Two outs already notched on the board in the 7th inning, the Diamondbacks up 3-0, 2 Yankees on base due to an earlier single and double, and Nunez walks to load the bases. Then the pitcher walks Jayson Nix to walk in a run. A rather lousy way to get on the scoreboard, but when you’re down 3-0, you’ll take whatever you’re given. Back to the top of the batting order as Brett Gardner steps up to the plate. On a 2-2 count, he bloops a single into shallow left field and proceeds to see 2 runners tagging home plate to tie up the game at 3-3.
CC Sabathia comes in for the 8th inning. After a rough 31-pitch 1st inning (including a 2-run homer), Sabathia seemed to find his stride throwing shorter innings and keeping his total pitch count to 108 (77 were strikes), saving the bullpen for tonight except for closer Mariano Rivera who pitched a 17 pitch 9th inning for a quick 3 outs to keep tonight’s win at 4-3. (For all those doing the pitch count thing for Rivera’s innings, my number is always 17, so I guess I win tonight. Now can someone tell me what exactly I win?)
But what put the Yankees firmly in the lead was the 8th inning pinch hitter Travis Hafner. On the first pitch he saw tonight (a 96 mph fastball, I might add), he bombed it right out to right-center field, right into Section 103 (or right next to the bullpen for those not familiar with Yankee Stadium). Hafner continues to prove himself worthy of a Yankees uniform. His bat is certainly making up for any “lost power” that the critics seem so easy to remind everyone. And yet, looking across the league, our “replacements” seem to be out-playing most of the “lost power” (at least the ones traded or released). Yet another reason why all these predictions and assumptions pre-season and early in the season are total hogwash. Too many human factors can just blow all those statistical print-outs right out of the water.
Speaking of human factors, there have been a few injury update reports…
Mark Teixeira is now cleared to start baseball activities and was swinging a bat underwater yesterday and took some dry swings today from both sides of the plate (remember, he’s a switch hitter). He’s hoping to take batting practice with the team when they travel to Toronto this weekend before heading back to Tampa next Monday with the team to finish his rehab. As of now, they’re projecting a May return. I suppose an exact date will be determined once he begins his Tampa rehab, and they can gauge exactly how far he still has to go before he’s an everyday player again.
Derek Jeter is consistently working out in Tampa, running, fielding, batting, hitting, etc. The date of May 1st will come and go, but like Girardi said earlier this week, “[Jeter will] be ready when he’s ready.” They don’t want to make a promise of a date that they’re not sure is reasonable for his recovery. Like I’ve said before, I think we’d all rather have him ease back in slowly to the roster than rush him back and then risk losing him when we really need him in September-October.
Curtis Granderson has been busy being an ambassador for his Grand Kids Foundation, including honoring Jackie Robinson Day by meeting with a New York high school and taking them to see a special screening of 42. This high school was damaged by Hurricane Sandy, and Granderson’s organization (and others) helped rebuild their sports field, getting the teams back their home field advantage. Oh, and in between all his special events, he’s been rehabbing in Tampa and will continue to do so until his projected early May return.
We wish them a continued get well soon! And we continue our support and prayers for Boston.