"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Cy of Relief

By Hank Waddles

If you missed last night’s game at Safeco Field, the only thing you really need to know is that the season almost came crashing down like so much Seattle rain when Franklin Gutiérrez smashed a line drive off CC Sabathia’s chest with two out in the bottom of the fifth inning. The ball ricocheted over to third base, but Alex Rodríguez didn’t even seem to look at Gutiérrez, instead racing to the mound along with Jeter to check on the big fella. My first thought was that the ball had surely snapped his collar bone, and I struggled to push from my mind the image of A.J. Burnett taking the ball to open the playoffs. Thankfully, Sabathia had been hit square in the chest, and immediately signaled that he was fine. Even so, with the Yanks having just stretched their lead to a comfortable 6-0 by scoring four in the top half of the inning (more on that later), I fully expected that CC’s night was over. Better safe than sorry, right?

But Sabathia shooed Girardi away without even bothering with a warm-up pitch, then cruised through the rest of the fifth as well as the sixth and seventh on his way to a league-leading 18th win. With Beckett’s well-documented struggles and Verlander’s Metrodome disaster, only Sabathia, King Felix, and Zack Greinke remain in the race for the Cy Young. Sure, Greinke will get a lot of deserving support, as will Hernández, but when was the last time either of those guys pitched in a game that really mattered?

But back to the game. As good as CC was, it didn’t matter too much what the hitters did, but they did a lot, putting to rest all of last night’s silliness about how the team might respond after Rivera’s blown save. Johnny Damon rapped out another three hits, Robinson Canó added four of his own, and even Francisco Cervelli added two. Wouldn’t he look good on the post season roster, Joe?

But the big story was Mark Teixeira, who either almost hit for the cycle or almost hit three homeruns, depending on how you want to look at it. He launched a drive to the depths of centerfield in the first inning, and just as it was about to scrape over the wall, Gutiérrez reached over and flipped it back into play, missing the catch but allowing Big Tex to lumber all the way to third for his third triple this week. He then hit a three-run homer to right in the fifth and followed that up with a broken-bat single in the seventh, leaving him just a double shy of the cycle when he led off the ninth inning. Batting from the right side for the first time on the night, Teixeira rocked a Luke French changeup towards the gap in left center. Certainly a double, maybe more.

In Girardi’s presser he’d later reveal that Jeter was yelling for the ball to get down and hit the wall, but Tex had simply gotten too much of it, and it soared deep into the night and over the fence. As Teixeira smirked his way around the bases, everything seemed back to normal. Another win. Even though the Red Sox keep rolling, and the Angels are looming next week, things still look good. The magic numbers are dwindling (9 for the division, 2 for the wild card), and it’s almost time to start resting some regulars and juggling the starters to line them up for the post season.

Also, now’s the time of year when we can start looking at a few milestones. Robby Canó’s four hits upped his season total to 193. Jeter’s at 196, meaning the Yankees will likely have two players topping the 200-hit mark for the first time since 2002 when Bernie Williams and Alfonso Soriano turned the trick. Also, Hideki Matsui hit his 26th home run of the season, and I mention this for two reasons. One, he set the record for most home runs by a Yankee designated hitter, which is quite a mouthful. (I was a bit disappointed that the YES crew didn’t interview his parents or the scout who signed him in Japan, but maybe that’s coming during Sunday’s game.) More importantly, though, I’ll never get tired of the shtick that Jeter pulls whenever Matsui homers. You know how it goes. Jeter stands on the top step, staring at Matsui as he trots towards the dugout, maintaining a stony expression until the last minute when he breaks into a grin. Sure, the pie-in-the-face is nice, the helmet-bouquet-toss is clever, but this little thing, the Captain giving some shit to another veteran, just might be my favorite. I love this team, and I really, really can’t wait for October.

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1 OldYanksFan   ~  Sep 20, 2009 10:15 am

I start to feel really safe when we have the division even if we play just .500 ball the restof the way. Not quite there yet, but close.

2 The Hawk   ~  Sep 20, 2009 10:56 am

I enjoyed reading the game thread, having only seen some of the game. BuckFoston, extra credit for your game calling. william, I get what you're saying but panic time it is not (nor would've been with a loss).

The season flashed before millions of Yankee fans' eyes with that shot Sabathia took. I agree they probably should've taken him out sooner but hopefully all's well that seemingly ends well.

I wonder if Cone really could be a pitching coach. He really seems to be on the ball (so to speak).

3 The Hawk   ~  Sep 20, 2009 10:57 am

PS the "Metronome Disaster" link is a dead end.

4 Diane Firstman   ~  Sep 20, 2009 12:28 pm

"metronome disaster" sounds like a horror movie involving a possessed piano teacher :-)

5 Rich   ~  Sep 20, 2009 12:28 pm

[2] Cone would probably be a great pitching coach,, but as I have posted, given his intelligence, knowledge of advanced metrics, as well his many years of practical experience, he might be best suited for more advanced decision making position. The only thing that gives me pause is that he has recently said that Hughes should remain a reliever. That would be a per se disqualifier unless he is willing to drop that position and implement a plan to transition him back to be a starter.

6 The Hawk   ~  Sep 20, 2009 12:49 pm

[4] It's always fulfilling to make errors whilst correcting others.

7 Hank   ~  Sep 20, 2009 1:08 pm

The funny thing is that I had actually typed out "Metronome Disaster" and didn't catch it until just before sending it off to Alex. Anyway, here's the actual link:

8 monkeypants   ~  Sep 20, 2009 1:17 pm

Wait, is this by Hank [7] of Score Truck fame? God Bless you sir!

9 Just Fair   ~  Sep 20, 2009 1:38 pm

I missed last nigh't game entirely. Just watched the bottom of the 5th on the Yes replay. Scary.
[2] Cone is awesome. He'd be successful in any capacity I believe. I'd certainly miss him in the booth, though. I need to start a letter writing campaign to have him and Singleton do every game.

10 rbj   ~  Sep 20, 2009 2:48 pm

"the image of A.J. Burnett taking the ball to open the playoffs."

Wow, glad I was so tired yesterday that I went to bed after the top of the first. Too beat to even crack open a beer. That image is one I don't even want to speculate about.

11 Hank   ~  Sep 20, 2009 3:07 pm

[8] Monkeypants -- Yes, I'm the genius behind the Score Truck. I thought about working it in to the recap somehow. Perhaps next time.

12 thelarmis   ~  Sep 20, 2009 3:37 pm

[8] great correlation, monkeypants! i hadn't thought of that. as soon as i read your post, chip caray says: now up, "Hank" Blalock. ironic, don'tchya think?! (alanis is canadian!!!)

[11] you're my hero! well, actually, the Score Truck is. always glad to read your west coast posts!

"Metronome Disaster" = ugh, i've had a few in my day! it's my best friend now though. (just peered over at my beautiful DB-88 on the marimba music stand. oh, look at that - there's even a 2nd one on same stand - crappy little one.)

Shit Sox have already scored 8; Halos - 9, in their respective games. i really hope we win today...


13 RagingTartabull   ~  Sep 20, 2009 3:49 pm

looks like the Yanks will end up with an opportunity to clinch the PS berth this afternoon; 10-5 Angels leading the Rangers in the 8th.

PLUS G-Men/Cowboys tonight at 8

PLUS new Mad Men at 10 (plus Curb Your Enthusiasm, but I don't have HBO so I have to resort to watching it online)

Nice little sunday we got ourselves here

14 Chyll Will   ~  Sep 20, 2009 4:10 pm

Woo-HOO! J-E-T-S, jets Jets JETS!!

15 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Sep 20, 2009 5:02 pm

Wait, did Singleton just say SEVEN?

I've been watching this thing with half an eye (grading with the other half) and it was 2-0 and suddenly it's 7-0?

Wtf? I must have just blocked it all out as it was happening.

16 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Sep 20, 2009 5:03 pm

Gardner swings exactly like Ichiro.

17 Chyll Will   ~  Sep 20, 2009 6:01 pm

Ugh, I don't wanna know what happened, but I certainly can't stick around for Meat Tray...

I captured an image of the Score Truck, if anyone wants to see it...

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver