I spent the evening flipping back-and-forth between the Yankees-Royals and the Tigers-Twins, listening to my wife concentrating (Is something burning?) and then cursing at her laptop as she attempted to book a flight on-line. I watched more of the Yankees game but for the life of me I couldn’t tell you what happened. It unfolded in a blur, with John Flaherty and Michael Kay rattling on about whatever they get paid to rattle on about.
AJ Burnett struck guys out and pitched well. The Royals starting pitcher had a French-sounding name, funny side burns, and was even better. Mark Teixiera hit a cheap dinger off a change-up that was high and outside. He hooked it to right field, it hit off the top of the wall and skipped into the seats like a flat rock thrown into a lake. Later, Phil Coke shanked a throw to second, blowing a sure double play, and then he didn’t go home when he had a play at the plate. Two runs scored. Oh, Nick Swisher hit a bomb to center field. The cameras showed Phil Hughes warming up in the bullpen. He has a pencil-thin mustache that makes him look a secret agent in an old British spy movie or a hick gas station attendant from the movie Tex.
Kyle Karnsworth, the man who disappointed us by never flexing his pinstriped muscles in a scrap while he played in New York, pitched the ninth inning. And Farnsworth being Farnsworth, things fell apart quickly and right on schedule: He struck out the lead-off man (Brett Gardner), then gave up an infield hit (Francisco Cervelli), a pinch-hit single (Eric Hinske), and a game-tying sac fly to Robbie Cano, also pinch-hitting. Then Hinske stole second, the throw went into center field and Hinske lumbered on to third diving in safely. Johnny Damon was walked intentionally and Juan Miranda hit a line drive off of Farnsworth’s leg. The ball bounced toward the Yankee dugout, Farnsworth chased after it, and crossed Miranda, who was on his way to first. Hinske scored and the Yankees won 4-3.
Michael Kay shouted about “The Year of the Walk-Off,” his voice now horse. This was the Yankees’ 15th “walk-off” win of the season.
Pie and smiles and the 102nd win of the year for New York.
Meanwhile, Tom Verducci has a profile on our man Mariano this week in Sports Illustrated. In fact, Rivera made the cover.
The piece is full of goodies:
“I have respect for Mariano like I have for my father,” says Boston designated hitter David Ortiz. “Why? He’s just different. If you talk to him at an All-Star Game, it’s like talking to somebody who just got called up. To him, everybody else is good. I don’t get it. To him everybody else is the best. It’s unbelievable. And he is the greatest.
“You know what? Sometimes in those times when he struggles, like when I watch him on TV, I feel bad for him. I seriously do. Good people, you want to do well.”
Told of this respect from his peers, especially from within the enemy clubhouse in Boston, Rivera is grateful, if slightly uncomfortable. “I don’t wait for people to give me respect,” Rivera says. “I always give them respect. Any player. Even a rookie, an old player, a veteran. I never try to show up anybody. I go to my business. I always take time for somebody who wants to talk to me. That’s my thing.
“It comes from back home. Family. My father was strict and always taught me no matter who it is, everybody is an uncle. To me, everybody was someone I respect like family. I grew up with that.”
…”My mental approach is simple: Get three outs. As quick as possible,” he says. “If I can throw three, four pitches, the better it is. I don’t care how I get you out. As long as I get you out. The quicker, the better. And that’s the only thing I have in mind.”
…”I love everything about pitching,” Rivera says. “Just being on the mound. Being on the mound and competing. There is nobody to come and save you. You have to get it done. There is no time to play around. It’s time to get it done and go home.
“I mean, this is what I do. This is what I was picked to do. There is no hitting. There is no running. When I’m here, on the mound … ahh, this is my world.”
Rivera knows himself, his place in the world, and seems to be perfectly suited to his job. Nice job by Verducci.
Finally, all of our best to Pete Abe who covered his last game for the Lo-Hud tonight. Good luck in Boston, Pete. And good news for us, as Chad Jennings will take over for Pete on the Yankee blog beat. Jennings has been terrific covering the minor leagues and he’s as good a cherce as we could have hoped for to replace Pete.
Yup, lots of winners in Yankeeland tonight.