Yankees 4 White Sox 2: Some History Awaits; Mariano Makes His; HDLR Week

It’s really too bad that the Yankees are counting down the last days of this manifestation of Yankee Stadium providing individual and not team accomplishments, but so it goes.  Derek Jeter was unable to get a hit to pass the great Lou Gehrig for the most all-time hits at Yankee Stadium.  However, Mariano Rivera didn’t let us down as he nailed down his 479th career save, passing Lee Smith into second on the all-time list, as the Yankees got good pitching from Aceves, Coke, and Joba as well to beat the Pale Hose 4-2.  Nady belted his 11th homer as a Yankee in the second and, after Wise tied it with a two-run shot off Aceves in the fourth, Betemit hit an RBI ground-rule double in the seventh, and JD plated him after Gardner’s productive F8 moved him to third–run production in all facets in a well-played game to win it.

Aceves was very good through six, allowing only five hits and the two runs earned off the homer, while walking one and fanning three on only 87 pitches/60 strikes.  I imagine he could have gone the seventh, yet Girardi probably wanted to see him end on a good note and see others and, with Junior leading off, Coke was a good call as he blew away Griffey. As a side note, Junior can still patrol center well and, for those who never saw him in his heyday, Junior was the best I ever saw.  I wasn’t alive to see Mickey Mantle or Willie Mays or Joe DiMaggio, but man, could Junior track a ball.  With his speed and utter fearlessness, Junior was The Man in center for well over a decade.  Combined with his monster bat, Junior was a sure-fire Hall-of-Famer before ever going to Cincinnati in his injury-prone tenure there.  What could have been, for Junior without all the injuries would have about 700 homers right now.  What a tremendous player.  Joba fanned two in the eighth and Mariano needed all of seven pitches to notch his 36th save of the year and 479th of his amazing, brilliant career.

Jeter fanned twice against Buehrle and lined hard to short, doubling off Gardner who failed to see where the shortstop was positioned right after narrowly avoiding being picked off first and caught in a rundown. He’ll get the record-breaker tomorrow as the HDLR looks on.  Abreu was 3-4, making a strong case to return to pinstripes.  I say bring him back, for the left and right-field production would likely be very good next year, as would the defense (for the most part, as Mike reminds about Abreu hating walls and diving for balls).  I say bring back Abreu for two years max, but I bet they’d be two good, solid years.

The more I watch Nady, the more I think O’Neill.  He’s not flashy, he’s solid, he’ll make some bad at-bats.  But the guy hits the ball hard more often than not, has the knack for the clutch hit, and fits into what we as fans, if not some others, want the organization to be and represent–a solid, humble, veteran, daily presence amidst oddities, anomalies, and abnormalities.  Nady’s a keeper.  He may not be great, but dollars to doughnuts he’ll be a very good Yankee.  Keep the guy.

Thank goodness Phil Coke stayed in that trade for Nady and Marte with the Bucs.  The guy’s got the gas, has a hybrid 3/4 delivery, and a deceptively nasty slider.  I know he was a starter for the most part in Trenton, and had some travails as a reliever in SWB, but the guy has been very good in relief for the Yanks.  I’m not of the opinion that much is guaranteed coming out of Spring Training but, if Coke continues to impress, having him and Marte in 2009 would be a huge asset in the bullpen as others, possibly Sanchez and Melancon to mix with the hard-throwing Veras, also vie to set up for Mariano.  The bullpen looks pretty promising for 2009 after a very good 2008, and getting a good look at Coke has somewhat salved a tough end to 2008.

Gardner has flashed lots of leather the last couple games.  I missed a couple of his gems in center yesterday in transit, but saw tonight’s sliding gem as he took the proper route behind Abreu–on a ball that Abreu really should have been allowed to take for it was the easier play–to make a sliding catch heading to his left.  Gardner really needs to work on his hitting, but worked a terrific drag bunt to the first-base side and safely slid into first–with my blessing since it avoided the tag, unlike Melky’s hangover head-first moves.  Give the kid a chance to develop some upper-body strength, a better approach to drive the ball to at least the gaps, and the chance to play.  Speed kills, period.  I dare say we haven’t heard the last of the Gardner boy.

The rest of the home games this season will see an HDLR.  If I’m not in, I’ll open one up for those good patrons who will be until I return.  The weekdays are very busy bringing the kids to various activities and I honestly didn’t have much time to open one while making dinner and before bringing my son to soccer today.  If I open it, I hope you come.  The more I ponder the last week of what the brilliant Baseball-Reference.com refers to as Yankee Stadium II, the sadder I get.  It may be an emotional last week of the venerable ol’ place for many people, myself included.  We’ll open things up and get the good karma flowing to end 2007 and propel us into 2009.  It’s the least we can do for a team and–right now more importantly–a place so central to who we are and why we discuss what we do so fervently.

Yankee Stadium.  There will be another one open next season, but this one’s the one as we know.  It deserves a proper send-off.  We’ll do what we can here at The Heartland.  Feel free to share your memories about the place and the team during what has been nothing short of a stint of sheer privilege.

Published in: on September 15, 2008 at 9:53 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I don’t know if anyone has cared to noticr but the “Rays ” are 4-12 entering todays matchup with Beckett. If they mirror that record for the rest of the season they will end with 92 W’s. They have 14 games left including a rain out game against Baltimore. Then again they can end up with 102 W’s. It looks like the Yankees 1% chances are still alive.

  2. As much as I’d love to see this team run the table and the Rays go 4-10, I don’t have much faith that something like that can happen. But who knows? stranger things have happened.

    I’m with you on Nady. I’m curious who’s going to get bumped from the OF. Lots of hands on deck, especially if they pick up Bobby’s option, which you’d almost think they will b/c of his offensive #s. Not sure who’d go in front of Alex.



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