Friday, June 24, 2011

This Split Was Bananas, B-A-N-A-N-A-S

Due to technical difficulties, new posts on this blog will be difficult for the time being. Not impossible, but difficult.

The Yankees split the rain-forced doubleheader with the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday, concluding their Interleague roadtrip by taking 2 out of 3 from both the Chicago Cubs and the Reds. It's hard enough to win 2 out of 3 on the road, but when it's in a ballpark you hardly ever see, that makes it even tougher, but they did it twice.

The opener featured another strong pitching performance by Freddy Garcia (6-6). He threw 7 innings and allowed 3 hits, just 1 walk, and exactly no earned runs. But 2 errors in the bottom of the 5th allowed the Reds to tie the game after back-to-back RBI singles by Nick Swisher and Robinson Cano made it 2-0 Yanks in the top of the 3rd.

In the top of the 6th, Cano singled with 1 out off Reds starter Mike Leake (6-4), and Jorge Posada, still tearing the cover off the ball since Jorge Jr.'s surgery, hit a first-pitch curve screaming into the right-field bleachers at Great American Ball Park. David Robertson pitched a scoreless 8th and Mariano Rivera a scoreless 9th (18th save) to finish off the 4-2 win.

The nightcap wasn't so good. Manny Cueto (5-2) handcuffed the Yankees, and Brian Gordon (0-1) really didn't have it, following up his earlier fine start (resulting in a no-decision) with 4 runs, including 3 homers, in 5 innings. Boone Logan, Cory Wade and Luis Ayala were all right in relief, but Hector Noesi had the worst outing of his career, getting pounded for 6 runs on 8 hits in less than 2 innings. Chris Heisey, the Reds' left fielder and leadoff hitter, hit 3 home runs, 2 off Gordon and 1 off Noesi.

A very different pair of games. It was a split, but as Angels fan Gwen Stefani would say, this split was bananas, B-A-N-A-N-A-S. Still, I'll take 2 out of 3 on the road anytime, even if the loss is an ugly one, the series is still a good one.

The Yankees come home but stay in Interleague mode. The Colorado Rockies come in, with A.J. Burnett starting tonight against Ubaldo Jimenez. Saturday will have CC Sabathia going against Aaron Cook, and the Sunday game will have Ivan Nova against Juan Nicasio.

Sunday will also be Old-Timers' Day -- which is odd: It's been on a Saturday for as long as I can remember. Making their first appearances as Yankee Old-Timers will be Joe Torre, Bernie Williams and, since his previous OTD appearances were as a Yankees player or manager, Lou Piniella, who retired from managing last September and is spending his first summer not employed in professional baseball since 1963.

Also attending from the Torre Years will be, among others, current manager Joe Girardi, David Cone, Cecil Fielder, Charlie Hayes, both of the often-troubled but now doing okay ex-Mets Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry (remember, they won more World Series as Yanks than Mets, and Cone never won one as a Met), and, presumably not standing next to Torre on the foul line, his recurring nemesis David Wells.

From the 1977 and '78 World Champions, the guys who forever defined for me what a baseball champion should be, will be Reggie Jackson, Ron Guidry, Goose Gossage, Graig Nettles, Mickey Rivers, Roy White and Brian Doyle.

From the 1961-64 Dynasty: Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Moose Skowron, Luis Arroyo, Hector Lopez, Al Downing, Joe Pepitone and Mel Stottlemyre.

From the 1950s: Berra, Ford, Bobby Brown, Jerry Coleman, Don Larsen and Charlie Silvera.

And the following widows of Yankee legends: Arlene Howard, Kay Murcer, Diana Munson, Helen Hunter, and the last of Billy Martin's 4 wives, Jill -- who should not be confused with the NBC Today Show and MSG Network personality of the same name.

*

On the injury front, Bartolo Colon looks like he'll be ready to come off the Disabled List on schedule, and Phil Hughes follows up a good 1st rehab start at Short-A-Ball Staten Island with a start tonight for Double-A Trenton. But Derek Jeter appears to have had a setback. Eligible to come off the DL on June 29, It now looks like he might not get Number 3,000, or even play, in the upcoming Interleague series against The Other Team at Pity Field.

Now that's a pity, especially after the greatest of all Other Team legends, one George T. Seaver, went out of his way to ask their fans to show some class in case Jeter reaches the milestone in Flushing Meadow. Turnabout would be fair play: Those of us who were at the old Yankee Stadium on August 4, 1985, and braved the Flushing Heathen as they came to see Seaver pursue his 300th career win gave him a well-deserved standing ovation when he finished it off.

Especially considering that only one other pitcher has ever won his 300th at a Yankee Stadium, and unlike Tom, I'm not going to use any part of his name. Suffice it to say that, at age 40, he only went into the 7th inning and was laboring at the end; while Seaver, also 40, went the distance and allowed just 1 run, and showed no sign that he was tiring as he got Don Baylor to fly out to left fielder Reid Nichols for the final out. When Tom Seaver did it, it was a master at work; when the other one did it, it was a shaky outing, and I'm glad I never have to watch him pitch again. As good as he was at times, he remains one of the most disliked people ever associated with the game, and Seaver is one of the most admired. As John Houseman would say, both men came by their reputation the old-fashioned way: They EARNED it.

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