That's how to do it Yanks. Just keep winning games. If I've said it once, I've said it a million times: I don't actually WANT the Yanks to win 14-5 routs as much as I want them to just win. That may sound obvious, but to clarify, I mean that I don't think it's physically possible to play 100% every game (don't even get me started on "110%"), because if you play 100% every game, you burn out. Play 80%. I don't care. Just play hard enough to win.
Which is what they've been doing.
Ivan Nova pitched a gem, (he actually let up LESS runs in 7 innings than Mo let up in 1 inning) and the Yanks cruised to a 5-3 win thanks to 4 runs of the manufactured persuasion in the 1st.
(That's right. In a ballpark notorious for long balls, our little rookie gave up no bombs. And in this same ballpark, our sneered at hired guns who haters perceive as a sort of Dirty Stay-Out ilk of players--cuz they're good for one thing and one thing only--managed to open up their stay in the Great American Ballpark by winning with singles. Go figure.)
There are a lot of excellent things about a game like this, but one of them is that the pace of the game affords me more of an opportunity to pay attention to things like Nova's pitches, and Swish's swing, and Grandy's plate presence. It was nice to see a game wrap up neatly under 3 hours, and the straightforward nature of it all was calming.
(Conversely, on the other side of NYC, Strange is watching the Chicago Showdown, and he texts me: "Great ozzie ejection tonight. He kicked the cubs catchers mask off the field.")
Re: Nova's pitches: the outs speak for themselves. (But in the interest of blogging, I will speak for them, anyway.)
It felt like nearly every single hit was a ground-out, and I'm suitably amazed that the kid actually managed to keep the ball down enough to prevent serious damage. What I've noticed about him in the last 3 starts (and last 3 Ws) is that he improves each problem area. Seriously, you really can't say enough about the ability of ANYONE, not just a ball player, to take direction.
(This is somewhat ironic coming from me, since the only person I take direction from is my dad. Even when it's in wild contravention to the instructions given an alternate authority figure. I remember playing softball in high school, and Tito Puente's granddaughter was the Varsity coach. She had all these crazy signals for everything...and unfortunately for her, so did my Dad. So I'd be about to step into the batter's box, with Puente frantically signing something, but she could never win my attention since I'd be looking over to my dad in the bleachers. His signals were less subtle, per se, ie "KRISTEN, do NOT bunt. Ya hear? SWING AWAY!")
Swish's swing is clearly improving, almost an inverse proportion to how Grandy's plate presence is deteriorating. I may be jumping the gun on this, but it's not just the fact that he's not in his crazy hot zone anymore. He just looks uncomfortable and frustrated. Like someone at the batting cages who knows he has 50 more pitches coming so he swings at everything.
He probably should just tweet more about it. Fans LOVE it when athletes tweet so much as once while they're even remotely mired in a slump. As if in the time it took to write that one tweet, he could have rehabilitated his entire set of weaknesses.
The only non-smooth things about the game really stemmed from Girardi's weirdo moves that should perhaps have their own segment on SNL at this point.
Andruw Jones does that annoying thing where he doesn't run out a grounder. I hate this. I don't care what anyone says, run it the eff out. He should have been reprimanded for this, no? Well it turns out Jones had rolled over his ankle or something so Joe wasn't mad about him failing to do his job on the basepath.
However, if this is true, why keep him in?
As a non-sequitor, you know who I love? Russell Martin. I don't care if he throws like a freebasing Chuck Knoblach sometimes. He's starting to remind me Rube from Major League II. He's fantastic.
Ok, that said, then there's these other confusing elements of the game:
Boone Logan came in for about a cup of coffee and the expression on his face when Girardi yanked him was priceless. He looked like someone had just told him this isn't a scrimmage and it's actually a real game. Like this emotional hybrid of mild sheepishness coupled with quizzical bemusement.
It started when Joe takes out Nova after 105 pitches (I'm okay with that decision) and puts in Ayala who apparently is now our new 8th-inning guy, on account of nothing more than Joe's say-so. Kind of like how teenagers are under the mistaken impression that asserting something in a facebook status cements its veracity.
In terms of facebook, it's basically like "Joe has tagged Luis Ayala in the album, 8th Inning Men." But then 4 pitches later, he untagged him, when Phillips singled and aahhhhh! all hell breaks loose!
No, not even. Not even a schrapnel of hell.
"Joe has checked into the 8th inning with Boone Logan."
I'm not sure I'm on board with this decision since he's the only lefty specialist I know of who patently is unable to get out lefties.
One pitch later, "Boone Logan and the 8th inning are no longer listed as in a relationship."
Yes, one pitch. Beans Votto in the back. In comes Mo.
Seriously, the game was cruising along at this breakneck pace, and then this nonsense.
Whatever, they won.
OH, did you know Jeter was actually supposed to be a Red? Yeah, Gene Bennett was the only scout who wanted to draft him though, so he got overruled.
When draft day came around, the Reds had fifth pick. Bennett still believed Jeter was their guy right up until the announcer called their pick.And, history has a weird way of..well, just being weird I guess. The last time the Yanks were in Cincy, Jeter was announced captain (2003). And now he's doing God knows what on the DL when he should be getting his 3000th hit.
"They said, 'The Cincinnati Reds take Chad Mattola,' and I said, 'Yeah, the Cincinnati Reds just took Babe Ruth too,'" he said, sarcastically. "Then real quick I heard them say, 'New York Yankees take Derek Jeter,' and I said 'Holy cow!'"
Bennett complained to Reds General Manager Jim Bowden, but said it was too late.
"It didn't help anything. The Yankees took Derek Jeter," he said.
Maybe the Yankees brass felt like we've already rubbed Jeter in their face enough.
It's nice to see them being gracious.
TOMORROW I will be watching the game with ROY WHITE.
Seriously. At Mickey Mantle's restaurant. And interviewing him, and blogging about it!
More on that soon...