What a lovely night to return to recapping. Summer hit my apartment like a solid right hook this June, sent us sprawling around the East Coast for months. Vacations in Pittsburgh, DC, Gloucester and Maine. Work travel to more cities than I can list.
In the meantime Yanks went up, up, down, splat and are now back to somewhere around sea level. I was happy my first game back at the Banter would be a CC start – best chance for blowout win. So much for that. David Phelps got the call instead. Lucky for me, he can pitch.
As David Cone and Paul O’Neill covered in an especially jovial night in the YES booth, Phelps has the requisite arsenal to pitch in the big leagues and enough confidence in his various offerings to throw any pitch at any time. His numbers tonight aren’t going to knock you out, but this wasn’t the Blue Jays farm team, this was the defending American League Champion at something close to full strength.
With an 80-pitch limit, Phelps completed five innings and allowed six hits, walked one and hit another. He struck out three, but more impressively, other than David Murphy, nobody could square him up. Murphy, a bench bat on a “Yankee-killer” team, blasted a homer and double, but the rest of the contact was weak. When guys got on, Phelps deftly picked them off. He was very good.
There is a possibility that this was just an off-night for Texas since a Wight (that’s a reanimated corpse for those of you who have not been to Westeros) resembling Derek Lowe came out and dazzled them for the final four innings. But given that Phelps has been effective most of the year, I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt.
Ryan Dempster took the ball for Texas. The Yankees and Rangers have both been crushed by pitching injuries and ineffectiveness this year. The Yanks have survived on internal options. The Rangers went out and got Oswalt. Then they got Dempster. I don’t necessarily remember anyone advocating for either of those guys for the Yanks, but certainly Dempster seemed a better option than Freddy Garcia or Hughes and Nova at their worst. Maybe not.
Dempster’s been pretty bad for Texas and the Yanks got to him in the third. I went into the kids’ room for bedtime down 2-0 and as I came out I thought to myself “5-2 Yanks.” Granderson was up with bases loaded and missed a grand slam by about ten feet. The sac fly to center made the score 5-2. Sorry Curtis, I should have been greedier. I rewound to watch Swisher’s grand slam. Chavez added another homer in the sixth. Both were mature-content homers – Swisher’s never bothered to start descending.
The Yankees took the first game of this four-game series 8-2. Perhaps fans place too much importance on certain regular season match-ups, but it occurs to me that this would be an excellent week to kick some ass. Let’s get to Sunday and look back at Monday as the nail-biter.
Photo via AP/Seth Wenig