Yankees Deny PaVoldemort a Win in Return; New Yankee Stadium Magic?

It’s been an odd opening series and weekend, much of it not good from the Yankees’ standpoint.  Yet the Yanks earned a split with a 7-3 win today.  Overcoming fears that the new digs as launching pad would again fell the host team after Garko’s blast to left made it 3-0 Cleveland, there were various unusual factors that played a role in today’s Yankees win–Jorge’s clutch homer that couldn’t help but invoke memories of Jeffrey Maier in 1996 and the review that upheld it, Albaladejo’s excellent relief work for Burnett, who kept the game close despite seven walks, PaVoldemort’s keeping the Yanks in check despite Cleveland’s getting outhit for most of the game, and that jerk Jerry Crawford’s ephemeral strike zone costing Burnett two K’s, one of which was costly as Burnett appeared to have Choo K’d on a 2-2 pitch on the inside corner only to walk him, then allowed a homer to Garko to left to make it 3-0.  Crawford, remember, was the guy who hastily ran Torre from a 9-5 win in Boston in 2007.  I can’t stand that guy.

But to me, one play best exemplified something that we as Yankees fans have come to know, assess, and rely upon in such trying times–the factors, atmosphere and mystique of Yankee Stadium.  Cody Ransom’s broken-bat bloop double deep to left in the bottom of the eighth inning, landing fair just inside the line to clear the loaded bases and secure a 7-3 victory, indicated that for all its new oddities and perceived or actual imperfections, the new Yankee Stadium may well carry forward some of the peculiarities of the old Stadium.  One, and the most important, was the sun for Choo failed to see the ball as it fell just fair to score all three runners to secure the win.  Choo only raised his glove, indeed to protect his face, after the ball had already bounced, rendering the judgment of Waldman as well as the rather inept and unenlightened TBS crew–that Choo mysteriously allowed the ball to drop, perhaps thinking it was going foul–suspect.  Choo might have hoped it would go foul, but I believe so because he couldn’t see it, despite wearing sun glasses.  The other worth at least briefly contemplating is the resuscitation of the fabled Yankee Stadium ghosts.  I’m not much of a believer in that, but dollars to donuts that today’s game, and especially Ransom’s hit, will reinvigorate such discussion.

Something was necessary to derail PaVoldemort’s bid to return victoriously to Yankee Stadium, which would have been nothing short of an abject disgrace.  Through three innings, PaVoldemort did not allow a base runner, throwing only 36 pitches, hitting the outside corner, and working efficiently–things he never did in his painfully laborious four-year “stint” in The Bronx. Meanwhile, Choo belted a solo homer to right in the second for a 1-0 lead, and Garko crushed a high fastball to left in the fourth after Choo’s K that should have been but wasn’t to make it 3-0.  But the Yanks responded right away in the fourth when Jeter hit a one-out double, and Teixeira pulled a 1-2 change over the right-field corner into right to score The Captain, 3-1.

Burnett wasn’t great or very sharp today, but he worked through his troubles to give the Yanks a chance to win despite hit seven walks.   He held the Indians to just three hits in 6 1/3 P–the two homers and another cheap hit by Hafner.  Yet Burnett struggled with his command, overthrowing some fastballs and lacking bite and location on a good many breaking balls.  But he provided another quality start for the Yanks, keeping them in the game despite their dearth of offense.  It was certainly inefficient, but it was also gutty.

Speaking of the dearth of offense, the Yanks failed to cash in on a golden opportunity in the sixth when Molina and Gardner singled to start the inning.  Jeter grounded into a 4-6-3 for the first two outs, but JD was hit by a pitch and Teixeira worked a good walk.  However, Swish, who was bound to cool off, fanned for the third consecutive time to end the threat and strand three.  Until this point, the Yanks were the only AL team not to register a hit with the bases loaded; thankfully that changed later.

It appeared as though the Indians would make the Yanks pay for yet another squandered chance in the seventh when Garko walked and took second on a wild pitch.  Another wild pitch moved him to third before Burnett lost the strike zone, walking Cabrera and Sizemore to load the bases with one out.  But Albaladejo came on and worked very well, getting DeRosa to ground into a 5-2 force to get Garko at home for the second out, a play Ransom made neatly.  Albaladejo then got Martinez to ground out to second to escape the trouble, a tremendous job of pitching especially after falling behind to DeRosa 3-1.  Well done, kid.

The Yanks then made the Indians pay for their own failure to score runners.  Cano doubled to left, Matsui’s looping single to center cut the lead to 3-2 and, with new Yankee punching bag Jensen Lewis in, Ransom’s bunt couldn’t advance the slow-running Matsui, who was forced at second.  But Girardi made a good call and pinch-hit Jorge for Molina, and Jorge took a 1-1 fastball yard to give the Yanks a 4-3 lead.  the play was subjected to review, for two fans reached out to get the ball as the right fielder Crowe reached up for the ball as it hit off one of their arms, hit the top of the wall, and landed in the stands.  It was ruled a homer on the field, and the replay upheld it.  Personally, I believe it was a homer because it was too difficult to determine if the two fans actually interfered with the play.  I don’t believe they did, for the ball’s path was above the field of play, and the fan closer to the ball, and with a huge black mitt, missed the ball as it bounced off the other fan, sans glove, who wasn’t leaning out nearly as far.  Home run, 4-3 Yankees on a strange play but, ultimately, the right call.

Bruney buzzed through an eight-pitch eighth, showing that he’s the most trustworthy reliever other than Mariano.  The Yanks then got a great, productive two-out rally in the bottom of the eighth, started by Swish who ended an 0-9 streak with a double.  Betancourt then intentionally walked Cano, and unintentionally walked Matsui to load the bases. Ransom then hit a 3-2 fastball to left that I’m sure Choo couldn’t see, emptying the bases and giving the Yanks a secure 7-3 lead. The Yanks finally got a bases-loaded hit, and a much-needed hit in the clutch–however it happened.  With Mariano in for the ninth, it was academic as he allowed but a hit while fanning two, including Sizemore looking on a cutter over the outside corner.  Huge win.

After struggling so badly with RISP this series, the Yanks were 3-7 with RISP, stranding only five.  Gardner was 1-4, batting .244.  He’s either too often fooled on 0-1 and 1-1 pitches, or just too patient for he’s backed into too many two-strike counts.  As Jane from Confessions of a She-Fan feared before, Brett the Jet is also blooping too many and not getting the ball down.  Jeter was 1-4 with a run, batting .269. Teixeira is slowly warming up, going 1-3 with his 7th RBI, batting .206. He also made a tremendous play to rob Martinez of a single, sliding down to his backhand side then reaching up to snare a tough hop on a hard-hit ball; tremendous.  As Pete Abraham reminds, he’s also hit well since the cortisone shot, with two homers.  Swish is down to .333 with his double today, but he was due to cool off a bit–hopefully not too much. RC was 1-3 with 2 runs, a double and a walk, his 6th walk of the year.  He’s at .388/.455 with his sixth walk, and it wasn’t until the 23rd game last year that Cano worked his sixth walk.  His progress and patience at the plate is one of the best developments of the young season.  He also turned a great 4-6-3 DP in the top of the sixth, snaring a hard-hit ball off Choo’s bat to his right, neatly and quickly tossing it to Jeter who cleanly made the play to first.  Outstanding.  Matsui was 1-3 with a run and his 3rd RBI, batting .194.  It’s not great, but Matsui is 3 for his last 7.  Ransom’s bases-clearing bloop double in the eighth gave him 5 RBIs this year, and was one of the biggest hits of the year, providing much-needed insurance runs for a crucial victory. He also made a tremendous bare-handed play in the ninth, charging in on a grounder from Crowe to field it cleanly and easily nail him at first.  I loved that he finally looked confident in doing so, no doubt after his big hit just beforehand in the eighth.  Jorge has an amazing 12 RBIs, batting.256.  That too was one of the biggest hits of the year.

Alby (1-0, 3.38 ERA) got the win, Bruney (2.57 ERA) held it in the eighth, and Mariano closed it down. When the Yanks’ starters go deep into games, the bullpen has been solid.  Yet Burnett (3.20 ERA) deserves praise for his work despite being off, holding the Indians in check.  It wasn’t pretty, but it was effective.

In a lefty-filled series coming up against Oakland, Lefty (1-0, 2.51 ERA) faces lefty Dana Eveland (0-0, 6.50 ERA) tomorrow night as the Yanks look to get 2 games above .500.  With other lefties in Anderson (0-2, 4.85 ERA) and Outman (0-0, 6.48 ERA) slated to start, and Sabathia going tomorrow night, it might provide a stern test to the launching pad that the new Yankee Stadium has been thus far.

Thanks for besting the Indians and preventing PaVoldemort from winning, Yanks.  Thanks also to everyone for stopping by the HDLR.  It was tense and occasionally annoying, but this gave an additional reminder to me to keep things positive this year.  The team mounted a big comeback when they looked languid, again showing some late-inning magic this year when last year, the team didn’t have it.  That’s four comeback victories this year already, with the last three wins coming both via the comeback and in the last three innings.  Despite all the travails, that’s a good sign.  The team does not lack for fight, and that’s a good sign as it struggles for consistency both on offense and from the staff.

[Edit: Two addenda: Today sure would have been a good day to cap a nice victory with Yankee Fan Club Radio.  Also, Pete Abraham has a good bit that adds moving back the right-field stands from the wall to the growing lost of things in the new digs to fix, thus preventing incidents such as the one that occurred on Jorge’s homer today.  Add that to perhaps adjusting the dimensions closer to those at the old ballpark, perhaps circa 1978 with some old yard distance thrown in at RCF, to help cut down on the spate of homers.]

Published in: on April 19, 2009 at 6:39 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Excellent recap. All I can say is thank God for Choo. Whether it was the sun or his poor judgement, I’ll take it!

  2. yes very good recap man– per usual. of course.

    you know that bat of cody’s snapped off right at the base. he really must be strong to fist on that far. it’s just a shame he can’t hit a breaking ball.

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