Just got back from a concert and it’s late, so I’ll keep this post short. The game tonight was actually uplifting. For me, anyway. Pettitte was horrendous and the Yanks were taking a 10-1 beating and Beckett looked more like the Beckett of old. And then a miracle: We ended up scoring eight runs, homering off every pitcher the Red Sox threw out there except Bard. The power surge was encouraging. The fighting spirit was a good sign. The fact that we almost came back and tied the game after being down by nine runs was positive. Even Mitre’s outing was impressive. (Don’t get me started on Albaladejo.)
We’re not in first place tonight. That’s not wonderful. The fact that time is running out for Pettitte to be stretched out isn’t great. But I’m not panicking. I’m just not.
OK, so the concert I went to helped me forget this little losing jag we’re on. Even if you’re not into jazz, which I’m not, I recommended the music of Charles Lloyd and his quartet, including his new recording called “Mirror.”
Here’s hoping tomorrow is a better day, baseball wise.
No, not because the Yankees beat the Red Sox, although beating the Red Sox is always sweet. And not because our offense (with the help of a couple of miscues by Boston), made quick work of Beckett, although sending him to the showers is very satisfying. The reason I loved this game is because it proved yet again that you never know what will happen when two teams go at it. Which is another way of saying that what looks like a pitching mismatch on paper might not be a mismatch after all.
So, when I heard that A.J. had a back problem and would be replaced by Dustin Moseley, who’s been a pretty good spot starter but isn’t exactly a Cy Young Award winner, I figured we were toast.
But then the Yanks put two runs on the board early and Moseley held the lead, giving up a homer to Hall but otherwise throwing with poise and efficiency. What’s more, he made a couple of great defensive plays and was just plain impressive. When Joe pulled him in the seventh, the crowd gave him a well deserved standing O.
I kept thinking, as John Sterling is fond of saying, “Who would have predicted this?” Does it mean that Moseley will be brilliant his next time out? No. That’s the point. Anything can happen on any given day in baseball. Just ask Brandon Morrow of the Jays. I doubt he was expecting to miss a no-hitter by a hair. And what were the odds that the Orioles would go 5-1 under Showalter today? Getting back to the Yankees, did I expect Jeter to break Babe Ruth’s hits record in tonight’s game? Or that A-Rod would record his 300th stolen base? Or that Tex would bang out his 25th homer in a season that started off awfully slowly for him?
OK, there was one thing that was entirely predictable: Mo threw one pitch and got one out to end the game. Sometimes predictability is very welcome.
Now that the x-rays were negative and A-Rod is listed as day-to-day, I can’t help but joke about the incident. I mean poor Fat Elvis. He hasn’t done much to endear himself to Yankee fans, and the mishap during BP didn’t help. But the best line belonged to Jeter when the writers asked him if A-Rod would be okay after writhing on the ground in pain. “He’ll be all right,” said the Captain. “He always looks like that when he gets hit.” Was Jeet inferring that his teammate was a drama queen?
Onto to the game. CC scared me early, giving up those two runs, but he settled right down and got to work, shutting the door on the Red Sox and making it look pretty effortless. He had offensive help from Granderson and Pena (who’s been the most unlikely RBI machine!), as well as some great defense behind him. Mo pitched a perfect ninth to secure the “W.” But the Yanks were also aided and abetted by Victor Martinez, who made me realize how lucky we are to have Posada, even if he’s 100 years old. Martinez simply cannot throw runners out, much to Lackey’s dismay.
Anyhow, I’m still feeling the “rivalry” isn’t as intense as it used to be, but maybe with Beckett on the mound tomorrow I’ll feel more fired up. He does bring out the worst in me.
Maybe it’s the Blue Jays who should be called the Bombers, since they were the ones doing the bombing tonight. Every time I turned around, Wells or Bautista or one of those guys was hitting the ball out. Clearly, Moseley isn’t CC and Wood isn’t Mo. And Mitre? Why even bother. Just DFA him already and call up one of the kids.
Offense is still AWOL. Third loss in a row. No longer in first place. What’s a Yankee fan to do? I’ll tell you what this Yankee fan did: watched the clip of the Red Sox and Indians going at it tonight.
Josh Beckett looks really, really mad at Shelley Duncan, doesn’t he? All I can say is that their game must have been way more entertaining than ours.
I can’t pretend to be inside Josh Beckett’s head. (The thought of going anywhere near his head is highly unappealing.) So I can’t say with any certainty that he hit anybody on purpose in tonight’s 10-3 massacre at Fenway. But here’s what I think. He was cruising along with pinpoint control, striking out batter after batter. Then Swisher drove one out of the park for three runs. And the Beckster wasn’t amused. Or, as MLB’s Bryan Hoch put it, he became unhinged.
He pitched inside to Cano, hit him on the knee and knocked him out of the game. Just what we needed: another injury. Actually, not just another injury but an injury to our hottest hitter. The Beckster threw in the vicinity of Cervelli’s head twice, including once after Cisco had the nerve to step out of the batter’s box. And then we get to Jeter, who was plunked squarely on the #2 on his back. I was watching via the NESN feed (thanks, MLB Network), but it was easy to see how angry some of the Yankees were — CC, A-Rod, even Mo. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Mo mad, because normally he looks like this.
Anyhow, the Beckster basically handed the Yankees the ball game, but we did get timely hits too. (You go, Randy Winn.) And even better, we got another great performance by Huuughes. He got into trouble here and there but always managed to get himself out of it, and gave us seven strong innings. Kudos. I wish D-Rob would recapture his 2009 form, but maybe he needs some time in Scranton to work things out. Dunno. What I also don’t know is why the ump didn’t warn Beckett….and whether the Yankees will retaliate tomorrow with CC on the mound. If I were a Red Sock and CC plunked me, I sure wouldn’t charge the mound and risk looking at this.
On one hand, I want to see the Yankees send a message. On the other, we don’t need any ejections or suspensions, and we certainly don’t need more injuries. I mean, Nick Johnson. Wow. When I heard he had a sore wrist and was on his way to NY for an MRI, all I could think of was that he’s becoming this guy, only with a better attitude.
To sum up, in yesterday’s post I speculated that The Rivalry might be getting a little stale. Now? Not so much.
On the eve of the first game in yet another Yankees-Red Sox series, I was feeling a little tired of The Rivalry. Seriously. Not only do we play them tomorrow night for what seems like the millionth time, but with some of the old Red Sox antagonists gone — Pedro, Schilling, Trot Nixon, Kevin Millar — I began to wonder if I could muster the same old feelings. You know the ones I’m talking about. They look like this.
Now that the Yankees are coming off a championship and have already won this season’s opening round at Fenway, I’m not quite as crazed as usual. I mean, David Ortiz pals around with A-Rod during batting practice. Mike Lowell always seems pleasant enough. And what about how Jeter jokes with Pedroia and Youkilis; the three of them act like brothers, for God’s sake.
So what’s to get all worked up about? The fans at Fenway and their “Yankees suck” chants? Even that’s so yesterday. I’m telling you, I was sitting here wondering how to psyche myself up for tomorrow night and then I lit on Boston’s starter for the game: Josh Beckett. Yesss. There’s no one I enjoy watching the Yankees beat more than the Beckster. So, for anyone reading this who’s having the same sense of malaise that I was, check out this video. It was made by a love struck Red Sox fan named Hillary. Pay particular attention to the shot of Josh with the deer. Well, the puppy one’s cool too. Anyhow, just try and watch this and then tell me you don’t want the Yanks to hit, like, 20 homers off this guy.
I would have preferred the “W,” obviously, but the Yanks aren’t going to win every game (aren’t I philosophical). And this one did have its happy moments:
CC’s early dominance.
Swisher’s at bat in the 4th when he worked the walk to extend the inning.
Jeter and Gardner’s double steal.
Cano’s two hits.
Knocking out Beckett.
Oh, and it was swell seeing Pedro again.
The game also reminded me how nauseating it is when the bullpen gives it up. Thumbs down to:
Chan Ho Park for looking like a different pitcher than the one at spring training.
Damaso Marte for picking up where he left off in the 2009 regular season.
Joba for not throwing with the kind of velocity he used to. (Where did it go?)
Also requiring a spanking were:
Brett Gardner for that crappy throw home (not even close).
Nick Swisher for letting Youkilis’ ball roll to the wall.
Cano for settling for a single when he might have had a double.
Jorge for allowing the passed ball.
Joe Girardi for not pulling CC when he was clearly out of gas.
The Yankees for not carrying another lefty (can you say Boone Logan!).
And then there was Steven Tyler singing “God Bless America.”
At first I thought we were getting a mother/daughter combo. But then “she” turned out to be “he,” and he made me appreciate even the dearly departed Kate Smith. Neil Diamond came next, and, well, I think I’ll just say that I wish him well in his future gigs at casinos and bar mitzvahs.
I’m actually glad for Monday’s off-day. I’m exhausted. As usual, Yankees-Red Sox led to compelling baseball and I was thrilled that the season had finally arrived, but we had a ripple effect from the earthquake in Baja before the game started. No damage here, just a few seconds of rolling, which unnerved me and made me and my neighbors feel kind of seasick.
Next Sunday, at this very moment, barring snow or rain or the earth’s takeover by aliens, the Yankees will be in the midst of Opening Night at Fenway. Maybe the score is 0-0 in the 5th. Or maybe, since we’re talking about Yankees-Red Sox, we’re only in the 3rd. Either way, I’ll be watching, clammy hands and all.
What’s to be nervous about? It’s only the first game of a long season, and it’s not as if the Yankees aren’t ready for prime time. They haven’t had the best spring training in terms of actual wins and losses, but everybody’s managed to stay healthy (shhhhhh – no jinx). Granderson finally seems comfortable at the plate, against both lefties and righties. Tex and Cano, two traditionally slow starters, have shown signs of life. A-Rod has gotten hot, despite the distractions. And the pitching is coming around, especially now that the rotation is set. And yet, I’ll be watching with my hands over my eyes.
OK, I’m being ridiculous. We’re not talking about Game 7 of a World Series here. I need to get a grip, stop acting like such a wuss and approach next Sunday night with a new sense of fun. And here’s how I’m going to do it: I’ll imagine the worst things that could happen. That’s right. Once I get those out of the way, the game will be a piece of cake. Worth a try, right?
The Worst Things That Could Happen Next Sunday Night
1) Jeter dislocates his shoulder.
No problem. He already dislocated it in 2003 and the Yankees made it to the World Series anyway.
2) CC gets shelled.
(Thanks to Bronx Goblin for the pic.) Again, no problem. He got shelled last year, giving up nine runs in 2 2/3 to the Rays and failing to win his 20th game. The Yankees won the World Series anyway.
3) Jacoby Ellsbury steals home.
Sure, it was a little demoralizing when he did it last April, but, again, the Yankees ended up with the trophy.
4) Josh Beckett shuts the Yankees offense down.
He’s done it before – last August, for instance. But thanks to Tazawa and A-Rod’s two-run blast, the Yankees prevailed in 15 innings.
5) A-Rod has to meet with the feds next Sunday – for Easter dinner with their families.
I wouldn’t be happy about this, granted, but the Yankees made do without A-Rod for over a month last year, and it all turned out just fine.
So, I’m feeling much better about things after writing this post. What great therapy blogs are.
Last night I announced the 2009 She-Fan Award for Best Postseason Enemy – the opposing player who best helped the Yankees win the ALDS, ALCS or World Series. Congratulations again to Brad Lidge.
Tonight’s award goes to the opposing player who contributed mightily to this year’s most exciting phenomenon: the walk-off victory. The Yankees had 15 walk-offs during the regular season, some more significant than others but all a great source of pleasure for Yankee fans – and for A.J. Burnett.
And the nominees for Best Regular Season Walk-Off Enemy are…
– Brian Fuentes, Los Angeles Angels
Yes, Fuentes was one of last night’s nominees, but he merits another look in this category. On May 1st, he allowed a bases-loaded walk-off single by Posada in the ninth, and the Yanks beat the Angels 10-9 after having been down by five runs in the game. A big win against a big rival.
– Joe Nathan, Minnesota Twins
Another return nominee, Nathan was on the mound on May 15th, which, by the way, marked A-Rod’s debut at the new Stadium as well as the game in which Brett Gardner had an inside-the-park home run. In the ninth, Gardner tripled off Nathan, Tex singled, A-Rod walked, Cano was walked intentionally, and – with the bases loaded – Melky blooped a two-out single to win the game 5-4. The Yanks went on to sweep the Twins with three consecutive walk-offs.
– Brad Lidge, Philadelphia Phillies
Yet another return nominee, Lidge pitched the ninth on May 23rd. The Yanks were down by two runs, but the Phillies closer walked Damon, gave up a game-tying homer to A-Rod, allowed a single to Cano, who stole second, and served up a walk-off single to Melky. A foreshadowing of things to come.
– Luis Castillo, New York Mets
We all know what happened on June 12th, but here’s the recap. The Yanks were down by a run in the ninth when K-Rod came in to close it out for the Mets. Jeter singled, stole second and K-Rod intentionally walked Tex to pitch to a struggling A-Rod, who popped up to Castillo for the third out. Inexplicably, L-Cas dropped the ball, and Tex and A-Rod scored the winning runs. The best part was watching K-Rod celebrate – prematurely.
– Shawn Camp, Toronto Blue Jays
July 4th was George Steinbrenner’s birthday and the 70th anniversary of Lou Gehrig’s “Luckiest Man” speech. So it was only fitting that Roy Halladay did not get the win on this day. Instead, he left the game in a funk after Damon’s two-run shot tied the score in the seventh. It wasn’t until the 12th that Posada singled in the winning run off Camp, who is a double She-Fan Award nominee for the walk-off single he gave up to Cano on August 12th.
– Junichi Tazawa, Boston Red Sox
Who can forget the August 7th game that lasted 15 innings and five-and-a-half hours? It was Burnett against Beckett, two former Marlins, and the score was 0-0 when A-Rod stepped in against the rookie Red Sox pitcher and belted one into the seats with Jeter aboard for a 2-0 walk-off. The win expanded the Yankees’ lead in the AL East to four-and-a-half games.
– Kyle Farnsworth, Kansas City Royals
No, the game on September 29th against the Royals hardly mattered in terms of the pennant race. But seeing old friend Farnsy was a treat nonetheless. With the September call-ups in the lineup, Cervelli got the Yankees’ ninth-inning rally going with a ground ball that deflected off Farnsworth for a single. Cisco moved to third on Hinske’s single and scored on Cano’s sac fly. Up to the plate stepped another call-up, Juan Miranda, whose grounder off Farnsy’s leg scored Hinske. The Yanks won 4-3 and all was right with the world.
The envelope please.
And the 2009 She-Fan Award for Best Regular Season Walk-off Enemy goes to…
***** Junichi Tazawa *****
The sentimental favorite would have been Castillo, of course. But an interleague series against the hapless Mets that didn’t really count for a lot except in entertainment value? Conversely, the 15-inning game against the Red Sox was huge. They had beaten us eight straight times coming into the series, and first place in the division was on the line. Once A-Rod hit that shot off of Tazawa, they had to settle for a Wild Card berth. Congratulations to Mr. Tazawa. Oh, wait. Mr. Tazawa is out of the country and can’t be here to accept his award. Accepting it for him is his teammate.
“Oh, wow,” said Mr. Papelbon. “The She-Fan Award is really heavy.”
“That’s because it’s solid gold,” I said. “Maybe you’ll win one next year.”
OK, that’s stretching it. But Hideki, who is very likely finishing up his final season in pinstripes, has been belting homers lately. He hit two in Seattle on Thursday night, two in Boston on Friday night and two in Boston tonight. Not too shabby for a guy whose knees are so bad he has to keep having them drained.
His wife must be very proud (if she really exists).
He wasn’t the only Bomber to hit bombs off Beckett in the Yankees’ 8-4 series win at Fenway.
Jeter in the first: Boom!
Cano in the fourth: Boom!
A-Rod in the fifth: Boom!
It was that sort of night. And CC provided the power from the mound. Wouldn’t you be scared to hit against a guy that looked like this?
He went six-plus, didn’t walk a batter and threw 118 pitches, giving up four runs, three earned, and staying focused even when his defense let him down. He was a beast, plain and simple. Watch him roar.
(Here, kitty kitty. That lion has seriously scary teeth. CC, on the other hand, can afford a good dentist.)
Hughes and Mo came in to finish the Sox off, and the Yankees left town with a 7.5 game lead in the division.
But all was not perfect tonight. Cano made two errors. (Maybe he needs a few days off, Joe.) And Damon did one of his flying Wallenda acts in left field.
Still, it was a spectacular road trip that Yankee fans have to feel pumped about. Sure, there’s over a month to go, and if I were Brian Cashman I’d try to pick up better pitching insurance than Mitre or Gaudin. I wouldn’t mind another glove in the outfield, either. But I’m as optimistic about the postseason as a pessimist can be. I’m seeing the glass half full.
P.S. I’m passing along a photo that was sent to me the other day. A Yankee she-fan from Texas read my book while she was on vacation in Hawaii and wanted me to see the proof. Thanks, Mary. Very thoughtful of you.