I’m pretty sure Enrico Palazzo was behind the plate last night in the Sox/Yankees matchup in the Bronx. Any pitch within five inches of the strike zone was a strike, but he was pretty consistent except for two at-bats which is all you can ask from an umpire. To add to the similarities he was very animated, especially on strikeouts, and ejected Ozzie Guillen in the top of the first.
The ump behind the plate was Todd Tichenor who is a fulltime Triple-A ump, basically auditioning for a fulltime spot on the MLB umpire roster. He put on quite a show last night, and somehow ended a Yankees game in less than three hours. In fact, it was over in 2:11 with Bortolo Colon working for the Yankees. The quickness of the game is no surprise with Buehrle on the bump, but Colon works notoriously slow except when everything’s a strike it speeds things along.
The two at-bats in question were Derek Jeter’s to lead off the Yankees half of the first and Adam Dunn’s at-bat to lead off the ninth inning. There were two pitches in the Jeter sequence that were clearly strikes based on Colon’s half of the inning. Instead it was a four-pitch walk that opened the door for some more two out magic against Sox pitching. Buehrle made quick work of Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixera before Alex Rodriguez placed a jam shot strategically between Gordon Beckham and Carlos Quentin. That lead to Robinson Cano doing what he does best as the Major’s best second baseman, hitting the long ball. BOOM! That gave the Yankees all the runs they would need as Tichenor’s wide strike zone made it tough on the hitters the rest of the night. Buehrle was masterful the rest of the game or shall I say Tichenor aided Buehrle in his masterfulness as he did Colon and Mariano Rivera especially against Adam Dunn.
Rivera threw two of the same pitches well off the outside corner of the plate, not only obvious to the naked eye, but also on pitch track. The first one was called a ball, but the second was called a strike to end Dunn’s at-bat.
The Sox pitched, fielded, and hit pretty well considering the strike zone, but came up short last night. I can handle an error-free, well-pitched ball game versus the opposite.
Sox still have a chance to take the series tonight in the Bronx if they can get to C.C. Sabbathia, but history says no to that. Sabbathia has a 16-4 record against the Sox in 29 starts with a 3.82 ERA, plus the forecast is not looking too promising for baseball.
Sox return home on Friday to play the Baltimore Orioles and Ozzie’s buddy, Buck Showhalter. I would expect some hit batsmen in this series.