It’s been bothering me since April. Every single time Russell Martin comes to the plate or pulls off his mask, all I can see is Ray Liotta. It didn’t take me long before I had myself convinced that Martin actually looked more like Ray Liotta than Ray Liotta does, if that’s possible. And then the Brewers came to town this week and I got my first real close-up look at the wunderkind Ryan Braun, and — it’s Encino Man! Braun is a dead ringer for one of the greatest actors of our time, Brendan Fraser. (As it turns out, a quick Google search reveals that I’m not the first person to make either of these connections.)
As if they were playing from a script, both characters had leading roles on Wednesday night in the middle game of this three-game interleague series. Braun struck first, driving in Nyjer Morgan with the first run of the game in the first inning with a single to right. Braun would finish the night three for four with a stolen base, extending his hitting streak to 19 games.
Milwaukee pitcher Shawn Marcum was in control throughout the early innings, setting down the Yankee hitters without much drama or difficulty. In the fourth, though, the Score Truck finally pulled out of the garage. Robinson Canó led off with a triple over Morgan’s head in straightaway center field, and Nick Swisher, who is rapidly putting April and May behind him, laced a clean single to right to score the first Yankee run. Jorge Posada followed with a long single off the wall in right, putting runners on first and third as Ray Liotta strode to the plate. With Michael Kay and John Flaherty talking about how long it had been since his last extra base hit (sixty-nine at bats), Martin caught hold of one and drove it into the left field seats for a three-run homer and a 4-1 lead. As he crossed home plate, the field mics clearly picked up his narration: “As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a home run hitter.”
Speaking of home run hitters, there was an interesting moment in the bottom of the sixth. After having the lead had been cut to 4-2 in the previous inning, Posada came to the plate at launched a laser shot towards the short porch in right. The ball seemed to bounce off the top of the fence and return to the field of play, allowing Corey Hart to field the ball and fire it into Rickie Weeks who applied the tag to a bewildered Posada who stood halfway between first and second, confused as to why he wasn’t being given a home run. Girardi jumped out of the dugout immediately, asking for an official review. The umpires disappeared down the rabbit hole and saw what the instant replays were already showing the television audience: it was indeed a home run, as the ball had bounced off the top of wall, struck a fan’s outstretched hands, and bounded back onto the field of play.
A.J. Burnett was basically in control all night long, and even came out to start the eighth before an Eduardo Nuñez forced Girardi to bring in the increasingly dominant David Robertson. Robertson made things a bit interesting, as usual, but came up with two big strikeouts to end the threat, as usual. How good has Robertson been this year? After the game Girardi was openly campaigning for him to receive an All-Star nod. (Oh, and in case the usual drama surrounding the Subway Series isn’t enough, Francisco Rodríguez seems to want Robertson’s job.)
I don’t think I need to mention what Mr. Rivera did in the ninth inning. You’ve seen it before. Yankees 5, Brewers 2.