Game 134: BAL vs. NYY — The boys are back in town

This is how you begin the last stretch to October — with a great (and much-needed) win. And with some really tight teams joining the Yankees in the Bronx (3rd place Baltimore this weekend, last place in AL Central White Sox next week, and then a 4-game weekend series versus the 1st place Red Sox next weekend), the more games the Yankees can surge forward with a win, the better their chances for the playoffs.

Starter CC Sabathia started the evening with 3 straight 1-2-3 innings. Then the Orioles began their play for the game in the middle 3 innings. A ground-rule double scores on a single in the 4th, a 2-run homer and RBI single in the 5th, and an RBI single in the 6th are all that the Yankees would allow the Birds to score — 5 runs to dent into the Yankees offense. Sabathia left the game after that RBI single, with a final line of 7 hits, 5 runs (1 homer), 1 walk, and 4 strikeouts over his 86 pitches.

Then the Yankees played mix and match with their bullpen for a bit. Kelley came on to get that final out of the 6th inning and the first one of the 7th; Logan grabbed the second out of the 7th; and Robertson the third out of the 7th and all 3 of the 8th inning.

Now before Rivera came on in the 9th for his 15 pitch save (39th of the season), the Yankees bats came alive and had some fun. Like their opponents’ offensive surge, the Yankees found life in the middle of the game as well. With two outs, Robinson Cano walked and scored on a great 2-run homer by Alfonso Soriano to (surprise!) the right field seats.

In the 5th inning, back-to-back doubles by Curtis Granderson and Mark Reynolds, scored a run as they switched places. Then Ichiro Suzuki hit a 2-run home run (also into the right field seats, almost in the exact spot at Soriano’s homer), also scoring Reynolds. With bases loaded with Romine’s double, Gardner’s single, and Jeter’s walk, Cano’s single scores both Romine and the speedy Gardner. And to cushion the Yankees’ lead, in the 7th inning, Cano scores on a single by Alex Rodriguez, planting the scoreboard at 8-5 Yankees.

Tonight was also “Yogi Berra Night“, celebrated by a little Yogi Berra bobble head figure to a few thousand lucky fans. Plus they were treated to a pre-game appearance of the man himself — 88 years old, escorted on his own golf cart, and still as spunky as ever. The great #8 and one of the Yankees best catchers ever loves to visit his old team and chat up with the current players. His “Yogi-isms” are some of the greatest quotes on baseball and on life that have ever come out of the game. He has 10 World Series rings as a Yankee (3 as a coach and manager), an 18 time All-Star, 3 times an AL MVP, his #8 retired at Monument Park, a proud member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, and one of my personal favorite all-time Yankees (heck, one of my favorite all-time baseball players). If you ever venture out to New Jersey, he has his own museum of memories, memorabilia, and baseball history, including some great Yankee history. (It’s on my to-do list the next time I’m in the neighborhood.)

What a great way to celebrate Yogi Berra Night with a win! I think this is a great way to start a home stand and push toward October. As much as sports analysts will try to say otherwise, the Yankees are still in the running for a spot in the postseason. And with some very big games against their divisional opponents, they have a huge opportunity to jump ahead and move further up the standings — an opportunity I know no one on this side of the Yankee fan base wants to see left in the dust. Tonight’s game is certainly a step in the right direction. A few more steps in that direction, and we’ll be singing our way through October in the Bronx.

Go Yankees!

Rules, rules, rules

Good news on the injury front: Eduardo Nunez had an MRI on his knee after Tuesday’s injury seemed to still trouble him yesterday. The MRI was clean, so there are no strains or tears. I think just reinforces the idea that he “tweaked” it a little. Look, I personally have done some nasty things to my knee — bruises, strains, torn meniscus (the cushion under the knee cap), minor twists and pulls. There are no good injuries, even minor ones, when it comes to the knee. Nunez is on day-to-day watch right now, which would be a lot easier if Cano wasn’t still on day-to-day watch with his bruised hand.

But then again, September call-ups are right around the corner, so any further “day-to-day” instances of sorts will seem less tragic due to the coming reinforcements. Those call-ups are always odd, suddenly, the dugout and clubhouse are full of guys looking to make the final roster going into postseason.

There is a lot of debate as to the value of the call-ups — some people think it’s a nice chance for the guys who’ve been at AAA all year to see some major league time; some people think it’s kind of cheating the system using more guys than the rest of the season to accomplish the same things they regular guys have done all year; some people don’t see the point altogether. Here’s how those argument stack up for the Yankees: a lot of the guys at the AAA level have played in the bigs due to all the injuries (like Adams, Claiborne, Joseph, and Mesa); this mainly applies to the idea of the expanded bullpen, something the Yankees could use right now (well, actually it’s the starters that are having issues, but a good bullpen can substitute for a poor start); and I kind of have to agree with them during a usual season.

I’ve been a baseball fan for a long time, and I get there’s a ton of rules and regulations governing the game. But I have to admit that some of the rules I still don’t get and probably never will fully understand. Some of them are more like I understand why they exist, but really think the use or existence of them is unnecessary. Maybe the 40-man everyday roster they can hold in September is just going to be one of these — like the infield fly rule or the strikeout hit (like yesterday).

It reminds me of when I was growing up — all the rules to know. Rules were everywhere — home, school, church, work, dance, sports, etc. What’s funny is that when you’re a kid, you think “I can’t wait to be a grown-up and do what I want without any rules!” Whoever started this rumor wasn’t an adult, clearly, but a wishful thinking kid, and I’m sure it took a life of its own because the world is full of wishful thinking kids. But it’s always rules that kind of create the boundaries and way you live your life — some you get, some you don’t, some you may never get, some you may think are the most ridiculous things you’ve ever heard, and some you’re really thankful for when you’re an adult. But there are rules nonetheless. And then, you get your first job, and there are more rules. And then you get a real job, and there are more rules. And there are rules when you drive, and rules when you vote, and rules when you travel, and rules when you rent an apartment or buy a house, and rules when you have a relationship, and rules when you have kids, and then you set up a whole new set of rules for those kids that they probably will not understand (at least until they one day have kids of their own).

(Note: Rules aren’t always “don’t do” kinds of things, but parameters or norms on how to live or act a certain way. In that way, society itself has a set of rules for things not covered by law, like ethics, morals, and logic.)

So the next time your kid (or your friend’s kid or your niece/nephew or the whiny child in Target) starts complaining about a “stupid rule” and how they can’t wait to be grown-up and have no rules. Just ask them how many rules the “grown-up” athletes they adore have to follow — on field and off. Many clubs, like the Yankees, have a code of conduct that each player must adhere to as an ambassador that club’s brand, which is why the Yankees have clean-shaven faces, neat on-field appearances, wear suits to fly/travel and to events where they represent the Yankees, maintain a positive attitude on and off the field, etc.

Rules don’t go away, but our attitude to embrace them and flourish within their boundaries should mature with age. And as we learn with many things, if we don’t like a rule, then we work in the system to change it. In the mean time, you make the best of your circumstance and be the best you can be in the midst of it.

You never know…

Go Yankees!

Game 133: NYY vs. TOR — Series slipped away with some slip-ups

Apparently, it was deja vu all over again… again. Starter Hiroki Kuroda seemed to repeat his last start almost exactly, down to the loss and the final score. Kuroda’s 99 pitches took him through just 5 innings, giving up 9 hits, a walk, striking out 4, and allowing 7 runs to the Toronto Blue Jays. It wasn’t pretty from the start.

In the 1st inning, with 2 outs and runners on 1st and 2nd with a walk and a double (respectively), Kuroda gave up a 2-run double and then hit the next batter with a pitch too far on the inside.

Then it gets weird: The next batter gets called out on strikes, but because Chris Stewart didn’t catch the ball in his glove and it rolled away from him, the runner ran to 1st base. Stewart grabs the errant ball and throws down the line to Overbay at 1st, but the ball hits the runner and rolls into right field, allowing two more runs to score. I have to be honest here: I hate this rule. When the batter is called out, the play should be over and the batter can’t run to 1st, nor can any other runners try to advance, even if the ball gets away from the umpire. In every other play, once the umpire makes the call, the play is over, the ball it dead. But somehow, they have ruled that a passed ball, even on a strikeout, can advance any runners until the play is considered over. Something just doesn’t set right with me. I don’t like it when it works in our favor, but I really don’t like it when it works in the other team’s favor, like tonight.

Anyway, a 2-run home run in the 2nd inning pushed the Blue Jays further ahead 6-0 over the Yankees. And a sacrifice fly scored their 7th and final run, all before the Yankees ever crossed the plate.

They finally found their opening in the 4th inning. Curtis Granderson and Alfonso Soriano walked. Alex Rodriguez singled and scored Granderson. Mark Reynolds doubles, scoring Soriano, and as Rodriguez came in to score, they tagged him out at home. And so sat the score at 7-2 Toronto for the rest of the game.

Chamberlain pitches his two innings, keeping the Blue Jays from any damage, and Kelley and Logan split the final innings, each hoping the Yankees would somehow pull off a last-minute rally. But it never came. And I was really surprised how many players (on both sides) were “called out on strikes”, meaning they struck out looking, something that isn’t as common, especially with the Yankees, who if they strike out, strike out swinging more often than not.

Okay, there was still some great defense tonight, led by Derek Jeter with this diving stop and throw from his knees right in the 1st inning. This is something the Yankees continue to have with some measure of consistency. They just weren’t hitting tonight.

Injury Update: Robinson Cano continued to rest his hand, cheering on his teammates from the dugout tonight, his bat sorely missed in tonight’s lineup. And Eduardo Nunez was on the initial roster at 2nd but was pulled following early batting practice due to continued soreness (Reynolds filled in at 2nd for him). He will have an MRI done on his knee, something he is dreading because he doesn’t want to go back on the DL… again. Either way, both of these guys will definitely have the advantage of tomorrow’s off-day to rest and heal and pray, something I imagine most of the guys on the team will be doing this week.

The guys on the team had some fun with Nunez prior to the game — putting a “chalk outline” (with exercise tape) on the field where the injury occurred and a wheelchair was waiting by his locker to “escort” him to the field, just in case he needed extra assistance. Nunez is known for being a big jokester, so it looks like the guys had a great time making sure he knew how much he meant to them.

I still maintain the dome does crazy things to people, as clearly evidenced by all crazy things that happened during this series, and, well, every series in a dome. Maybe it’s good thing they’re headed home for a long 10-game home stand. Sometimes, being at home for a bit, surrounded by people who support and love you no matter what is the exact charge you need to flip that switch and move forward into a better September, that final push toward postseason. Dorothy said it best, “There’s no place like home”, and even if she was talking about Kansas, I think she was onto something. Maybe it’s just time to go home and recharge.

Go Yankees!

Game 132: NYY vs. TOR — Homers, injuries, & Pettitte

This game against Toronto will be easier to recap sequentially because it was the Yankees game from the start.

Brett Gardner’s double set him up to score on Derek Jeter’s single, and it was quickly 1-0. Then, Robinson Cano took a 90 mph fastball to his left hand. The pain and agony were brutal to watch, and all of Yankee-land held its breath and had the same thought: “Please, God, not again!” He took his base, still in pain, and was insistent on seeing if it would just get better with time. It turns out that he didn’t have that much time to think about it because Alfonso Soriano promptly pounded a long 3-run home run into his sweet spot (left field seats). At by the end of the inning, it was 4-0 Yankees.

Between innings, Cano took off with the trainer for the hospital. Apparently Rogers’ Centre doesn’t have an x-ray machine on property, so while it looked like a really nasty bruise, they sent the infielder to the hospital as a “just in case”. And with the Yankees’ luck this season, there is no such thing as “too careful”.

New York Yankees v Toronto Blue Jays
Andy Pettitte for the win
courtesy of Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Anyway, tonight’s starter was Andy Pettitte. He has struggled some this year and came into the game with a .500 average in his win-loss ratio, so a win today was completely on his agenda. And now, looking at the possible loss of Cano, Pettitte had extra reason to make a huge push for something amazing. So he went to work. And he was really amazing for 7 full innings with just 86 pitches. He only allowed 5 hits and 2 walks, struck out 3 batters, and kept the Blue Jays from crossing home plate.

Pettitte was backed by the absolute stellar defense that continues to keep the Yankees in the postseason race (even if the possibilities are slim at this point). When a long single to center field, Gardner took the chance and threw out the runner at home — strength and accuracy on display. At the bottom of the 1st, Pettitte himself caught the comebacker, catching it on his back, but making the play. And really, there was just some great defense all over the place, but that’s becoming the usual play for the Yankees.

What isn’t as usual (or perhaps reminiscent of old times) is why they are called the Bronx Bombers, something they suddenly remembered tonight. Beginning with Soriano’s 3-run blast in the 1st inning, the Yankees went on a tear. When Soriano stepped up for his second at-bat, he promptly hit his 400th career home run to left field. Then to lead off the 6th inning, it’s Mark Reynolds’ turn to hit a solo home run into the Blue Jays’ bullpen. And it’s Alex Rodriguez to cap off the show in the 7th inning with his own solo home run, and the Yankees were up 7-0 at that point.

So into the 8th inning, the Yankees send in Adam Warren to finish what Pettitte started. But Warren got off to a rough start. A single, a single and an out (the ball hit the runner), and a double to score the only run for the Blue Jays tonight. But then it was Eduardo Nunez on the ground in pain. He had come in for Cano at 2nd in the 1st inning and was really playing decent ball on that side of the infield. But he apparently caught his cleat in the turf and twisted his knee going after the ball hit for a double. Checking him out for a bit, he seemed like a small injury and stayed in the game. When Nunez singled in the 9th, they opted for Lyle Overbay to pinch-run, something that wasn’t needed in the end. So in the bottom of the 9th, Overbay went to 1st and Reynolds moved over to 2nd.

When the game ended in a sweet double play, the score was 7-1. Cano’s x-rays were negative, and he is on day-to-day and will rest tomorrow’s game. Nunez’s knee is a little “tweaked” but fine and hopes to play tomorrow. Soriano’s reached yet another milestone in pinstripes (or travel greys today). And the Bombers are back to hitting bombs behind a strong Pettitte start.

I’m telling you this — the dome does crazy things to people. I am not a fan. But I am a fan of my New York Yankees who continue to persevere through all odds and all possible injury attacks and potential craziness.

Go Yankees!

Game 131: NYY vs. TOR — The return, the spiral, the dome

Well, Derek Jeter’s 3rd return to the Yankees was pretty reflective of how the tonight’s game played out — highly anticipated, decent beginning, some highlights, not as productive as one may hope, and kind of mediocre when it’s all over. (Well, at least Jeter’s offense played out this way.) Jeter went 0-for-3 with a walk.

Tonight’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays was in their partial opened domed stadium. If you’ve been following me for any length of time (say since the last time they played at Rogers’ Centre), you know my strong dislike of domed/turfed stadiums. And what’s weird about the Blue Jays’ home is that it’s a retractable roof. So a partially opened roof tonight allowed for the usual view of the CN Tower and the entire stadium to be filled with the late summer muggy heat under clear blue skies. And turf actually kicks up the heat and causes the surface temperatures to rise at least 10-15 degrees hotter than the registered temperature just outside the stadium. A really unpleasant situation all over.

Anyway, one good thing about tonight’s game was oddly starter Phil Hughes, who really did an outstanding job, at least until the 5th inning. Up until then, he was rolling along with pretty good consistency, keeping his pitch count low, only allowed 2 runs (2 RBI singles in the 2nd and 3rd innings).

Before Toronto’s rally in the 5th, the game was tied 2-2. The Yankees offense began their mark in the 1st inning with Brett Gardner’s single, stolen base on a passed ball, advancing to 3rd on Jeter’s groundout, and then scoring the first run on Robinson Cano’s groundout. Then they struck again in the top of the 5th inning with Alex Rodriguez’s solo home run into the Yankees’ bullpen — it was his 650th career homer. Also in that inning, Gardner earned his 500th career MLB hit.

And then the bottom of the 5th happened. With 1 out, a double and a single put runners at 2nd and 3rd, pretty routine. And then things got weird. So the batter hits what should be a sacrifice fly out to right field, but the ball bounces off Ichiro Suzuki’s glove, earning him an error and scoring a run for Toronto (3-2). (Ichiro, very embarrassed, later said that he felt like “going home directly from right field” right then and there.) Another double scores another run (4-2). Hughes intentionally walks the next batter and loads the bases (still only 1 out). A sacrifice fly scores the final Toronto run (5-2) before the Yankees go to their bullpen.

With bases loaded, they opt for David Huff to get them out of the inning. Three strikes later, the damage is done and over. Huff completes the outing for Hughes over the next 3.1 innings, allowing no hits, one walk, and striking out 5 batters. Huff continues to prove excellent bullpen relief and a really good recent acquisition.

Now, like I alluded to above, where Jeter seemed to fall short offensively, he seemed to play some really good ball at shortstop. More than just some routine fielding plays, which he saw a lot of tonight, Jeter was also able to show off how his recovery has been going by catching a long fly ball between 3rd and left field in the 1st inning and a really nice leaping grab at short in the 7th.

All in all, tonight’s game wasn’t great, but with the two milestones by Rodriguez and Gardner and Jeter’s 3rd return, it certainly had its moments of greatness, even if they did end up in a mash-up of a lackluster evening. No one likes lackluster, but really, most of life is lackluster. So how do we ever find the great moments, the diamonds? You clean off the nasty, sift through the mediocre, and push on to the things that will sparkle and bring a smile to your face.

So that’s what we can remember from tonight — important milestones, great defense from the Captain, a pretty good start from Hughes, and still a chance at the postseason (something the Blue Jays cannot claim).

Go Yankees!

Game 130: NYY vs. TB — Double plays into an overtime win

I think we can officially dub this the “Double Play Game”. Seriously, the Yankees defense was on overload today, aiding their pitching staff with 4 double plays in today’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays. That’s right, four. It was really awesome, and it was really necessary.

Starting pitcher Ivan Nova went 102 pitches through his 6.2 innings, not as sharp as recent Nova outings (often dubbed “SuperNova”), but still impressive and good because he was able to rely on his really tight defense, who spent most of the game fielding groundouts for him. He allowed 6 hits, 6 walks, the only 2 Rays’ runs, and struck out 3 batters. Those 2 runs came via an RBI single in the 1st and a solo home run in the 6th.

The Yankees also fought their way onto the scoreboard in similar fashion. Robinson Cano smacked a nice solo home run into the left field seats in the 4th inning to tie up the game. And it was Cano again in the top of the 6th to jump ahead (briefly) with an RBI double, scoring Ichiro and then getting tagged out at 3rd attempting an extra base. (Most people watching the game were scratching their heads wondering why he opted to go to 3rd, as it seemed almost like a rookie mistake, something Cano most certainly isn’t.)

Tiring, 2 outs recorded in the 7th, 2 men on base, and the game tied, the Yankees brought in Kelley to close down the 7th inning for Nova, which he did. Then they opted for David Robertson for the 8th and 9th innings, who promptly gave them 2 back-to-back 1-2-3 innings in just 28 total pitches.

Granderson-atbat
Curtis Granderson, at bat against the Rays
Image courtesy of AL MESSERSCHMIDT/GETTY IMAGES

Still tied, the game then headed into extra innings. Chamberlain and Logan split duties in the 10th, keeping the Rays to a single walked baserunner. Going into the top of the 11th, the Yankees made a somewhat last-ditch effort. Alfonso Soriano doubled, stole 3rd base, and then very easily scored on Curtis Granderson’s sacrifice fly. Suddenly, up in the bullpen jumped Mariano Rivera for what will be his final regular season appearance at the Trop.

Into the bottom of the 11th, Yankees fans (and Rays fans who appreciate greatness) are on their feet, cheering for Rivera’s final entrance and outing against the heart of the Rays batting order (their really strong power-hitters). But 6 pitches later (and 2 pop flies to Granderson in left), Rivera gets his 38th save, Logan takes the win, and the Rays are denied a sweep.

Again, as great as the run scored are (and how vital they are to the team actually winning), the defense once again showed off its fluidity and smooth teamwork. Lyle Overbay, fully recovered from whatever stomach bug basically incapacitated him for the last two days, started at 1st and was a linchpin in every double play made today in the 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 10th innings. My favorite was easily the 1st inning one — bases loaded, the ball is hit to Mark Reynolds at 3rd (who continues to prove himself defensively at every turn), he fires home to Stewart who tags for the first force out, and then Stewart throws it to Overbay at 1st for the second out. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a 5-2-3 double play before, but this one was really pretty.

The Yankees head now up to Toronto, where they will be joined by their Captain, for his 3rd (and hopefully final) return this season for the 3 game series in yet another domed-turfed stadium. I’m guessing because of the extended play on the turf, we’ll see some of the more regular players taking days off or at least partial days off during these next few days. Regular grass has a bit of a give and natural sponginess to it, while turf is artificial and though advances have been made to improve the quality and durability of turf for playing fields, it will never be able to fully replicate the feel natural grass, especially on an athlete’s legs. This is especially crucial on those who tend to run a lot, like outfielders, due to their constant motion, sliding, and sprinting. Veteran ball players tend to be more cautious on turf due to these circumstances, wanting to spare themselves and their teams from any further injuries. And believe me, the last thing any team needs right now (least of all the Yankees) is another injured player.

A win always puts me in a good mood, but a win on the way out of town is like that push you need to move on to the next town and conquer there too. And hopefully, the Yankees streak against Toronto (the good kind of streak — the sweeping kind) will continue as they begin the last few weeks of the regular season with a giant push toward October. What do all those ads say? “I play for October”. Right now, I’m just praying for October, and I’ll let the pinstriped ones play for it.

Go Yankees!

Game 129: NYY vs. TB — CC so close

Sometimes the hardest game to watch are those that get so close to that win but still just miss the mark. Such was starter CC Sabathia’s evening against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Actually, Sabathia had a really stellar first 5 innings. It was the 6th inning that began his trouble, losing his control and command and missing his intended spot around the strike zone, allowing the Rays to pounce. His 112 pitches took him through into the 7th inning, allowing 6 hits, 2 walks, and striking out 7 batters — all of which was pretty normal for a standard Sabathia outing. Again, it was the runs allowed was the issue. The 3 he gave up in the 6th inning was just enough to allow them the lead and the eventual win.

Here’s what happened: a single and a walk put two runners in place to score on a double, and a single easily scored the next runner, all before a single out was recorded for that inning. And that was quickly a Rays’ lead and eventual win because the Yankees were never able to overcome that lead offensively. Preston Claiborne came on in the 7th and pitched through the 8th, allowing one more run to score (a solo home run).

The Yankees’ offense actually struck first in the 5th inning. Rodriguez, Wells, and Granderson each singled to load the bases. Then there was a the Austin Romine at-bat. In a 9-pitch at-bat, Romine eventually won the battle earning a walk, which allowed Rodriguez to walk in the first Yankee run, keeping the bases loaded. Then Ichiro Suzuki grounds out, but still advances all the runners, scoring Wells for the second (and last) Yankee run. Actually, this was an excellent play by all the runners, as it should have been an easy double play to end the inning and prevent the run from being scored, but due to some great base-running, it was only a single out for the Yankees.

Okay, I’m glad they had a clip of this. A great defensive play was made by Mark Reynolds (once again) in the 5th inning. So he fields a slow dribbling grounder way far off 1st base, which turns the play into a race for the base between him and the runner. He knows he won’t make the bag in time, so he goes diving into the runner, tagging him out and they both go sprawling on the field. The out is made, and the defense proves itself a worthy part of the Yankees (and really the main reason why they are still in consideration for the postseason.

When it was all over, it was 4-2 Rays, with the Yankees falling further behind in the AL East pennant race. If Sabathia had continued his seriously impressive start for his entire outing, we would most definitely be talking about a win and a push forward.

But the reality is that the Rays are making every effort to make their case for the AL East pennant. They have some really great power-hitters and some decent pitching this year. But tonight’s Rays’ starter (their ace and last year’s Cy Young award winner) wasn’t as sharp as I expected, which the Yankees really exploited in the 5th inning with those runs scored and pushed him 101 pitches through just 6 innings. The foul ball off his pitching became more of a consistent sight than a legitimate hit — or for the pretty packed crowd for the Trop, it was the night of a ton of free souvenirs.

But there is good news on the horizon for the Yankees though. Derek Jeter’s rehab is completed, and he will rejoin the Yankees on their trip north of the border on Monday. With slides, running, fieldings, hits, walks, and even errors successfully accomplished and crossed off the (what has sadly become) standard rehab to-do list. Every time Jeter has returned to the Yankees (and his triumphant returns this year are starting to rival the new incarnations of a popular superhero franchise), there has been a spike in their wins. So perhaps, the next (and hopefully final) return of the Captain will give the Yankees that final push toward the postseason. And we all know that’s a step closer to the ultimate season goal — #28.

Also, Brett Gardner’s x-rays on his hand from yesterday’s hit by a pitch were negative and proved he might be a little sore and bruised but relatively unbroken. I’m sure this is also good news as he celebrated his 30th birthday today. So a happy birthday to Brett and we’re glad you’re okay (for the most part, at least)!

Go Yankees!