Tagged: Matt Garza

Yanks-Rays Round 1: Yankees By A TKO

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Tonight’s series opener felt like it might be yet another seesaw battle between the two teams, but Curtis Granderson (or Grandis Curtison, as I called him in a moment of excitement) delivered the knockout punch with his second homer of the game. Whatever he and Kevin Long did to his swing worked, and his improved offense couldn’t have come at a better time. With Tex clearly ailing and flailing, Grandy is key to the Yanks’ success. Jeter looked a lot better at the plate too, and Cervelli seemed rejuvenated.
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Ivan Nova continued to impress – until he kind of fell apart again. I guess he just runs out of gas.
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Was I about to stick my hand into the TV and slap Logan and Gaudin when they couldn’t throw strikes? Uh-huh. But it all ended happily, if shakily, after Mo closed it out. As for Garza, maybe he should take Pedro Martinez’s line and call the Yankees his daddy. It was nice not to have to play scoreboard baseball during the game. The Yanks kept the Rays in the rearview mirror for another day. Whew.
And now a few words about the pre-game activities. Am I the only one who got choked up? What a ceremony, as only the Yankees can do ceremonies.
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Watching the entire Steinbrenner family come out onto the field, including Mrs. Steinbrenner whom I’d never seen before, was touching, as was the procession of players past and present (Roy White is such a class act) who followed them to Monument Park, and the return of Torre and Mattingly who both got rousing receptions. After The Boss’ monument was unveiled, I was mesmerized by the sight of Mo crouched all by himself staring at it, as if he really was saying goodbye for the last time. Sob!
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And how about Steinbrenner’s granddaughter and her rendition of “God Bless America?” I wasn’t expecting much, figuring she got the gig because of nepotism, but she was awesome. Bring her back, please! And speaking of anthems, how spooky was Frank Sinatra, Jr.? He not only sounded like his father but has aged the same way (well, maybe a little more jowly).
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Anyhow, I’m sure it was a great night to be in the Bronx. I’m grateful I was able to see it all on TV way out here in the boonies of California. Speaking of which, I’ll be on a writers panel at the local Borders store in Goleta tomorrow night if anyone’s in the ‘hood. Stop by and say hi.
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Talk About A Seesaw Game

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First we lost a heartbreaker last night. Then we jumped out to a healthy lead against Garza tonight, thanks in part to homers by Cano and A-Rod. Then Nova and Logan coughed up the lead.
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Then Cano tied it up at 7-7 and it was yet another battle of the pens.
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I was hanging on every pitch from Joba, Wood and Robertson and went nuts with joy and relief when Granderson made the catch of our season. Just look at his handsome face and maybe give him a clap or two, OK?
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You could tell the team was fired up after that, so when Jorge came up to pinch hit I was ready for something good to happen. And it did.
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Did he crush that ball or what? Up by just a run with Mo on the mound in the bottom of the 10th – the second straight night of extras – it was tense times. Everybody knew Crawford would try to steal second and make it, so I was getting antsy with all the throws over to first. But what happened next was straight out of a dream (a good one this time). Crawford took off for third and was nailed – absolutely gunned down – by none other than Greg Golson. Who?
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Yeah, I didn’t know he had an arm either. Fast? Sure. A decent call up? Right. But a missile to throw out Crawford? Flabbergasted. So, it seemed, were the Yankees as they celebrated the win. I haven’t seen Jeter that excited in awhile. This is one series that has earned the advance hype: the two best teams going at it. I can only imagine what Wednesday night will bring. The one thing I do know is that since I’m back in California I returned to my playoff ritual of grilling turkey burgers for dinner during the games, and the rally burgers worked tonight. I will be eating another one tomorrow night. Care to join me? I’ve got plenty of them.
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Are We Happy With Grandy Now????

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Three homers in two games won’t erase his mediocre first half of the season, but Curtis Granderson is finally getting people’s attention. He’s come alive since the All Star break and I couldn’t be happier about it. I know. We had to give up AJax, but I’ve been a Grandy fan for a long time and always coveted him for the Yankees. In tonight’s win over the Indians, he provided the go-ahead runs and might have scored another if not for one of the umpiring crew’s two blown calls. But it’s not just his baseball skills that get to me. It’s the man’s character. His charity work isn’t for show; it’s real. He’s real. Real enough to cry on camera. Take a look. (The tears come about 2:15 into the interview. I got choked up watching him choke up!)
So yeah, I love Grandy. Now onto the game:
Javy pitched great. 
Dave Robertson pitched great.
Boone Logan pitched great.
Mo pitched great.
Joba didn’t even warm up.
It’s weird how I still see midges when we play in Cleveland. I was there in ’07 during the ALDS, and tonight I had flashbacks.
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Maybe it’s time I got professional help. 
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Congrats to Matt Garza and the Rays on baseball’s latest no-no. It must really be the year of the pitcher. I wonder who will be next????
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Yankees Take Labor Day Twin Bill

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The Yanks won both games of the Labor Day doubleheader against the Rays, which was impressive considering how they had spazzed out on Sunday in Toronto. Back at home in the Bronx, they looked – dare I say it? – invincible, almost like comic book heroes.
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The first game was a pitcher’s duel: CC versus Garza. The score was knotted at 1-1 until the eighth when the Yankees played small ball. (Yes, they can do other things besides go deep.) They took walks! They got singles! (A-Rod had three.) They hit sac flies! By the end of the inning they led 4-1. And that’s where it stayed, thanks to another brilliant performance by Huuuuuughes, who notched the “W,” and Mo, who got the save. Speaking of Mo, it was great to have him back. I hope his groin is feeling fine now. It certainly looked fine, although I’m not exactly a groin expert.
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CC was superb yet again, pitching one-run ball over seven innings with 10 Ks – the Yankees’ true ace, despite the no-decision. Brett Gardner, fresh off the DL, made a great diving catch in the fifth, and Posada threw out Crawford trying to steal in the eighth. What a difference good defense makes. There was one sour note, however.
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Carlos Pena broke two fingers as he tried to check his swing on a ball that came inside in the first inning.
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He’ll be out for the remainder of the season. He’s a good guy and a good player, so I’m sorry for him and his fans.
Game Two of the twin bill featured a terrific bounce back outing by A.J. and it was a huge relief, given how he’s been knocked around lately.
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After allowing a run in the first, he settled right down and threw six scoreless innings. By the time he departed, the offense had blown the game open. Tex went wild, hitting two bombs:
a three-run homer in the third, to make it 5-1 Yanks….
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and a solo shot in the sixth for 8-1.
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The offense piled on, and the final score was 11-1. Oh, there was another sour note.
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Jeter, the man of the hour as he tries to break Lou Gehrig‘s record, didn’t get a hit all day/night. He went 0-for-8. He didn’t seem to mind though. When the Yankees win, he wins.
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Did I spend every waking minute in front of the TV watching baseball this Labor Day holiday? Almost. I did take a break between games and went over to a friend’s pool, where there was entertainment of a different sort. My husband Michael, who was on his high school and college swimming teams back in a previous century, tried to climb into one of those floating pool chairs – and couldn’t. Poor guy. Little did he know I had the She-Fan Cam with me.

AJ Burnett, My Hero

I don’t usually fall for men with “body art.”
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And normally it takes me a while to form meaningful attachments.
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But AJ Burnett has come to the Yankees’ rescue twice in a row, and that’s exactly the kind of behavior that wins my trust and affection.
Here’s how he did it against the Rays and their cowbell-clanging supporters.
* He threw six innings of no-hit ball, completely handcuffing the previously elusive Upton.
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* He hit Zobrist on the foot in the second inning. But he protested that the ball hit the ground first and the umpire bought it, thanks to his great sales job.
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* He buzzed one up and in to Longoria in the bottom of the fourth after Matt Garza had buzzed one up and in to Swisher in the top of the frame, displaying a keen sense of fair play.
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* He wore a perpetual snarl/lip curl, and I almost expected him to point his glove at the Rays and yell: “Get. Off. My. Lawn.”
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* After he gave up his first hit to Crawford in the seventh, followed by singles to Longoria and Pena, he could have lost his focus. Instead, he came back out in the eighth and retired all three men he faced.
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* He was the guiding force behind the Yankees’ 7-2 victory over the Rays, out-dueling Garza and his fluttering glove trick.
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Of course, there were other heroes….
Swisher for continuing to swing a hot bat….Gardner for smacking back-to-back doubles….Molina for picking off Pena (Carlos)….Girardi for replacing Ransom with Pena (Ramiro)…Jeter for homering to put the game away….Bruney for nailing down the “W”….Tex for playing with a sore wrist, although I hope that broken-bat foul didn’t make it worse.
Speaking of “sore,” Nady’s got an elbow problem? What’s up with that? I guess we’ll find out after he spends part of Wednesday in here.
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P.S. Starting Friday, I’ll be a regular weekly guest on the sports talk radio show “The Natural.” Hosted by Greg Marotta, the show is broadcast live from 4-5 p.m. Eastern Time on WVNJ-AM 1160 throughout Northern New Jersey, Westchester, Rockland and parts of Manhattan, Long Island and Connecticut, as well as via streaming audio on their web site.

“‘The Natural’ goes after out-of-the-box guests,” said Greg of his daily show. “Larry Lucchino….Mickey Rourke…..and now Jane Heller.”

I never expected to be in the same sentence as either Larry Lucchino or Mickey Rourke. But wonders never cease and talking about the Yankees never gets old.

A-Rod/Tex Rift? Does It Matter?

The Yankees blog “Was Watching” posted about the supposed tension between A-Rod and Teixeira when both were with the Rangers. Maybe there was a rift back then, but Tex said during his press conference that A-Rod was one of the players who got in touch to congratulate him on becoming a Yankee.

There’s a long history of teammates not getting along, even hating each other. But in most cases, the strained relationships didn’t affect the success of the ball club.
For instance….
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Babe and Lou, despite mugging for the camera together, were said to be polar opposites who felt genuine enmity toward each other. Did it hurt the Yankees? Nope.
Neither did the resentment between Thurman
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and Reggie.
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Jorge and El Duque had a dustup in the dugout after a game
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but the Yankees more than managed.
Turning to other teams, the Dodgers did just fine in spite of bad feelings between Don Sutton
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and Steve Garvey. (Did anyone like Steve Garvey?)
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The Red Sox didn’t suffer just because Carl Yazstremski
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wasn’t thrilled about sharing the spotlight with Tony Conigliaro.
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When Torii Hunter was with the Twins, he threw a punch at Justin Morneau
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but they kissed and made up.
Even last year’s Cinderella, the Rays, had two players who got in each other’s faces.
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But Garza and Navarro patched things up and won the Al pennant.
Baseball teams are like families – there’s a good chance someone won’t get along with someone else. But the teams that push through to the playoffs find a way to make even negative chemistry work.
It all comes down to being able to put aside petty differences, recognize the greater good, and go like this….
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Paging Garza’s Sports Psychologist

Jack Curry of the NY Times has an interesting article today about Garza’s evolution from loose cannon who got into a shoving match with Dioner Navarro to formidable postseason pitcher who plays nice with his teammates. Chalk up his success to his work with a sports psychologist.

My question is: Who is the sports psychologist and how can the Yankees put him on the payroll?
Certainly, he/she could be helpful with…
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Our most complicated Yankee, A-Rod could have sessions involving his fear of hitting in the clutch.
The shrink could also work with…
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The Yankee most needing a motivational push, Cano could benefit from a few hours on the couch.
And then there’s…
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JoPo has had anger issues in the past. (Who can forget the dugout fight with El Duque?)
Wang (shyness), Joba (the drinking/driving thing) and others would be great patients too.
Could we get this shrink on the phone before next season?