The news broke during the game and it came from ESPN’s Outside the Lines. Big names Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun, along with 18 other big leaguers, will reportedly be suspended by MLB. For more, check out this quick analysis from Matthew Poullet. There will be much more in the days to come from apologists, moralists, conspiracy theorists, and amateur satirists. Buckle up.
Meanwhile, the ballgame. The Yanks held a tidy 4-0 lead going into the 7th inning. Dave Phelps was more like himself. Even when two men got on to start the 5th, he didn’t panic and got out of the inning without allowing a run. He doesn’t had overwhelming stuff but he’s a poor man’s Mike Mussina. There is an effective blandness about him, both in his performance and his appearance.
Mark Teixeira hit a 3-run homer, this one coming right-handed, Ichiro had an RBI base hit, and there was the 4-0 lead. But with two men on and two out in the 8th, Joba Chamberlain could not get the third strike against Drew Stubbs who poked a line drive over the wall in right. The Yanks loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the inning, Robinson Cano was at the plate, an ideal spot. But he got on top of a high fastball and pounded into the ground right at the second baseman who turned the 4-6-3 double play.
Tidy? The big hit? No Sir.
Instead David Robinson walked the lead off man in the 8th. Then Michael Brantley dropped the bat head down on a misplaced fastball and lined it to left for a base hit. That brought Nick Swisher to the plate and a feeling that the game was about the slip away for the Yanks. Swisher took a ball, swung over a curve ball and then nailed a fastball, hitting a low line drive. Ah, Fate. It was right at Jayson Nix, who flipped the ball to Reid Brignac, standing on second base to double off the runner.
And sometimes the sun shines out of a dog’s ass even at night in the Bronx. A harmless ground ball by Carlos Santana ended the inning and the threat.
In the 9th, Mariano Rivera entered the game and this is how it went down.
Mark Reynolds: Cutter, low and away, 1-0. Another cutter, lower and further away, 2-0. Fastball, high and outside, Reynolds waves at it. I feel the breeze all the way in Riverdale. Fastball outside corner, perfect, 2-2. Fastball right down the pike, moving in, Reynolds swings through it.
Giambo: Fastball paints the outside corner, 0-1. Cutter way inside, 1-1. Cutter, up, doesn’t get in enough, but it’s got enough movement for Giambi to just foul it back. Fastball, trying to paint the outside corner again, Giambi pokes it foul. He wasn’t surprised. Cutter, inside and up, almost hits Giambi in the hands, 2-2. Same pitch, high and out of the zone just not as far inside, and Giambi swings through it.
Mike Aviles: Fastball high, check swing. Bounces off Chris Stewart’s glove, 1-0. But Tony Randazzo the home plate ump says it’s a foul tip, so 0-1. Cutter low and away, 1-1. Cutter popped to right, Ichiro makes the catch. Ballgame. Aviles barks at Randazzo as he trots off the field as the Yankees shake hands.
It takes a cool hand. Little bit of luck never hurts.
Final Score: Yanks 4, Indians 3.
[Illustrations by Greg Guillemin]