Friday, April 15, 2011

Yankees 1, Harrison Ford 0

I saw the most recent (last?) Indiana Jones film, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, on its opening night, a Thursday, May 22, 2008. The theater was packed, and a big cheer went up from all of us, myself included, when Indy borrowed a line that his portrayer, Harrison Ford, had used in his other major role, Han Solo from the Star Wars films: "I've got a bad feeling about this!"

Last night, the Yankees played the 2nd and last game of their rain-shortened series against the first-place Baltimore Orioles.

Phil Hughes was the Yankee starter. He's been struggling since late last season. "I've got a bad feeling about this!"

Starting for the Orioles was Jake Arrieta. I had seen his major league debut, last year, on June 10, in Camden Yards, the day Alex Rodriguez was crushing balls in batting practice, but then couldn't field a grounder in the 1st inning, taking himself out of the game, leaving new 3rd baseman Ramiro Pena and his 36 OPS+ in the cleanup spot. Arrieta was, obviously, a pitcher the Yankees had never seen before, and, as is so often the case, when a pitcher like that opposes the Yankees, it's bad news. And here he was again, having now pitched twice against the Yankees, going 2-0 with an ERA of 3.65 against the Yankees. "I've got a bad feeling about this!"

Hughes, again, did not have it, getting shelled for 5 runs and not getting out of the 5th inning. It was 5-0 Baltimore in the 5th, and Bartolo Colon, whom most of us thought was washed up, was coming in to relieve. "I've got a bad feeling about this!"

Well, if this game had been attended by a few thousand English soccer fans, they would have had a song for the Orioles: "Five-nil, and you fucked it up! Five-nil, and you fucked it up!"

Colon pitched brilliantly in the 5th, 6th and 7th, and into the 8th. Joba Chamberlain took over from there and got us through the 9th. Hughes may still be struggling, but Colon and Joba are back.

The Yankees clawed back. They scored 1 in the 5th, 2 in the 6th, 1 in the 7th. In the bottom of the 9th, it was 5-4 Baltimore, and Jorge Posada stepped to the plate. First pitch: BOOM! A tremendous blast for a tie ballgame and his 5th home run of the season, the 266th of his career.

Then Curtis Granderson doubled. The winning run was on 2nd with nobody out! The Yankees were going to win!

Cue Lee Corso: "Not so fast, my friend!" Russell Martin failed to bunt Grandy over to 3rd, and then he and Brett Gardner struck out. Then Derek Jeter (1-for-5, a step closer to 3,000 hits) showed his 2010 form and hit an easy grounder to short. The Yankees only managed to tie it, not win it.

And when Mariano Rivera comes in with the game tied, it doesn't usually work out well. "I've got a bad feeling about this!"

I need not have worried: Mo was fine, and in the bottom of the 10th, the Yankees got to 2nd and 3rd with nobody out. Nick Swisher hit a sacrifice fly to right to score A-Rod. Cue John Sterling: "Ballgame over! Yankees win! Theeee Yankees win!"

Yes, Swish got the "walkoff pie" from A.J. Burnett. I think Swish enjoys that particular celebration more than anybody.

The Yankees beat the Orioles, and they beat some long odds. What's that, Harrison Ford, you have something else to say? "Never tell me the odds!"

Me to the Yankees: "I love you!"

The Yankees to me: "I know."

WP: Rivera, 1-0 (obviously, there was no save in the game). LP: Michael Gonzalez, 0-1.

*

Still, there is reason to be concerned about Hughes, whose ERA is now a shocking 13.94. And there appears to be no injury here. In addition, Gardner is now batting .150; Posada, in spite of last night's heroics, .189; Granderson, .194; Swisher, in spite of last night's heroics, .211; Mark Teixeira, after a hot beginning to the season, .225; Jeter, .233.

In spite of all this, with last night's win, the Yankees move into 1st place, at 7-4, 1 game ahead of the Orioles, 1 1/2 (2 in the loss column) ahead of the Toronto Blue Jays, 3 1/2 (4 in the LC) ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays (still struggling despite last night's walkoff win), and 5 ahead of the Boston Red Sox -- at 2-9, The Scum have the worst record in the majors.

The best record in the majors? The Colorado Rockies are 10-2... after sweeping yesterday's rain-forced doubleheader with the Mets at Pity Field.

*

The best record in the American League is 9-3 and belongs to the Texas Rangers, the team that beat the Yankees in last season's AL Championship Series. Fortunately, the Rangers will be without the injured Josh Hamilton, who was quite the Yankee-killer last October. Tonight at 7, on YES, Ivan Nova vs. Matt Harrison. Tomorrow afternoon at 1, on YES, Freddy Garcia vs. Derek Holland. Sunday night at 8, on ESPN, CC Sabathia vs. Alexi Ogando.

What a minute, Alexi who? (Checks Baseball-Reference.com for his game logs... ) Uh-oh, he's practically a rookie and has never faced the Yankees before! Aaaaaaaand, it's an ESPN Sunday Night Baseball game! You know what that combo means? "I've got a bad feeling about this!"

But I did a little more checking and, yes, he has faced the Yankees, 2 games in last year's ALCS, and allowed 1 run on 3 hits in 2 innings with no decisions or saves. So we do have some material (against us) to work with.

Today is April 15, Jackie Robinson Day. MLB celebrates this anniversary as usual, and the slogan this year, meant to emphasize that Robinson's victory was a victory for all people of all races, is, "I Am 42."

Well, next year, I will be 42. Years old, that is. For now, I'm 41... But that doesn't make me Tom Seaver. But I could be the Yankees' Number 41. After all, it's currently vacant.

Today, on the Yankees' official website, all players are listed as Number 42, which suggests that they will all be wearing the number that, except for the players then wearing it (and Mariano is still the last one who can), was retired for all of baseball in Robinson's memory in 1997.

*

Today I'm debuting the Yankee Milestone Counter: Jeter's hits, and how many he needs to reach 3,000; Rivera's saves, and how many he needs to break the all-time record; A-Rod's home runs, and how many he needs to break the all-time record.

When Jeter gets to 3,000, I'll start a new count for A-Rod's drive to 3,000 hits, as he has a pretty good chance of getting there as well. Not this season, but barring a medical or ethical calamity, he will get it.

Jeter 2936 64
Rivera 564 37
A-Rod 617 146

Oh yeah, since the Yankees are back in first place, I can put up the Magic Number to clinch the AL Eastern Division again.

Magic Number 151

*

Days until the Red Bulls play again: 1, tomorrow night, at home, against the San Jose Earthquakes.

Days until the next North London Derby: 5, this Wednesday, at White Hart Lane. First, Arsenal must play Liverpool, this Sunday at New Highbury.

Days until the Red Bulls play another "derby": 6, this coming Thursday night, against their biggest long-term rivals, D.C. United, at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium in Washington. They next play the team that SHOULD be their biggest rivals, due to the whole New York-New England thing, the New England Revolution, on Saturday, June 11, at Red Bull Arena. And they next play their closest rivals, the Philadelphia Union, on Thursday night, October 20, at Red Bull Arena.

Days until the next Yankees-Red Sox series begins: 28, on May 13 -- a Friday the 13th -- at Yankee Stadium II.

Days until Derek Jeter collects his 3,000th career hit: 61 (estimated to come on June 14 -- less than 2 months).

Days until Rutgers plays football again: 140, on Thursday, September 1, home to North Carolina Central. Just 20 weeks.

Days until East Brunswick High School plays football again: 148, on Friday night, September 9, and the opponent and location are TBD. Just 21 weeks. Or, if you prefer, less than 5 months.

Days until the Devils play another local rival: As yet unknown. The next season's schedule hasn't been released yet, save for the season-openers at the neutral but hockey-loving site of Helsinki, Finland, games that will include the Rangers. That will be on October 7. Figure the Devils' season opener will be the next day, which is 177 days from now. Figure they'll probably play a local rival, either the Rangers, the Islanders, or the Flyers soon thereafter, maybe a week after, so, tentatively, I'm going to say the number of days is: 184. A little over 6 months.

Days until the Rutgers-Army football game at Yankee Stadium: 211.

Days until the next East Brunswick-Old Bridge Thanksgiving clash: 222.

Days until the last Nets game in New Jersey: 365 (estimated). Just 1 year, unless new owner Mikhail Prokhorov decides he'll stay in the Prudential Center, the great new arena he's already got.

Days until the 2012 Olympics begin in London: 470.

Days until Alex Rodriguez collects his 3,000th career hit: 779 (estimated).

Days until Alex Rodriguez hits his 700th career home run: 901 (estimated).

Days until Super Bowl XLVIII at the Meadowlands: 1,024.

Days until Alex Rodriguez hits his 756th career home run to surpass all-time leader Hank Aaron: 1,521 (estimated).

Days until Alex Rodriguez hits his 763rd career home run to become as close to a "real" all-time leader as we are likely to have: 1,635 (estimated).

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