Dreaming of spring...May 13, 2006: N.Y. Yankees 4, Oakland 3
Winter has shown up this year after all. It's turned bitterly cold here in the northeast. I hate the short days at this time of year. My boss has asked me to work overtime on a big project, so it's really dark by the time I get home. What to do? Watch games from last year, and dream of spring...
This recap was a special request from one of my loyal readers. A really long time ago, alas, but better late than never.
It was Saturday, the day before Mother's Day. Lefty Brad Halsey was on the mound, so Bubba was riding pine. The Yanks managed four runs on two homers (one by A-Rod, one by Jeter).
Jaret Wright had gone his usual five innings. Tanyon Sturtze came in in relief and struggled. After he gave up a single, a fielder's choice, and a double, Scott Proctor took the mound.
At this point in the season, Tanyon Sturtze had been really, really terrible. Proctor, OTOH, was a total stud. He hadn't been all that impressive the previous year, and wasn't even expected to make the team. But in the off-season, Aaron Small and Al Leiter had taught him how to throw a wicked breaking ball. No longer was he dependent on that laser-straight fastball. Scouts were raving about him, saying he could be a great setup man, even a closer. His stock wasn't quite as high by the end of the season, but that might have been due to overuse. Torre tends to do that, as every Yankee fan knows.
Anyway, Proctor cleaned up the mess in the 6th inning and breezed through the 7th. It was still 4-2 at the top of the eighth. Torre put Bubba in as a LIDR for Melky Cabrera. It would pay off.
By then, the Yankee faithful were getting a little nervous. Scotty had been out there a long time. Usually Farnsworth would pitch the 8th, but Mariano Rivera was sick that day, so Farnsy was the closer.
Proctor got Payton to ground out. Michael Kay started talking about how great Proctor was, how much better than last year, etc. - and Yankees fans got even more nervous. Michael Kay is notoriously a jinx. Sure enough, the next batter, Dan Johnson, smacked one out to left. It looked like a double...but the speedy Bubba ran it down. Two outs.
Proctor is appreciative:Bubba flashes the leather
[2.4 Mb, RealMedia]
Proctor walked the next batter (Kendall), then gave up a single to Scutaro. Actually, Scutaro's single to right field should have been an out. In dropped in in front of Bernie Williams; any decent outfielder would have caught it. But no harm done; Proctor got Ellis to fly out, and the inning was over.
Bubba's catch kept at least one run off the board. And that proved to be key, because the ninth inning got messy. Farnsworth walked Nick Swisher. Mark Kotsay then grounded into what should have been an easy double play...but Jeter booted it. Runners on the corners, no outs. Yankee fans were starting to chew their fingernails.
Farnsy settled down as the inning wore on. His fastball got faster and faster. He got two outs...then gave up a single to Jay Payton that scored Swisher. That left the Yankees with a one-run lead. But Farnsy got Johnson to ground out. Yankees win, 4-3.
And Bubba did have a hand in the victory. Or a glove, I should say.
No way would Cabrera or Matsui have made that catch.
After the game, it was announced that Tanyon Sturtze was going on the DL. He'd been playing with a torn rotator cuff, not telling anyone. Torre was furious, and justifiably so. Sturtze pulled something similar the previous year, and really should have known better. It's not easy to gain Torre's trust, but Sturtze had it. To do something like that...just stupid.
All in all, many fans found this game reassuring. Matsui had broken his wrist a couple of days earlier, and there was a lot of uncertainty. Red Sox fans were talking about "pulling away" while the Yanks' corner outfielders were out. (That seems laughable now, given how the season ended.) But rather than pull away, Boston fell behind. Perhaps there was no need to panic and trade the farm for Torii Hunter after all...