I’m starting to think HOPE Week this year might be just the kind of good luck or karma or blessing or whatever you believe in to help the Yankees keep this winning pattern alive and kicking. Whatever it is, I’m really okay with this kind of pattern. And if it means the Yankees have to continue their generosity, I don’t think anyone in Yankee Universe, especially not the Yankees themselves, have any problem with that. Not that that’s the reason to be generous because if that’s the reason, it’s usually when all that luck or karma or blessing starts drying up — it becomes entitlement and thus undeserved. No, it’s kind of like finding money in your jeans — it’s your earned money anyway, but it feels like a bonus because it wasn’t in your wallet or bank. So happy feelings ensue.
Yes, winning when you’re doing good things is a very happy feeling — some young friends of mine would say it gives you “the feels”. Well, tonight’s game against the visiting Twins certainly gave me “the feels”, especially after the Yankees gave me “the feels” with their amazing generosity for HOPE Week (more below).
The Yankees struck first again tonight, collecting a handful of hits through the first third of the game. In the 4th, Beltran hit a 1-out ground-rule double and then scored on Greg Bird’s single. This would be Bird’s first major league RBI. And it started the Yankee runs tonight on a good foot. (By the way, I haven’t done any fowl-related puns yet, and I may be the only writer I know still holding out.)
CC Sabathia got the start tonight and was really, really good. In fact, for a good portion of his outing, he was throwing a perfect game. The Twins just weren’t getting on base. Then the jinx went live (because those silly beat reporters love talking about/make fun of the baseball “jinxes”), and the Twins started finding the bases. In the top of the 5th, with 2 outs and runners on the corners, a double scored one run (to tie the game) and the great relay (Gardner-Gregorius-McCann) cut down the second runner for the third out of the inning.
With the game tied, the game went into what became the pivotal inning for the night — the 7th inning. A lead-off walk for the Twins scored on a 2-run home run to push the Twins ahead of the Yankees. Two outs and two singles later, Sabathia’s night was over. He had thrown 103 pitches into the 7th inning, given up 5 hits, 3 walks, and 3 runs, and struck out 5 batters. Now, he was responsible for the two runners as well. Sabathia’s rather outstanding performance earned him a nice standing ovation as he exited the game, though I’m guessing it wasn’t the kind of exit he wanted, looking at the losing end of the score right then.
Recently recalled Nick Rumbelow came on in relief and gave up a single to score one run (to give Sabathia a total of 4 runs given up tonight) before getting a strikeout to end the inning.
But all was not lost. That luck/karma/blessing thing was about to kick into overdrive. Into the bottom of the 7th, down 4-1, the Yankees were looking for a miracle. Pinch-hitting Chase Headley led-off the inning with a single, Ryan walked, and Ellsbury’s fly out put them on the corners. With Gardner’s walk, the bases were loaded, and the Twins were opening their bullpen for the second time tonight. So it would be Alex Rodriguez to come in and hit a monster grand slam, his 25th home run of the season and his 25th career grand slam (officially the MLB leader in grand slams now). An estimated 420 feet, that ball landed in the Yankees bullpen as the crowd of over 38,000 were on their feet in celebration (much better than the attempted wave during the first part of the game that the Bleacher Creatures successfully dissolved — thank you, Section 203!), and they even demanded a curtain call, which he willingly obliged the almost deafening crowd.
In the 8th, the Yankees gave themselves a bit of insurance. Bird and Gregorius hit consecutive singles and then both scored on Headley’s double. A sacrifice bunt by Ryan moved Headley to 3rd so that he would then score on Jacoby Ellsbury’s single.
Justin Wilson was his usual sharp self in the top of the 8th inning, throwing just 7 pitches to get 2 outs before handing the ball over to Andrew Miller, as it was now a save situation. Miller got the last out of the 8th and would come back to earn his 27th save of the season in the 9th inning.
And despite how good Sabathia pitched today, it was the rookie Nick Rumbelow who would get the win as he was the pitcher on record when Rodriguez’s grand slam pushed the Yankees into the lead.
Final score: 8-4 Yankees. (Is anyone else excited for the potential sweep tomorrow?)
The Revolving Door (okay, I really like this name, and it got confirmed when Suzyn Waldman, the radio announcer for WFAN, called the constant roster moves such during the game tonight)…
After exhausting some of the bullpen last night to get the last-minute win, some roster moves were expected. So Chris Capuano is back, along with Nick Rumbelow. Caleb Cotham was optioned back to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and Bryan Mitchell was placed on the 7-day concussion list. Mitchell is doing much better, though they will be keeping a close eye on him for the next few days; Mitchell himself said he knew how terrible his injury could have been and that his first thought was that he was “still alive”. (Now, that’s the kind of thought you want all the mothers of pitchers to be thinking about tonight.)
HOPE Week Day 2! Today, the Yankees surprised some amazing people at a small theater in the tri-state area. The Prospector Theater in Ridgefield, Connecticut (about 50 miles north of Yankee Stadium) is a small renovated movie theater that shows the latest movies. But what makes it special is that the entire theaters is staffed primarily by people with disabilities.
Having a sister with Down Syndrome, theater owner Valerie Jensen saw first-hand how people with disabilities often get special treatment but are often neglected when it comes to actual life experiences like finding and holding a regular job. Jensen saved this old building from demolition and established The Prospector Theater with that vision in mind, developing the theater into quite a success with a coffee shop, restaurant, production studio, and a full landscaping department. But despite being the only movie theater for 10 miles, town leadership is a bit reticent to lend its support.
That’s okay. The New York Yankees have your back. Along with general partner/vice chairperson (and one of the main drives behind HOPE Week for the past 7 years) Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal, Joe Girardi (and his youngest daughter), Brian Cashman, Brian McCann, and Chase Headley came bearing gifts — lunch from Jersey Mike’s and a big $10,000 check to help keep the theater going. After a day of motivational speeches and hanging out with the Yankees in their town, Jensen took a small group of her employees to visit Yankee Stadium for the game and to throw out the first pitch.