Tuesday, July 2, 2013

10-4, Good Buddy!

Yesterday, I had reason to paraphrase the David Bowie song "Life On Mars?" Today, it's another 1970s classic: "Convoy": 10-4, good buddy!

It was an overcast sky on the first of July
and a Kenworth pullin' logs.
Cab-over Pete with a reefer on
and a Jimmy haulin' hogs.
We was headed for Twins on Eye-Three-Five
halfway into Flourtown.
I said, Pigpen, this here's the Pinstriped Duck
and I'm about to put the hammer down.

Or something like that.

Sometimes, all it takes is one big game to bust a team out of a serious slump.  And the Yankees got it last night, in the opener of a 4-game series in Minneapolis (Flourtown) against the Minnesota Twins.

It didn't start out that way, of course.  Robinson Cano hit a home run in the 1st inning, but the Twins came right back in the bottom of the inning, tagging Andy Pettitte for 3 runs.

And the way the Yankees played in June, the Twins' 3-spot looked insurmountable.  But an error got Jayson Nix aboard in the 3rd, and Cano hit another one out.  He now has 19 home runs on the season.

The Twins took the lead in the 6th, and so it was 4-3 Minnesota in the top of the 8th.  And then the wheels came off -- for them.

Again, it was Cano who started things off, with a double.  Ichiro Suzuki bunted him over to 3rd, and beat it out.  So 1st & 3rd, nobody out, tying and go-ahead runs on.  Travis Hafner was up, but Twins reliever Jared Burton foolishly tried to pick off Hafner, and threw the ball away.  Cano scored, and Ichiro got all the way to 3rd.  Tie ballgame.

Hafner flew out, too short to score Ichiro.  But Zoilo Almonte -- that's ZAWL-yoh -- singled to left to get the go-ahead run home.

In case you've forgotten: When the Yankees have more runs than the other team, that's called a "lead."

A pitching change didn't help.  Brian Duensing walked Lyle Overbay, getting Almonte to 2nd.  Then he threw a wild pitch to Chris Stewart.  Then Stewart hit a grounder that was enough to score Almonte.

In the 9th, the Twins continued to help the Yankees out.  Brett Gardner led off with a single, and Nix followed with a double.  Not surprisingly, Cano was walked to set up the double/force play -- except there was nobody out.

Ichiro hit a liner back to Duensing, for the 1st out, exactly what the Twins needed.  But Hafner singled home Gardner, and the bases were still loaded.  Almonte hit one into the hole, and 2nd baseman Brian Dozier couldn't do anything except stop it.  Nix scored.  Bases still loaded.  Overbay struck out.

And then, in a move right out of Joe Girardi's Binders Full of Strategies, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire replaced his pitcher right after he got a key out.  Josh Roenicke was brought in, and what does he do? First, he walks the free-swinging Stewart, to force home Cano.  The bases are still loaded.  Then he throws a pitch that catcher Ryan Doumit can't handle, and Hafner scores.  He gets David Adams to ground out, but the damage is done.

Mariano Rivera, not having had a game to save for a while, was brought in to pitch the bottom of the 9th.  Yankees 10, Twins 4.

WP: Joba Chamberlain (1-0).  Because of the 6-run lead, there was no save for Mariano.  LP: Burton (1-6).

Pettitte did not get the decision, but he did reach a milestone: In the 5th inning, he struck out Justin Morneau -- a pretty good hitter -- for his 1,958th strikeout in a Yankee uniform, surpassing the great Whitey Ford to become the franchise's all-time leader.  Counting his time in Houston, he now has 2,386 strikeouts --  1st among active pitchers.  (Four others have at least 2,000: CC Sabathia, Roy Halladay, A.J. Burnett and Ryan Dempster.)

It was also Girardi's 600th win as a major league manager.  That's 78 with the Marlins, and now 522 with the Yankees.  Believe it or not, Billy Martin only won 556 games as Yankee manager (1,253 overall in his career), so Girardi's actually done pretty well.  Then again, he's managed to, well, manage the Yankees for 5 1/2 seasons without interruption.  The longest Billy was albe to do, anywhere, was 3 years (in Oakland, and nearly that in Detroit, in Texas, and in his 1st run with the Yankees).  Overall, Billy managed 941 games with the Yankees -- 5.8 seasons' worth, although it was a span of 13 years.

The series with the Twins continues tonight, Phil Hughes against Samuel Deduno.

Let them truckers roll.

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