Before I got off the subway in the Bronx tonight, I checked the MLB app on my phone and was pleased to see the score: Yanks 4, Twins 0. Mark Teixeira with another dinger, again of the three run variety. Andruw Jones with a solo shot–Hey, Now.
I ran for the bus on 231st Street and put on the John Sterling radio call once I got on board. Ol’ Silver Throat usually annoys me but tonight I was comforted by the sound of his voice. In the early innings of an April game, with the Yanks ahead and C.C. Sabathia on the mound, Sterling was unhurried, almost sedate and entirely pleasant.
Now, if you stand too close to the back door of a New York City bus an automated voice comes over the loud speaker and says, “Please step away from the rear door.” A man wearing earplugs was too close to the door and the message repeated. This didn’t bother him any on the count of the earplugs. I focused on Sterling’s patter when I heard a vendor in the distance on the radio broadcast. A thick Bronx accent barked, “Hot dogs…hot dogs…hot dogs.” You know the tone–imploring and insistent.
So the music in my ears went from electronic to authentic: “Please step away from the rear door,” “Hot Dogs,” Please Step away from the rear door,” “Hot Dogs.” The rhythm made me happy and I remembered an old Simpsons episode: “Dental plan,” Lisa needs braces,” Dental plan,” “Lisa needs braces.”
I got home and watched the rest of the game. Sabathia was visibly frustrated with himself but he sailed through the Twins lineup anyhow, retiring the last 17 batters he faced.
So it was a mild surprise to see Rafael Soriano come out to pitch the eighth and disconcerting when he walked two of the first three men he faced (and the comments section here at the Banter lit up like a suicide hotline in Detroit). Denard Span slapped a single to left and the bases were loaded. But Tsuyoshi Nishioka, a slender guy, struck out on three pitches, and waved his hand at the umpire. Enter Joe Mauer, and restlessness at the Stadium. Soriano walked him on five pitches and his night was over.
David Robertson came in to pitch to Delmon Young, fell behind 3-1, got strike two, and then jammed a high fastball on the inside part of the plate. Young fought it off and blooped a fly ball to right. He didn’t hit it well but it landed in front of a sliding Nick Swisher. A gift from the Gods, perfectly placed, good for a bases clearing double and a tied game. Goodbye “W” for Sabathia, hello Boo Birds.
Matt Capps retired the Yanks in order in the bottom of the eighth and Mariano Rivera came in the game–too little, too late?–in the ninth. Rivera allowed a bloop single to Jason Kubel, who is 5 for 8 lifetime against Rivera. The Twins did not sacrifice him to second and Danny Valencia whiffed. Justin Morneau grounded into a force and Matt Tolbert struck out. But extra innings beckoned as Capps silenced the Yanks again in the bottom of the ninth.
Now, restlessness turned into pacing, muttering and flat-out cursing. News that the Red Sox lost again–they are 0-4 to start the season–wasn’t enough to change the foul mood I no doubt shared with many Yankee fans. A blown lead, second-guessing the manager, and a sense of gloom as Boone Logan replaced Rivera. Now, the season can begin!
Do I need to go on? Okay, Span walked and moved to third on a single by Nishioka. Infield in for for Mauer who broke his bat and singled home the go-ahead run. And karma being what it is, that was that. Joe Nathan closed the Yanks out and the Twins finally got off the schneid.
Final Score: Twins 5, Yanks 4.
Hard feelings and a tough loss. Ah, it feels like the season has finally started.