Thursday, May 21, 2009

Good Times Have Returned to the Bronx

Good Time Yankees Win 8th Straight

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
0 0 0 2 1 0 0 0 1
4 10 1
NY Yankees
1 3 1 0 0 0 0 6 X
11 9 0

WP - Hughes (2-2) SV - Rivera (8) LP - Guthrie (3-4)

Winning and fun have returned to the Bronx. After April’s doom and gloom, weather included, good baseball, and a warmer climate have become the norm at Yankee Stadium. You can almost hear Joe Girardi singing, “Happy Days are Here Again“. Last night the good times kept rolling as the Yankees, for the second straight night, blew open a close game late and beat the Baltimore Orioles, 11-3. The win was the Yankees eighth in a row and moved them to within 2.5 games of first place Toronto Blue Jays.

Prior to the game, the Yankees held their first kangaroo court in 14 years. Mariano Rivera served as judge, with Derek Jeter, A.J. Burnett, and Johnny Damon serving as the jury. CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte were among those hit hardest with fines by their teammates. Once on the field, the Yankees honored Polly Tompkins, a breast cancer victim/fighter, who threw out the first ball. She joked with Jeter, even asking for his phone number, and mingled in the stands with Nick Swisher and Alex Rodriguez.

Then it was game time and the Yankees were all business. Mark Teixeira had given the Yankees a 1-0 lead in the first with an RBI double, but it was the second inning fireworks that will be remembered. Swisher, Robinson Cano, and Melky Cabrera went back-to-back-to-back with solo home runs off Jeremy Guthrie for a 4-0 Yankees lead. It was the first time three Yankees had accomplished the feat in 25 years, when Oscar Gamble, Steve Kemp, and Toby Harrah (those last two names bring back memories, and they’re not good ones) turned the trick. Cano added to the lead with an RBI single an inning later to give starter Phil Hughes some room to work with.

Hughes’ performance was his best since beating the Detroit Tigers in his first start of the year. Though 3 earned runs in 5 innings (5.40 ERA) is nothing to write home about, Hughes was better than those numbers indicate. His fastball was lively and his breaking pitches danced as he rang up a career high 9 strikeouts.

Hughes’ best moment came in the 3rd inning, when the Orioles put runners on the corners with no one out. He struck out Adam Jones for the first out, then K’ed Nick Markakis. On the play, catcher Kevin Cash threw out Brian Roberts trying to steal second base to end the inning.

The O’s chipped away at the lead on a 2-run home run by Ty Wiggington in the 4th and a solo shot by Jones in the 5th, and Guthrie kept his team in the game by facing the minimum number of batters from the 4th through the 7th innings. But manager Dave Trembley had to go to the bullpen in the 8th and the Yankees offense put the game away.

Danys Baez has been one of the hottest relievers in baseball, but he walked A-Rod and Swisher, sandwiched around a single by Hideki Matsui, to load the bases with one out. Cano’s third RBI hit of the night sent Baez packing, but the Yankees jumped all over Jamie Walker. Cabrera, Cash, Jeter, and Damon combined for 5 RBI before Teixeira earned the dubious distinction of making the first and third outs in the inning.

When the game ended, Tompkins and a friend returned to the field and got hugs from Swisher and Girardi, who presented the lineup card to her. It was a great day and night in the Bronx.

Game Notes

Mariano Rivera got the final out in the 8th inning with the game still on the line. Since he was already warmed up and only threw a few pitches in the 8th, Girardi let him pitch the 9th as well. The save was the 490th of Mo’s career.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, by hitting four home runs in four games, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez became the first Yankees teammates to do so since Reggie Jackson and Bucky Dent in 1977. You certainly would have thought it would have been Graig Nettles or Chris Chambliss in that situation rather than Dent.

There’s already been much chatter about tonight’s series finale between the Yankees and O’s. It’s the first time Joba Chamberlain has faced Baltimore since Aubrey Huff mocked his fist pump after homering off the Yankees’ young right-hander on May 10. There’s been speculation that Chamberlain will throw at Huff tonight in retaliation. The fact that both A-Rod and Mark Teixeira were hit by pitches last night, added more fuel to the fire.

Adam Eaton, who beat the Yankees on May 9, goes tonight for Baltimore.

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