Rodriguez Made the Moment, Thames the Hero
Talk about a roller coaster ride.
On Monday night, the New York Yankees beat the Boston Red Sox 11-9 in what was probably the most heated game this season.
The Bronx Bombers have adopted the policy of kicking the Red Sox when they are down.
A lot of wild plays and standout performers in this one…
Bottom of the ninth. Tie game, 9-9. One on, two out. Jonathan Papelbon vs. Marcus Thames. In my mind, we were heading for extra innings.
Papelbon left a floater right over the plate for Thames to crush, a moon shot into the left field stands to send the Yankees home with smiles on their faces.
That…was a BOMB! No extra innings tonight, just a pie to the face, courtesy of A.J. Burnett
Heading into that at-bat, Thames was 1-for-4 on the night with two RBIs and a strikeout. I will admit, when he struck out in the bottom of the eighth and the Yanks were down 9-7, I doubted him.
“Add Thames to the list of terrible signings this past off-season, along with Nick Johnson Randy Winn, and Chan Ho Park.”
So Thames had a good night. I cannot bash him at press time. I’m still not saying he was the best pickup this off-season, but he had his moment tonight. Tonight is the night he “earned back his pinstripes,” if you will.
But back to my point.
Everyone can keep tonight in their minds the next time he struggles. I mean, has everyone forgotten how poorly he played in Boston on May 9? He looked like giraffe in left field, he could not chase the ball down, and he didn’t hit.
On that night, no one wanted to be within 10 feet of him.
Yet when he succeeds, everyone worships him, as is the nature of the game and the fans.
Thames is currently hitting .365 with two home runs and 10 RBIs. Will he keep it up?
Perhaps. Perhaps not.
Just remember tonight next time he doesn’t come up big.
Thames was the hero, but Alex Rodriguez afforded him the opportunity.
Down 9-7 in the bottom of the ninth with one out, Rodriguez came up big time, blasting a towering, game-tying two-run homer into the Boston bullpen off Jonathan Papelbon.
That…was a BOMB!
When he smacked that homer, two things came to my mind:
A) June 3, 2007. Rodriguez homered off Papelbon at Fenway Park that night and the Yankees went on to beat Boston. On his way back to the dugout, Rodriguez playfully placed his hand over the ESPN camera.
That’s A-Rod for you. Just as you saw him acting like a little leaguer when the team waited for Thames at home plate, he showed everyone the five year-old in him.
B) 2009 Postseason.
How many games did the Yankees win last October, simply because Rodriguez was there?
He had game-tying homer after game-tying homer all throughout the playoffs. Better yet, all of his game-tiers came in the seventh inning or later.
In his own words, “To say I’m not clutch is ridiculous.”
He answered all his critics with his performance last postseason. But if you ask me, I say he proved everyone wrong in 2007. He put the team on his back the whole year and just like tonight, they would have gone nowhere without him.
Chalk up another clutch hit from A-Rod.
The 5-0 Phil Hughes made the start for the Yankees tonight. He tossed five innings and gave up five earned runs on six hits. He walked one batter and struck out three.
Not his best game.
It’s pretty impressive when I can say Hughes did not pitch his best game, yet he was in line for a win when he left. The Red Sox really just wore him out, put good at-bats together, and made him throw a lot of pitches.
No decision for Hughes tonight, but his ERA did climb up to 2.25. All things considered, it’s a pretty good number. I still think he has the ability to make a Cy Young Award push if he keeps pitching the way he is.
So overall, a below average start from Hughes, but it was not bad.
The Yankee bullpen however…meh.
When the offense scores six runs over the first two innings, there really is no excuse to be blowing the game. Now a good part of that you can pin on Hughes’s shoulders, but he maintained the lead. The bullpen’s job is to hold the lead, even in a tight game.
Lately that’s been a serious problem. Case in point: yesterday vs. the Twins.
Tonight the ‘pen combined for four innings and gave up four runs on seven hits. They walked one batters and collectively struck out three.
Boone Logan recorded a hold despite giving up a home run to Victor Martinez. Simply put, I do not trust him. When he comes into a game, I hold my breath. Logan has velocity, but his control is becoming an issue.
Then there’s Chan Ho Park. I hope he has less diarrhea now.
On his first day back from the disabled list, he blew a save and gave up back-to-back home runs. It was his second blown save of the year and ironically enough, his first one came against…the Red Sox, back on Opening Night.
Park was charged with three earned runs on four hits. After the game, manager Joe Girardi said he was the only guy available for the eighth, since Joba Chamberlain and David Robertson pitched yesterday.
So far, Park is making it hard for me to say anything nice about him.
Damaso Marte tossed a scoreless 1 1/3 innings, working around a walk and a hit.
Finally Girardi was forced to go to Javier Vazquez, who is actually starting Friday night vs. the Mets at Citi Field. With runners on the corners and two outs, Vazquez did probably the best thing he has done all year–got out of the inning and kept the game where it was.
Vazquez needed just four pitches to get it done, meaning he is still available to make the start Friday. He really had the best night out of all the pitchers and for his performance, he was rewarded the win.
Although his ERA is a bloated 8.01, Vazquez now has a 2-4 season record.
It will be interesting to see how he does Friday night. As it has been documented, he has had success in the National League. Well, his expertise from the other league will be put to the test: Yanks are in an NL ballpark and he is facing an NL team.
We’ll see how he does. As for tonight, he can relax. Job well done.
However, it’s no secret the Yanks’ bullpen is rattled. There needs to be more consistency among the relievers if the Yankees are going to succeed. I think I put it best when Hughes left after the fifth:
“Tonight would have been a great night for Alfredo Aceves.”
It’s too bad he’s (one of the many Yankees) bitten by the injury bug.
Great win for the Yanks; the best of the year if you ask me. Tampa Bay won their game tonight, so we remain two games out of first place. The Red Sox however, are 8 ½ games behind. That’s bad news for them.
Tomorrow night CC Sabathia (4-2, 3.71 ERA) vs. Josh Beckett (1-1. 7.46 ERA).
Might have the makings of another classic.