Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Game 7: Champion

While the Yankees are already six games deep in the 2010 season, today is the first time they get to don the famous pinstriped uniforms. While the road grays are handsome unis in their own right, the pure white background and the dark blue stripes of the home duds are particularly aesthetically pleasing, especially under the bright sunlight of a day game.

Of everyone, Curtis Granderson is probably the most anxious to try on the uniform and get out on the field. For the first time, he'll be patrolling centerfield in Yankee Stadium in the top halves of the innings and staring down the short porch in right during the bottoms. He'll be acknowledging his first roll call from the Bleacher Creatures. He will be one of the few players not getting a World Series ring, but after his solid start during the preceding road trip, the fans will certainly make him feel welcome in his new home stadium.

Putting on the Pinstripes is nothing new to Andy Pettitte, but this start might be a little more special than usual for the 38 year old. Pettitte has won all three home openers he's started for the Yanks - the first one coming in the snow against the Royals in 1996 - and his fourth one is likely to be his last.

Dating back to the end of last season, Pettitte also has a three game home winning streak going. He won against the Red Sox on September 27th and started the clinching Game 6's of the ALCS and World Series, both of which, of course, were played in the Bronx. Despite a rain-soaked Spring Training consisting of more simulated games and bullpen sessions than he would have preferred, Pettitte pitched well in his first start of the season, allowing one run in six innings in Fenway Park on Wednesday. He walked three and gave up 6 hits but notched 5 K's and erased two of those baserunners with a pair of double plays.

Ervin Santana will be taking the mound for the Angels. Santana wasn't especially successful as a starter last year (5.03 ERA) and he got bumped back to the bullpen for one appearance at the end of the season and remained there for the playoffs. He made two strong appearances against the Yankees in the ALCS, lasting 5 2/3 innings in total and giving up only one run.

In his first start back in the rotation this season against the Twins, the 28 year old righty allowed four runs in six innings, including two home runs to Justin Morneau and J.J. Hardy. Over the years, Santana has had longball issues against the Yankees, allowing 11 of them to the Bombers in 46 2/3 IP. Four of those were to guys who are no longer on the team (two to his new teammate Hideki Matsui) but Granderson has taken Ervin deep twice himself.

As Matt noted earlier, the Yankees are pulling out all the stops for the ceremony this afternoon. Banners hung, legends present, color guard playing, giant flag unfurled, National Anthem sung and fly over executed. It might be a little awkward for Granderson, Nick Johnson and especially Chan Ho Park and Hideki Matsui, but the organization is taking the opportunity to treat the fans who are lucky enough to be in attendance to a special experience.

It will be even more special for guys like Alex Rodriguez, CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, A.J. Burnett and Nick Swisher, who will finally be given a symbol of the World Series titled they contributed to last year after long and otherwise successful careers without that satisfaction. No longer will any of them be looked upon as guys who "never won the Big One" or "couldn't get it done in New York". The on-field celebration that took place five months ago is a distant memory and although the crowds in Tampa were mostly friendly, the players have yet to be officially embraced by their own fans this season. Today they will in a way that they've never been before.

Did you realize, that you were a champion in the eyes?
Yes I did, so I packed it up and brought it back to the crib.


Jeter SS
Johnson DH
Teixeira 1B
Rodriguez 3B
Cano 2B
Posada C
Granderson CF
Swisher RF
Gardner LF

Aybar SS
Abreu RF
Hunter CF
Matsui DH
Morales 1B
Rivera RF
Kendrick 2B
Mathis C
Wood 3B

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