Mailbag: Rivera in non-save situations?
National reporter Barry M. Bloom answers fans' questions
Friday night's 2-1 loss was a heartbreaker, but there is one thing I do not understand about the way Yankees manager Joe Torre uses closer Mariano Rivera. I think Torre should only use Rivera in a game when the Yankees have a lead, but he didn't do that. Do you have any comments on the way Torre uses our Sandman?
-- Carl S., Tokyo, Japan
-- Chad V.H. I'm not saying this is right, but that's National League baseball. You'll notice that in the American League with the designated hitter, managers are loath to waste outs trying to move over base runners. The Yankees are not big on it, having used the play only 54 times during the regular season. Torre wouldn't want to take the bat out of the hands of one of his big hitters, who aren't used to laying down bunts. Why isn't there local coverage of Tribe games in Cleveland?
-- Jeffrey H. Major League Baseball signed a contract with TBS this year that will put all the Division Series, at least one League Championship Series, and a slate of Sunday afternoon games (beginning next season) on that cable carrier until 2013. FOX is still carrying the other LCS, the World Series, the All-Star Game and their slate of Saturday afternoon games, as well. Why does Indians second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera wear a big pearl necklace during every game? Is there any significance?
-- Stephanie M., Wooster, Ohio Actually, they're not pearls. It's just an ornamental jewelry chain strung by his wife for good-luck purposes. Wouldn't it be extra special if Kenny Lofton got his Word Series ring with an Indians logo on it after all the 1990s Cleveland teams that fell short?
-- Kenny K. Definitely. It's one of the feel-good stories of the postseason that the 40-year-old Lofton is back with the Indians for a third tour at a time when they are a legitimate contender for the championship. But let me correct you a tad -- Lofton was with the Indians in 1995 when they lost the World Series to the Braves, but he had been traded to the Braves when the Indians lost to the Marlins in the 1997 World Series in seven games. He was traded back to Cleveland in 1998.
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-- John, Memphis It was the bugs. Torre said after the game that Chamberlain couldn't see in the eighth inning because of the swarm that suddenly descended off Lake Erie. Call it poor luck for the Yanks or divine intervention for the Indians, who haven't won a World Series since 1948. However, Tribe starter Fausto Carmona, working in the same conditions, set down the Yankees in the ninth. Can the Yankees come back from their 0-2 hole?
-- David R. There's certainly precedent for it. They came back from 0-2 deficits to win the 1996 World Series against the Braves and the 2001 ALDS against the A's, not to mention a 1-2 deficit in the 1998 ALCS against the Indians. But they also were swept in the 1976 World Series by the Reds and the 1980 ALCS by the Royals after losing the first two games. Of course, if they don't start hitting, this current Yankees team will go the way of their 1976 and 1980 predecessors very quickly. I'd like to know why they stick with Hideki Matsui and not put in Jason Giambi. Please change the lineup.
-- E.N., Deltona, Fla.
Good question, and one that was asked of Torre after the game on Friday night. Torre is sticking with Matsui and his sore knee no matter what, leaving Giambi on the bench. Giambi is 9-for-17 with four homers and six RBIs in six games against the Indians this season, including a pinch-hit single on Thursday. Torre said he'd contemplate it during Saturday's off-day. It's evident this is how far Giambi's stock has fallen in the organization.Why has New York run out of gas?
-- Heywood B. That may be the ultimate question. The Yanks opened 21-29, while at the same time the Red Sox had a torrid start. On May 29 they were 14 1/2 games out in the AL East and 8 1/2 games back in the AL Wild Card. That means that for the final four months of the season they were in crisis mode just to make the playoffs. It's a lot to ask of a team to continue a run like that in the playoffs. Of course, C.C. Sabathia, Carmona and the Indians bullpen has had a lot to do with sucking the gas out the Yankees this week. I have lived and worked along the lakeshore and in the Cleveland area most of my 50 years. Craig Sager (of TBS) reported that the bugs, which invaded Jacobs Field, in the eighth inning, were "Canadian Soldiers." Canadian Soldiers are big, ugly, green bugs. I don't know what those things were, but they were not Canadian Soldiers.
-- Brian K. They were Lake Erie midges, pretty common to the lakefront this time of year when it's unseasonably warm. We'll tell Sager. How can Alex Rodriguez be this bad? He is struggling in the playoffs for the third year in a row.
-- Jeffrey G. You win as a team and you die as a team, so you can't blame this all on A-Rod. He's not getting any help, either. In the first two games, Rodriguez, Jeter, Matsui and Jorge Posada were 1-for-28 with no RBIs. That's not winning baseball under any circumstances. Saying that, A-Rod, like Barry Bonds, is always going to have a target on his back. In Alex's case, it was fashioned by that $252 million contract. Bonds had his playoff problems, if you remember, until his breakout 2002 postseason and led the Giants to the World Series. A-Rod will have one of those sooner or later. The question, of course, is whether it will be for the Yankees.
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.