All Things Bubba

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

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Roller Coaster

July 26, 2006: N.Y. Yankees 8, Texas 7

What is it about the Texas Rangers? This was one of those emotional roller coaster games. The Yanks jumped out in front in the first inning, only to lose the lead for what seemed like most of the game. Many fans gave up, even though the score was only 2-4. The New York offense just seemed hopeless.

But in the 8th inning, A-Rod hit a home run, and the bottom of the lineup rallied. A walk, a single, a double, a sacrifice, a wild pitch.

With one out, Torre put Aaron Guiel to pinch-hit for Miguel Cairo. He struck out. I can't help but think that may have been a mistake. Guiel has occasional power, but strikes out an awful lot. Cairo is awful with none on, but fantastic with RISP. He's like the anti-Cano:

Cano .371 .227
Cairo .180 .341

I don't know how he does it, but somehow, he steps it up in clutch situations.

A minor quibble, anyway. By the time Damon flied out to end the inning, the Yanks had put four runs on the board, and taken a 6-4 lead.

Alas, it was not enough. Kyle Farnsworth's balky back acted up again. He could not pitch. His options limited, Torre put in "Bat Boy," T.J. Beam. The rookie has nasty stuff, but it's not quite ready for prime time. The kid gave up a walk and double without getting a single out. Torre quickly yanked him, and, against his and everyone else's better judgment, put in "Everyday" Scotty Proctor. He'd already pitched two innings the day before, and an inning the day before that. Proctor is lights-out when used, say, every other day, but overused, he's a human batting tee. And so it proved again. Scotty gave up four singles and three runs without getting an out. Torre yanked him as well, and, in desperation, tapped Shawn Chacon. Chac, our former fifth starter, last seen being lit up on the 4th of July. He was relegated to the bullpen because of ineffectiveness and attitude issues, and hadn't been seen since.

Yankee fans were in deep despair. Even Chacon fans were worried. He is simply not very good out of the bullpen. He's a starter, not a reliever. Coming in with bases loaded and no outs would be a tough row to hoe even for Mariano Rivera, let alone Chac. The only ray of hope: maybe he could handle it, because if anyone's used to pitching with men on, it's him. :-P

But he stepped up in a big way. He did what no one else had been able to do that inning: get outs. He struck out DeRosa, then got a bizarre double-play. A hard-hit comebacker landed in his glove. He danced around the mound, looking to third, then second, then finally to first, where Andy Phillips was yelling for the ball. Chacon quickly threw it, and doubled off Hairston to end the inning. Johnny Damon later said his heart sunk when he saw Chacon looking around for somewhere to throw the ball. He said he was thankful Shawn didn't check home plate, too!

So on to the top of the ninth it was, with the Yanks now down 6-7, up against the Rangers' closer, Akinori Otsuka. Jeter led off; Giambi told him to just get on base and give him a chance. That's just what the Captain did, hitting a single to center. And Giambi came through. Though he'd been mired in a dreadful slump, he smacked it out of the park this time: a two-run homer. Just about as clutch a hit as you can get.

Mo shut the door in the bottom of the 9th. The Yankees had pulled victory from the jaws of defeat...twice.

(In the heat of the moment, some fans called this the best game of the season. I can understand why they'd say that, but no, the best game of the season was clearly a different Rangers game. The May 16 game at Yankee Stadium, where the Yanks came back from a nine-run deficit, took the lead, lost it, then won with a Posada walkoff homer.)

Bubba was stuck on the bench for this game, alas. Ordinarily, he might have been put in as a LIDR for Bernie, but Guiel, put in as a pinch-hitter, took that slot.
posted by BubbaFan, 11:32 PM


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