Tagged: Brian Bruney

Yankees-Red Sox Game 1: My Cup Runneth Over

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I think it was in the second inning. The Yankees had scored six runs off Brad Penny, who, despite a generous strike zone by Joe West, was having trouble getting people out. I said to my husband, “I’d really like it if the Yankees scored twenty runs tonight.”

He rolled his eyes, as if I’d asked for the impossible, and made a crazy face at me.
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I said, “The Yankees can do it,” and made a crazy face right back at him.
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After A-Rod’s almost-homer in the fifth, Penny was pulled for Bowden, a call-up, and Matsui promptly went deep for 9-1. Posada, Cano, Melky, Jeter, Hinske and Tex all got on base, and it was 12-1 by the time the inning was over. I kind of felt sorry for the kid because he was back on the mound for the sixth, gave up three more runs and was clearly taking one for the team. 
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Meanwhile, Andy Pettitte was pitching a decent (if inefficient) game. He benefitted from Jeter’s amazing throw-out of Pedroia at third but was victimized by that lame play when Hinske and Melky couldn’t figure out which of them was supposed to catch the ball. Andy came out and Brian Bruney came in, and the Red Sox started to come back.
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“I’m telling you, the Yankees need twenty runs to win this game,” I said with greater urgency after Bruney walked two and hit a batter.
“That’s ridiculous,” he scoffed. “You’re just saying that because you love blowouts.”
No, I’m saying it because no lead is safe at Fenway.
My wish was granted when Ramirez relieved in the top of the ninth. Matsui homered again (seven RBIs!) and Swisher doubled home Cano. The score: 20-7. I was in heaven. “Who’s crazy now?” I said. “We did get twenty.
I’m sorry I doubted you,” said my husband.
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We made up and watched the bottom of the ninth. Mitre was pitching.
I wonder if he’ll be any good out of the pen,” I said.
I got my answer quickly. Varitek? Homer. Kotchman? Single. Ortiz? Double. Lowell? Homer. Baldelli? Hit by pitch. The score was 20-11 with two outs, but Mitre, who would be shipped to Tazmania if it were up to me, retired Gonzalez to end the nearly four-hour contest.
Feel better now?” asked my husband.
Much,” I said. “But I’m already worrying about tomorrow. I hope Johnny will be OK after fouling that pitch off his knee.”


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“They said he’s day to day.”

“And I hope the Yankees didn’t use up all their offense.”

“They can’t ‘use up’ their offense. It doesn’t work that way.”

“Then how does it ‘work?'”

“Baseball is all about pitching,” said my husband. “If AJ is on tomorrow, everything should be fine.
Right. But twenty runs would still be good.
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A Different Hero Every Night

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Oops, I meant this kind.
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It continues to amaze me how resilient the 2009 Yankees are. Take tonight, for example. After Matsui and the gang beat up on the Mariners last night, the offense hardly had a pulse, scoring only two runs on three hits over eight innings. Meager. But would the team go down to defeat? Absolutely not. With the game tied at 2-2, Tex led off the top of the ninth and did this.
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Yeah, boom – into the seats to put the Yankees ahead 3-2 and allow me to breathe
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Swisher singled home Cano for another run, and that was all the insurance the Yanks needed to beat Seattle for the second night in a row and keep the train moving.
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But none of that would have been possible if not for another hero: Pettitte. Talk about gutty.
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He overcame a shaky start and hung in there for a six-inning, 10-strikeout performance, keeping the Yanks in the game. I bow down to you, Andy. (And I thank you for the lovely kimono, which arrived at my house this afternoon. Very sweet of you.)
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Bruney looked vastly improved in the seventh, and Hughes got it done in the eighth, despite a couple of walks and the fact that the home plate umpire was squeezing him.
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Which brings me to Mo. I’ve been doing a lot of hand-wringing over his “cranky shoulder,” worried that he’d have to miss playing time. Wrong. He came in for the ninth, retired the side in order and secured the save. I don’t think his velocity was there and he seemed sort of “off” to me, but I can’t argue with his results.
There was a short interruption in the seventh when a fan ran onto the field. The networks never show us what’s going on, which really bothers me. Supposedly, MLB thinks it’ll make us crave our 15 minutes of fame and do equally dumb things. Personally, I hate this rule. I want to see what the people at the game see. Show us the fans who run onto the field! It won’t lead to the end of days!
Here’s the fan….and Ichiro’s reaction.
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Yup. The culprit was a she-fan. Imagine that.

Yanks Spank Mariners

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What a way to start a road trip – a brilliant, 10-strikeout performance by CC… a two-homer, five RBI night for Matsui…a 1-2-3 outing for Bruney…and an 11-1 win over the Mariners. I came home from my Thursday night writer’s workshop and was thrilled when I sat down to watch the tape of the game. Now I feel I must express my joy.
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(OK, she looks pregnant in that photo and I’m not, but you get the point. I’m really, really happy.)
I was glad to see Jeter playing shortstop and hitting one out. No sign of a limp that I could detect. I hope A-Rod’s “contusion” is coming along. And I hope Mo’s cranky shoulder is acting less cranky. But most of all, I hope the Yankees have saved some of their offensive output for this weekend when Mitre/Gaudin will be on the mound. The thought of those games might give me nightmares, so instead I’ll concentrate on tomorrow and Pettitte’s start.
Sweet dreams! Or do I mean sweep dreams?

A Passion That Knows No Bounds

While the Yankees were putting together their workmanlike 7-5 come-from-behind victory over the Blue Jays, there was an actual public display of disaffection going on in Boston. When I saw this photo of the participants…
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…the movie fan in me couldn’t help thinking of the old weeper “From Here to Eternity.”
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So romantic. Be still my beating heart.
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Back to the game in the Bronx, I was not feeling the love for Joba tonight. He put me through such anguish and torment. One minute, I thought he was Cy Young. The next, I thought he was Sergio Mitre. Pitching with a 3-0 lead in the third, he promptly allowed the Jays to tie the score on two walks, a single, a fielder’s choice and a double. And then in the fourth? Boom. A homer to Ruiz, a call-up from Vegas, to put Toronto ahead 4-3. Who are you, Joba? Do you even know?
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As the Yankees headed into the eighth, still down a run, I started to growl at the TV. I mean, we weren’t facing Halladay and we didn’t have to deal with Rios or Rolen. So what was the problem? Why weren’t we scoring runs? Growl.
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But then a hero strode to the mound. His name was Godzilla, and he was breathing fire.
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(Whoa. How about a Tic Tac, Matsui. Seriously.)
Matty, as Girardi calls him, smacked one into the seats to tie the game at 4-4 and launch yet another Yankees late-inning comeback. Posada went back-to-back. Hinske doubled. Melky singled, scoring pinch runner Hairston (I’m really falling for this guy). And Damon singled. When it was all over, it was 7-5 Yanks and I was no longer growling. Quite the opposite.
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After brilliant relief performances by Bruney, Coke and Robertson, in came Mo for the ninth, Talk about true love. But – shock – he gave up a homer to Encarnacion. He looked as surprised as I was.
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Not to worry, Mo. You got the save and the Yanks won, and all is right with the world again. It’s a Yankees Universe and I’m just living in it.
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Nightmare On 35th Street

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There it is: U.S. Cellular Field. It looks benign, doesn’t it? Even beautiful? But don’t be fooled. There are demons lurking in that ballpark, and they’ve sucked all the life out of the Yankees.
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They attacked AJ Burnett in the second inning of today’s 14-4 horror show. How else to explain how a guy who’d been pitching brilliantly and become the ace of the staff had a complete and total meltdown in the inning, giving up five singles and a double and walking Nix, the #9 batter, with the bases loaded? No wonder he looked like this when he got back to the dugout.
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He was drained of all his blood, and if you zoom in closely you can see the two bite marks on his neck.
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Somehow he survived into the fifth inning, but he walked Nix again with the bases loaded for another run to make it 7-2 White Sox. I’m sorry, but that’s just not normal. By the time he was pulled for Bruney, he had taken on a pretty demonic look of his own.
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Bruney kept the demons at bay until the seventh, when he, too, fell prey to them and walked Nix. It was hair-raising.
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Coke came on for the eighth to face the lefty batters, but he went utterly batty himself.
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Creepy? I’ll say. He allowed six runs and – you guessed it – he walked Nix (it was intentional, but still). Why Girardi was using Coke in a blowout made me wonder if Joe himself had been seized by demons.
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Actually, I wondered about him right from the get-go. I mean, the lineup was nothing if not bizarre. I understand all the lefty-righty stuff, but Cody Ransom at first? Didn’t the Yankees get Jerry Hairston for his versatility? Or how about sticking Swisher at first and using Hinske in the outfield? Or what about not giving both Damon and Matsui the day off, even though they’re lefties; they’re also two professional hitters who know what to do at the plate. But the most confounding move of all was not using any of these players to pinch-hit for Ransom in the fifth or in the eighth when the Yanks were still down by only four runs and could have made it a ball game? Bad managing or another blood sucker on the loose at U.S. Cellular Field?
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Everything about this game seemed tainted, poisoned. Jeter botched a routine grounder and Swisher and Hairston both made bad throws from the outfield, and Jorge couldn’t nail anybody stealing. And then there was the hitting – or lack of it. Whenever the Yanks would get runners on base, they were paralyzed by some unseen force and struck dumb and dumber.
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I think the ultimate proof that the Yankees were attacked by demons today was the way they went down 1-2-3 in the ninth to this man.
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Wouldn’t you be scared to death too?
But now that the horror is over for today, the question is whether there will be fresh hell tomorrow. The Yanks will send CC to the mound against Mark “Perfecto” Buerhle. Can they gather themselves and salvage the final game in this series? Or will this be another lost weekend, like the one in Anaheim, when everything that can go wrong will?
I hope the team has a closed door meeting before the game – to get everybody on the same page and to keep any further demons from intruding on the good times.
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Fun Finale At The Tropicana Club

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Oops. Not that one.
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As effective as Scott Kazmir was last night, Joba absolutely dominated the Rays tonight in the Yankees’ 6-2 victory.
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He’s been brilliant since going home to Nebraska during the break. I’d like to know what they fed him while he was there, because he’s been a different pitcher since he came back.
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No more shaking off Jorge. No more strolls around the mound between pitches. No more nibbling around the strike zone. He’s been aggressive, no-nonsense, focused. As a result, he only gave up three hits over eight innings – a memorable performance.
It was such a positive outing that I’m not even going to bring up the reliever who shall remain nameless, except to say he’s struggling and I don’t know why and he’s starting to remind me of guys who are no longer with the team.
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I was fuming that Girardi had to drag Mo into the game in the ninth, but he took care of business in his usual it’s-just-my-job sort of way.
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(Is there a stat for how many times he’s shaken Jorge’s hand after getting the final out?)
Jeter’s triple in the first inning set the tone, as did Tex’s single to drive him in. Then the home run derby kicked in: Cano (after fouling a ball off his knee – ouwww), Melky, Tex. The boys were unstoppable.
Speaking of Tex, on Twitter tonight I was kidding around with MLBlogger Yankeemeg about the resemblance between Jarrod Washburn and Kiefer Sutherland. Have you noticed?
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Then we moved on to Eric Hinske (I kind of figured he’d play in this series, giving Damon or Swisher a night off from the turf) and how he reminded us of Kevin James.
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I was trying to come up with a celebrity double for Tex and couldn’t think of one. And then Yankeemeg said, “He looks just like MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.” And you know what? He does!
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It’s easy to be lighthearted when your team is in first place and they just won a big series. Let’s see how jokey I am after the Yanks and White Sox go at it tomorrow night. I’d really like to keep the train moving, but I know better than to take anything for granted.
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Hitting The Road

If I had told people that the Yankees would go 9-1 on their homestand, I would have gotten reactions like this.

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And even this.
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That Swisher. Such a goofball. But even he probably wouldn’t have predicted such a great run after the All-Star break.
Mitre was mediocre in Sunday’s game, but “mediocre” might be just fine for the time being. He throws strikes. He induces ground balls. He doesn’t look panicked out there. He’ll do as the fifth starter until he proves he’s not worthy.
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The bullpen is looking better and better, especially with Bruney gaining in confidence and effectiveness. I’m a little worried about Coke though. I shake my head every time somebody says, “He’s been amazing, except that he gives up home runs.”
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The last time I checked, giving up home runs wasn’t a good thing. Hughes continues to impress, and Mo is just, well, Mo. He could probably throw that cutter in his sleep.
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Tex keeps rolling. Cody Ransom has been more-than-decent as A-Rod’s fill-in. And Melky will have to step up while Gardner’s thumb heals.
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I admit I was thrown when I heard about Brett the Jet’s injury. How will we compensate for his speed on the bases? Could we get this guy to un-retire?
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Cano finally got a big hit with men in scoring position. And Jeter seems to get more acrobatic with age. I mean, could you do this?
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What I’m saying is that I think we’re ready for the ten-day road trip, which begins at the cowbell palace known as The Trop.
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Sure, there will be challenges in Tampa. Big ones, not the least of which is this.
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Tough place to catch fly balls. What’s more, there are Rays that always cause the Yankees headaches: Upton, Crawford, Longoria, Pena. I’m hoping AJ can handle them all when he opens the series and flashes them that stare.
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The Bombers have hit the road as I’m typing this. Actually, they must be in Florida by now.
If I were addressing them at their hotel, I’d say: “Win every game on the trip.”
“She-Fan, you’re cracked,” Jeter would say. “We can’t win every game.”
“Well, you can win ninety-nine percent of them,” I’d counter. “You just did it.”
Everybody would realize I was right. And Joba would let out a victory roar.
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It’s Way More Fun To Sweep Than To Be Swept (Duh)

That nightmare series in Anaheim before the break seems like ages ago. Now, all the Yankees do is win, and every game feels like a party.

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With their second 6-4 victory in a row (after having won three 2-1 games in a row), the Yanks swept the hapless O’s behind an excellent performance by AJ. I really look forward to the days he pitches and I get a kick out of his pie-in-the-face pranks. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m starting to fall for the guy.
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Well, just a little. I mean, he wears a snarl most of the time, but then look at how he gives props to Swisher for making that great catch on Wigginton in the third. So sweet and generous and tattoo-y.
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He could have stood there sulking, because Swisher inexplicably dropped Roberts’ so-what fly ball for an error to lead off the inning.
Speaking of Swisher, he’s an adventure in right field. One minute, he reminds me of this guy.
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The next, he makes run-saving plays like these.
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He even smacked a two-RBI single to put the Yankees up 4-0. I’ll give him this: He’s a whole lot better than the guy Cashman dealt to get him.
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He told Kim Jones after the game that if he were an ice cream, he’d be rocky road.
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Does that mean he knows he’s kind of nutty?
His answer does raise an interesting question: What kind of ice cream would you be? I spent the afternoon pondering this weighty issue (too much time on my hands) and decided I would be vanilla fudge ripple. I have no idea why.
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Berken, the Orioles pitcher, was woeful in the early going, and allowed the Yankees hitters to jump all over him. I thought I’d be seeing an actual blowout. But the offense stranded runners, and it was maddening. For example:
Tex with two on in the 7th: GIDP.
Jeter with bases loaded in the 8th: K.
Still, no complaints. Phil Hughes, who is impossibly great as a reliever, threw yet another scoreless eighth. 
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I was glad to see Bruney in the ninth, considering that he hadn’t pitched since early July, but what is up with him? He strikes out Andino and Roberts, then gives up back-to-back homers to Jones and Markakis? 
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Clearly, he has more work to do. Or is he still hurt and not telling anyone?
The worst part is that Girardi was forced to bring in Mo for the fifth time in six games. He got the save (#510), but he needs some rest now.
Mo? If you’re reading this, there’s an extra bed at my house. I’ll make you dinner, massage your feet, let you have a nice, relaxing evening while the Yankees deal with the A’s. There’s just one thing: You’ll have to watch the games with me. It’ll be fun to laugh together at the various batting stances of your teammates, won’t it?

Angels Do Twisted Things To The Yankees

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They look so benevolent, don’t they? Well, they’re not. At least not the ones in Los Angeles of Anaheim. They’re mean and cruel and they spoil all my fun and I’m sick of it. Sick of it!
The Yanks scored three quick runs in the top of the first in tonight’s 10-6 defeat. Joba came out firing in the bottom of the frame, retiring the Halos in order. Everything seemed fine. Fine! We even added a run in the second and another in the fifth on A-Rod’s 568th homer.
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But as he was rounding the bases, A-Rod’s gum flew out of his mouth, as if he’d been taken over by some mystical, unseen power. He later made an error. So spooky.
Things went terribly awry from there. Joba, his pitch count rising and his velocity dropping, became absolutely possessed in the bottom of the fifth. He’d been staked to a 5-1 lead, but threw the ball as if he’d never thrown it before. See the curve of his mouth? How it looks oddly twisted, even simeon? 
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Before he could restrain himself, he was giving up five runs to the Angels and the score was tied. The relief pitching – why bother to call it that? – also cried out for some sort of exorcism. I mean, Bruney. Seriously. What happened to him could only be the work of otherworldly creatures.
And then there was that dreadful Luis Castillo moment for Jeter. He was 4-for-4 as the DH at that point, but went in to play short in the seventh inning in one of Girardi’s tricky little managerial moves. He was having a great night, in other words.
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Until this.
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Yes, he dropped a routine pop up. He even used two hands! The error led the way to Aybar’s homer that put the Angels up 10-6.
I’m too tired to post funny pictures, and I have to get up early to drive down to Los Angeles of Anaheim to watch the game in person. I have to admit I’m ambivalent about going. On one hand, I can’t wait to see the Yankees and cheer them on here in California. On the other, I wonder what might happen to me once I’m in the presence of these not-so-angelic Angels. I could come back to Santa Barbara looking like this.
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I’ll report if I make it home alive, hopefully with pics and She-Fan Cam videos.

Sloppy, But A Sweep Nevertheless

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When things are going right for a team, they go right – even when they go wrong. 
Wait. Did I just write that? Sounds like something Yogi would say.
But you know what I mean. The Yankees have been on a roll lately. So, despite an uneven start by Aceves, two lame errors in the second inning, two shallow pop ups by Melky with runners on base, Swisher’s 0-for-5 afternoon, and Robertson’s back-to-back walks of Span and Tolbert with bases loaded, the Yanks managed to beat Minny 6-4 and take all seven games this season, positively eating up the Twinkies.
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The game wasn’t without its highlights. Cano doubled with Posada on base and eventually scored. That’s progress for Robbie, and it didn’t go unnoticed by the captain.
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(If Jeter touched me on the head, I’d probably never wash my hair again.)
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Tex broke his homer-less streak in the fifth and was congratulated by Jorge.
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(Love JoPo’s manicure, although I would have gone with a more summery color.)
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Gardner continued to slap the ball around, and reminds me of a young Johnny Damon.
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The relief trio of Coke-Hughes-Mo was impressive, and the bullpen has really solidified, not counting Bruney, who’s still sitting and searching for his location and velocity.
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As the Yanks head west, they have to be feeling pretty good about winning 13 of their last 15. And, of course, I feel pretty good about seeing them in Anaheim on Saturday. I predict that the Angels’ dominance over us will come to an end and that we will finally break free of their cruel and unusual punishment.
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Speaking of combat, I spent a few hours touring Vandenberg Air Force Base yesterday. Vandenberg is the military’s go-to place for the testing and launching of strategic missile weapons. The photo below is of Jennifer, their community relations director, and a friendly woman in uniform. (We were at the “BX,” which, apparently, is Air Force for “PX.”)
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No, I didn’t enlist. I went to research a new novel. But the experience was interesting, and if my writing/blogging slows down, I might find myself in the same situation as Goldie.