On this day, 72 years ago, thousands of Allied military personnel stormed the northern coasts of France in effort to take back the possessed European lands from the Axis powers. In one of the greatest military strategies and invasions of all time, Operation Neptune (the amphibious landing at Normandy more commonly called “D-Day”) effectively turned the tide in the second world war and started the Allied nations on a course that would lead to global victory in just over a year.
Yankee great the late Yogi Berra was one of many American soldiers on those beaches that day, as was tonight’s veteran honoree for the 7th inning stretch. Our thanks continues to go out to all the veterans and current military personnel for their sacrifice and service to our country, including those the Yankees helped out for the start of HOPE Week today (more below).
Tonight was also the opening game of this 4-game home series against the Angels. And in honor of today’s historic significance, I feel it’s only fitting that the teams represent the expanse of the continental US, two of its most populous cities, and the millions of people between them. I don’t think they planned that back at MLB HQ, but it certainly worked out well.
So it was Masahiro Tanaka to start who, despite a couple of soft spots early on, still had a pretty good game tonight. He threw 91 pitches through 7 innings, gave up just 6 hits, 2 walks, and 2 runs, while striking out just 3 Angels’ batters. In the 1st, a lead-off single scored on a 2-out single to get the Angels on the board. Then in the 3rd, a lead-off ground-rule double (by a player who wore pinstripes for a couple months last year) started things off, moved to 3rd on a sacrifice bunt, and then scored on a sacrifice fly.
The hardest part about the whole game was that the Angels’ starter seemed to just dominate the Yankees offense for most of the game, keeping his pitch count low and only gave up 4 hits to the Yankees through his first 6 innings. But, like it’s done so many times at Yankee Stadium, “God Bless America” changes things. In the bottom of the 7th, with 2 outs, Brian McCann and Starlin Castro smacked their 8th home runs of the year consecutively and to opposite fields (and deep into the 2nd deck) to tie up the game.
Miller came on in the 8th and set the Angels’ offense down in order with 3 strikeouts in just 13 pitches. So he was the pitcher on record when the Yankees burst forth in the bottom of the 8th. With 2 outs once again (because what’s baseball without a bit of dramatic effect?), Ellsbury and Gardner each singled to sit in the corners as the Angels’ starter finally exited the game. His replacement promptly gave up a solid 3-run home run to Carlos Beltran (his 14th of the season) to push the Yankees nicely into the lead.
Chapman, of course, closed the game in a very effective 9 pitches, and the Yankees took game 1 of the series and homestand. Though it’s worth noting that all the Yankee runs were scored off home runs tonight. Perhaps, a sign of good things to come this weekend and a return to the Bronx Bombers moniker? I’ll take it.
Final score: 5-2 Yankees
It’s HOPE Week in the Bronx! My favorite week of the year! HOPE Week is an annual event in which the Yankees select and honor 5 different charities and organizations in the area as part of their initiative to give back to their local community.
This year for Day 1 of HOPE Week, perhaps rightly in correspondence with the date, the Yankees surprised and honored 14 year old Jake Gallin and his amazing idea called “Stars for Cars”. Jake and his now-nationwide organization sell star-shaped magnets to the public in honor of military personnel who earn Stars for their service and (far too often) personal sacrifice and then donate their profits entirely to the USO in their honor.
So as part of the effort, Brett Gardner, Nick Goody, Chase Headley, Brian McCann, and Mariano Rivera helped Jake sell the stars in front of New Rochelle City Hall, even adding stars to the cars in the parking lot to raise awareness. The Yankees also presented the USO with a $10,000 check in Jake’s name for his good work, and Jake got to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before tonight’s game. But like any kid, Jake was totally stoked to hang out with the Yankees all day rather than take his Latin final (apparently). Lucky Jake! Thanks for your amazing example, Jake!
(If you’re on Snapchat, you can follow the Yankees all week for pictures, videos, and updates from all the HOPE Week events.)