The New York Yankees are generating some historically significant stats of late, and I never saw it coming. Even Joe Girardi said he feels the team clicked rather quickly. The Yankees just won their 9th straight today, finishing off their third series sweep in a row. I’d say right now, these 2012 Yankees have some good company: the last time they had three consecutive series sweeps was in the magical championship season of 1998.
It was stunning to hear that. Never did I expect the 2012 Yankees to be compared to the 1998 Yankees in any way. Maybe they do have that spark.
You don’t win 9 games in a row against three solid teams for no reason – it means you’re good. The Yankees have the best record in baseball since May 22nd. They’ve been playing solid baseball for about as long as they were playing poor baseball – time for me to seriously believe in these guys. So they started slow? No biggie. Maybe everything went bad then, so it could only improve as the season progressed.
Losing Mariano Rivera seemed like the most devastating, depressing catastrophe that could happen to the Yankees. Of course I miss his smiling face, but I have to give credit where credit is due: Rafael Soriano. Just wow. I remember hating on him for awhile too. He and I have had a rocky relationship throughout his short Yankee career. I remember feelings of elation when they signed him, because I knew he was one of the top closers in baseball with the Rays, second probably only to my Mo. Then I saw how much money he was making just to be a setup man. I subsequently discovered the contractual opt-outs, which I felt was a lose/lose situation for the Yankees, because either he would be great and then just opt out for more money, or he would be awful and we’d be stuck with him. Well, he was awful to start the 2011 season, posting a frightening 7.84 ERA over his first month in pinstripes.
He finished up strong though, and after Mo went down this year, he really stepped up. You can tell he has that fearless closer mentality, but without all the antics like some other closers around the game. He’s emotionless on the hill – sometimes it looks like he doesn’t even care – and he maintains his cool with that same blank expression even when the situations get sticky. Sure, he may not always get the opposition down 1-2-3 like Mariano, but the bottom line is that he is getting the job done at a time where the Yankees need him most.
So despite my feelings for the guy in the past, I definitely appreciate Rafael Soriano now, and I know the Yankees are blessed to have him. Since he’s closing now, maybe he is worth all that money. Hopefully he decides to stay in the Bronx.
In my last post, I apologized for hating on Mark Teixeira. He proved to me again in the middle game against the Nationals that I should believe in him. In a game that I thought would go on forever, it was Teixeira who was the hero, coming through in the clutch for what would ultimately be the game winner for the Yanks: a go-ahead 2-run double in the 14th inning. Soriano then closed it down.
But isn’t it ironic: I mentioned in my last post how I complained about Teixeira and whined about wanting rookies (in that post, it was the Angels phenom Mike Trout who I fawned over), but in the second game against the Nationals, their rookie phenom Bryce Harper had an awful day at the plate, going 0-7 and looking horrible. And it was the Yankees veteran with a giant contract, Mark Teixeira, who won the game. I feel bad for doubting him. Rookies may be cute and exciting, but winning is pretty fun, too. Thanks Teix!
Another note about that game two against the Nats: Rafael Soriano closed out the game in the 14th inning, which means that there were a whole lot of innings before that where he didn’t pitch. The Yankee bullpen, which is composed of a bunch of guys no one’s ever heard of, has been absolutely shut-down dominant. They’ve all stepped up and have done way more than I ever could have hoped. To go out there and hold the Nats down to just 1 run from the 8th onwards is incredible. Not to mention, it was at their ballpark, where the pressure is even greater due to the fear of a walkoff loss. Guys like Cody Eppley, Boone Logan, Cory Wade, Clay Rapada, and even the recently-bullpen demoted Freddy Garcia, deserve huge pats on the backs.
It’s crazy. Early on, from the outside looking in, these 2012 Yankees looked like a mess. Ravished by injuries and showing their age, they found themselves in the cellar of the AL East standings. But I guess it really was just “early.” Because right now, on June 18th, the Yankees are 40-25 – 15 games over .500 – and are sitting proudly atop the standings in the AL East. And they show no signs of stopping now.
I hoped that things would only get better for the Yankees after the disappointing start. Maybe that tide began to turn in the right direction for the Yankees a long time ago, but maybe only now do I actually believe that the success I’m seeing is here to stay.
A Day I’ll Never Forget
I finally made it back out to Yankee Stadium! I saw my first game this year last Thursday, August 11. It was the rubber game of the series against the Angels. The Halos won the first, the Yanks won the second. I knew it was going to be a good game, and and all-around good day. But I didn’t think it’d be THIS good.
Some of you might know that aside from my blog here at MLBlogs, I write for the FanVsFan Network at my site Pinstripe Partisan. I love that site for a number of reasons, one of the main reasons being that the people who work there are amazing. One of the leaders of the site himself is a Yankees fan and a native New Yorker, and he was generous enough to give me not one, but TWO free tickets to this Yankees game. So not only did I have the time of my life, but I was able to experience the day with my older brother, who had not yet been to the new Yankee Stadium.
But he didn’t just give me tickets. He gave me tickets, that for me, were perfect. When I found out where they were, I couldn’t wait to go.
My brother and I took the train down to the Stadium. Bobby is just as much of a Yanks fan as I am, and he was dying to see the new Stadium. When he first caught a glimpse of it as we were walking towards it, he was in awe – so much that he called home and told my Mom: “Ahh, Mommy! It’s so beautiful, you have no idea…” While on the phone, he turned to me and demanded that I take a picture.
We got the the Stadium 2 hours before the game was scheduled to start. Our plan was to go to our seats as soon as possible and watch batting practice and possibly get autographs. When we got to our section, Bobby reminded me:
“Virginia, please don’t embarrass me.”
Why so concerned?
Our seats were two rows behind the Yankee bullpen. And it was a day game. After a night game. Which meant that some players would be resting. Which meant that some backups would be playing.
WHICH MEANT THAT I HAD A CHANCE TO BE TWO ROWS AWAY FROM FRANCISCO CERVELLI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I can see now why he was worried about me.
The first Yankees we saw up-close-and-personal from our perch atop the bullpen wall was Freddy Garcia. He was getting some throwing in. Then Mike Harkey, the coolest bullpen coach ever, entered, and my brother and I (then the only people at the wall) yelled out, “Hi Hark!” AND HE WAVED!!! I thought my day was made. Oh, but there was more to come.
I was watching the hitters take BP, waiting for Cervelli to be done so he could come into the bullpen. BP was long, so my brother and I left for awhile to look around the Stadium, whose beauty was mesmerizing. When we got back to our seats, the wait wasn’t very long. Bobby pointed to a sexy looking man approaching from the dugout. I started to freak out.
“Virginia, you’re doing it.” he warned.
I managed to not explode. I let Francisco Cervelli approach. I captured his warm-up routine with about 50 pictures. Here are some personal favorites:
Before I knew it, he entered the bullpen. I was wearing my “Cervelli 29” shirt I bought last year at the Stadium. It was crowded at the bullpen wall now, but I figured, “It’s now or never.” And I was the only one in the ballpark that I knew of wearing his shirt. I was his ultimate fan. All these other idiots asking for his autograph didn’t really care about him. I didn’t want to harass him like the rest of them.
When he got close enough, I just yelled out, “Hey Francisco!!!! I’m wearing your shirt!”
Now I don’t know if he heard me, or if he saw the shirt when I turned around to show him. All I know, is that he waved at me, and I almost died. I’m lucky that I didn’t fall into the bullpen and die. I really am.
FRANCISCO CERVELLI WAVED TO ME. Holy Jesus. My life was then complete.
So he did more warm-ups, then when he exited the ‘pen, he waved again at us! Such a sweetie.
Oh yeah, then the GAME started. That was fun.
Bartolo Colon pitched a good game for the Yankees. I thought I was going to see Nova, but he pitched the night before. So when I heard it was Colon, I was happy. He was our first choice for a starter to see live!
The game was quiet at first, with no teams scoring through the first 4 innings. In the 5th, the Angels jumped out to a 2-0 lead on an Alberto Callaspo 2-run homer. That upset the sellout crowd, but they soon began to cheer when the fan who caught the ball threw it back.
In the bottom of the 6th, my cutie Curtis Granderson decided to give us something to smile about for real. After a Derek Jeter single, my GrandyMan homered to tie the game at 2! Then the next time the Yanks were on offense, big things happened, thanks to Mr. Robbie Cano. The bases were loaded after an Angel error, and Cano made them pay.
GRAND SLAM! Seeing that live was amazing. The ball jumped off Cano’s bat like I’ve seen no other. It got out of the park in a hurry, and Yankees fans went crazy. 6-2 lead!
*Note: Francisco Cervelli walked in that inning, and for some reason, Girardi called for Russell Martin to pinch run for him? I didn’t know why he did that. My Grandma said it was because a female fan was harassing Cervelli, and he couldn’t take it….wasn’t me!
Cory Wade made things messy in the 9th, so Mariano Rivera had to come in. Always a pleasure seeing him make his way to the mound.
We were all aware of Mo’s mishaps on the mound that week. We didn’t want to witness another one. And when Russell Branyan pinch hit, we were a little nervous. With 2 men on, Branyan homered…yikes. All of a sudden it was 6-5. I thought maybe that was all Mariano would allow.
Thank God I was right. We couldn’t afford to stick around for more innings – we had a train to catch! Luckily, Mo settled down and finished up the game. YANKEES WIN 6-5!
My brother didn’t want to leave. Once we got home, he said, “We need to go back.” He then proceeded into his room, and began looking up more Yankees tickets. I hope we can go again before college starts!
It was a day I’ll never forget, that’s for sure. How often can a girl say that her crush waved to her at close distance, and she didn’t die? I’m proud.
It was an amazing early 18th birthday present for me. My real birthday is tomorrow. I’ll enjoy my last day as a kid today.
Thanks again to Michael H. for that amazing day! You’re the best.
This past week, the Yankees played a 4-game series against the White Sox followed by a 3-game set against the Red Sox. It was a long week on the road, and I’m just happy my boys are coming back to the Bronx.
The Yankees swept the 4 games in Chicago. I almost hate to say it, but during those games, I really felt bad for the White Sox. They looked miserable, lost, and just didn’t play good baseball. Oh well…those are the kinds of games the Yankees have to win, and they did.
The Yankees went into the Red Sox series tied for first place…it was as if August 5th was Opening Day again. It was such a refreshing feeling. That series started out nicely, but didn’t end the way I’d hoped for.
The first game of that series was intense…Colon vs. Lester. The Yanks had to play catch-up after quickly falling behind 2-0. In the 5th, Eduardo Nunez led off with a walk, Derek Jeter singled, and Granderson drove in a run with a single to cut the deficit in half. After Mark Teixeira’s walk, Cano grounded into a double play, which tied the game at 2. With 2 out, I wasn’t sure if the Yankees would be able to go ahead, but Nick Swisher delivered with a double down the third base line, and the Yankees had a 3-2 lead.
It became a battle of the bullpens after that, and the Yankee bullpen proved victorious. Boone Logan especially – he looked like the Logan of 2009 again. Cory Wade, Rafael Soriano, David Robertson, and Mariano Rivera nailed it down for the Yanks.
I was ecstatic that the Yankees had sole possession of first place. I figured they maybe had the confidence they needed to keep on winning – they beat Jon Lester in Fenway Park, which is no easy task. I did a little boasting and bragging on facebook after Game 1, not really caring what I was saying. I was experiencing some leftover euphoria hours after the game’s ending.
So maybe I look stupid, but I don’t really care. The Yankees lost the next two games and are now a game behind the Red Sox. Of course the games the lost were on FOX and ESPN, places where the announcers fawn over the Red Sox as much as Chris Matthews fawns over Obama. “Oh, Adrian Gonzalez, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, the top 3 guys for the AL MVP…oh, they’re sooo good…better than anyone the Yankees have…OHH MY LEG!”
Joe Buck and Tim McCarver made me not want to watch the Saturday game. I missed most of it anyways because I was out, and I’m glad I did. CC didn’t pitch well and I’m sure they kept on mentioning how he hasn’t been the same pitcher against the Red Sox and how he sucks, and maybe how he’s not worth the jumbo contract because he can’t beat the Sox, blah blah blah…
So on to the finale, and the two teams were tied for first once again.
The pitching matchup of Freddy Garcia and Josh Beckett initially had me a little nervous. I was aware of their numbers.
Freddy Garcia really battled last night for my Yanks. He’s such a pitcher. Over 5 innings, Garcia allowed just 1 run (and it was a cheapie, he had some baaaad breaks in the 2nd inning when that run was allowed) and 5 hits, but threw 96 pitches. Beckett was throwing well, and I wasn’t sure if the Yanks would be able to get to him.
Two rather-unexpected heroes emerged for the Yanks last night. Eduardo Nunez and his quick stroke of the bad hammered a high fastball into the seats above the monster to tie the game at 1. My Grandma couldn’t believe it, “Ohhh, the young guy did it! And I wanted A-Rod to come back, Virginia…”
The second guy, I don’t know why, but something told me he’d do it. When Brett Gardner came to the plate in the 7th and his stats appeared on the screen, I thought, “Ahh, he’s having a nice year just like I expected…4 homers? When was the last time he hit one…due perhaps?”
Gardner did homer, and the Yankees had their first lead of the night. 2-1. It was such a long, slooowww paced game, me and my Grandma wanted to go to bed, but we wanted to watch.
The Yankee bullpen did its job and handed the ball to Mariano. Again, something just told me he wasn’t going to do it…I had a bad feeling. When I saw who the first guy up was – Marco Scutaro – I just knew. He was already 3-3 on the night, and I remember a few years back when he was with the A’s, he hit a walkoff homer off Mo. So when he led off the inning with a double, I can’t say I didn’t see that coming. Mo eventually blew the save, and right there I knew the momentum had permanently shifted for the game. The Red Sox have a “knack” for winning at home…let’s just say I’m not the only one who thinks they steal signs, but whatever.
When I saw PHIL HUGHES was coming in for the Yankees to pitch the next inning, I called it a night. I knew what he was going to do…so I just went to bed and accepted it before it even happened.
I know from an outsider’s perspective, it looks like the same old thing: The Red Sox are owning the Yankees. But I just don’t see that. All three games were well-played. And last night’s loss was tough. I truly believe that if that game was played in Yankee Stadium, the Yankees wouldn’t have lost. The Yankees are still better position-by-position, they have way better pitching, they just had a bad break. It’s Fenway. That happens there.
Maybe it’s better for the Yanks to say out of first for now. They’ve played well all year being the underdogs. But I’m confident that next time these teams meet, things will be different.
Still love ya, Yanks. I always will!
Enjoy the off-day!
A lot has changed since I last posted, and I’m liking how things are going right now. I graduated high school on Saturday, which was extremely bittersweet since I’ve been at that school since kindergarten and I will miss it dearly, but I’m ready for what’s next: summer, Marist College, and many surprises! Graduation was awesome, and I won a bunch of awards/scholarships because I’m a nerd like that. Along with one award came a little gift…everyone at my school knew how huge of a Yankees fan I am…
A Yankees cap and a little Jeter bear! From Yankee Stadium. Thanks to CSEA rep Mrs. Filmanski, a fellow Yankees fan and genuinely sweet lady.
But even though I’m relatively intelligent, and a fairly knowledgeable baseball fan, sometimes I’m just so wrong about my beloved New York Yankees.
Obviously, baseball is unpredictable. I thought since the Yankees had lost key players like Derek Jeter and Bartolo Colon to the 15-day DL, that maybe they wouldn’t be winning so much. Well so far, I have been wrong, and I’m fine with that. If being wrong means my team will win, I hope I’m always wrong. Since getting swept at home by the Red Sox, the Yankees have gone 8-2 and are now 41-29 on the season, right behind the Red Sox in the AL East standings.
Derek Jeter, in the midst of his quest for #3,000, suffered a calf strain that will sideline him for at least the 15 days. Big blow for the fans, and an impacting factor for the team. Eduardo Nunez has filled in nicely for Jeter so far, coming up with many clutch hits. I have heard so much about the kid, but he hasn’t had much time to develop at the Big League level. Now is his chance, and he’s making the most of it. I can see now why the team thought so highly of him, and why they didn’t trade him for Cliff Lee last July when they had the chance to.
Aside from Nunez, other guys have really come alive since Jeter has gone down. Guys that I’ve been complaining about all year long – like Brett Gardner – are making me feel silly now. Gardner is hitting at an insane clip of .423 in June, and is now at .294 for the season. With Jeter gone, Gardner is getting the opportunity to shine in the leadoff spot, and he’s making the most of it. Skipper Joe Girardi has even become confident enough in Gardner to let him play against lefty pitchers.
Nick Swisher is another guy who has stepped up his game to make up for lost players. Swisher had the game winning homer in the 10-4 victory last night for the Yanks, and overall has played much more solid baseball. Maybe he’s trying to make a push for the All-Star team again? Last year I think I single handedly sent him to the game, “Sending Swish” for hours straight since voting was unlimited. I think he got hot a little late for that, but if he keeps hitting consistently well, he’ll be an All-Star in all the Yankees fans’ minds.
On the pitching side, the Yankees have suffered a huge blow with the loss of Bartolo Colon for at least 15 days. I was serious when I said he was my #1 so far. The “surprise” factor was a big deal for me. I just never expected anything out of Colon, not to mention Cy Young quality performances start after start from the guy. Losing him was not easy. Brian Gordon, whom I had never heard of until the Yankees signed him, made a start in Colon’s place against the Rangers, and did fairly well, going 5.2 innings and allowing 2 runs. The Yankees can survive with him in the rotation, just as long as the other guys do well, and if the bullpen continues to be amazing.
Yes, the bullpen IS amazing, despite the bombardment of injuries on guys like Chamberlain, Soriano, Feliciano, Marte, etc. The Yankees have a bunch of no-names like Cory Wade, Luis Ayala, and Jeff Marquez filling in. And to my surprise, these no-names are quickly making names for themselves. The Yankees bullpen has the best ERA in the AL. HOW is this possible? I am so blown away.
If you showed me this current Yankees roster in April, there would be no way that I’d think they’d be 1.5 games behind Boston. They have really impressed me. They’ve dug deep and stepped up big time. I wonder what’s going to happen when guys like Jeter, Colon, and Phil Hughes are activated once again.
As of right now, it looks like things can only get better.