Sunday, October 25, 2009

And So We Wait ... And Wait ...

... And wait.

The only thing worse than waiting through one off day in the during the postseason is having to wait through two.

That's the situation we find ourselves in following Saturday's rainout. No baseball Friday. No baseball Saturday. A full slate of football today before the Yankees and Angels finally take the field for Game 6 of the American League Championship Series at 8:20 p.m.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia will keep lefthander Joe Saunders on the mound for tonight's game, but the rainout will allow him to start John Lackey on three days' rest in Game 7, if it gets that far and if Lackey doesn't pitch in relief in Game 6.

Joe Girardi is sticking with Andy Pettitte for Game 6, holding back CC Sabathia for Game 7 or Game 1 of the World Series.

It is the right decision.

Pettitte is not some journeyman starter. He's an accomplished postseason pitcher who has pitched the most playoff games and innings in baseball history and has 15 playoff wins, tied for most with John Smoltz. In addition, he has closed out four playoff series, including the ALDS against the Twins this year.

He is well rested and a pitcher who is more than capable of doing the job and is properly being given that opportunity.

Should Pettitte succeed, the Yankees will be better off for the World Series. And if the Yankees don't win Game 6, well, their have their best pitcher on the mound and fully rested in Game 7.

It would have been pure folly to push Pettitte back.

But perhaps the player that will benefit most from the rainout is the struggling Nick Swisher.

To say it's been a bad postseason so far for Swish is an understatement. He's just 3-for-31 (.097). He's been pressing, though he did put together a tough at-bat against Brian Fuentes before popping out to end Game 5.

According to WFAN's Sweeny Murti, Swisher said the Angels have been pitching him backwards, throwing fastballs early in the count and then throwing offspeed stuff even if they fall behind. The result has been Swisher has been out in front and chasing pitches out of the zone.

Baseball is a game of constant adjustments. Swish has identified an adjustment he has to make and the rainout allowed Swisher to catch a break and spend Saturday working in the batting cages with hitting coach Kevin Long to get his swing and mind back on track.

That's exactly what Swisher needed.

I've always felt hitting coaches get too much blame for hitters' woes, especially on a team of veterans. But in a video interview with Locker Blogger's Mitchell Karasik, Long provides some good insight into the role of the pitching coach and how he works with veterans. Among things Long says is that he has the title of hitting coach, but all the hitters on the team help each other out with swings, especially Jorge Posada. It's an insightful piece.

We can only hope Long was able to identify and help correct any flaws in Swish's swing, and that the free-spirited right fielder can finally come up big today.

Something tells me, Swisher will.

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