Break out the brooms, the Swiffer Wet Jets, the dust pans, the mops…whatever cleaning device you prefer. Tonight, the Yankees beat the Minnesota Twins by a score of 6-1, completing a three-game sweep in the American League Division Series.
The Yanks will now vie for the A.L. pennant against either The Texas Rangers or Tampa Bay Rays.
The story of the night offensively was the work of Marcus Thames and Nick Swisher. Already up 2-0 in the bottom of the fourth, Thames blasted an opposite-field home run, a shot that landed in the right field stands. It marked Thames’s first career postseason home run and it put the Yanks up 4-0.
Swisher followed suit in the bottom of the seventh with a solo home run, his second career postseason round-tripper, striking the proverbial nail in the Twins’ coffin.
Jorge Posada started the Yankee scoring in the bottom of the second with an RBI single, knocking in Robinson Cano. Mark Teixeira followed with an RBI single of his own in the bottom of the third to score Swisher, giving the Yankees their early 2-0 lead.
After Thames’s home run in the fourth, Curtis Granderson scored on a sacrifice fly by Brett Gardner, after stealing second and reaching third on an error by catcher Joe Mauer.
Phil Hughes made his first postseason start for the Yankees and he looked as sharp as a brilliantly crafted katana. Hughes tossed seven strong innings of work and gave up no runs on four hits. The 24 year-old right-hander only issued one walk and struck out six batters on his way to a win.
The only blemish on the Yankee pitching was an RBI single off the bat of Orlando Hudson, which plated Danny Valencia in the top of the eighth off reliever Kerry Wood. With one out and the bases loaded, Yankee skipper Joe Girardi summoned Boone Logan and David Robertson to record the last two outs.
Logan and Robertson delivered, escaping the frame without another run allowed.
Mariano Rivera closed it down in a non-save situation, tossing a perfect ninth inning to secure an ALDS victory.
It should comes as no surprise to me that the Yankees won this series. I’ll admit, I was somewhat skeptical coming into this year’s ALDS, simply because of what the Twins had going for them.
I stated in the preview that they had a tremendous record at home (53-28 at home, which I believe was the best in the A.L.). With home field advantage, I never would have guessed that the Yankees could take two from the Twins at Target Field.
In addition to home field advantage, I thought the Twins may have been able to handle Andy Pettitte, being that he had not won a game since July 8. However, Pettitte came up huge in Game Two and was arguably more effective than CC Sabathia in Game One.
I also made mention of Alexi Casilla, Denard Span, and Michael Cuddyer, all of whom I imagined would come up with timely hits in big spots.
Not even close.
Aside from Cuddyer’s Game One, two-run homer, they were ghosts.
I just do not have an answer. The Twins must be perplexed and probably frustrated. I guess they just weren’t meant to beat the Yankees. It’s not as though they have a bad team, either; I think that’s why manager Ron Gardenhire is so confused.
This season, Minnesota was able to beat out a competitive Chicago White Sox team and a fairly resilient team in the Detroit Tigers (at least up until late July-early August). They captured the A.L. Central for the second consecutive year and just could not maintain their bearings when the calendar reached October.
I thought that maybe the Twins could quell their postseason demons, meaning the Yankees. In my head I drew a comparison between the Twins this year and the Yankees last year. The Bombers just could not beat the Angels in the past, as they had been eliminated by them twice (2002, ’05).
Could the Twins, with a number of things finally working in their favor, beat the Yankees in the playoffs, the way the Yankees finally beat the Angels in the playoffs last year? Could the Twins, who just opened their new Stadium, win it all in their first season in their new Stadium the way the Yanks had last year?
No. It could not be done. The Twins fell victim to the almighty Yankees for the fourth time.
A clean sweep.
Inside the Series
· The Twins were .111 in the ALDS with runners in scoring position. The Yankees hit .360 with men on second and third.
· Curtis Granderson hit .455 in the ALDS, his first postseason series in pinstripes.
· The Twins have now lost 12 consecutive postseason games. Nine of those 12 losses have come at the hands of the Bronx Bombers.
· With his RBI single in the second inning tonight, Jorge Posada passed Mickey Mantle for ninth place on the postseason RBIs list.
· Capturing the win in Game Two, Andy Pettitte now has 19 career postseason wins. No other pitcher in baseball history has as many.
· Before Game Two of the ALDS, Twins’ manager Ron Gardenhire burned his uniform from Game One. Well. That didn’t work.
· Heading into Game Two, lefties were hitting .292 off Carl Pavano. Lance Berkman hit a home run and a double off Pavano…from the left side of the plate.
· Mariano Rivera now has 41 postseason saves and 600 all-time in his career (including the playoffs). Brad Lidge is second on baseball’s all-time postseason saves list with 16.
· Rivera now also owns an all-time postseason ERA of 0.72.
· The Yankees outscored the Twins 17-7 in the ALDS.
· Phil Hughes picked up his first postseason win as a starter. He previously won a playoff game against the Cleveland Indians in 2007, coming on in relief of an injured Roger Clemens.
· All-Star catcher and 2009 A.L. MVP Joe Mauer registered no RBIs in the ALDS.
· Mark Teixeira led the Yankees in RBIs with five for the ALDS. Granderson knocked in four runs and Posada drove in three.
· The Yankees became the seventh MLB franchise to win a World Series and then open the next postseason series with a sweep. The last time the Yankees accomplished the feat was 1998-1999, when they beat the Texas Rangers in the ALDS.
Once again, the ALCS will start on Friday Oct. 15 in either Tampa Bay or Texas, pending the outcome of the Rays vs. Rangers series. According to reports, Girardi will meet with his coaching staff to discuss the pitching rotation for the ALCS, needing to decide whether or not to utilize a three or four man rotation.
It all depends on A.J. Burnett’s focus and confidence level.
But that’s another story for later on in the week. Right now, the Yankees can rest knowing they will once again compete for a chance at their 40th American League pennant; they have another chance to once again represent the A.L. in the World Series.
Rays? Rangers? We’ll soon find out. As for tonight…
I cannot say anything to the Twins. Residents of St. Paul and Minneapolis are probably shaking their heads right now, wondering what they need to do to beat the Yankees; what can they do to finally get over the postseason hump.
And maybe, just maybe…Twins fans are wondering if there’s even an answer.
I certainly do not have one.
Tied at two in the top of the seventh inning of tonight’s game, Minnesota Twins’ starter Carl Pavano pumped a 91mph fastball right over the plate to Yankees’ designated hitter Lance Berkman on a 1-2 count. Pavano took a few steps off the mound, expecting home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt to ring Berkman up.
No such luck.
The pitch was called a ball and then, with a 2-2 count, Berkman doubled in Jorge Posada, giving the Yankees a 3-2 lead. New York added two more runs after the botched call and went on to win the game 5-2 and take a two games-to-none lead over the Twins in American League Division Series.
“It was a tough pitch,” Berkman told the media after the game.
“I thought it was in and off the plate. The umpire was not giving much inside all night and he was pretty consistent with that. I really thought it was in, that’s why I didn’t swing.”
Twins’ manager Ron Gardenhire, who is said to have a troubled relationship with Wendelstedt, was run from the game after arguing the call. Despite their rocky history, Gardenhire stated after the game that he spoke with Wendelstedt and they have “cleared the air.”
In addition to his RBI double in the seventh, Berkman broke a 1-1 tie in the top of the fifth with a solo home run, an opposite-field blast that landed in the Twins’ bullpen behind the left-centerfield wall.
Curtis Granderson and Derek Jeter contributed to the Yankee scoring, both with RBI singles. Granderson drove in Brett Gardner in the seventh while Jeter padded the Yankees’ lead in the ninth, driving in Berkman.
Alex Rodriguez initially got the Yanks on the board with a sacrifice fly in the fourth, driving in Granderson.
Minnesota only managed two runs off postseason stud Andy Pettitte. In the bottom of the second, Danny Valencia drove in Delmon Young with a sacrifice fly to right field. Later in the sixth Orlando Hudson got around on a hanging, inside curve ball and drove it into the left field stands for a solo home run that knotted the game at two.
Aside from those two hiccups, Pettitte was dealing. He tossed seven strong innings of work and scattered five hits while walking one batter and striking out seven. With the win, Pettitte now has 19 career playoff victories, the most of any pitcher in baseball history.
Backing Pettitte was Kerry Wood, who tossed a perfect eighth inning out of ‘pen. Mariano Rivera nailed it down in the ninth for his 41st career postseason save and second in as many nights. Rivera also lowered his postseason earned run average to 0.73, which is the lowest all-time among any pitcher.
Pettitte and Rivera seem to be a dynamic postseason duo.
The Yankees have now beaten the Twins in eight consecutive postseason games dating back to 2004 and will look for their ninth win in a row on Saturday night at Yankee Stadium.
If you want my honest opinion, the blown call really wasn’t fair. Much like Francisco Liriano last night, Carl Pavano was holding his own for the better part of the game. He finished the night with six innings pitched, he scattered 10 hits, gave up four earned runs, only walked one batter, and struck out three.
Pavano didn’t pitch poorly and he caught a bad break on that blown call. That almost personifies his whole career–a bad call; a bad break. I would have rather had Berkman strike out looking and win the game another way, not by a bad call by the home plate ump.
I hate to say it…
But I don’t think the Twins have it in them. I don’t think they will ever be a team built strong enough for the playoffs. They have not won a postseason game since 2004 and the Yankees have just had their number for the better part of the past 10-12 years. When you really think about it:
· The Yankees eliminated them from postseason contention three times in the last seven years, and potentially could eliminate them four times in eight years if they win this year’s ALDS.
· The Yankees threw a perfect game against Minnesota (David Wells; May 17, 1998)
· Under Ron Gardenhire, the Yankees are now 56-18 against the Twins.
· The Twins have been outscored 63-34 in all postseason games since winning Game One of the 2004 ALDS vs. the Yankees.
· The Twins have now lost 11 straight postseason games. Eight of those losses have come at the hands of the Yankees.
· Going back to last season (including the 2009 and ’10 postseasons) the Twins are 2-14 in their last 16 meetings with the Yankees. Both of their wins came this past regular season (May 16 and May 27 this year)
I refuse to say that the Twins are done right now. In 2004, I repeatedly stated that the Red Sox were done after losing three straight American League Championship Series game to the Yankees and…well…everyone knows what happened. They made history, won four in a row, came from behind, won the pennant, embarrassed the Yankees….
Yeah. It was not pretty. In fact it was my worst sports experience.
However, it will be extremely difficult for them to come back and win. The Twins would have to win two games in Yankee Stadium, then come home and win the final game in order to advance. Considering how well CC Sabathia responds in big games and how dominant Pettitte was tonight, things are not looking up for the Twins.
Not saying it can’t be done…but it will be tough for them.
See you after Saturday night’s game.
Believe. It’s a motto Seattle Mariners’ reliever Brian Sweeney goes by. Believe in yourself, believe in God, just believe and you will be fine.
On July 1, Sweeney, a native of Yonkers, N.Y., pitched at Yankee Stadium; a scoreless, 1-2-3 inning in which he got Ramiro Pena, Brett Gardner, and Derek Jeter out. He later went on to face the Yanks on July 11 in Seattle and got the likes of Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and Nick Swisher out. At press time, Sweeney is 1-1 with a 3.68 ERA.
But his story begins long before facing the Bronx Bombers. Sweeney recently talked to Yankee Yapping about his journey through baseball, where he learned his knee-buckling changeup, and how he was punk’d the night before he was called up to the big leagues.
Yankee Yapping: You started at Archbishop Stepinac High School, and then moved on to Mercy College. Could you describe what it was like to pitch for the Flyers (now known as the Mavericks) and what did you major in while you were there?
Brian Sweeney: Pitching for Mercy was an incredible learning experience. I learned about hard work, dedication and how important it was to not give in, no matter what the circumstance.
Our records each season were not very good but it was not for lack of effort. I learned how to lose which is an important aspect in my professional life.
Learning how to lose helped me want to win more!
We lost off the field as well, because our assistant coach passed away in a car accident my freshman year. I also learned my changeup from my head coach at Mercy that I still use today.
My major was biology.
YY: Growing up, was there any specific team or player you looked up to?
BS: I was a Yankee fan growing up and my idol was Don Mattingly.
YY: You made your MLB debut for the Seattle Mariners on Aug. 16, 2003. What was your initial reaction when you got the call to the show?
BS: There was an unbelievable feeling of satisfaction. I knew from when I was four years old that I wanted to be a professional baseball player. Granted I wanted to play shortstop for the Yankees, but after seven years of work in the minor leagues, I have finally accomplished my goal of getting to the big leagues.
People spend seven years in school to become doctors and lawyers, but I would certainly say my schooling helped me become a big league baseball player.
YY: After you spent a year with the Mariners, you went to San Diego to pitch for the Padres. What was the move like, going from the American League to the National League?
BS: The move wasn’t a big deal, except I wanted to stay with the Mariners my whole career. They brought me up and I wanted to pay dividends for them. I guess I can do that now that I’m back in Seattle. Both San Diego and Seattle are classy organizations. I only wish they were closer to home for me and my family, though!
YY: On May 7, 2006, you earned your first career save in a 6-3 Padres’ victory over the Chicago Cubs. As a relief pitcher, how did that feel and would you rather have a win or a save?
BS: It was a pretty cool experience considering our closer was Trevor Hoffman. He had pitched, like, five days in a row and he had the day off so they put me in the closer role that day. Everybody in the stands expected Hoffy to run out of the bullpen, but they got me that day.
All things winning are good, so I prefer both.
YY: At the end of ’06 you made your way to Japan and pitched for the Nippon-Ham Fighters. The story in the Journal News said, “You could go on all day about the differences between pitching in Japan and the United States.” Is there anything that you miss about Japan, now that you’re back in the States?
BS: I miss some of the drills that were conducted over there. For instance, they would put the pitchers at shortstop and it really was a great workout. I also miss some of my teammates. I played with Yu Darvish, who is an excellent player and a classy individual. Overall, it was a lot of fun to play in Japan.
I would also say I miss the food there. It was tremendous!
YY: This past April you came back, signed a deal with the Mariners, and then you were sent to the minors. Exactly two months later you were back in the majors. How did it feel to be back, considering you went right back to where you started (in Seattle) Was it a kind of homecoming for you? How happy were your teammates for you?
BS: It felt like I was in a time machine. All I could say was, “Where am I?”
Coming back and getting called up was satisfying, especially since I was able to go back to the Mariners–the team that bred me for seven years. It was like a homecoming, but I also had to get to know a lot of my teammates.
The only one I really knew from my first stint with the Mariners was Ichiro. It was fun to catch up with him and we talked a lot about Japan. It was a learning process to get to know the rest of the players. It took some time, but I got to know them all.
YY: Recently on July 1, you pitched at Yankee Stadium–a scoreless, 1-2-3 7th inning in which you got Ramiro Pena, Brett Gardner, and the legendary Derek Jeter out.
Your family was there, holding signs that read “believe” on them. Could you maybe give me the story behind that, and what did it feel like to be pitching at Yankee Stadium against its most beloved player? Did you change your pitching approach when Jeter stepped into the box?
BS: Believe is a word my children use (they are 11 and 6). It’s a strong word that means a lot and it pays dividends over time; believe in yourself, believe in God. My family jumped on that. They made signs that read “Believe” on them and it was meaningful to me that they did that.
I later found out that the Mariners’ team expression is “Believe Big.” It’s just a positive word.
As for Jeter…
I did the same thing with him that I did with the other hitters; same approach. Obviously he is one of the most celebrated ballplayers on the Yankees and he was a nice challenge.
The only thing that was different about him was that he took a long time to get into the batter’s box. I wish he had gotten into the box a little faster! Maybe he was trying to slow me down? It could just be his routine.
YY: At the moment your career record is 4-1. Of those four wins, which one would you say (if you can) was the most memorable, or rewarding?
BS: My first win was certainly the most rewarding. On June 29, 2004, San Diego needed a starter to face the Arizona Diamondbacks–and not just the D’Backs, but Randy Johnson.
Johnson had 3,992 career strikeouts and was going for 4,000. In that game, he got to 4,000 and I was two of them; I had to hit against him because it’s the N.L. We did however win the game 3-2 and it was a great feeling.
The next day I actually met Randy and talked to him, which also made it memorable.
YY: What’s the best story you have from being an MLB pitcher? When I interviewed John Flaherty (a former MLB catcher) he said he was hung over the day he was called up to the majors. Do you have a story like that?
BS: Oh brother! I know John very well and it’s pretty funny that he was hung over when he was called up! I have a story like that…
The night before I was called up I was out with a longtime roommate of mine. We had a few beers and then Jim Slaton, one of the coaches said, “I’m fired because the team isn’t pitching well.” I didn’t take it very well and had some choice words.
Finally he stopped me and said, “Just kidding. You’re going to the big leagues tomorrow.” I practically passed out; all the work I put in had finally paid off.
I was so happy, but I couldn’t get in touch with my dad right away because of the massive blackout that hit the east coast in the summer of 2003. I wanted my dad to be the first to know, because he was and still is a huge part of my success.
“Nobody likes you when you’re 23.”–The great words of Blink-182 in their song “What’s My Age, Again?”
Yesterday was my 23rd birthday and I could not have picked a better way to spend it: with my dad at the Yankees-Phillies game. It’s almost as if I received two presents in one; I was privileged to go to the first game of the 2009 World Series rematch and the Yankees won 8-3.
It doesn’t get any better than that.
A few weeks before my College Graduation, I told my dad that the Yankees were playing the Phillies on my birthday. I expressed interest in going to the game, but because the game was such a hot ticket (it being a World Series rematch and all) I wasn’t sure if my dad could get the tickets.
In the end he was able to get them and I couldn’t have been happier.
Our seats were in the Terrace section on the first base side–in the front row. At first this frightened me, because I am deathly afraid of heights. The Terrace section, although not the highest part of Yankee Stadium, is pretty steep. When we walked into the Great Hall, I’ll admit I was a little apprehensive of going all the way up.
But once my dad and I reached our seats and the starting lineups were announced, I felt a little better. All of a sudden my feelings seemed content and the heights did not bother me at all. It was time for me to have some fun and be liberated of my acrophobia; after all, it was my birthday!
Not long after first pitch, a few people came in to sit in our row. As fate would have it, a young man (about my age) wearing a Phillies hat sat next to me. Thinking out loud, I said “Oh no! I’m sitting next to a Phillies fan?”
Everyone in our section heard me and laughed.
The kid looked at me, smiled and said, “Don’t worry! I’m not one of those obnoxious fans!” I could tell he was a good guy so I laughed, shook his hand, and said, “OK.”
I wound up talking a lot of baseball with him for the rest of the night. My birthday actually came up in one of our conversations and he even wished me a happy birthday.
To start the game, Roy Halladay shut down the Yanks 1-2-3. “Was he going to toss another perfect game tonight?” I wondered. Not on my watch!
In the bottom of the second, Brett Gardner tripled to score Nick Swisher and Jorge Posada, giving the Yankees a quick 2-0 lead. Not long after that I received a text message from my friend Dave that read, “Why is it that Brett Gardner triples every time you go to a game?”
Of course he was joking. But I was at the game last May when he tripled and hit the inside-the-park home run–that’s why he kidded with me about it.
In the third inning, Curtis Granderson stepped up to the plate. A lot of fans in our section were hoping for something to happen. I jokingly shouted, “Come on Curtis! Halladay is not a lefty, you can hit him!”
And hit him he did.
Granderson proceeded to belt a long home run to right field, a solo blast to give the Yankees a 3-0 lead. It was Granderson’s fifth home run of the year.
After Granderson’s solo job, it got better.
Later in the frame, Nick Swisher stepped up to the plate and smacked a two-run home run, his 11th round-tripper of the year. The Yankees were now leading 5-0 and the Phillies fan I was sitting next to suddenly became very silent. I think he had a feeling at this point that his team was not winning the game.
He may have piped down for awhile but in the fourth inning got loud again. The Phillies rattled Yankees’ starter CC Sabathia for three runs. Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez both cracked RBI singles, and Ben Francisco grounded into a fielder’s choice (thanks to a “mental lapse” by Sabathia) to score Ryan Howard.
Sabathia did not cover the bag at first on what should have been a double play. The man behind me had been drinking and yelled, “Hey CC! Pretend there’s a cheeseburger at first base and cover the bag!”
It was said out of inebriation, but it was still funny. The drunken fan provided me with more entertainment than the actual game…I think.
The next inning Mark Teixeira stepped up to the plate against Halladay. He pulled a fly ball that seemed to keep on tailing toward the right field foul pole. At first I thought it was a foul ball. But the crowd erupted and I looked over to my left and saw Teixeira rounding the bases; that’s when I knew it was a goner.
A solo home run to give the Yanks a 6-3 lead. The ball literally just cleared the 314 sign in right field–not the most glorious home run, yet I was happy he left the park. It was Teixeira’s 10th home run of the season.
The game moved on to the seventh inning and the Yankees tacked on two more runs. Francisco Cervelli singled to score Teixeira and Jorge Posada, giving the Yanks an 8-3 edge. A few sections to my right I noticed a girl (again, probably my age) holding a sign that read, “Francisco Cer-SEXY.”
I immediately thought of Virginia over on Live, Eat, and Breath Yankees. She always posts about Cervelli and how she likes him. I suppose there are many young ladies out there who think the Yankee backstop is a heartthrob!
The Yanks scored those two runs off reliever Antonio Bastardo. I don’t want to get into too many details about what the drunken man behind me had to say, but I’ll just say he had a lot to say about Bastardo’s last name.
Again, the fans probably entertained me just as much as the game.
Right after the eighth inning, the Phillies fan who I chatted with for the better part of the night was heading out. He once again shook my hand and wished me a happy birthday. He knew the game was just about over and the Yankees were going to win.
No hard feelings, though.
Chan Ho Park finished off the game against his former team and shut them down in the ninth. Park tossed a perfect ninth inning to end the ballgame and notch the win. The Yankees took down the almighty Halladay and beat the Phillies in the first game of their regular season World Series rematch.
It was a fantastic way to end my 23rd birthday yesterday.
As my dad and I were leaving Yankee Stadium for the train back to Westchester, I noticed an enormous amount of Phillies fans shuffling out; it looked like a sea of red hats with the letter “P” mixed in with white and navy blue pinstripes. A few Phillies fans were hearing it from the Yankee fans; in fact, a pair of Phillies fans were heckled by a couple of Yankee Stadium vendors.
“The Phillies got smoked tonight!” the vendor exclaimed.
“Yeah, well the Phils will be back tomorrow,” one of them responded.
“That’s right they’ll be back tomorrow–to lose to the Yankees again!”
Realizing they weren’t winning the argument, the two Phillies fans walked away.
When I got on the train, I sat across from a couple who was coming in from Manhattan; he and his girlfriend had gone to see Hair on Broadway. The gentleman was asking me how the game went and I gave him the full game report. He was pretty happy the Yankees won and I had a nice conversation with him about sports for the majority of the ride home.
When I got home plopped down on my bed and smiled. “I’m glad they won for me today,” I said to myself in exhaustion. “This was a great birthday.”
Dating back to last year, the Yankees are 6-0 in games I have attended at the new Stadium. Hope they keep up the trend, because on Sunday I am going again. My sister got me tickets to see the final game of the Subway Series.
I can only hope they keep up the winning while I am in attendance!
On May 15, 2009 Brett Gardner made history. In a game he wasn’t even originally part of (thank Johnny Damon for getting himself ejected) he raced 360 feet around the Yankee Stadium bases in a dashing 14 seconds for an inside-the-park home run against the Minnesota Twins.
Yes, 14 seconds. The Flash and Sonic the Hedgehog can eat their hearts out.
Many people are familiar about the real story behind the home run. A young lady by the name of Alyssa Esposito had given Gardner a bracelet earlier in the day, claiming that if he held onto the bracelet he would hit a home run.
Her premonition came true.
Gardner became the first Yankee since Ricky Ledee to hit an inside the park home run. Ledee accomplished the feat on Aug. 29, 1999 vs. the Seattle Mariners. The speedy Gardner finished the night 3-for-3 with the in-the-parker, and even led off the ninth inning with a triple that sparked the Yankees’ come-from-behind rally.
The Yanks went on to win the game 5-4 on a Melky Cabrera walk-off single.
Gardner left the Stadium that day, not only with an inside-the-park homer, but with a lifelong friend–Esposito. The 18 year-old (now 19) was waiting for four months for a heart transplant and received it the night of Gardner’s amazing show of speed.
The courageous young lady recently spoke to Yankee Yapping about her experience, what she is up to now after her successful surgery, and how she made it to the back of Gardner’s baseball card.
Yankee Yapping: Were you always a Yankee fan, or did your experience with Brett Gardner make you one?
Alyssa Esposito: I was never a Yankee fan, but I also was never a baseball fan in general either. I guess I was raised a Mets “fan” until I met Brett Gardner at the hospital. Now I watch every game on TV, and root for the Yankees. I never realized how cool and exciting baseball was until after Brett hit the inside the park homerun.
YY: What was Brett’s initial reaction when you gave him the bracelet?
AE: Overall Brett is a really sweet and humble guy. He really connected with each patient after he read a book at the hospital event, provided by Project Sunshine. When I gave him the bracelet he gave me a really big smile that just made my day. I could tell that he was hesitant about the fact that I said it would help him hit a homerun, but like I said, that’s the humble guy inside.
YY: After your heart surgery you found out Gardner hit the inside-the-park home run. What were your thoughts after it happened?
AE: It’s actually a pretty funny story. Supposedly my family told me Brett hit the inside-the-park home run right before I went into surgery, but the heavy duty drugs the doctors give me to put me to sleep must have gotten to my memory which made me not remember.
But I was reminded as soon as I woke up from my surgery.
My family also showed me the replay after my transplant but apparently I had to watch it several times and I was told I had said “He’s running for me”, which brought tears to my Mom’s eyes. At that time the medicine from surgery and also the pain medicine was still wearing off.
YY: A number of publications and media outlets called you Gardner’s good luck charm that night. Can you explain how that feels?
AE: I smile whenever I hear or read that I am Brett’s good luck charm but honestly I really think God just set it all up. He took two unlikely circumstances and made them into two miracles. As of this day whenever I think about what has happened, I get the chills.
YY: After the May 15 win over the Twins, the Yankees went on a stretch where they went 17-9. Did you at all feel you really were their good luck charm?
AE: I like to think that I am their good luck charm in a way that they just got a boost from the inside-the-park home run Gardner hit. Maybe they felt that anything is possible and that just made them want to try even harder.
YY: It’s every little boy’s dream to have his face printed on a baseball card. You are on the back of Brett Gardner’s card. How did that happen?
AE: I didn’t know about the story being on the back of Gardner’s baseball card until a mother of a girl I graduated high school with asked me on Facebook if I knew about it.
Her son has a collection of baseball cards and his mother was looking through them one day and came across Brett’s. She had said her son wanted me to have it, which I thought was the absolute sweetest thing. She mailed it to me and when I went to a Yankee game, Brett signed it for me.
YY: After your transplant you reunited with the Yanks and Gardner. How special was it to see Brett again and was it an emotional experience?
AE:The first time I saw Brett after my heart transplant was at a press conference at the hospital. It was very emotional seeing all of my doctors there to support the hospital.
Brett and I spoke for a few minutes to just catch up and talk personally. It was just an overwhelming feeling being there with the healthy new heart inside of me and reuniting with Brett. I thought it was a special day because I got to meet him when I was actually healthy and full of energy.
YY: The other Yankees gave you some pretty cool gifts when you went to your first game after the operation, huh?
AE: The first Yankee game my family and I went to after my heart transplant was the most fun I have had in a long time. The stadium is amazing and it was my first time going there. Each one of the Yankees I met are extremely nice and they were all concerned about how I was feeling after my surgery.
Nick Swisher was full of excitement and energy and I loved his huge smile on his face. He referred to me as “The Gardner Girl” when he came up to me, and I absolutely love that nickname!
Alex Rodriguez had signed both of his gloves he had just used for batting practice and gave them to me. He was very sincere about it and did not want to make a big deal at all in front of the cameras.
I got a baseball signed by a few players as well and have it in my room along with the batting gloves inside a case. I also have a signed jersey by some of the players that I wore on the field the day I went to the game. I plan on making a scrapbook with the hundreds of pictures my family and I took that day as a beautiful memory.
YY: The Yankees capped off the 2009 season with a World Series title. When the last out was made– the Shane Victorino groundout to Robinson Cano–like most Yankee fans you were probably very excited. Was it especially a sweet win for you, considering what you went through earlier in the year?
AE: It was for sure a sweet win for me and it was so great to see the excitement. Every bit of hard work they put in playing, was worth it.
I look back all the time and realize how much I have gone through and I truly believe the Yankees deserved every bit of that title with their hard work. Just like every bit of strength and fighting power I gave in to survive, was worth the gift of life I received. I continue to thank God for my precious donor who gave me a priceless gift.
YY: Now that you have had the successful heart surgey, what are you doing in terms of your future?
AE: I am in college right now. I took one semester of courses all online and I plan on continuing to do that until I feel it is time to attend the actual classrooms. I have to be careful because my immune system is suppressed. I love the online classes because it is convenient and if I have a visit to the hospital it won’t interfere with them.
The New York Yankees cruised into a 10-3 victory over the Boston Red Sox tonight.
It was a wild game filled with a lot of news and stories. Here is what I made of it all…
It is kind of strange what happened to the Boston ace in this game.
Beckett started off strong, fanning five of the first six batters he faced. He seemed to be rolling along, looking untouchable up until the sixth inning. But everything came unglued for him and things got out of hand.
In the top of the sixth inning, Beckett gave up six runs on four hits, faced 11 Yankees, and was run from the game. He ended the night with 5 1/3 innings, giving up nine earned runs on nine hits. He walked three batters, hit two, and struck out eight.
Aside from the number of strikeouts, his line tonight was horrendous.
In the sixth inning, Beckett put Robinson Cano out. Throwing a blazing fastball, Cano was hit on the inset of his left knee. Being the fighter that he is, Cano tried to stay in the game and walked down to first. He later decided better of it and came out of the game.
In the same inning, Derek Jeter was hit with a pitch and Beckett also came up and in on Nick Swisher and Francisco Cervelli. It’s obvious his control was a non-factor at that point, but it may have been more than that.
I have never seen Beckett in that form. Usually he has pinpoint accuracy and can locate with each of his pitches. I am not going to accuse him of intentionally hitting Cano (and I can’t say he beaned Jeter on purpose, because the bases were loaded) but I will say he looked like he did not care. To me, he came off as very arrogant, even in defeat.
Maybe it’s just me, but I feel he acted like a sore loser.
At that point in the game, the Yankees were hitting him hard; he intentionally walked Brett Gardner to load the bases and face Cervelli, a move that backfired. After that happened, I think he gave up on the game and did not care anymore.
At one point in the inning, Alex Rodriguez mouthed “Enough is enough already,” directed at Beckett’s control issues. The Yankees were taking notice of his command problem and were not happy. They even got up on the top step of their dugout and just looked ready to pounce.
I wish they had. They could have hit Beckett and let him know how it feels.
After his outing tonight, Beckett now owns an earned run average of 7.46 and his season record is 1-1. By far, this is Beckett at his worst. He has been one of the most paramount and dominant pitchers over the last seven years and he has never been this bad.
I don’t mind that he was hit hard by the Yankees. I am however holding contempt for the fact that he plunked Jeter and put Cano out.
Right now Nick Swisher is en fuego.
The cool dude in a loose mood belted his sixth homer of the year in the top of the fourth off Beckett. For Swisher, it was his second home run in as many games and his fourth in six games.
Beckett just hung a breaking too high and Swisher crushed it.
This year the Yankee right fielder looks a lot better in terms of his swing and his defense. He doesn’t look so stiff out there, and part of that I chalk up to experience. He got his first year as a Yankee out of the way, and now he is rolling.
And with so many Yanks injured, it’s good to have him stepping up and hitting.
During the post game interview with the YES Network, Swisher mentioned that he visited a hospital this afternoon. He dedicated his home run to the child he met with today, which I thought was a class act. But that’s Swisher’s personality; I’m not surprised he said that.
His words reminded me of Brett Gardner last year. On May 15 of last season, Gardner visited a hospital and promised a girl he would try and hit a home run. He wound up getting an inside-the-park round-tripper.
As for Swisher, right now he is hitting .286 coupled with 20 RBIs and 16 runs scored.
Keep it up, Swisher!
He is really becoming “one of our guys,” if you will.
Tonight, Phil Hughes matched Beckett pitch-for-pitch and went on to beat Boston and earn his fourth win of 2010. The 23 year-old righty tossed seven masterful innings, and gave up two earned runs on seven hits. He walked one hitter and struck out seven.
Hughes’s stuff was electric tonight. His breaking ball was working beautifully and his fastball was live and exploding through the strike zone. He went right after Boston’s best hitters and got them out one by one.
In the top of the third, Hughes caught Marco Scutaro looking on probably the nastiest curveball I have ever seen. The ball started up at Scutaro’s eyes, it seemed, and landed belt-high for a strikeout.
That breaking ball was so gross, it buckled Scutaro’s knees.
At the end of the night, Hughes is now 4-0 on the year, becoming the fourth Yankee starter to have four wins on the season. His earned run average went up a little bit, going from 1.44 to 1.69, but his work tonight speaks for itself.
Tonight also marked Hughes’s first career win over the Red Sox.
The Yankees have to be feeling very good about Hughes right now. Looking forward, he has a chance to win a lot of games this year. If he continues to work as effectively as he did tonight, he can make a Cy Young Award push.
At this point, Hughes is the best pitcher in the American League, if you ask me.
Back during spring training, I never thought I would be saying that! Hughes has done a fine job of clearing the air and making the statement that he belongs in the Yankee rotation.
Hughes is our guy. That about says it all.
–Nick Johnson left the game with an apparent wrist injury. He was sent back to New York for an MRI and obviously won’t be playing for the rest of the weekend.
It never ceases to amaze me. Johnson had the best game he’s played all year on Wednesday. Two days later, he kills it.
Why did we get him again?
–Joe Girardi said a roster move will be made to replace Johnson. After the game tonight he mentioned the possibility of calling up an infielder from the minors.
–Every Yankee except Johnson, Cano, Ramiro Pena, and Gardner knocked in at least one run tonight.
–“I’d be surprised if Cano plays tomorrow,” Girardi said. Cano took that bean ball on the knee pretty hard, and even he said he would have to assess how he is feeling tomorrow.
I hope he plays. He is one of the Yankees’ hottest hitters and they need him. But if he has to miss a day, I say he should take it. It’s just frustrating, because he was hit with a pitch. If he hadn’t gotten hit, he would be fine.
–Jorge Posada, still nursing that balky calf, didn’t play tonight. He is still day-to-day, so hopefully he plays tomorrow.
There is only so much catching Francisco Cervelli can do…although he is doing just fine. He went 2-for-3 tonight with an RBI, a walk, and a run scored. He is kind of flying under the radar, but quietly putting together a great year!
–Retaliation tomorrow afternoon? Perhaps. Perhaps not. We will have to wait and see. The Red Sox certainly deserve to know what it feels like to have one of their top guys plunked.
God forbid Kevin Youkilis get beaned, though. For the amount of times he has been thrown at by Yankee pitching in his career, I wouldn’t be surprised if he charged the mound. It’s alright; CC would just have to sit on him, and the Yanks would win the fight.
–As announced before the game, Andy Pettitte will miss his next scheduled start against the Tigers on Tuesday. Javier Vazquez will make the start Tuesday and Sergio Mitre will start Monday.
Girardi set this up so that Vazquez will pitch the first game against the Mets at Citi Field on Friday, May 21. It might be a good idea, considering he probably has a better shot at winning against a National League team.
–Tomorrow afternoon it is CC Sabathia (4-1, 2.74 ERA) vs. Clay Buchholz (3-2, 2.97 ERA)
–The Yankees are now 3-1 vs. Boston this season and are 20-8 overall. A stark contrast to last year when they began 0-8 in their first eight games against the Red Sox.
–The Yanks snapped Boston’s four-game win streak tonight and extended their win streak to five games.
Call the New York Yankees “butter” right now, because they are certainly on a roll.
Tonight the Bronx Bombers continued their winning ways and beat the Baltimore Orioles by the same score they beat them by last night, 4-1. They have won 15 of their last 18 home series, extended their winning streak to three games, and have now won eight of their first nine series this season.
Only three other Yankee teams in history (1928, 1939, and 2003) have won eight of their first nine series, so obviously the 2010 group is standing out and has gotten off to a magnificent start.
A pair of plays and players stood out tonight…
This youngster did a wonderful job filling in for Jorge Posada, who is battling a balky right calf muscle. Francisco Cervelli was 3-for-3 with a triple, a bunt single, and two runs scored.
Not bad at all.
The Cisco kid was also playing amazing defense, making a beautiful catch to end the top of the fourth inning. Garrett Atkins popped a foul, high-fly ball toward the Yankee dugout. Cervelli kept his eye on the ball the whole way and falling stomach-first over the railing, made the putout.
Manager Joe Girardi actually caught Cervelli and bench coach Tony Pena nearly got toppled as he landed practically on top of him. It was a huge out, because there was a runner on third and the game was tied 1-1 at that point. That brilliant play prevented the O’s from going ahead, which certainly could have changed the complexion of the game.
I noticed as Cervelli rounded second base he flipped off his helmet. I guess he had to, since it is much bigger than a normal helmet. Because the young catcher has sustained multiple concussions in his career, he has to wear that funny-looking headpiece.
It makes him look like Gazoo from “The Flintstones.” Or maybe “Dark Helmet” from “Spaceballs”…
At any rate, Cervelli stole the show tonight. A few hits, a pair of runs, and a web gem. Not a bad night at the office. He must keep up the good work, especially since Posada has been hurting.
Once again, A.J. Burnett came out dealing like a man on fire. (Had to change it up; the “blackjack in Vegas” line is actually getting old, but that’s a good thing!)
The number two hurler tossed 7 1/3 innings tonight and gave up only one unearned run on five hits. He walked just two batters and he struck out eight.
Last week Burnett started against these same Orioles and only struck out four hitters. He seemed to be pitching to contact a lot more and was a lot more effective; he got a lot of fly ball outs and also induced a few outs on the ground. Tonight however, he was striking more batters out with a fastball, which was dancing all over the strike zone.
Burnett did not rely so much on his breaking ball tonight, but when he did throw it, he got the ball to move nicely. Girardi said after the game his curve ball was “outstanding, he used it effectively, and it had great depth.”
Could not have said it better myself.
The top of the third was really Burnett’s only hiccup. He allowed a run on a throwing error, but quickly settled down. With runners on second and third and no one out, he struck out Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, and Matt Wieters–all swinging–to get out of the inning without any further damage.
Maybe instead of “Dr. Jekyll-Burnett” I should call him “Harry Houdini-Burnett.”
Now with a record of 4-0 and ERA of 1.99, Burnett’s next start will come Sunday night against the Red Sox. He has not had much success in the past vs. Boston, but after tonight he may have given us all a reason to have more faith in him.
He is off to the best start he has ever gotten off to in his career. And by the way, he hasn’t allowed an earned run in each of his last four starts.
–Derek Jeter started at the designated hitter spot tonight while Ramiro Pena got the nod at short. Jeter was 1-for-5 but Pena had a sacrifice fly and two RBIs in the game.
He knocked in his first run in the bottom of the third, bunting and reaching on an error to drive in Brett Gardner and give the Yanks the lead. His sac fly came in the eighth to give the Yankees’ their 4-1 lead.
–Greg Golson got called up today and Mark Melancon was optioned back to Triple-A. Golson didn’t have an at-bat tonight, but he made a nice catch in center field to rob Miguel Tejada of extra bases. A HUGE play and a great catch!
–Alex Rodriguez has not been hitting well lately, but he was 0-for-2 on the night with an RBI bases loaded walk in the bottom of the fifth. Even when he isn’t killing the ball, he is still helping the team win.
–Mariano Rivera did not pitch tonight, because of that “discomfort” he spoke about after Friday’s outing vs. Chicago. Joba Chamberlain (playing the role of “Joba the Heat”) came in and slammed the door for the second time in as many games.
Chamberlain now has three career saves. He isn’t doing badly as an understudy, but he can’t get too comfortable in the closer role. Rivera will probably be back by Friday.
–Before the game, Jeter mentioned that his favorite food to eat in a restaurant is chicken parmesan. I guess I’m a man after his own heart–that is my all-time favorite dish!
–The Yankees are now 18-8, 10 games above .500. If Tampa Bay loses to Seattle tonight, we are dead-even and tied for first place in the AL East.
–Tomorrow afternoon the Yankees look to sweep the O’s. Andy Pettitte (3-0, 2.12 ERA) will lead the Yanks into battle against David Hernandez (0-3, 4.55 ERA)
I’d also like to take this moment to remember Ernie Harwell, the famous broadcaster, who passed away tonight. He is a legend with the Detroit Tigers and from everyone’s testimony, he was a wonderful person with a great soul.
R.I.P. Mr. Harwell. I wish you peace. My heart goes out to his friends, family, and every baseball fan he touched in his life.