There was electricity when Joba used to trot in from the bullpen.
With his 98 mph fastballs and ability to strike hitters out seemingly at will, he was so exciting he made my hair stand on end.
Now he’s a starter and going through a rough patch, and Phil Hughes is pitching out of the pen and having a spectacular season. When a game moves into the late innings with the Yankees in the lead, I find myself yelling out, “Bring in Hughes!” Call me fickle, but I’m getting the same thrill from the new guy as I used to get from the old guy.
Hughes figured prominently in Friday night’s 5-3 Yankees win over the Tigers. AJ started the game after the long layoff for the All-Star break, and judging by his wildness he was overly pumped. His stuff was nasty but all over the place. He walked five and hit a batter over six innings, and he looked frustrated.
It was thanks to a great shoestring catch by Melky in the sixth that AJ only gave up three runs. Then came the seventh and Girardi called on Hughes, who threw nothing but gas.
He struck out Granderson, Polanco and Thomas. And then he was back for the eighth and K-ed Inge, Laird and Santiago. Impressive? Let’s just say his performance was enough to make me wish I could take Jorge’s place and give him a few words of encouragement myself.
I was so into his outing that I let dinner burn. My husband was not amused.
Mo got his 506th save after the long rain delay in the Bronx. Truthfully, this was a game I didn’t expect the Yankees to win. They were facing a young lefty they’d never seen before – always trouble. And their offense seemed flat, only managing a couple of runs through five innings. Even with the Tigers playing sloppy defense, they couldn’t take advantage…. until Zumaya appeared in the seventh. Oh, happy day.
With the Yankees down 3-2, Jeter led off with a single. Damon followed with a double. And Tex?
I think the ball is still traveling as I write this.
And so a game that was looking grim in the early going turned into a nice win to open the series against the Tigers. The Yankees are supposed to beat first-place clubs if they intend to make the playoffs. Tonight was a step in that direction.
During the game, I heard the sad news about Walter Cronkite’s death and spent the rain delay watching CNN. They had interviews with those who’d worked with Cronkite, as well as clips of his most famous moments in the anchor chair. I grew up watching him. (Yes, I’m that old.) He was the authority figure who told us kids what was happening in the world. When he went on live TV on November 22nd, 1963, and choked up while announcing that JFK had been assassinated, I realized he was also a human being. What a legend.
Farewell, Uncle Walter.