but keeping everything on the ground. After he retired Jason Giambi in the fifth, I was entertaining thoughts of him going six innings, setting up the bullpen to finish the game. How quickly things changed. Hideki Matsui singled through the hole between short and third - a good piece of hitting. Robinson Cano also went the other way, driving a double to left and Matsui to third. At this point, Eric Wedge got Lewis and Fultz up in the bullpen. Then Westbrook hung a high sinker to Johnny Damon, and with that, the game changed.

I believe Westbrook should have come out of the game after the fifth inning. He retired the next two hitters he faced, but both were flyball outs. Furthermore, Jensen Lewis should have been the reliever brought in, not Aaron Fultz. An excellent right-handed reliever is almost always a better option than a LOOGY. And Lewis is no slouch against left-handers: they hit .244/.304/.244 against him in the regular season. But Wedge went with Fultz, and the game went from a two-run deficit to an insurmountable five-run hole in a matter of three hitters.

(Lewis came into the game in the seventh inning and retired the side in order.)

The starter for Game 4 will be Paul Byrd. The alternative is CC Sabathia on three days' rest, something he hasn't done since 2001. The thinking with starting Sabathia tomorrow is that it would allow Fausto Carmona to start Game 5 on full rest, meaning that New York would have to beat both Sabathia and Carmona to win the series. I still believe that starting Byrd (with a quick hook, especially with the main cogs in the bullpen available) is a better option than pushing your luck with Sabathia on short rest.

The Yankees will be starting Chien-Ming Wang on three days' rest, with an eye towards starting Andy Pettitte in Game 5 if the Yankees win. The game starts at 7:37 PM.

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