I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I’ve developed a Pavlovian Reflex watching the 2012 Yankees. It goes as follows: Untuck —-> Exhale. Every time.
Last night was no different, as I was holding my breath for the entire 9th inning. Rafael Soriano managed to hang on for his 37th save in 40 chances, but it came with the usual drama of a Fenway Park conclusion. Jarrod Saltalamacchia led off the 9th with a solo shot to right that brought the Sox within a run, and Daniel Nava followed it up with a fly ball to left that pushed Chris Dickerson back as far as the Monster would allow before he brought it in for out number one.
After retiring Mauro Gomez on an easy grounder to Robinson Cano, Soriano stabbed at a comebacker from Mike Aviles that resulted in a deflection and subsequent infield hit. Jacoby Ellsbury represented the winning run for the Sox (of course) but gave Soriano a shot at redemption – a comebacker that Soriano handled cleanly and underhand tossed to Nick Swisher for the third out. That was a dense opening paragraph. A rant, if you will. Untuck. Yeeeesh.
ALL the Home Runs! NOTHING Else!
Familiar sight: The Yankees scored five runs last night, all via the long ball.
Another familiar sight: The Yankees went 0-for-13 with RISP, placing them at 1-for-25 with RISP for the series.
Curtis Granderson threw up a pretty vintage Grandy line: 2-for-5 with 2HR, 3RBI, and 2K, putting him at .235/.324/.489 37HR 89RBI and 170K on the season. Grandy led off the 4th inning with a solo drive off Red Sox starter Aaron Cook, followed by an A-Rod single, and a Robbie Cano opposite field shot to complete the tater sandwich (tired of the food puns yet? No? Okay).
Eric Chavez doubled later in the inning, and Ichiro reached on an error by 3B Pedro Ciriaco (he’s human!) but Chris Stewart remembered to fire up the RISPFAIL machine and grounded out to end the inning. At this point, I figured that my boys would have Cook against the ropes, but the righty bounced back for a relatively quiet inning in the 5th and was removed after a Nick Swisher double to lead off the 6th.
In his 2 previous starts against the Yanks, Cook had allowed 12ER and 19H in 9.1IP. Since the RISPFAIL machine was purring like a kitten by the time Cook was lifted, this time he escaped with 5+IP and only allowed the 3R in the 4th.
Leading 3-1 in the 7th, Derek Jeter led off with a single off of (noted Yankee double agent) Alfredo Aceves, and Grandy followed up with his second homer of the night – this one a 2R insurance shot.
Complain all you want about the reliance on the long ball, but if a team isn’t going to hit with men on base, they’ve simply got to find another way. I’ll take some HRs here and there, thank you very much.
Hopefully Curtis has turned a corner. This lineup is significantly better when he is comfortable with his hitting mechanics, and he hasn’t been for the better part of the last 2 1/2 months.
Speaking of turning a corner, Nick Swisher didn’t factor in the scoring, but he did go 3-for-5 with a 2B – his second straight multi-hit performance. Both Grandy and Swish hit .205 in September last year and were non-existent against the Tigers in the ALDS, so seeing both of those guys start to turn it on a bit here is a promising sign for the offense moving forward.
David Phelps: True Yankee
Okay, I kid, I kid, but still. The guy went out there in the hostile confines of Fenway Park, in September, in a first place tie, and he arguably pitched the best game of his young career. This was not a gem, but it didn’t have to be. Watching the game, I sensed confidence in Phelps, even in the bottom of the 5th when he gave up a leadoff triple to Saltalamacchia (more on this later).
Phelps was poised, trusted his breaking ball in all counts, and did something he has never done before: pitched beyond the 5th inning only allowing 1 run. With Nova returning to the rotation to replace Freddy Garcia, and Andy Pettitte willing himself to health, one would have to think that this may have been Phelps’ last turn at starting in 2012. He’s done everything the Yankees have asked of him this year, and done it in a respectable fashion. I’ve liked what I’ve seen from him out of the pen this year, and I would sign up for more of that in the coming weeks. ::thinks of reliever Phil Hughes in 2009, salivates::
On Bullpens and Binders
Joe Girardi loves his Binder. The Binder can be a very just and kind Binder, but the Binder must be honored. The only way to honor the Binder is with MANY PITCHING CHANGES.
Last night, Joe paid great respect to the Binder by using 6 relievers after David Phelps’ exit with 2 down in the 6th. Clay Rapada came on to retire James Loney to end the 6th, but with huge-platoon-split Cody Ross leading off Girardi went to Cody Eppley to start the 7th.
Two batters and a Salty double later we saw Boone Logan who, seemingly exhausted from an afternoon of pitcher’s fielding practice, gave way to Joba Chamberlain after Daniel Nava tagged him for a double. A ground out and yet another double – this time by pinch hitter Mike Aviles – and the Red Sox tightened up the score at 5-3.
David Robertson started the 8th and got two outs before giving up a double to James Loney and turning it over to Soriano, who struck out Cody Ross looking to diffuse the threat (an enjoyable sight, equipped with amusing ripple effects).
A win is a win is a win, and the Yanks needed this one badly, but one has got to think that the pen is going to be a little thin in the final game of this series. Logan, Robertson, and still-healing Joba all threw a fair number of high leverage pitches two nights in a row so they are probably going to be unavailable.
Since Ivan Nova will be going on Saturday, I assume Freddy Garcia will be available out of the pen in game 3 so that provides some depth. I’m fully expecting Joe to be paying the Binder a great deal of respect if we see a close one tonight.
The Moment I Thought the Season Was Over and Other Miscellany
- In the top of the 8th inning, the Yankees had a light rally brewing that involved an error, a poor throw on a SB, a bunt, and a walk to a backup catcher. It may have been difficult to hear over the cacophonous whir of the RISPFAIL machine, but I wailed upon viewing the last out of the inning. Derek Jeter hit a tailor-made DP ball to 2B and in the course of busting it down the line, he seemingly aggravated the foot injury that he suffered against the Rays last week. He came up limping, hobbled a bit up the 1B line, and then was escorted back to the dugout by Girardi and trainer Steve Donohue. It looked ugly but according to Mark Feinsand of the NY Daily News, Jeter is still dealing with the same bone bruise in the left ankle and has been for days. No new injury. No worse than it was before. In true Jeter fashion, he insisted that he will play in Thursday’s series finale. Unless Girardi has him physically restrained, I’d bet the house on it.
- Jarrod Saltalamacchia finished one hit shy of the cycle – a single. Salty only had 4 career triples in 459 games coming into Wednesday’s game. He also only had 14 doubles on the year.
- Robinson Cano’s HR in the 4th inning was his 30th of the season, marking a new career high. Yay Robbie.
- Vicente Padilla made an appearance for one batter in the top of the 9th. Unfortunately, it was not Mark Teixeira.
- I find Cody Ross to be sniveling. I thought so when he was on the Marlins. I continued to think so when he was on the Giants. Now that he is on the Sox, I no longer feel the need to explain my views. He is a sniveler, and he sniveled after Soriano struck him out looking with James Loney on 2B to end the 8th. He made such a stink that he got himself tossed, along with 3B coach Jerry Royster and Manager Bobby Valentine.
- That marks the sixth time this year that Bobby V has been ejected, more than any other manager or player in one season in Red Sox history.
I was really hoping that we would see some Groucho glasses tonight, but I was left wanting more. If you were as well, here is a photo of what could have been:
Image Courtesy of theheckler.com
Tonight the Yanks take on the Red Sox at 7:10pm EST in the rubber match of the three game set at Fenway Park. The Yanks will send Phil Hughes (14-12, 4.13 ERA) against Felix Doubront (10-8, 5.21 ERA) in a matchup for the home run lover in all of us (33 and 22 allowed, respectively). Should be fun.