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The "P" is Still Free
2006-06-21 05:08
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

"Mo's in the game, man," said Derek Jeter, when asked if he was worried. "Mo doesn't give up many hard hit balls, let alone home runs. When Mo's in the game you're thinking it's over, no matter who's up."
(Hartford Courant)

It feels like the Yankees have been playing catch-up ever since they blew a 9-2 lead last Saturday in Washington D.C. The Bombers fell behind early last night, but hung tough in a see-saw affair down in Philly, eventually pulling ahead against their old friend Arthur Rhodes. Mariano Rivera pitched two innings to nail down the save as the Yanks beat the Phils, 9-7.

Mike Mussina retired the first two hitters in the bottom of the first and then gave up a single to Bobby Abreu and a walk to Pat Burrell. Mussina was furious at the ball four call to Burrell and not only glared in at the home plate umpire but he started lecturing him too. The umpire took off his mask, which didn't help matters. "No, it wasn't low," complained Mussina, who rarely displays as much irritation as he showed here. It was like a professor being incorrectly corrected by a student in front of the entire class, and Mussina's feathers were clearly ruffled. His next pitch--the first to Ryan Howard--was absolutely crushed into the right field upper deck. It was almost comical. Ryan looks like the legendary New York rapper KRS-ONE, whose moniker used to be the "Blastmaster." I think it's appropriate to pass that nickname onto Howard, who would go on to homer in his next at bat against Mussina too.

The Yanks tied the game at three, thanks to RBI singles from Bernie Williams and Kevin Reese and a solo dinger from Jason Giambi. (Old man Bernabee went 5-5, two doubles and three singles...how about that?) Reese's bloop single to left in the third inning was particularly enjoyable as he slapped at a pitch way out of the strike zone (with the pitcher on deck there was no way he was going to get a good pitch to hit, so he made the most out of a bad one). Howard put the Phils ahead with his two-run blast in the fourth. Jorge Posada popped a solo homer in the sixth and Alex Rodriguez tied the game with an RBI ground ball single in the seventh. That man Howard was at it again in the bottom of the inning as he drove in two more runs (giving him seven RBI on the night) on a triple off of a flat breaking ball from southpaw Mike Myers.

Arthur Rhodes pitched well against the Yanks on Monday night but would not record an out on Tuesday. Bernie Williams reached on an infield single, Miguel Cairo (in for Cano) walked and then Melky Cabrera slapped a single to right driving in a run and putting runners on the corners. It was an impressive at bat for Cabrera who had been 1 for his last 19 going into the inning. Cabrera fell behind in the count but fouled a few pitches off before going the other way with the pitch. Damon was next, and he lifted a fly ball to center field, enough to tied the game for sure. But Aaron Rowand was playing too shallow and the ball sailed over his head. It appeared as if Damon thought it was a routine fly out. He did not run hard out of the box but turned the jets on and when all was said and done wound up on third with a triple and two RBI. Damon scored on Derek Jeter's single and the Yanks had a two-run lead.

Rivera pitched an easy eighth inning and even got a chance to hit in the top of the ninth. It was the first regular season at bat of his career (he is 0-3 in post-season play). Joe Torre huddled with him before Rivera grabbed a helmet--Jeter's as it turns out. Torre was probably telling him not to swing. Rivera could barely hide a smile as he walked to the plate. Rivera took the first pitch for a strike and then took two mighty cuts before returning to the dugout. Jeter and Jorge had big smiles for Mo upon his return.

In the bottom of the ninth, Chase Utley blooped a one-out single to right. After Rivera struck out Abreu on a very hittable pitch--Abreu was immediately vexed because he knew Rivera had gotten away with one--pinch-hitter Dave Dellucci blooped a single to left, setting up a boffo confrontation with the Blastmaster. The Philly fans, who had been tame for much of the evening, came alive. But the fight was over before it really even begun. Rivera threw Howard a cutter, and the young slugger tapped it to second base for the final out of the game. The Blastmaster had a tremendous night, but in the end, it was Rivera and the Yanks who came away with the win.

Comments
2006-06-21 05:58:31
1.   JVarghese81
"Ryan looks like the legendary New York rapper KRS-ONE"

I KNEW I wasn't the only one thinking that!! I met the man when he came to my HS way back in the day and the resemblance is very close.

2006-06-21 06:21:58
2.   joejoejoe
NL Papi may look like KRS-ONE but it was Mariano Rivera who was Strictly Business.
2006-06-21 06:24:50
3.   ChuckM
I always thought he looked more like Doug E. Fresh myself. The slightly chubbier version you see on the VH1 specials nowadays. I don't think Howard has quite the jowls that KRS has...
2006-06-21 06:24:58
4.   JL25and3
Thank goodness for Arthur Rhodes, the Bizarro Frank Lary. When he was traded out of the AL, I was afraid it would cost the Yankees at least 2 wins, but I underestimated his ability as a Yankee-killee.

Mussina's stats in June: 23.2 IP, 29 H, 5 HR, 6.85 ERA.

2006-06-21 06:28:26
5.   Knuckles
Damn, didn't see the game because it wasn't on Extra Innings around my way. I'd have loved to see Mo swinging the bat. Oddly enough, Ryan Howard is one of my favorite non-Yankees, for pretty much no other reason than that I find his at-bats pretty riveting- I think within the next two years most of the country will as well. Can't imagine him hitting a 3-bagger though.
2006-06-21 06:30:59
6.   Dimelo
Mo Rivera was MC Shan last night and he basically told Torre, "Rivera doesn't need 'The Bridge', I got this". Rivera had the Beats, while Blastmaster had the lyrics....the beats always win. I'm sure Blastmaster was left to Philosophize by his damn self, after his weak groundout.
2006-06-21 06:37:57
7.   Alex Belth
Yeah, it's mostly the wide nose that connects Howard with KRS. Howard is more handsome though, he's got a square jaw.
2006-06-21 06:52:52
8.   Chyll Will
Wowzers, My9 made me blind as a bat, because I didn't see that at all (except for the nose, now that I think about it.) If he was also rockin' the 'locks under the cap, I'd definitely see it.
2006-06-21 07:08:28
9.   Bob B
I didn't think Bernie had anything left in the tank this season, that this would be his swan song year, but he has more than risen to the occasion. Last night he looked like the Bernie of ten years ago. I still think the Yanks are staying in the race on vapors alone,needing to use Mo repeatedly to nail down 2 innings and finding hot bats in the stragest of places. I still see them missing the playoffs this season. But I'd love to be proven wrong.
2006-06-21 07:40:10
10.   mikesamuel
I think the best part of the AB by Rivera was Cano making fun of his swing.
2006-06-21 07:44:18
11.   Alex Belth
My favorite "on the cutting room floor" moment from last night's game was when they showed the Philly Fanatic driving a muscle-man off the field inbetween innings on his ATV. The muscle man had a big bar bell in his hands which the Fanatic took from him and lifted with ease--the old Spanky McFarland "Little Rascals" gag.

They drove off the field, down the right field line until they got the wall. The stage door, so to speak, was not in the outfield wall, but just behind it on the right field line wall. So the Fanatic drives his ATV right against the wall, and the muscle man jumps off and then the Fanatic back-up so that he could drive to the exit. But man, there was something in those few seconds, it was a throw-away moment, watching the Fanatic backing up, something so mundane, that just cracked me up.

2006-06-21 07:58:45
12.   standuptriple
Sounds like I missed a good one last night, but no Extra Innings, so what are you gonna do? Actually I was in the RF arcade (1st row) at AT&T. Vlad fielded a double right beneath me. Got to heckle Randy Winn too (a fellow alum, but he was the beneficiary of a buddy's cheating girlfriend, thus the heckling). The only bad part about those seats is that we couldn't see the out of town scores. Oddly enough the only seats I've had better in that park were when the Phillies visited last season. Saw Howard up close and man, that is one big dude. I wouldn't mind seeing him in the pinstripes one day.
2006-06-21 08:53:54
13.   Dan M
Strange, Knuckles, I don't find Howard to be likeable at all. It seemed like he shows up the pitcher at every chance.
2006-06-21 09:04:48
14.   Schteeve
Didn't KRS bum rush one of the P.M. Dawn guys at the MTV awards one year?
2006-06-21 09:57:52
15.   bloodyank78
13 Like he showed up the "Sheriff" Beckett in spring training? Gimme a break, he's a young guy having fun in his second year in the Majors. I have watched quite a few Philly games this year w/MLB Extra Innings(hey, I want to get my money's worth) and Howard never does anything antagonistic to opposing pitchers after he crushes them. He just shows a lot of excitement after hitting his bombs, big deal, there's nothing wrong w/that.
2006-06-21 10:34:02
16.   Dan M
Really only see him play last night, but he was 3-3 in showboat opportunities (although the 2nd homer was not so bad, but it did have a bit of the Rickey hop-step flavor)

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