It was Old Timer’s Day at Yankee Stadium yesterday, which is equal parts fun, nostalgic, sanctimonious and pathetic. Luis Sojo ended the game with a home run to left field off of Ron Guidry. Sojo styled his way around the bases like Reggie Jackson and everyone had a good laugh.
The Yankees were down 2-0 in the regular game when the slumping Alex Rodriguez tied the score with a monstrous blast that landed in the left field upper deck. Good grrruh, it a man-sized homer and Rodriguez knew it immediately. It must give a hitter the kind of feeling that Popeye felt when a spinach-fix hit him in the biceps. Good Lord. When Rodriguez got to home plate he let out an “Oh yeah!” rebel yell as he high-fived Jason Giambi.
The old Cardinals teams of the sixties were famous for keeping each other in line. If a rookie had a terrific day and started talking with his chest puffed out to reporters or teammates after the game, Bob Gibson or Dick Groat or Curt Flood would sharply remind them to keep it in perspective. What’s the old saying? Don’t get too high when you win or too low when you lose, right?
In his own way, Derek Jeter did something similar to Rodriguez yesterday. Just making sure A Rod’s head didn’t start to swell. Shortly after he hit the blast, Jeter strutted along the Yankee dugout mocking Rodriguez’s celebration at home plate. He finished his comedy routine by sitting next to a smiling Rodriguez. This is a role that Tim Raines once played for the Yankees. How many guys could get away with busting Rodriguez’s chops like that? (Rodriguez grounded into a double play and struck out in his last two at bats.)
The score remained tied at two until the seventh when, you guessed it, Derek Jeter broke the game open with a two-out double which scored three runs. (Jeter would advance to third and then score on an error.) Although Tom Gordon gave up a run in the eighth, Mariano Rivera worked a scoreless ninth for the Yankees’ third straight win. Jon Lieber pitched effectively again, scattering hits, throwing strikes and working out of trouble. The Bombers lead over Boston holds steady at six games after the Red Sox won their fifth straight yesterday.
Mike Mussina was scheduled to start this afternoon, but has been scratched due to a sore elbow. This makes way for the return of one of my favorite all-time Yankee pitchers, El Duque. Orlando Hernandez has been rehabbing with the Columbus Clippers of late. I have no idea if he’ll have anything today, but it sure will be fun to see the Yankees’ International Man of Mystery back in the pinstripes.