Greetings from Target Field. It is absolutely gorgeous here, and I eagerly anticipate not just the game tonight, but also taking in the atmosphere here. I have nothing but rave reviews about this place.
--So the Yankees' starting lineup features both lefty-hitting outfielders going against the Twins' ace, lefty Francisco Liriano. If you look at Liriano's career numbers, you'll see that Granderson is 4-for-22 lifetime against Liriano with 12 strikeouts. The two men used to face off each other when Granderson played for the Tigers.
I asked Girardi about his thinking, and he noted that Austin Kearns (2-for-5 lifetime) "has been banged up at the end of the year with the bad finger and the bad elbow," and he also said that he preferred having Granderson's defense for this large outfield.
When I followed up with a question about Granderson's career numbers against Liriano, Girardi said, "We felt, over the last two months, Grandy's numbers off of left-handers - we threw them out, because of the way he has been swinging off of left-handers."
I unfortunately can't break down Granderson's recent numbers against lefties, but we know he compiled a .362 on-base percentage and .596 slugging percentage in September/October, and if you've been watching the Yankees, then you know how much better Granderson has looked lately against all lefties.
But if you're going to start Granderson in this precise scenario, then why is Kearns even on the roster?
I guess he could enter the game, say, tonight, if 1) The Twins replace Liriano with a righty reliever, and Lance Berkman pinch-hits for starting DH Marcus Thames, and then 2) The Twins come back with a lefty reliever, at which point Kearns could pinch hit for Berkman. I don't know. That's multiple ifs. I think I'd rather have Eduardo Nunez, who can hit and run, or lefty reliever Royce Ring, so that Girardi can go matchup-crazy against the Twins' lefty-leaning lineup with both Ring and Boone Logan.
But, nope. They went with Kearns. We'll see if the move helps them, hurts them or makes absolutely no difference.
--Is Ron Gardenhire trying to destroy Jack Morris' Hall of Fame chances or something? Today, he said that Carl Pavano was "kind of like Jack Morris, I guess."
--The Rangers defeated Tampa Bay in the first playoff game of the year, and I agree with some of the Mets writers: This is truly the first day of Frenchtober. Nah, not really. But I was on the phone with one of Omar Minaya's buddies when Jeff Francoeur doubled for the first postseason RBI, and the fellow laughed ruefully about it.
Maybe you saw the key moment in the first inning, when home-plate umpire Tim Welke ruled that a Cliff Lee 2-and-1 fastball hit Carlos Pena's bat. It didn't appear to, and Pena proceeded to strike out.
Another key argument for instant replay? Eh. I want to see instant replay, but not for balls and strikes. It's just another reminder, more than anything, that umps can't get away with anything anymore. The replay technology is just too good.
(Which is why there should be instant replay on safe/out and fair/foul calls.)
UPDATE, 7:08 CST: Well, how awesome was that? Roy Halladay joins Don Larsen as the only pitchers to throw postseason no-hitters. Phenomenal!
The coolest part about it here? They showed the game on the giant video board, and when the game got to the top of the ninth, the pitchers who were shagging fly balls in the outfield - including Halladay's old Blue Jays buddy A.J. Burnett _ turned their backs to home plate to watch Halladay finish off the Reds. Probably not the safest tactic I've ever seen, but a pretty great image.