The game meant nothing to the Yankees otherwise. They staggered out of the postseason picture one day earlier. These mostly old and mostly battered Yankees had nothing but will to get them far enough that they held onto postseason hopes by a frayed thread at best. Behind 4-0 to the Rays Thursday night in Yankee Stadium, a deficit that would hold up, there was only one reason for manager Joe Girardi to bring in his closer at all, never mind in the top of the eight.
It’s the kind of play Derek Jeter has been making since he came into the Show in the first place. The kind of play he has made often enough that you would not be surprised to learn he could have been blind and still made it.
Nothing more dangerous than a middling little ground ball up the pipe in the top of the twelfth, courtesy of Jhonny Peralta, and nothing more strenous for the Yankee captain than ranging to his left, reaching for it, and, if he was going to tumble, as he must have known he would, shoveling the ball to second baseman Robinson Cano for a relay to first to get rid of Peralta.
With righthander Jason Hammel getting the ball for the Baltimore Orioles in Game Five, New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi—somehow managing to continue shepherding his men despite the loss of his father last weekend—has had to make a second from-the-gut ruling regarding Alex Rodriguez: A-Rod won’t be in the starting lineup Friday afternoon.
“It is difficult,” Girardi told reporters Friday, after informing Rodriguez he’d sit against Hammel while Eric Chavez would play third and Game Three bombardier Raul Ibanez would be the designated hitter. “He has meant a lot to the organization, the game of baseball over the years. And he has been a very productive hitter. But he struggled against right-handers in the series, and Chavy has been good against right-handers all year long.”
On opposite coasts, the team that led the majors in extra-inning wins picked the wrong time of the year, and an American League division series, to lose one for the first time Wednesday night. And, the team that led the majors in walkoff wins picked the right time of their series to pick up number fifteen, just a couple of hours later. And they couldn’t have chosen two more opposite ways for each to happen.
About the only thing each one had in common was that the hit that finalised the decisions came on the first pitch of each opposite coast at-bat.
ESPN’s Gordon Edes, running with something the New York Post‘s Joel Sherman floated, hoists another name into the pool of Bobby Valentine’s prospective successors by direct way of Sherman himself:
I am not here to fire Valentine, a man I like and think had the thinnest possible chance for success in a soap-opera environment poisoned well before his arrival. But fair or not, if he truly is one and done, then my managerial suggestion for Boston would be Jason Varitek. He would allow the Red Sox to co-opt the idea of their main rival while honoring what is in vogue in the sport right now.
Ubaldo Jimenez got a five-game suspension for drilling Troy Tulowitzki on the first pitch Sunday. The Players’ Association intends to back him as he appeals it. They are actually right about this. This turns out not to have been a mere sticks-and-stones issue. The backstory is Tulowitzki’s public criticism of Jimenez’s public gripe that the Rockies—who traded him to the Cleveland Indians during last season—offered and signed Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez to big-dollar extensions after signing him to a mere “team-friendly” deal but not thinking of a comparable extension after he had his big year. Tulowitzki suggested once or twice recently that “a certain point (comes) in this game where you go play and you shut your mouth. And you don’t worry about what other people are doing.” He may have been absolutely right. Jimenez may have been absolutely wrong to fret over one or another man’s deal compared to his own. His pitching in 2011 would certainly suggest how wrong he was.
Barely 24 hours pass since the New York Yankees were nudged out of the postseason, and at least one Yankee muckety-muck pronounces the season a failure.
“We are the Yankees,” team president Randy Levine told ESPN New York this morning. “That is the way The Boss set it up. When you don’t win the World Series, it is a bitter disappointment and not a successful year.”