Yankees 6 White Sox 4: Great Evening

Thanks to Mike S. for applying strong-arm tactics to Mike Mussina, who provided an excellent start in Chicago to accompany our family trip to US Cellular (or as I like to call it, “New Comiskey”) to see the Yankees win 6-4. Mussina was simply terrific, allowing solo homers to Joe Crede and Carlos Quentin (into a stiff wind blowing in, I might add) but otherwise perplexing the South-Siders. Jorge Posada helped carry the offense, going 4-5 with three doubles, including one into the left-center gap to avoid a diving Nick Swisher to make it 3-0. He also cranked a double to dead center, well over Swisher’s head, in the 9th into the teeth of the aforementioned wind. With many of us left Yankees fans, and a good contingent of us in the upper deck, working up various pro-Yankees chants from the fourth inning onwards, I hope the “Hip-Hip, Jorge!” chant after that double was audible for television viewers. When things got dicey in the eighth, with the Sox closing the gap to 6-4, Mariano entered to my eternal delight and shut things down, recording the last five outs and making it look incredibly easy. Great win, and a real blast at a very nice ballpark.

We’re fools for not having gone to Chicago earlier. The crowd was just over half-full, and there were decent pockets of Yankees fans in attendance. Better yet, we were surrounded by nice people regardless of team affiliation. I certainly cheered for The Boys, but always try to be affable with the other side’s fan base and respectful toward their team. However, When Javier Vasquez was introduced in the pre-game line-ups, I’ll have you know that one lone Yankees fan in the upper deck who shall go unnamed (but is the author of this post) let out a loud, prolonged “BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!” I did make up for it with applause and a hearty “Thank You, Javy!” chant when he exited in the sixth after getting roughed up. More than the atmosphere, the stadium is really a good-looking, amenable park. While up high in the upper deck, we were just slightly off behind home, providing a still great if somewhat distant perspective on pitches. Plus, there was a “Beers of the World” stand immediately off our section in the spacious, clean concourse that yielded three ice-cold Leinenkugel’s Sunset Wheat, which I’d highly recommend. Bathrooms were close by for me to take my son, and the food and hot chocolate (to combat that cool lake breeze) were plentiful if mediocre. In all, it was a terrific experience.

The White Sox fans were cordial and, since I’m a talker and affable enough with opponents’ fan bases, my wife and I had some friendly banter with people near us–really good folks. One man sitting next to my daughter actually has a brother who lives about 30 miles from where we lived in western New York, so that was a nice connection, and the couple next to me on the other side and I shared some unkind things about Giambi–who promptly hit his broken-bat single. Criticism works; that might be the tough-love theme for the season.

We Yankees fans got some good cheering going later in the game, working a steady “Let’s Go, Yankees!” chant in the sixth that sporadic booing from Sox partisans couldn’t cease or drown out. Jeter’s RBI single drew heavy applause from ours and nearby sections. Mussina was showered with long, loud “MOOSE!” calls from our sections as he finished his excellent seven, and I took his head-down walk to the dugout as more than a job well-done feeling (which he surely deserved), but as a tacit acknowledgment of the unmistakable gratitude that we echoed through the emptying ball park. In the ninth, as Mariano closed the deal with ease, the family and I had moved down a good dozen rows during the top half, getting a very good view (and my wife got some good pictures that, after she scans them and sends them my way, I’ll post later) of the game. By that point, our section was fairly empty except for Yankees fans and some Sox die-hards. With a good eight rows behind us empty, I stood and cheered loudly throughout the bottom half. The Yankees fans next to us were up as well, and there were plenty of high-fives as Mariano buzzed through the Sox. I treated the guy with Sterling’s game-ending “THUUUUUUH Yankees WIN!!” call that is my cell phone’s ring tone, which he greatly appreciated.

We got home about 1 a.m. from the just over two hour drive, so posting last night was more than unlikely. I’ll add more game notes later, but wanted to let you know that we had an absolutely great time, and I was thinking of all you regular readers and fellow bloggers while there. You, and the Yankees, were well-represented vocally and in spirit, I assure you.

Vazquez and Mussina were sharp in the first, with Mussina preventing a bunt single from Swisher.  The Yankees pushed across a run in the second.  Matsui reached on an error that was erased on Posada’s DP ball, his only time retired last night.  Cano and Giambi walked back-to-back, Ensberg smacked a single off Vazquez’s chest to load the bases, and Melky’s infield single to short scored Cano 1-0 Yankees, making Vazquez throw 31 pitches.  The Yanks got a two-out rally that fell short when Matsui walked and Posada singled to right, but Cano swung at the first pitch to pop out to third, prompting a loud lecture on patience from an impatient Yankees fan in the upper deck who shall go unnamed.  But Mussina stayed sharp, keeping the Sox off-balance with good breaking balls to match Vazquez as both settled in through four, fairly chilly innings.

New York opened up in the fifth and sixth, plating two in the fifth and three in the sixth.  Damon singled to lead off, Jeter flew out to center after swinging at a fastball inside, Abreu flew out to left, but Matsui singled sharply to left before Posada’s RBI double past the diving Swisher.  In the sixth, Giambi hit a broken-bat single to right, Ensberg lined out to left, Melky hit a double to shallow right, Damon doubled to score them both, and Jeter singled to chase Vazquez, 6-1.  Quentin’s deep homer to left-center in the seventh closed it to 6-2, and they threatened in the eighth.  Hawkins wasn’t sharp.  After retiring Ramirez on a 6-3, he walked Swisher on five pitches, Cabrera’s single to right pushed Swisher to third, and after Traber entered he allowed a single past a “diving” Giambi on a ball that didn’t look too difficult to make it 6-3.  Enter Mariano for the five-out save.  Though he allowed the sac fly to Konerko to close it to 6-4, he set down Dye with a pop to short.  In the ninth, Jorge smacked his deep double into the wind in center, prompting loud “Hip-Hip, Jorge!” chants.  Mariano finished it in the ninth, getting Pierzynski on a 5-3, Quentin on a comebacker, and Crede on a pop to Jorge in foul territory.

Jorge’s 4-5 night was huge, driving in two and hitting three doubles, Melky the Clutch was 2-4 with a run and an RBI, Damon continues to impress, going 2-5 with two runs, two RBIs giving him 12 on the season thus far, an impressive total considering his offensive struggles. Jeter was 1-5 but he had his 12th RBI as well in the sixth.  Giambi, Ensberg, and Matsui added a single apiece.  Cano continues to flounder.  Though he worked a good walk to score in the second, he’s at .165 and continues to lack patience.  I’ve wondered how long Girardi will go with him, and wouldn’t at all be surprised to see him sit against some of the upcoming lefties the Yankees will face in Cleveland.

Mussina was really something, going seven strong and allowing just the solo shots, four hits and a walk in all, while fanning three on a very efficient 101 pitches//66 strikes.  He frustrated the White Sox fans as much as their batters, prompting lots of comments wondering how a “400 year-old pitcher” could retire a tough Sox lineup.  I wondered the same, but didn’t question a single pitch or thing as I basked in the fading view in my mind of the Clark Griswold-Marty Moose face-punch that Mike Sommer posted yesterday.  Mariano is The Man. I told my wife that I’d just love to see Mariano pitch, since in all likelihood it would be in a Yankees win and a tight game.  Both were true, the former more than the latter.  He was showered with effusive praise from us Yankees fans in attendance, including a Yankees fan we met on the way into the parking lot who bumped fists with me when I glowingly said how excited I was to see “the greatest relief pitcher in the history of the game pitch.”

Despite the chilly conditions, last night was perfect.  I got a program to score the game, hung with the family and had a blast, the kids were quiet but into the game, my son spent considerable time on our laps, I had some good cold beer, watched Mussina dazzle, the Yankees get clutch hits despite leaving on 11 including seven in scoring position, and watched in unbridled admiration the greatest relief pitcher in the history of the game shut it down.  I owe my wife big for getting the tickets. Gladly.

Published in: on April 24, 2008 at 8:49 am  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. glad you guys had such a good time; i definitely was thinking of you when one could hear “let’s go yankees” late in the game and you were mentioned over at sommer’s place a couple of times. unfortunately the endless natterings of joe morgan drowned out the hip hip calls.
    strangers at a ball park are one of my favorite kind of people…
    thanks for bringing us the back the win!

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