The story of the Yankees' 7-4 victory over the Indians Monday night coming in was the return of Andy Pettitte from the DL and the return of Nick Swisher to the Bronx. The story at the end was the reawakening of the Bronx Bombers (for one night at least) and Asdrubal Cabrera's strained right quad.
Some notes from the upper deck...
When 40K isn't
The scoreboard claimed an attendance of just over 40,000 people, at which point I laughed hysterically until I needed my girlfriend's inhaler (not really, but still...). I'm skeptical that there were even 30,000 people in the ballpark Monday night, but either way, I really wish that "attendance" actually provided numbers of people who, y'know, attended, not numbers of people who bought tickets.
Seriously, I rode up the elevator to the 300 level all by myself. Twice! (I never got the Mariano Rivera commemorative picture card when I came in, so I went back down and got one. Only one in the elevator both times.)
The rain probably kept a lot of people away, even though it was long gone by game time. It was actually a very pleasant night, weather-wise. Those 20,000 people who had tickets and didn't show up lost out.
Oh say, can you see
Grace Cashman is apparently Brian Cashman's daughter. This was not mentioned when the fourteen-year-old girl was introduced, but regardless of parentage, she sang the shit out of "The Star-Spangled Banner." You can see her doing likewise at a Trenton Thunder game recently, too. She did even better at Yankee Stadium (the aforelinked video has a few cracked notes; there were none such Monday night).
Sadly, she didn't sing "God Bless America," and we were instead given our regular torture via Kate Smith's wretched voice.
It's bad enough that artificial post-9/11 patriotism continues to be flogged at Yankee Stadium after 12 years when the rest of MLB has gotten over the insanity. As a lifelong New Yorker who lived through 2001 and its aftermath, I say enough. Seriously. First off, it's an offensive song to people not of the Judeo-Christian persuasion. Secondly, it's a bad song. You know you're in trouble when you need to use the phrase "white with foam" to modify a description of the ocean in order to make your rhyme work. (Because, when I think of the grandeur of the Atlantic and Pacific, the first thing I think of is the fucking whitecaps.)
Let it end. Please.
For four years, Nick Swisher embraced his role as Yankees right fielder by taking the Bleacher Creatures into his heart and big smiling face. The thing I was most looking forward to tonight was how Section 39—er, that is Section 203 would respond to Swisher. (Digression on Why The 21st Century Is Awesome: The Creatures have their own Wikipedia page because of course they do...)
Before that, though, I was amused to see Lyle Overbay's response. His first game in right field, Overbay pulled a Swisher, and turned, stood at attention, and saluted the Creatures. That was pretty cool.
Like David Wells, Johnny Damon, and Alfonso Soriano before him, Swisher was given a roll call in the bottom of the first despite being on an opposing team now. And just like he did for four years, Swish turned and gave the Creatures a salute.
And then he got an unassisted putout on a Brett Gardner ground ball to record the first out.
Before that, Swisher came up in the top of the first and got what probably would've been raucous cheers if there were more than a dozen people in the stadium. (Forty thousand, my ass...)
It's always fun to see what the scoreboard people pull out of their asses to put up for players. For example, Indians starter Justin Masterson was the first person to defeat both reigning Cy Young winners in consecutive starts. They were his first two starts of the year, too, beating R.A. Dickey and the Blue Jays on April the 2nd, and then David Price and the Rays on the 7th.
Then there was this gem regarding Yan Gomes. This one kind of surprised me:
Jay Jaffe coined the Twitter hashtag #buntfucking, while complaining about Dodgers manager Don Mattingly's proclivity for harmful bunting. Terry Francona indulged in a doozy of it in the top of the third inning—something I've not seen in any writeup of the game, but it may well have cost the Indians a win.
Michael Bourn and Mike Aviles lead off with singles. Up comes Asdrubal Cabrera, the number-three hitter, with nobody out. Cabrera came into the game hitting .256/.314/.438, which isn't great, but isn't bad, either. It's not like we're talking a bottom of the order, banjo hitting catcher or shortstop, we're talking Asdrubal freaking Cabrera.
And he bunts. I'm so grateful that I wasn't watching or listening to announcers at that point, because I'm sure they were all having orgasms over the brilliant fundamental baseball that the Indians were playing there by getting out of the double play and advancing the runners, ignoring the fact that they provided half a double play, took a good hitter off the board, and handed the Yankees an out.
Earl Weaver famously said that one-run strategies only get you one run, and that's all Cleveland got. With the heart of the order coming up, they gave away an out. Swisher grounded into a forceout that scored Bourn, but David Adams smartly tagged Aviles out on the basepath. And then Mark Reynolds grounded out to end an inning that should've gone on a lot longer.
As if to prove the point, Joe Girardi and Brett Gardner tried to make the exact same mistake half an inning later, but Masterson was kind enough to lose the strike zone. After Reid Brignac and Austin Romine got back-to-back hits to open the bottom of the third (a phrase I suspect no one will ever type again), Gardner squared up to bunt.
Right, because your best on-base guy is just who you want to throw away an out. You've just been given a gift of two crap hitters getting on base, and that's the point where you step on the other team's neck, you don't give them a mulligan.
Luckily, Masterson threw four straight balls to save Gardner from himself, loading the bases, eventually setting up Mark Teixeira's Yankee Stadium Cheapie (pat. pending) grand slam giving the Yankees a lead they should've kept.
Andy not so dandy
Cabrera paid for his sin of bunting by straining his quad while running out a groundout. The injury delay apparently completely sapped Pettitte's mojo, because from the injury delay forward, he was lost. Not that he was all that great prior, giving up a double, a single, and the world's shortest sacrifice fly. (It was a close play at home, but Cano's throw was flat-footed. I suspect they'd have been better off with Gardner running in from center to get momentum on the throw.)
But after the injury delay, Pettitte threw ten straight balls, four to Swisher (one a wild pitch that allowed Bourn to advance to second), four to Mark Reynolds, and then two to Carlos Santana before finally contriving to throw a strike.
(Oh, by the by, Drew Stubbs's leadoff double to the gap was one that I'm fairly certain Ichiro would've caught. Lyle Overbay had to play it off the wall.)
Yes, it was a Yankee Stadium Cheapie (pat. pending), but who cares? Mark Teixeira hit his first homer of the season, and it was a shot in the arm the team needed. He also got all three true outcomes in his first three PAs: walking, homering, and striking out. Cha cha cha.
People who leave a 2013 game before it ends where the Yankees are winning but not blowing the other team out? Should be boiled in oil. Seriously, it's Mariano Rivera's last season, why are you denying yourself a chance to watch him pitch? What kind of moron are you?
In addition to generously walking Gardner when he was trying to hand him an out, Masterson also gave the Yankees a run by cutting off a pretty good throw home that would've nailed Leadfoot Romine at home by about twenty feet. Ironically, he cut the throw off to stop Gardner from advancing to second—which Gardner did anyhow. Oopsie.
Also Romine stole a base, but don't be too impressed. Gomes held onto the ball because Ichiro was on third.
Travis Hafner reminded us he was alive by hitting a solo homer in the seventh. He needs to do that more.
And then the game ended as it should. Mo came in to a standing ovation as "Enter Sandman" blared over the speakers, drowned out by cheers. He gave up a bloop single, but it's Mo—he did that on purpose so Swisher would be the last batter.* Makes for better drama. And Swish made the last out.
* Mo didn't really do that on purpose, but didn't you believe it just for a second?
Swisher got roll call, but in the end, Mo reminded us all whose house it is.