It started ugly but ended, if not pretty, than well enough for the Yanks today in the Bronx as they beat the Mariners, 9-5. Ichiro! led off the game with a home run against Javier Vazquez and then Russell Branyon became the first man to hit a home run into the right field upper deck at the new Yankee Stadium (Branyon is also the only player to hit the Mohegan Sun bar in center). The Yanks scored four in the bottom of the first (two-run single by Robinson Cano and a two-run dinger by Jorge Posada) but Vazquez gave it back and didn’t last long–three innings. This after not making it into the fifth in his previous two starts.
Right now, it’s CC Sabathia and pray for the Score Truck…
Jason Vargas, meanwhile, retired fifteen straight Yankees after the tough first inning. The score remained tied at four until the bottom of the sixth when Eduardo Nunez got his first big league hit–punching a high change-up, well out of the strike zone, through the hole in the right side of the infield for an RBI single. The ball came back to the infield and was passed over to the Yankee dugout. On its way, Nunez, briefly held it. He was standing on first, smiling. He kissed the ball, smiled some more and tossed the ball to Gene Monahan, the Yankee trainer, for safe keeping.
The Yanks added a couple of more runs, then another one in the ninth on their way to the win. Mariano Rivera, that bum, that zero, that dog, allowed a run in the ninth raising his season ERA to 1.18 (bum!). Otherwise, the Yankee bullpen was terrific, especially Chad Gaudin, who pitched three scoreless innings.
A nice win for the Yanks, though another rotten outing for Vazquez does nothing to help the digestion. On top of that, Alex Rodriguez is headed to the DL. “We’re going to play it safe,” Joe Girardi said after the game. “We don’t think he’s any worse than the time before.”
Right-handed pitcher Ivan Nova will take his place on the active roster. Nova will make his first major league start on Monday.
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Elsewhere, around the majors, Cliff Lee got beaten about the face and neck again today, this time by the Orioles (eight runs in 5.2 innings). The Red Sox and Jays play at 7, the Rays are in Oakland again later tonight.
[Picture by Bags]