Chris Ruddick, MLB Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
New York Yankees manager Joe Torre is not messing around in Game 4 of his American League Division Series with the Cleveland Indians. He is bringing ace Chien-Ming Wang back on three-days' rest to get his team even, opting to throw his 19-game winner, who had perhaps the worst start of his career in Game 1, instead of veteran Mike Mussina.
"Taking nothing away from Moose," Torre said. "Moose hasn't pitched in a while. Certainly I made him aware before the game that we'll decide later who is going to pitch. And he was comfortable with that. And I just told him afterwards that it was going to be Wanger, and he said, fine."
So, why is Cleveland manager Eric Wedge sticking with Paul Byrd instead of going back to his Game 1 starter, C.C. Sabathia? In case anyone forgot, Sabathia also won 19 games this season and is one of the leading candidates for the AL Cy Young Award.
"We knew we were going to need four starters, if it went that far here in the series," said Wedge. "And that's where we're at. That's what we're going to go with."
Wedge can't be saving Sabathia for a potential Game 5, because he has Fausto Carmona in his back pocket on full rest for that game. Besides, who cares about that game? Get it done tonight and Sabathia gives them the best chance to win.
Paul Byrd was rocked for seven runs and seven hits in just two innings against the Yankees on August 11.
Pitching Byrd in this spot is insane. The left-heavy Yankees lineup crushes right-handed pitching, not to mention they lit up Byrd the only time they faced him this season.
Just that start alone should have been enough for Wedge to go with Sabathia tonight. In Byrd's start against the Yanks back on August 11, he was rocked for seven runs and seven hits in just two innings. He is 1-4 lifetime against them with a 4.44 ERA in eight starts.
The television cameras flashed over to Byrd last night when the Yankees were in the midst of their seven-run outburst over the fifth and sixth innings. He had a deer-in-headlights look on his face then. Mark my words he is going to get destroyed tonight.
Also, if they pitch Sabathia tonight and win, it doesn't effect their ALCS rotation at all. The ALCS doesn't start until Friday; they could pitch Carmona in Game 1, then Sabathia on full rest in Game 2.
If the Indians blow this series, this decision tonight will be the reason why.
PHIL HUGHES BECOMES A MAN
The only reason there is a game tonight is the brilliant 3 2/3 inning relief performance from 21-year-old Phil Hughes, who filled in like a seasoned pro when the $28 million man Roger Clemens left the game with a hamstring injury.
"Tonight was unbelievable. Just the crowd behind me, and the way they were in the fourth, fifth, and sixth innings," Hughes said. "You know, it was something I've never experienced before, and it was hopefully something I'll get to experience for a lot of years."
Hughes surrendered just two hits and struck out four, while probably earning the right to start a game should the Yankees reach the ALCS.
WHY PITCH JOBA WITH A FIVE-RUN LEAD?
Torre made a questionable move last night in bringing rookie phenom Joba Chamberlain into the game with an 8-3 lead in the seventh inning. I know one of the "Joba Rules" is that once he warms up he has to come in, but for two innings? How useful is he going to be tonight when they actually might need him?
What is the use of having anyone else in the bullpen if the only arms you are going to use are Chamberlain and Mariano Rivera? Kyle Farnsworth, the only player booed during introductions, is getting a pretty penny to sit in that bullpen.
Maybe some of the boo-birds that haunt Alex Rodriguez in the postseason should shift their focus to Yankees captain Derek Jeter, who is 1-for-12 in this series. Last night, with his manager's job apparently on the line, Jeter hit into two double plays and struck out. He also should have been charged with an error in the first inning, which led to Cleveland's first run.