First day of pre-school tomorrow for my older boy. It’s the de facto last weekend of summer for us and we Phineas & Ferbed it. A worm hunt, sleep-over, co-op wide bar-be-cue, birthday party, soccer practice, knight’s quest, and a long walk through Washington Heights to Inwood. And he had questions about memorials around town today that I just couldn’t answer adequately, though I tried my best. There were also baseball games. I know because my phone is set to text me every score change in every Yankee game. So I saw the Yanks scored one run on seven hits over 18 innings against the Angels. I even watched the Friday night game.
But this losing streak didn’t phase me in the least. This team can hit. Jered Weaver and Dan Haren can pitch, especially in their ballpark. The Yanks have thumped those guys before, especially in our ballpark, which is probably where we’ll see them if they work themselves into the Postseason. Ervin Santana isn’t quite as good as Weaver and Haren, but he’s no slouch. And the Yankees did just fine against him today.
They fought back several times as Freddy Garcia put them in a hole and kept digging. And when they finally evened the score, the baseball gods rewarded them with the type of break we’re unaccustomed to seeing in Anaheim. Mark Teixeira lofted a fly ball to deep center with one out and the tying run on third. It was well struck, but it never looked like anything other than an out. Right up until it clanked off the heel of Peter Bourjos’s glove. Derek Jeter scored the go-ahead run all the way from first and the bullpen made it stick. Yanks win, 6-5.
Freddy Garcia threw to Jesus Montero catching his first big-league game. Montero will remind nobody of Johnny Bench back there, but shockingly, he prevented a few of the balls from skipping to the backstop, threw out a runner stealing second, and did not spontaneously combust at any time. It was the second inning when Mike Scioscia decided to test the rookie for the first time. He sent Alberto Callaspo on a 1-2 count. Freddy Garcia obliged with a slow slider, low and outside. Montero snagged the ball as he drew himself into throwing position and delivered a seed on target to Eduardo Nunez. Not that close.
One play will not rewrite the story on Montero, but we need to remember that scouts don’t like his long-term ability to stick at catcher. That doesn’t mean he can’t play there sometimes in the short-term. The Yankees can still get excellent value by playing him there occasionally, DHing him often, and perhaps teaching him how to play right field and first base in the mean time. The Angels stole two bases on him later in the game and he couldn’t prevent a run-scoring wild pitch. Wake me when the Rays steal nine bases on him or something like that.
Speaking of rookie catchers, due to injuries to Cervelli and Martin, Austin Romine got the quick call-up and jumped behind the plate to catch the top three Yankee relievers. He didn’t get a chance to bat, but going from AA to a cup of coffee with Scranton was supposed to be the high point of his season. Catching Mo’s 599th save in his MLB debut must have blown his noggin.
Freddy Garcia wasn’t very good, but the bullpen was. If the Yankees are going to win games in the Postseason started by someone besides CC, expect the box score to look like this one. Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano hit home runs to keep the game close. Granderson’s recent slump illustrates how crucial his production is to the lineup. He’s been a bedrock this season, month-to-month reliability. And then five for 38 to start September. The slump has quieted any MVP talk, but there’s still time to turn that around with a hot finish. Regardless of appearances, with Arod contributing little this year, the team revolves around Granderson and Cano.
Mariano Rivera is one save away from 600, two saves away from tying the all-time record, and three away from claiming the record for himself. We all know saves are a poorly conceived statistic that have probably caused more harm than good in the game, but as long as Mariano is the all-time leader in something, they can’t be all bad.
The Red Sox couldn’t break their losing streak today, so the Yankees inched forward to a 3.5 game lead, four in the loss column. The Rays are charging as the Yanks and Sox stumble, but they’re too far back to bother the Yankees. They’re too far back to catch the Red Sox, but bother them…yeah, I think they have officially bothered them.
All this transpired on the last day of our summer vacation. I didn’t see it, but I did see this:
The snail was slow and it left a trail of slime, but eventually it got where it was going.