There was time to kill between doubleheader games yesterday, and half the Tigers’ roster – including the entire bullpen – killed it by giving themselves mohawks. A bored baseball clubhouse is a dangerous, dangerous place. We have only a small sample size to go on but, so far, advanced scientific analysis suggests the move may have backfired; in the nightcap, Phil “Phew” Hughes edged out Jeremy Bonderman in a tight duel, and a ninth-inning Yankee offensive renaissance gave New York a pleasant 8-0 win.
Hughes is probably due for a bad start one of these days – or at least a mediocre one – and for a little while I thought this might be it; he was getting good results, but laboring a bit, running up a high pitch count in the first few innings. Instead he got better as the game went on and ended up with another gem: 7 innings, 5 hits, no runs, 8 strikeouts, 1 measly little walk; he threw 71 of his 101 pitches for strikes. Phil Hughes is not messing around. Going by almost any statistical measurement (as well as by your lyin’ eyes) he’s been one of the best starters in either league this season – though of course he doesn’t have as many wins as MLB leader Tyler Clippard of the Nationals. You just can’t predict… oh, never mind.
Anyway, the Yankee hitters seemed to be nursing a hangover from their punchless day-game loss, but they did manage to eke out a couple of runs early on, which would have been enough by themselves – in the first inning, Alex Rodriguez singled in Brett Gardner, who was hitting second tonight (and ended up making that seem like a wise move with three hits, two runs scored, and RBI and the obligatory stolen base). And in the third, Bonderman walked Derek Jeter and lived to regret it when Jeter stole second and scored on a Mark Teixeira double.
But it wasn’t until the ninth that the Yankee batters really woke up, when old buddy Phil Coke stumbled and Alfredo Figaro couldn’t get the last two outs without considerable bloodshed. More than half an hour later, after a flurry of singles and walks, the game arrived at its misleading final destination of 8-0. It stayed that way in the bottom of the ninth, of course, because Mariano Rivera is back; and seeing him on the mound again (albeit in a very non-save situation) is deeply comforting in a primal sort of way. Mo’s in his bullpen, all’s right with the world, as the man said.
-Jay-Z and Eminem’s visit to the booth in the 4th inning (to promote their planned stadium concerts in Detroit and New York this fall) was one of the most gloriously awkward only-in-America culture clashes I’ve seen in some time. I hope one day we get to watch Dallas Braden chat with Yo-Yo Ma. Or perhaps we can arrange a coffee klatch between Carl Everett and Philip Glass.
-Years ago an Eephus Pitch commenter pointed out that Jeremy Bonderman bears a distinct resemblance to Alice the Goon from Popeye. One day I may be able to watch him pitch without thinking about that, but today is not that day.
-It wouldn’t be an official game unless a Yankee strained something, so Nick Swisher is now day-to-day with sore biceps.