Wednesday, July 1, 2009

It Comes Full Circle

After the hour long rain delay and amusing awkwardness of the National Anthem, the Yankees brought out Mariano Rivera to throw out the first pitch. Perhaps our friend and first pitch aficionado Josh at Jorge Says N0! could answer this question: When was the last time an active player threw out the first pitch for his team in a game he would evnetually appear in? I'm pretty sure Kevin Millar did for a Red Sox playoff game in 2008, but he was on the Orioles at that point. Does anybody know?

In any event, I'm pretty sure that if this has happened before, that player did not also throw out the last pitch of the game for a filthy swinging strikeout to convert a save. It doesn't seem like Mo is capable of accomplishing just one unusual feat at a time anymore.

Fittingly, as Matt detailed in the preview, the two starters in the game have both been shifted between starters and relievers before, just as Rivera was early in his career.

The Yanks got to Brandon Morrow in the bottom of the second. It started with two straight singles by Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada and the first run scored on a throwing error by Chris Woodward. The second one came home on a sac fly by Melky Cabrera and the Yanks were out to an early lead.

In the third, the M's struck back on a homer by their ninth hitter Ronny Cedeno. And that's #9 hitter in the worst run producing line up in baseball, no less. It was only Cedeno's 16th homer in 1090 Major League plate appearances.

The Yanks loaded the bases with no one out in the fourth inning as the inning was led off once again by back to back singles by Cano and Posada. Nick Swisher then popped up, invoking the infield fly rule for the first out. Melky drove in another run without getting a hit, grounding into a force out that allowed Cano to score. Morrow struck out Jeter on a 95MPH fastball to hold the damage to one run.

The Mariners bounced back in the top of the fifth as Ichiro led off with a single and promptly stole second and third and scored on a Russell Brayanan line drive. Joba gave up another run on a single to Franklin Guttierez, but with four men reaching base, it could have been much worse.

Again in the bottom half of an inning, the Yankees loaded the bases via a single by Teix and walks to A-Rod and Jorge. Morrow had already recorded two outs in the inning, but with his pitch count at 98, he was lifted in favor of Chirs Jakabauskas. He got Hideki Matsui to ground out and end the threat. Morrow went only 4 2/3, allowing 5 hits and 5BB, but gave up just one earned run.

With the score even at 3-3, Joba entered the sixth inning with 88 pitches. He threw 7 more to Kenji Johjima in an at bat that ended with a single to center. Ronny Cedeno laid down a successful sac bunt on the first pitch he saw from Chamberlain, and Joe Girardi called to the bullpen for Phil Coke. The lefty got two quick outs and although Joba has forfeited his chance to win the came, now couldn't lose it either. It was his 9th no decision in 15 starts.

The score remained tied 3-3 until the bottom of the seventh. After Johnny Damon led off with a double, Teix struck out, failing to advance the runner. No matter because A-Rod rocked a two run shot to deep left center that he knew was gone immediately after he hit it. He broke the tie, but only for the time being.

Despite the fact that Phil Hughes threw a flawless top of the 7th inning using only 9 pitches, and he can most certainly throw several inninngs if necessary, Girardi called on Brian Bruney to come out for the eighth. Bruney shaved off his 'stache before the game because he didn't like the way he has been pitching, but it didn't change anything. The Mariners immediately led off with three consecutive singles and by the time the inning was over, had tied the game at 5-5.

The Yanks didn't miss a beat and began with the bottom of the eighth with four consecutive hits: double, single, double, single and regained the lead 8-5 before making an out. The go ahead run was once again provided by Magic Melky adding to his collection of huge hits. That's where the score would remain when Mo came out to pick up save number 501. The first batter he faced was Ken Griffey Jr., who drilled a liner just foul down the right field line. The side went down in order and the Yanks pulled out the victory.

It wasn't pretty. Blowing two leads and going 2-14 with RISP in the first 7 innings probably isn't how they drew it up, but the Yanks' bats showed up when it counted.

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