The Manhattan Bridge is the closest, and the Brooklyn Bridge isn’t far, but such a cliche — the Verrazano, now that’s fairly convenient, bit more interesting, less overdone…
Oh, hi! Sorry, I didn’t see you there. Is it recap time?
That was a hell of a game, and not in the good way. Join me on a journey back through the mists of time to the first inning of Game 4… ah, we were all so young then. A.J. Burnett profoundly surprised me by pitching, under the circumstances, pretty well. Certainly as well as anyone could have expected given that the last time he pitched a good game, pterodactyls soared above the ballpark. The crowd was behind him, but to me it wasn’t heartwarming so much as desperate – c’mon, fella, you can make it! It’s just a flesh wound! You’ll be fine! He was okay, though. He allowed two runs in the second, after walking David Murphy (fatefully, not for the last time), hitting Bengie Molina with a pitch (if only he… no, no, mustn’t think like that); Mitch Moreland bunted and Elvis Andrus grounded out, but then came Michael Young, who hit a softish two-RBI single. Burnett may not have been dominant, but he got out of the inning and held the Rangers there through five innings; going into tonight’s game I would’ve taken that and not complained.
Meanwhile, the Yankees scraped together a few runs: a Robinson Cano homer that just ticked over the right field wall, possibly aided by some fans who made it hard for Nelson Cruz to make a catch – that’s what Cruz argued, anyway. I thought it was out anyhow, but the fans didn’t exactly improve anyone’s image of Yankee supporters. (Although I have to admit they cracked me up). The umpires declined to review it, which seems weird since that’s why instant replay exists, but again: it was out, so no damage done. Later in the inning a Lance Berkman fly to deep right was reviewed and correctly found to be foul. It wasn’t the umpiring tonight… it was just, you know, everything else. Anyway, the Yanks tacked on in the third inning when Derek Jeter tripled (!!!) and Curtis Granderson singled him home, and again in the fourth, when A-Rod was hit by a pitch, singled over by Cano and Berkman, and scored by a Brett Gardner ground out. Paralleling Burnett, this was not exactly Murderer’s Row, but they had a 3-2 lead in the fifth inning.
Which is when the baseball gods started pulling at a loose bit of yarn, and before you knew it, but also in a kind of weird slow motion, the whole sweater unraveled.
I don’t think you can say that Mark Teixeira is underrated or underappreciated – he is an extremely well paid star on a popular team; he’s not under any radars. But I was a little unprepared for what a gut-punch it was to watch him cringe while running hard to first, fall into an awkward slide, and stay down until the Yankee trainers could help him off the field. It was a grade 2 hamstring strain, and the last we’ll see of Mark Teixeira until spring. And while he didn’t have his best year at the plate, I’d sure rather see him up there than Marcus Thames; and you know you’d rather see him manning first base than Nick Swisher. He’s not A-Rod, and these days he’s not Cano, and he’s not one of the remaining 90s Yanks, and hell, he’s probably the blandest star athlete in recent memory… but the Yankees are going to miss him quite a bit, even if they only have one game left in which to do so. It sucked all the air out of the Stadium.
That came during an aborted rally in the bottom of the fifth, after a somewhat shaky Burnett got himself through the top of the inning. Many people were surprised to see Joe Girardi turn to Burnett again in the sixth, and although I didn’t think it was such a clear-cut choice, in retrospect it was clearly not wise: Vladimir Guerrero singled, moved to second on a force out, and then — this, I did have a problem with — Burnett intentionally walked David Murphy, in order to face Bengie Molina.
What did I say about Molinas before this series? Huh? WHAT DID I SAY, A.J.?! JOE? Goddammit, no one ever listens to me.
Molina homered, the Rangers took a 5-3 lead, and while that’s hardly insurmountable, this began the “slow-motion unraveling” portion of the evening. Burnett got out of the 6th, but Josh Hamilton homered off Boone Logan in the 7th, and the Rangers tacked on another run off of Joba Chamberlain. Ron Washington’s love of the bullpen shuffle worked out well for him this time around; the Yankees had chances — they even got the tying run to the plate in the 8th inning — but couldn’t break through. In the ninth Sergio Mitre came in and everything went south (HR Hamilton, HR Cruz), but by then it was all over but the crying, anyway. 10-3 Rangers is your final.
Joe Girardi made a number of questionable moves tonight. I can’t get too worked up about them since I think, ultimately, the Rangers have flat out-hit and out-pitched the Yanks, and different managerial moves probably wouldn’t have made a huge difference. But there’s no way to know that for sure, and it’s still plenty frustrating, which may be part of why tonight’s game got under my skin in an unpleasant way. Tomorrow, the Yankees have to win or go home — and if they win, they need to do it twice more. I’m not optimistic, frankly. But every day in late October that you still have a game to watch is a good day, so here’s hoping C.C. Sabathia pitches like C.C. Sabathia tomorrow, and the Yankees live to see Game 6.
Molinas… why’s it always have to be Molinas?