Game 116: CLE vs. NYY — The Warrior and the Number Six

I realize the title of today’s blog post must sound like a very weird day on Sesame Street, but when I was thinking through the day’s events, this is the one that stuck. And made me smile because it sounded like a bad episode of a long-time New York-based children’s TV program.

Today’s festivities began when the Yankees honored former pinstriped outfielder and current YES Network broadcaster Paul O’Neill with a plaque in Monument Park. A whole slew of former teammates like Posada, Rivera, Martinez, Cone, and Jeter and former manager Joe Torre and trainer Gene Monahan showed up to help honor O’Neill. O’Neill was dubbed “The Warrior” by George Steinbrenner himself because of O’Neill’s drive and passion for the game. O’Neill is such a fan favorite that even though his #21 hasn’t been retired, no players is technically allowed to wear it for fear of facing the wrath of fans like one newer player did a few year ago. (He ended up selecting another number after the fan-hate got a little much. Hey, don’t mess with your fan base!)

And it’s only fitting that honoring an Ohio-native meant the Yankees must play the Ohio team, though O’Neill actually played for the other Ohio team prior to his 9 years with the Yankees. It’s just unfortunate for the Yankees that the visitors from Cleveland seemed to pick today to play like the team my uncle keeps telling me they are. (For the record, I don’t believe him, and the Indians’ stats this year certainly don’t support his opinion, but again, you can’t shake a fan of their loyalty over a little thing like facts.)

Anyway, it was Brandon McCarthy’s turn to start today, and apparently earn his first loss as a Yankee. Over his 6.1 innings, he threw 90 pitches, allowed 7 hits and 2 runs, and struck out 8 Cleveland batters. Those runs came early in the game, in the 2nd inning with a 2-out 2-run home run to give the Indians an early lead.

Now, the Indians today had one thing in their favor today — their pitcher who threw a really great game, including striking out 10 Yankee batters in just 6 innings. His pitch count was a little high (109 pitches), but that’s only because the Yankees don’t like giving up anything easily. Even a shut-out game.

Oh yeah, the Yankees got shut out of today’s game. Hill and Whitley split the last 2 outs of the 7th inning in relief of McCarthy, and Whitley threw the rest of the game, giving up a lead-off home run in the 8th inning to push the Indians to a 3-0 score. The Yankees just weren’t hitting much today, only racking up 5 total hits and getting 15 total strikeouts.

Of course, the most talked about hit was Derek Jeter’s lone hit of the day — a 6th inning single. Now, why was this significant? Because Derek Jeter now holds the #6 spot on the All-Time Hits Leaders’ board by himself at 3,431 hits. And he can now add to it (up to 84 more hits where he would tie for #5, an unlikely feat with just 46 games left to play) and keep that amazing spot for a good while. At least until some young, aspiring ball player (probably not even born yet) decides to be the next great hits leader — hopefully in pinstripes like the great Derek Jeter.

Two players were also hit by some nasty balls today — pitcher Brandon McCarthy took a line drive off his foot in the 3rd, and then in his at-bat, Francisco Cervelli took a pitch right off the side of his abdomen (warning: it looks more painful than it sounds). Both stayed in the game, but I imagine both will be pretty bruised up later tonight and into tomorrow.

Also, Brian McCann was placed on the 7-day DL, and Austin Romine was recalled from AAA Scranton to fill in as back-up catcher while McCann recovers from his concussion.

And Mark Teixeira is still nursing his stitched-up hand, finding that things like gripping a bat is excruciatingly painful when the skin on your hand has been sliced through by metal cleats. (Sorry for the graphic image, visual people, but sometimes we need to remember that these guys are just as fragile and need time to recover from things like painful injuries too. Okay, so maybe it’s the players that need the reminder more than anyone because they tend to be anxious to jump back into the fray without waiting for total healing.)

Other roster moves: Brian Roberts has been unconditionally released, and Scott Sizemore has been re-signed to a Yankees minor league contract. So bad news for you Roberts fans, but some good news for you Sizemore fans (oddly often the same people).

And one more tidbit: There was a really nice article posted today in the Wall Street Journal, by Yankees’ beat reporter Daniel Barbarisi on Brett Gardner and his father Jerry. This is one of those “insider” stories that proves to be quite inspirational. It’s worth the read, and it explains the inherited determination and passion that Gardner displays as well as his good-natured character. And it’s one of the reasons I’m glad he’s going to be a Yankee for a long time.

Go Yankees!

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