Monday, May 09, 2005

Yankees 6, Athletics 0

Excuse my giddiness, but two straight shutouts is something to giggle about like an 8th grade girl asking out her first boy. Factor in that they came from the arm of Mussina Saturday and the Brown-Gordon-Sturtze combo on Sunday, and we may have something going here. Then again, the last time I said we might have something going was A-Rod’s 10 RBI night, and we won, what, 2 games between then and Saturday?

Damn, after re-reading that paragraph, I think I have to make a disclaimer here. You may have noticed that I have referred to the Yankees as “we.” Be warned that I will be doing this from time to time, mainly due to my umbilical connection to them.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to listen to/watch much of the game Saturday. My buddy Al and I were headed to Queens for a movie, and he was having me listen to the new Beck album (which gets a 7.5 out of 10 upon initial aural inspection), so the only chance I got to flip to the radio was when he was on the phone. Accordingly, I’m not going to be able to provide any analysis/limited insight as to Mussina’s performance, but a four-hit shutout is a four-hit shutout. Of course, my dad the pessimist comes up with this gem, “The A’s aren’t known for their hitting, they’re known for their pitching. It’s not a big deal.”

But then Sunday happened. Now, when you know it’s Kevin Brown going against Rich Harden, the panic alarm goes off. Even my brother and I, who are considerably less pessimistic about the ’05 Yankees than our dad, were thinking, “crap, just when we have a game that can get the ball rolling, we have Kevin Brown on the hill against Rich Harden, who has the AL’s lowest ERA.” In fact, as my parents were leaving to go to a family party (my brother and I resolved to stay home until the Yankees scored a run), my father and I had the following dialogue:

Me: Dad! Bases loaded, no outs in the second. Go figure.
Dad: For us or for them?
Me: Them, of course.
Dad: [bleeping] Brown.
(Random grumbling noises. Door slamming)

I actually had to get up at this point and go do something productive to channel my ire to somewhere other than the TV. Upon returning about ten minutes later, I noticed that the Yanks were up. Then I noticed that little scoreboard in the top left corner of my screen read “A’s 0, Yankees 0.” Brown got out of it! How the…? I’ll take it!

Alas, two full innings later, in the top of the third, Brown digs himself into another bases loaded jam, but this time with two outs. This, of course, is the cue for Brown to lay a hanging slider over the heart of the plate for Marco Scuttaro (of all people) to send somewhere around South America. But what does Brown do? He got Scuttaro to pop it up to Matsui. What is going on here? This looks more like the Kevin Brown who pitched with the Dodgers in ’03 than the Kevin Brown who hurled (his back out) in New York last season.

I should also disclaim here that my dad is the most intense A-Rod hater I have ever encountered. Take Curt Schilling’s hatred for everyone in the league and channel it into one person, and that’s my dad’s hatred for A-Rod. So it’s only fitting that I embellish each and every A-Rod achievement this year (and you better believe he heard it after the 10 RBI night, followed by a night where he supplied the lone run).

So we’re in the bottom of the fourth with no score, knowing that it’s only a matter of pitches before Brown starts lobbing meatballs over the plate. We need run support, and who better to provide it than A-Rahd? Boom. Solo jack, putting the Yanks on the scoreboard, and my brother and me in the car on the way to the family function, my uncle’s to be specific, who lives and dies by the Mets (an honorable trait, considering he’s 60 and has had to live through their pretty much horrific past).

The Yanks would plate five more runs over the course of the remaining five innings, and all of them came off the bats of guys that need to start stepping up if the Yanks are going to pull out of this uncharacteristic funk. Matsui, who has been in a dickens of a slump, went 2-3 with a walk, an RBI and a run scored (courtesy of Tino’s shot), and a ho-hum Jorge Posada lifted one into Monument Park.
I have to say, this has probably been the biggest win of the Yankees season, and hear me out before you cast me aside as a loony. First, it accomplished something the Yanks haven’t done much at all of this year: win two in a row. And if you remember the advice of Lou Brown, “We won a game yesterday. If we win today, that makes two in a row. If we win again tomorrow that is called a winning streak. It has happened before.” Second, the run production – aside from A-Rahd’s dinger – came from guys who are going to need to produce if the Yanks plan to contend this year. I’m not really concerned about Matsui, since he’ll surely break out of his slump, but Jorge and Tino concern me (and most Yankees fans) a bit more, considering their age and performance thus far. Third, this win came at the hands of Rich Harden, who – as previously mentioned – had the AL’s lowest ERA entering the game (not anymore, Richy). Fourth (and I’ll end the list here), eight of the nine Yankees that appeared at the plate reached base safely, and the only absence from the base paths was rookie Robinson Cano.

While we’re on Cano, I’m still cutting him a break. How much longer I’ll be giving him a pass, I don’t know, but the guy showed great potential in AAA. Plus, my brother was talking about this guy last August, so it’s not like this is just a guy who had a quality spring. Problem is, Bernie is all but done as an outfielder, and we’re going to have to acquire another body to fill center/left field if Cano keeps up this dismal pace. Though, I’d still rather have him on the roster than Jason Giambi…

Randy goes up against Gilgamesh and those pesky Mariners tonight. Let’s keep on rollin’.