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NERVOUS NELLIE
2003-08-08 12:43
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

When Rafael Palmeiro hit a 3-run dinger off of Mike Mussina in the top of the first yesterday afternoon, it looked like it could be another long day for the Yankees. But Enrique Wilson answered with a grand slam in the bottom of the second, and the Yanks went on to beat Texas, 7-5. Alex Rodriguez, who is on a homer tear, tied the game at 4 with a solo homer, but Jorge Posada had the go-ahead hit---a slow dribbler that made it's way through the infield---and the bullpen held on for the win.

Jeff Nelson received a rousing ovation from the Stadium crowd when he appeared in the 8th. According to The Times:

"Nelson, a 36-year-old veteran of almost 700 major league games, tried to compose himself when he reached the mound. Surrounded by Manager Joe Torre and the infielders, Nelson stared at the ground.

'I couldn't look up," he said, "because I didn't want them to see the water in my eyes.'"

Nelson didn't pitch particularly well, but he escaped a bases-loaded jam without allowing a run. Mariano Rivera, however, did give up a run in the 9th. Rivera's pitches are catching too much of the strike zone, and they are not breaking with their usual sharpness.

The Red Sox completed a three-game sweep of the World Champs in Boston to remain just 2.5 games back. The Sox play the O's this weekend, including a double header today.

Again, it's damp and drizzling in New York. The Mariners, who are just percentage points behind the Yanks for best record in the league, come to The Stadium for a big weekend series. It should be extra special if Benitez or Nellie get to pitch. Speaking of which, the boys over at U.S.S. Mariner think the M's got the better of the deal. They also think there is no doubt that Nellie's mouth precipitated the move:

"This is the rarest of trades; two contenders, in the same league, with a good chance of facing each other in the playoffs (and a matchup against each other this weekend), swapping players who are both likely to play fairly prominant roles in that potential playoff series. Make no mistake, this is a message trade. Had Jeff Nelson not criticized Mariners ownership last week, he would still be a Mariner. This would not a trade that was explored because of on-field performance (more on that below), but simply one to show the players who was in charge. Criticize the boss and you'll be shown the door. This is a power play by ownership/management."

Jay Jaffe, The Futility Infielder, is happy with the trade:

"What's suprising is that both players slipped through waivers. As I understand it, the transaction rules that govern this time of year require each player to pass through waivers, in which every team gets a crack at the player with the worst teams in the player's same league getting first dibs. The player claimed can then either be dealt to the team claiming him or withdrawn, closing the window on any trade opportunity for the season. For both Benitez and Nelson to have made it through means that the two teams chasing the M's and the Yanks, Oakland and Boston, respectively, passed up the opportunity to claim the player either as a means of aiding their own bullpens, or at the very least of blocking a trade to their rivals."

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