10/21/09 1:30 AM ET
Chess Match: Big move comes pregame
Starting CC on short rest pays; Scioscia tries to ride Kaz
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
The Yankees, with a 3-1 lead in the series, are just one win away from making it to the World Series. Because of the lopsided nature of the contest, there wasn't a lot of strategy involved. The biggest decision came days before the game, when Yankees manager Joe Girardi held firm in his decision to start big lefty CC Sabathia on three days' rest.
Sabathia comes up large
The situation: When he plotted his rotation for this ALCS, Girardi opted to go with a three-man rotation rather than inserting Joba Chamberlain as a fourth starter.
The decision: Even after taking a 2-0 lead in the series, which was slimmed to 2-1 after an 11-inning loss in Game 3, Girardi kept with his original plan of Sabathia for Game 4.
The outcome: Sabathia was brilliant for New York, helping the Yankees pin the Angels into a 3-1 hole heading into Thursday's Game 5. Over eight innings and 101 pitches, Sabathia gave up five hits and a run while striking out five.
Analysis: "He was spectacular again," said Girardi. "To be able to shut this club down like he did, again, is no easy feat. This is a very dangerous lineup. We had some chances early, and CC kept getting outs for us."
Staying too long with Kazmir?
The situation: Kazmir labored through a 31-pitch fourth inning, which started with a single by Alex Rodriguez and a double by Jorge Posada, putting runners at second and third with nobody out. Instead of rushing someone up in the bullpen, Angels manager Mike Scioscia rode Kazmir through the rest of the inning, allowing three runs. The lefty had 84 pitches going into the fifth, and started that inning by giving up a single to Mark Teixeira.
The decision: Instead of giving Kazmir another chance to work his way out of it, Scioscia called on reliever Jason Bulger.
The outcome: That didn't turn out well, either. A-Rod unloaded for a two-run homer and the Yankees had a 5-0 lead.
Analysis: "It was very disappointing," Kazmir said. "Not how I wanted to make this start today -- not at all. I wanted to go as deep as I could. I wanted to match Sabathia every inning pitch by pitch, and I didn't."
Yankees overcome baserunning mistake
The situation: The Yankees held a 5-1 lead in the eighth inning when Nick Swisher led off the frame by getting hit by a pitch. Girardi went to pinch-runner Brett Gardner.
The decision: Gardner, for the second day in a row, was caught stealing. Melky Cabrera then followed with a walk.
The outcome: It turned out not to matter, as Johnny Damon belted a two-out, two-run homer later in the inning to put the Yankees in complete control at 7-1.
Analysis: "This is the first game that really got away from us on the pitching side," said Scioscia. "I think we've been doing a good job on the mound. You have to really focus on the process. It's going to take a grind. You know, we're still in this. And the only way that you're going to reach that goal is after tomorrow we come back and play. From Pitch 1, you have to be ready to grind it out all the way through, and I hope to get it back to New York and take it from there."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.