So remember when, last week, I wondered about Jorge Posada and the importance of game calling? “Kyle Farnsworth is probably going to do some Farnsworthing no matter how meticulously you've planned your pitch sequence,” I wrote, “and Mariano Rivera could probably strike batters out if he threw to a lump of clay.”
Well, apparently the Yankees took that as a challenge.
In all fairness, sudden catcher Chad Moeller has done a good job so far under difficult circumstances, with a higher-than-expected VOLC (Value Over Lump of Clay). The Yankees scraped some runs together, Andy Pettitte didn’t let the Rays scrape together quite as many, and in the end it was a 5-3 Yanks win.
“Pettitte did a solid job despite not having great stuff”: I feel like I’ve written variations on that sentence about 30 times over the last year or so. Which means it’s probably time for me to adjust my idea of what Andy Pettitte’s stuff actually IS these days, huh? Clearly he can still be plenty effective, but it’s not 1997 anymore (thank god), or even 2005. Anyway, Pettitte had a rough few innings to start the game – allowing seven hits in the first three frames, some blooped and some smashed – but he got through it with only two runs scored, then settled in for the long haul, eventually giving up three runs in seven innings on exactly 100 pitches.
As for the Yankee offense, it wasn’t exactly a banner night – they left the bases loaded three times – but it was enough. Hideki Matsui started the scoring with a solo shot in the second, and in the fourth Bobby Abreu and Alex Rodriguez scored on a groundout and a wild pitch, respectively. (Rays pitcher Edwin Jackson, in his general demeanor on the mound, struck me as a bit of a Nuke LaLoosh “I want to announce my presence with authority!” type, but maybe I'm being unfair). The Yanks tacked on two more the next inning, when Jeter singled Damon home – one of his three hits on the night – and was then driven in by Abreu.
Mariano Rivera got the save with his usual panache, but with Joba Chamberlain still home with his father, Kyle Farnsworth pitched the 8th inning. And you might want to sit down for this: he set the Rays down 1-2-3. In a two-run game. Frankly, I’m paralyzed. Do I make a joke about the apocalypse and Revelations? Quote the old Ghostbusters “cats and dogs living together, mass hysteria!” line? Or should I reveal my suspicion that Farns has been replaced by a remarkably lifelike android/mutant/alien pod creature, which - even if it helps the team - probably ought to be stopped? I don’t know. I was not prepared for this contingency!
Finally, in other news, LaTroy Hawkins - on the advice of Jeter and Rivera - has apparently decided to give up #21. I think most Banter readers will agree that Hawkins did nothing wrong in trying to honor Roberto Clemente, and that booing him for his choice of uniform number was definitely uncalled for… but I have to admit that part of me is a little happy he's switching. Not the smart, logical part, mind you*. But I do find it oddly touching that fans are still so devoted to O’Neill, even if they choose to express it a dumb, counterproductive sort of way.