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Summertime Laugh(t)er

Last night, as corwin and I lay in bed trying to get to sleep after a long drive to NYC through thunderstorms and another horrendous loss to the Red Sox, I said, “Something is going to shake this team up. Girardi has to come up with something or someone’s dad has to die tragically, or someone get in a wreck or something.” I talked about that game in 2009 in Atlanta when Girardi got tossed and Cervelli his his one home run, and how they went on a tear and never looked back.

The Yankees have been the Red Sox’s punching bag so far this year, but hey, this often happens, where the Sox dominate in the early going and the Yankees dominate in the last going. (I’d rather dominate during the pennant race, thanks.) So perhaps they sprang up enlivened today merely by seeing Boston’s taillights as they pulled away last night. Or maybe it was that after a 3.5 hour rain delay last night, the fact that today was sunny and warm and summer-like lifted their spirits. (It sure lifted mine.) The pennants looked extra bright today, and the Coco Rico the old Dominicans sell on the street corner on 161st Street tasted extra sweet before the game today.

Or maybe it was that Fausto Carmona just seemed like he didn’t have it and like he was an ass on the mound. Here’s what I’m talking about.

In the first inning, youngster Ivan Nova had a nice 1-2-3 (capped by a strikeout of Grady Sizemore), and would go have a very nice quality start, 2 runs in 7 innings, never really in trouble. (His second strong start since allllmost losing his spot on the rotation.) But in the bottom of the first, Carmona started the game with a walk to Jeter, on four pitches. At the time it felt like a “screw you” move — much like Beckett plunking him yesterday. But while we’re on the subject of plunking, John and Susan quoted a stat yesterday that in their careers, Jeter and A-Rod have been hit by Red Sox pitchers 20 times. Whereas David Ortiz has NEVER been hit by a Yankee pitcher. Of course there’s the fact that they’re both righties while Ortiz is a lefty, and maybe guys in the righthanded batters box get hit more than lefties but I dunno. Maybe it’s just more of the Sox pitchers have been idiots. When Sabathia finally DID plunk Ortiz last night, a lot of people really felt vindication.

At any rate, the Yankees were still pissed off today, and came to the park ready to bash. Carmona struck our Granderson, but then walked Teixeira, and then walked A-Rod. Bases loaded and Robbie Cano at the plate? Cano fouled off many pitches and finally laced a line drive to score Jeter. Next came Swisher, who hit a deep sac fly to score Tex, and then up came Jorge Posada to a huge cheer — after all, tonight was Jorge Posada Figurine Night.

Base hit. Another run in! Three runs in the first inning, and Carmona had thrown 39 pitches. Off to a great start.

Next inning, another 1-2-3 for Nova. Meanwhile, Carmona got two out and then faced Granderson again. The scoreboard department put up some stats the effect of which was “Granderson owns Carmona.” And he did. Solo shot, and Yankees up 4-0. But that wasn’t the most exciting thing that happened in the inning. Up next was Texeira, who hit the deck when the very next pitch came straight for him and drilled him in the back. He was pissed off and yelling at Carmona who was dumb enough to not only drill him intentionally but to then gesture at him, too. Benches and bullpens emptied, and in the center of it all was a shouting match between Joe Girardi and Manny Acta, apparently. All we could see was a big scrum. But no punches were thrown.

Maybe that was just the tonic the Yankees needed, or maybe they were already well on their way, since after all it was already 4-0 at that point.

Next inning, Nova did give up a double, but there were already two outs, and no sweat. The Yankees, meanwhile, kept the pressure on Carmona. Cano opened with a single. Swish hit a line drive that was caught, but Posada got another hit, and then Gardner hit a long RBI double into right center. He would have gotten a triple, actually, except that Posada was ahead of him clogging up the basepaths. 5-0 Yankees.

In the fourth Nova again had 2 out before allowing a man on, a walk, but escaped again with nothing more. The Yankees meanwhile tacked on another run with an A-Rod solo shot in to deep left-center, into the bleachers above the driveway behind the Stanley sign. Not as far as that one we saw hit the ambulance in the old Stadium, I think, but impressively far. 6-0 Yankees.

Cleveland finally got a run in the fith, when Matt Laporta reached on an infield single, moved to second on a Cord Phelps base hit, and then after Orland Cabrera struck out, Jack Hanrahan walked to load the bases.

Then corwin brought me a sausage sandwich and I didn’t write down who got the hit that scored LaPorta, but it must have been Michael Brantley, since Asdrubal Cabrera ended the inning. One run was getting out of it cheaply enough.

The Yankees, in their half of the 5th, had a little excitement when Posada got his third hit of the night and then was promptly out trying to stretch it to a double. Nonetheless, he was already batting .295 over the previous 50 at bats to this game, and now was three for three. Not bad, Mr. Figurine. Brett Gardner followed with an infield single that he beat out, and then stole second, and a few pitches later, stole third. But he was stranded there by Jeter. By then Carmona was out of the game but it hardly seemed to matter.

In the sixth, cue “Black Magic Woman” because Carlos Santana hit a solo shot off Nova. And it was spooky, because it was one of those you would call a “rainmaker” that went so high you thought it was a pop-up, and then it just carried all the way into the bullpen. Not 30 seconds after the homer was hit, it started to rain.

But the Yankees got the run right back, as Granderson doubled, Tex walked, and then they put on the double steal (or perhaps hit and run) with Cano at the plate. Cano swung and missed, but the catcher threw to third trying to get Granderson, and threw into left field instead. Granderson scampered home. 7-2 Yankees. Jorge struck out in the rain, and then it stopped, about 20 minutes of heavy drizzle and light rain, not too bad.

Nova had a strong seventh also, with two more strikeouts, finishing with exactly 100 pitches. The Yankees then went on the attack again, with Cervelli finally joining the party with a hit (up until then the only guy without either a hit, RBI, or run scored), and then Jeter following with a ringing double that brought the crowd to their feet. Interesting to see the crowd come so alive for Jeter’s hit when it was only #2991, with no hope of him getting to the milestone tonight. (I was amused to see the posters hanging everywhere offering free cake at the Yankee Tavern on the night he finally does it.)

Thing is, for all the whining and crying about how he’s too old and can’t hit anymore, have a look at the Yankees’ team averages. ALL of them are down. A-Rod and Cano are both hitting in the .260-.270 range also, and you don’t hear anyone griping about how they are too old or being paid too much, do you? NONE of them are as hot as they are going to be, and it only seems likely that the whole team is going to get hot. Jeter included. They poured it on again in that seventh inning. With Jeter and Cervelli both on, Granderson walked to load the bases, on four pitches. Tex came up and doubled, clearing all three runners! A-Rod followed that with a double of his own, scoring Tex. Then Cano walked on four pitches. The Indians changed pitchers and that restored a semblance of order, but not until 10 Yankees had come to the plate.

There was a little more rain on the parade though. With the Yankees now up 11-2, we figured we’d see Kevin Whelan make his major league debut. Fresh from Scranton today, he was wearing #45 and carrying the hopes of the Yankees universe. If you’ve been loving under a rock then you don’t know that coming into this season the one big strength the Yankees thought they would have was their bullpen. They signed Rafael Soriano and Pedro Feliciano, who together with Joba Chamberlain and Mariano Rivera should have made an unbelievably strong relief corps.

Well, Soriano and Feliciano are both on the disabled list, and today we learned that Joba is going to have Tommy John surgery this coming Thursday. Yeah. So the entire Scranton bullpen has pretty much been called up…

Anyway, Whelan took the mound in the 8th. He got a quick out. Then he walked a guy. Then another out. Then another walk… You could see he was overthrowing and overexcited. Then he walked the bases loaded. Girardi went out and gave him a pep talk.

It didn’t work. He walked in a run, and they took pity on him and took him out. Whelan had only walked six men all season in Scranton and here he’d just walked four i one inning. That’s as many as Mariano Rivera has walked all year, as well. Whelan got a very nice ovation from the crowd anyway, and we could be magnanimous since we were still winning 11-3 at that point. Amauri Sanit struck out Orlando Cabrera looking to end the ordeal. Cabrera got himself thrown out, having a tantrum after the called third strike. This cheered the crowd a lot, too.

Then came a troublesome ninth. Sanit struck out Jack Hanrahan, who was otherwise the one bright spot for the Indians. He had doubled and walked twice, hadn’t yet made an out, and had robbed Jeter on a sparkling play at third base. But this time he struck out. Sanit, though, fell prey to the “it’s a big lead! just throw strikes!” problem of throwing strikes that were too good. After giving up four straight base hits, all singles, Sanit was cooked. Girardi got him and brought in Lance Pendleton.

When Pendleton walked his man on five pitches, Girardi said screw it. He went straight to Mariano. Who, by the way, gave up another two runs with a bloop hit, but then got the next to batters to pop up easily to end the game. Final score 11-7, but you really never felt like the Indians were in this one.

Hopefully this laugher was just the medicine the Yankees needed. I’m here at the Stadium for two more days so I hope the momentum continues! Bartolon Colon goes tomorrow!

(Did you enjoy reading this blog entry? Please consider buying me a hot dog.)

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