There were so many things going on at the Stadium today, that it’s rather hard to figure out what was more interesting — the final day of voting for David Robertson to make the All-Star Game roster, Derek Jeter’s return to the Bronx, and HOPE Week Day 4. My Twitter feed alone was more populated with Yankee news, pictures, and hashtags since October, I think.
Okay, so Andy Pettitte started the game today against the Royals. Pettitte had some trouble early in the game finding his stride, as evidenced by the runs scored in the first 2 innings by Kansas City, but soon enough found the momentum and kept the Royals away for 5.2 innings. He allowed 8 hits, a walk, and 4 runs (3 earned). In the 1st inning, 2 back-to-back singles and a walk loaded the bases, which allowed 2 runs to score on a solid double and another to score on a sacrifice fly. And very quickly the Royals were up 3-0 in the 1st. They tacked on an RBI single in the 2nd, but that would be the last run they’d score for the entire game. Now, Pettitte wasn’t as happy with his outing, understandably so, but he had the Yankees offense to thank for his earned win today. And the bullpen (via Kelley, Robertson, and Logan) protected his win excellently, allowing only 2 hits and striking out 5 amongst themselves over their 3.1 innings.
Now the offense had some help today via a DH-ing Derek Jeter. That’s right, the Captain returned to the Bronx, making his debut for the season today, almost 9 months since he was sprawled out by 2nd base in Game 1 of the ALCS with a shattered ankle. A long road indeed, but today, he went 1-for-4, with an RBI and a run scored. It must be good to be back “home”. In fact, he was able to get the first of the Yankees 11 hits today on the first pitch to him in the game and score the first run on Vernon Wells’ sacrifice fly all in the 1st inning.
Other offensive contributions came when Austin Romine doubled home Nunez and Ichiro Suzuki singled home Romine in the 2nd inning. At this point, the Yankees were still down 4-3, but they weren’t done yet. In the 5th inning, Ichiro walks, Cano is walked intentionally, and Wells walks to load the bases with 2 outs. So when Lyle Overbay hits a single, he watches Ichiro and Cano score to put the Yankees up 5-4. Zoilo Almonte then singles home Wells (6-4). Eduardo Nunez then singles, and Overbay scores, but Almonte tries to go for 3rd base and gets tagged out there to end the inning. But the Yankees are up 7-4 at the end of 5 innings. But just for added insurance, Jeter adds his own flair and scores Cruz on a ground out RBI in the 6th inning. And that’s where the Yankees sit 8-4 and glide right into the win, splitting the series with KC, but doing so outscoring the Royals 18-13 (there’s that flair).
Also, Jeter came out of the game after his fourth at-bat, feeling a “tightness” in his right quadriceps (the top of the thigh muscle). This is nothing previously injury-related (as it’s nowhere near the left ankle bone), and probably just a little stiff and not used to the day-to-day rigors of base-running and daily life as an active ball player. If the MRI proves negative, he will probably DH again tomorrow. They’re not rushing to put him at shortstop yet, but that is clearly the next step in his road to health and return to the Bronx. I don’t think anyone will declare him fully returned until he’s played a full game defensively at short. Here’s hoping for continued health, healing, and hope!
For all the efforts made by the Yankee fans, I’m really surprised David Robertson missed the All-Star Game final spot, which apparently was very close. I know I spent quite a bit of time on my own voting a ridiculous amount of times online and via text and Twitter (thank God for unlimited texting!). But I think the recognition of his importance to both the team and its fans certainly will be remembered in future years. I can’t imagine that Robertson will go unnoticed for another ASG, especially if he continues in his excellent efforts as one of the best set-up men in the league. You’re still #1 to us Yankee fans, no matter what the results say!
And HOPE Week continued this Thursday afternoon. Today, the Yankees partnered with Birthday Wishes, a non-profit that organizes birthday parties for homeless children. They invited a whole group of children from various homeless shelters around the city to a Yankees game today and were greeted in their own suite by Mariano Rivera, CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes, David Phelps, Chris Stewart, and bullpen coach Mike Harkey with a big birthday party at Yankee Stadium. They got a private tour of the Stadium, including the field and dugout and met Jennifer Steinbrenner-Swindal. And then had their party complete with a magician, music, food and candy, and gifts for everyone. Mark Teixeira even stopped by to watch part of the game with the kids, and what a great game and a great party!
I don’t think there’s ever adequate words to express what the Yankees truly do for their community. I know many teams do their own version of HOPE Week, but there’s something weighty about adding the Yankee stamp of approval on an organization. The Yankee name means excellence and respect, and not just for their on-field playing, but their off-field lives. There’s a high standard on the ones who wear the pinstripes, and HOPE Week is one of the best outpourings of that standard of excellence, integrity, and compassion that so suits so many on this team. I really love being part of this fan base. It’s really nice to have a team to root for that deserves rooting for.