All Things Bubba

Because how can you not love a baseball player named "Bubba"?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

A-Rod Comes Through In the Clutch

June 28, 2006: N.Y. Yankees 4, Atlanta 3

Bubba cheers on Arod

Bubba, in the on-deck circle, celebrates A-Rod's walkoff homer

For the much-maligned A-Rod, it couldn't have had a better ending if a Hollywood scriptwriter had written it. Bottom of the 12th, Braves up by one. It's do or die. Jeter grounds out. Giambi works a walk, bringing A-Rod the plate with one out.

Ball, ball, called strike, ball. Then a huge shot to deep left field. Two-run homer. Game over. The YAN-keees win!

The fans threw up their hands and cheered wildly. (As did Bubba, in the on-deck circle behind A-Rod. I'm not sure who threw their bat higher, A-Rod or Bubba. Though Bubba threw his first. :-)

Melky Cabrera came bouncing onto the field like a bunny rabbit, high-fiving Posada and anyone else in reach. The rest of the Yankees followed him, to wait at the plate for A-Rod. When he arrived, there was much jumping around, hugging, etc. Even Torre came out to give him a congratulatory hug.

Bubba was wearing his batting helmet when the celebration at the plate began, but it was gone by the time they filed into the dugout. It looked like Posada pushed it off (in a "you look like a dork wearing that thing" kind of way). It was sitting on the ground in front of home plate when the team went into the dugout. Bubba remembered to pick up his bat, but not his hat.

Sweet ending, but a grueling game to watch. Poor Chien-Ming Wang pitched extremely well, but ended up with a no-decision. The offense sputtered, and I'm not sure why. Smoltz pitched well, but the Yanks had their chances, and just didn't cash them in. Bernie was 0-for-3 with two walks, and his fielding was as adventurous as usual. Melky seems to be pulling out of his slump; he went 1-for-5 with a walk and a run scored.

Bubba was not put in in the 8th as Torre had been doing. I fear he's lost faith in Bubba's bat, and with the Yanks down 1-2, he wanted to keep Bernie in.

Bubba finally came in as a pinch-runner in the bottom of the 10th. Bernie got on base with a walk, and Bubba was substituted. Unfortunately, he didn't get a chance to steal 2B or anything. Andy Phillips swung at the first pitch he saw, and hit into a fielder's choice. Bubba was out on the force at second.

In the top of the 11th, Bubba moved to RF and fielded a broken-bat single to the RF corner. A very similar hit was a double when Bernie was playing RF. Of course, McCann's the catcher and kind of slow, but still - Bubba got to it very fast, and they weren't going to run on his arm like they did on Bernie and Damon.

He never did get a chance to bat. It was Jeter, Giambi, A-Rod in the bottom of the 12th; Bubba was next, batting in Bernie's slot, if any of them got on. In the middle of the 12th, they showed a shot of the dugout. Bubba walked all the way down to the far end, where he had his helmet stashed, and then came all the way back, to sit next to Posada.

Maybe he was hoping for some batting tips. When he hit his first and only walkoff homer, last September, he credited Jorgie for telling him to wait for a breaking ball, hold off until the last minute, then hold off some more.

As it turned out, he didn't get to bat. I wonder if he was disappointed or relieved? Jeter always goes to the plate thinking he's the best baseball player in the world, and is eager to prove it. But few players have his sublime confidence. Still, I doubt anyone would make as far as Bubba has unless they wanted to be in that kind of situation.

Tomorrow's a day off for the Yanks. It's righty pitchers on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Joe may be reluctant to put Bubba in the starting lineup with the offense struggling so. He thinks Bubba can't hit. He certainly won't if he's never given the chance. C'mon, Joe. Give Bubba the same chance Melky's getting. It'll pay off down the stretch and in the post-season.
posted by BubbaFan, 7:42 PM


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