Today, the Yankees honored the city and families of Newtown, Connecticut, to honor the memories of those lost in the Sandy Hook tragedy in December, as well as the first responders. They invited over 4000 residents of Newtown to today’s game and began the day with a moment of silence as the video board displayed the names of all the victims. The Newtown Youth Voices choir sang the national anthem, and the near-capacity crowd responded with standing ovation. Behind the choir, the Sandy Hook Fire Department and Newtown Police Department provided the color guard. Connecticut is part of the “tri-state area” that is well-known for being the strong Yankee home fan base (New Jersey and New York complete the area), so a day at the ball park with family and friends is a great way to celebrate the lives of those lost. (Newtown’s first selectwoman spoke with the press before the game.)
It’s unfortunate that the Yankees couldn’t deliver a save on this hot Sunday in the Bronx against Baltimore, but nothing beats Sunday afternoons at the park. In the 2nd inning, Eduardo Nunez (again, so happy he’s back!) notched a sacrifice fly to score Zoilo Almonte, and the Yankees sat on top of the scoreboard 1-0 for most of the game. Starter Hiroki Kuroda protected the Yankees early lead for 7 full innings, allowing only 3 hits, no runs, a walk, and 4 strikeouts, and throwing only 88 pitches. It was really a pretty game for a while. David Robertson came in to pitch the 8th flawlessly (more on him later).
And this of course brings in Mariano Rivera to close the game, except he doesn’t. In only his 2nd blown save of the season, Rivera somehow has an off day. With one out, he allows a single and perfectly places a strike for the Orioles big power-hitter to hit a long fly ball deep into the left centerfield seats for Baltimore’s automatic score of 2-1, which would quickly become the final score. A strikeout for 2 outs and the next batter hits a ground-rule double, so Rivera intentionally walks another strong hitter before going after a former teammate to get the final out and earn his 2nd loss of the season. A rare instance indeed from the greatest closer in MLB history, but not even the great Mariano Rivera is perfect all the time. I think sometimes we forget that.
Yesterday, the All-Star Game rosters were announced. The Yankees have only two representatives this year — Robinson Cano is the starting 2nd baseman, and Mariano Rivera in the bullpen. The ASG also picks 5 further players who can make the roster and asks everyone to vote on it. On the AL list is David Robertson. If anyone in the Yankees bullpen deserves to be in the ASG, it’s Robertson, who is by far one of the best set-up men in the entire league. You can vote for him online as many times as you want. The entire team is getting behind this vote, some even wearing high socks (the socks up to the knees over the pants) in his honor, just like Robertson does every day; Rivera donned his high socks today for this reason. #HighSocksForVotes is the Twitter trend to follow and vote.
Also, yesterday and today, the big news in another part of Yankee-land is Derek Jeter’s rehab with AAA Scranton. Last night, he played shortstop for 5 innings, with 3 at-bats (0-for-2, with a walk and simple fielding grounder). Today, he served as designated hitter with 4 at-bats (1-for-2, with 2 walks, a single, and a run scored). He will start at shortstop today. It should be worth noting that Jeter also seems to be a measure of good luck, if you will, as the RailRiders have won their last 4 games in a row and are now just one game under .500.
And keep your heads up, Yankee fans, today’s game might be a loss, but they still took the series from the Orioles, and next week is 4 game series against the Royals and 3 game series against the Twins, both teams fell to the Yankees during their last respective matches. Vote for Robertson, remember Newtown, and pray for those affected by the plane crash in San Francisco yesterday.