Friday, April 8, 2011

Tough Breaks For Twins, Red Sox & Mets

The Yankees have now taken 2 out of 3 in each of their first 2 series of the season, home to the Toronto Blue Jays and home to the Minnesota Twins.

A.J. Burnett, the biggest question mark among the established starters, pitched 6 strong to go to 2-0. Francisco Liriano, apparently still recovering from a bad shoulder injury a couple of years ago, did not pitch well and fell to 0-2.

Joba Chamberlain pitched a scoreless 7th, and Rafael Soriano bounced back from his atrocious outing on Tuesday to pitch a scoreless 8th. Some guy named Mariano Rivera pitched a scoreless 9th, and picked up his 4th save. I got a good feeling about this guy, he might help us a bit this season.

No home runs, but Derek Jeter picked up 2 hits, and single and a double. He's now 69 away from 3,000.

It wasn't all good, though. There was an unfortunate play in the bottom of the 7th, as Nick Swisher attempted to break up a double play at 2nd base, and he collided with Tsuyoshi Nishioka, breaking the Twin shortstop's fibula.

Swish was crushed. He's a good guy, doesn't play dirty, and after the game went into the Twins' locker room to apologize. Reports suggest that the Twins have accepted his apology.

As a Yankee Fan, I certainly want to defend Swish. But as an Arsenal fan, this play looked all too familiar. Reports are saying it was a clean hit, but when I saw it on the news last night, it looked like Swish was a bit out of the baseline. It was a little reckless.

But it wasn't intentional. It certainly wasn't malicious, as my fellow Arsenal fans know all too well. This wasn't Ryan Shawcross of Stoke City on the Welsh Aaron Ramsey on February 27, 2010, or Martin Taylor of Birmingham City on the Brazilian-Croatian Eduardo da Silva on February 23, 2008, or Dan Smith of Sunderland on the Ivorian-French Abou Diaby on May 1, 2006. Unlike those three players who purposely injured the Arsenal players, as was stated at the time by the Arsenal-hating, hyper-nationalist English media, Nick Swisher really is "not that kind of player."

I'm trying to remember the last time a Yankee player purposely tried to injure an opponent. It was probably a purpose pitch by Roger Clemens. Aside from pitchers throwing brushbacks, it may go back to that 1976 brawl between the Yankees and Red Sox, in which Bill Lee accused Graig Nettles of throwing him to the ground, wrecking his pitching shoulder, and then, when Lee got up to yell at Nettles, Nettles sucker-punched him. But that was 35 years ago.

Paul O'Neill never injured an opponent; if he had, I would have suspected purpose, because he was a really intense guy. But Swish? He's a goofball, but not a villain. Aside from pitched balls, he wouldn't intentionally hurt a fly.

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The Yankees and Jays are now 4-2. The Baltimore Orioles are 5-1 and remain in 1st place in the American League Eastern Division. The Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays remain 0-6. They are the last winless teams this season. The Texas Rangers (without The Great Cliff Lee, mind you) are the last undefeated team, 6-0.

Now the Yankees go into Boston to face the Oh-Sox -- I wish I'd thought that one up, but I didn't. 0-9, maybe? I'd settle for taking 2 of 3 on the road, which would still leave The Scum 1-8.

This afternoon at 2, on YES (or NESN), the Sox' home opener, Phil Hughes against John Lackey. Tomorrow afternoon at 1, on Fox, Ivan Nova against Clay Buchholz. Sunday night at 8, on ESPN, CC Sabathia against Super Punk himself, Josh Beckett.

Let's extend the Sox' misery. Misery loves compounding.

Headline in today's Boston Globe: "Nation girds for shutdown." It refers to the federal government shutdown, which is, if New York's Senator Chuck Schumer is telling the truth, solely down now to the Republicans' desire to defund Planned Parenthood. Guess they don't want women voting for them next year.

Have to say, though, for a moment, I thought the Globe headline meant that "Red Sox Nation" was about to get shut down by Yankees Universe.

Up there, they're acting as if the 2004 and 2007 seasons never happened. Of course, legitimately, they didn't.

http://www.boston.com/sports/baseball/redsox/gallery/2011/slow_starts_040711/

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The Phillies, having dropped their home opener to the Mets, took the last 2, including an 11-0 pasting of the Mutts yesterday afternoon. The Fightin' Phils are now 5-1 and in 1st place in the National League East. I suspect they will remain there until, oh, the 28th of September. (Which would, of course, mean they would still be in 1st place in the NL East until at least March 2012.)

Today is the Mets' home opener at Pity, I mean, Citi Field. They host the Washington Nationals. The Ex-Pos are, as seemingly always, rebuilding. R.A. Dickey goes against Jordan Zimmerman.

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