Men in pinstripes jumping for joy. If there’s a more welcome sight for a Yankee fan, I don’t know what it is.
I really enjoyed the Yanks 5-3 win over the Rays….Not just because it put us a full game over the Red Sox….Not just because it gave Andy Pettitte a “W” for his season-high seven K’s…Not just because I’m a sucker for any game in which Tex, Swisher, Damon and Jeter go deep….And not even because I love seeing Mo retire the side in order…But because Phil Hughes looked so sweet in his one inning of relief:
Upton: grounded out.
Crawford: dribbled a comebacker.
Longoria: struck out.
Where has Phil been hiding that 94 mph fastball? In his closet?
I would have left him in for the eighth, but I can understand Girardi wanting him to have a confidence builder. And speaking of leaving a pitcher in, how about Joe Maddon’s Grady Little move, letting Sonnanstine pitch to Damon in the eighth? Whoops.
Other than the still-shaky-but-improving bullpen situation, I feel pretty good going into Boston this time. There’s only one area of concern for me:
Sure, the team has been in winning mode ever since he came back. His presence has certainly made a difference in Tex’s approach at the plate. But what about his own offense? He keeps grounding out to third. Every. Single. Time. Well, when he’s not banging into a DP. I decided to fly to New York before the team left on their charter to Boston, and talk to him.
I arrived just in time. A-Rod was sitting in the clubhouse smoking a cigar.
“Put that out,” I said, coughing from the smoke. “I didn’t come here to breathe gross fumes.”
He did as I asked. “Why did you come, She-Fan?”
“To beg you to stop trying to pull the ball,” I said.
“I’m not,” he protested.
“Don’t kid a kidder,” I said. “I watch every game and I see you doing it. I want you to cut it out. You need to start going the other way, play pepper, hit one up the middle, slice one into the gap, anything but that same stupid swing. The home runs will come.”
He seemed stunned by my bluntness. I felt guilty, but told myself it was for his own good.
“Listen,” I said. “They’re going to boo you in Boston no matter what you do. So just get back to basics.”
“I hated when they wore those blonde masks,” he said softly. “It hurt my feelings.”
“I’m sure it did,” I said, patting him on his massive arm and wondering if he was made of rocks. “They’ll be back with more – syringes, Madonna masks, who knows. You just have to rise above it. The Yankees are depending on you to hit with runners in scoring position.”
He nodded. “I know, especially with Matsui taking those weak hacks that practically land in the second baseman’s glove in every game.”
“Exactly,” I said. “So are we clear?”
“Crystal,” he said.
“OK. Just one more thing,” I said. “No Kate Hudson at the games. She’s a jinx. See her for dinner, if you must. See her at the hotel. Buy her a nice necklace or something, but don’t put her in the seats. Got it?”
He shrugged. “It’s nice to have someone in your corner rooting for you.”
“You already have people rooting for you,” I said, raising my voice for emphasis. “We’re called fans. And we want you to score runs. Are you up to it?”
A-Rod thought a minute, then grabbed my hand and pumped it vigorously. “I’ll do it, She-Fan,” he said. “You watch me in Boston and see how well I perform. I won’t let you down.”
I thanked him and wished him a safe trip. And then I flew back to California.
For someone who hates to fly, I’ve been doing a lot of it lately.