August 2009

Yankees Win And YouTube Ate My Video

Sweeps are nice.
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Given how badly the White Sox treated the Yanks in Chicago, I really liked how we won all three games against them in the Bronx. Sunday’s 8-3 job was a relatively close contest until the seventh, when Melky’s double, Hairston’s sac fly and Tex’s homer broke it open.
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Aceves and Hughes were spectacular in relief, as opposed to Coke, who is getting on my nerves with his tendency to give up bombs.
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Which brings me to Joba and the Rules. Please. Thirty-five pitches?
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What’s the point? Why should he even bother to get loose? What possible gain is there in having him show up for three innings? I’m all for protecting his arm, but the Rules are Ridiculous. Cashman, for all that is good and right and holy, please find us another arm within the next few days!
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If the Angels could get Kazmir, why can’t we get somebody? No, I’m not saying Mitre and Gaudin aren’t “somebody.” It’s just that they’re the sort of somebodys I don’t particularly want to see in the playoffs. Are you listening, Cash?
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About that video I mentioned. I spent hours trying out the iMovie software on my Mac. I came up with what I thought was a very amusing tribute to Jeter, who continues to amaze me with the great season he’s having.
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I experimented with all sorts of graphics and music and fonts. I’m not saying I was this guy, but it was fun playing director.
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My intention was to upload the video to YouTube and then post it here. But noooo. Somewhere in the “rendering,” it got swallowed up.
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Sorry about that. I’ll try again when I’m feeling adventurous. In the meantime, my nephew sent me this pic today and I had to share it. He’s a big Yankee fan and so, apparently, are his two boys. I bet they were laughing at the Joba Rules.
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All Hail Sergio Mitre!

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I know I’ve been hard on Sergio. Let’s face it: he’s been mediocre since getting called up to the Bronx. But today I come not to bury him…
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…but to praise him.
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He one-hit the White Sox over six-plus and would have finished the seventh if not for that nasty comebacker to his right forearm. Yep, a contusion.
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His sinker was sinking and his stuff was dancing, and he was throwing strikes. After he was lifted, Chad Gaudin took over and pitched more scoreless baseball, which resulted in the Yankees’ 10-0 blanking of the White Sox. Ozzie was not amused, and I don’t blame him.
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Yes, our guys were on fire today, but his White Sox looked like a team on the skids.
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No pitching, no offense and no defense (three errors). No wonder he told the media after the game that he was embarrassed. Maybe a massage from Jose Canseco would make it all better?
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Or maybe he should tell his team to “lose like a Mexican.”
Speaking of being on fire, could Derek Jeter get any hotter? He had three hits, stole a base, laid down a perfect sac bunt and made enough sparkling plays at short for a highlights reel. Could he win the MVP for the first time in his already illustrious career?
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Cano, last night’s hero, had three hits too, and Hairston and Damon contributed big-time doubles. And just when I thought the game would actually be homer-less, A-Rod, after saving a run on a great stop/throw in the fifth, went deep in the eighth.
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Bottom line, as Jeter likes to say, the Yankees are now 33 games over .500 with an 81-48 record. Keep it up, boys. You can’t fail me now. Not when I’m dreaming of this.
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Walkoff #12 Beats White Sox, and I Disturb the Peace

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I really should buy myself one of these T-shirts. They come in navy blue and white, which would be ideal for a Yankee fan, and they tell the story of the feisty 2009 team. Just when you think they’re cooked, fried, roasted, done, they mount a miraculous comeback and win the game in walkoff style. Tonight’s 5-2 victory over the White Sox was a perfect example. I mean, Cano? Hello? The guy who’s been struggling with runners in scoring position? He was the hero?
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Yeah, he was, after he hit a three-run homer in the tenth. Naturally, he received the Reddi–Wip treatment.
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It was all so exciting it made me want to shoot some of the stuff at myself.
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It also made me erupt in a ridiculously loud scream that scared my neighbors to death.
But Cano wasn’t the only hero. It takes a whole team to win games. CC was superb, shutting out the White Sox through six. He got into trouble in the seventh, letting the Sox tie it up at 2-2, but it could have been much worse if not for a great throw home by Swisher. Yes, Swisher. Does anybody know what’s up with Wilson Betemit these days?
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I didn’t think so.
A-Rod made a couple of impressive defensive plays too, and the relief pitching was about as good as it gets. Phil Hughes emerged from the remote cave where Girardi has been holding him captive.
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He struck out the side in the eighth. I have no idea why he wasn’t brought back out for the ninth with the score still knotted at 2-2, but Mo was perfecto. That made the tenth a hairy proposition.
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I wasn’t thrilled to see Bruney on the mound, but he pitched a 1-2-3 inning. Up stepped Cano in the bottom of the frame after Matsui and Swisher had walked, and that was that.
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I don’t know what the Yankees will do for an encore on Saturday, weather permitting, but I bet it’ll be worth watching.
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Happy Anniversary to Me

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OK, it’s a little weird to give yourself a cake, but how can I not celebrate? What’s the occasion? The one year anniversary of this blog! I can’t believe I’ve been at it so long.
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Last August, the Yankees were on their way to missing the playoffs for the first time in 13 years. Things weren’t going so well. But my publisher said, “Your Yankees book is coming out in February. Start a blog so you’ll make baseball friends.” It felt like a parent saying, “Go play outside and meet other kids.”
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I’d written 13 novels, but I had no idea what a blog was, much less how to write one. So I just starting posting daily musings about Yankees games, about my conversations with my Yankee-fan husband, and about my run-ins with non-Yankee fans at holiday gatherings (like this entry, for instance). I even wrote about the wildfires here in Santa Barbara and what it was like to watch baseball while under an evacuation threat. There was always something new to write about, even in the off-season.
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Then my “Confessions of a She-Fan” book came out, and I wrote about my publication parties and various signings, including one at spring training in Tampa. I had discovered a new toy by then – the Flip Video camcorder – and began conducting interviews with other fans via the newly christened “She-Fan Cam.”
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There were so many ways to entertain with this blog, I discovered. Sometimes I’d get so caught up in my posts that I’d forget to get dressed.
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Thanks to Mark Newman, our MLBlogosphere guru, for all the technical help. Thanks to Vanessa of Flair for the Dramatic for being my first MLBlogger friend. (Good luck at college, V!) Thanks to Jeff and Allen of Red State Blue State, the top dogs at MLBlogs, for throwing a few readers my way. And thanks to the Yankee fans who’ve made this blog a destination; you have great taste in baseball teams. :)
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As for the Yankees’ 7-2 series loss against the Rangers, was that game frustrating or what? The starter for Texas, Nippert, walked seven batters and yet the Yanks couldn’t find a way to score more than a couple of runs. Come on! And AJ looked like he would be lights out – we were all saying on Twitter that he had no-hitter stuff – but gave up a homer to Kinsler in the fourth. Coke was atrocious. And Robertson served another one up to Kinsler. But it’s on to the White Sox this weekend and a chance to pad our lead in the division. Let’s step it up, Yankees, and take it to the pale hose!
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Now This Was My Kind Of Game

Pitcher’s duels are too nerve-wracking.

Blowouts can get boring.
But tonight’s 9-2 Yankees victory over the Rangers was just perfect.
Pettitte was great, as was the defense that turned double play after double play.
Posada’s three-run dinger set the tone early.
And Jeter’s two-run single, Swisher’s RBI double and Tex’s single to the wall put the game away.
I loved this one, even though I couldn’t finish watching the replay until after midnight. I had people over at my house for dinner – people who don’t follow baseball – and I actually had to concentrate on cooking the meal.
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After I finished cooking, I played hostess and sat around the table talking about things other than baseball.
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My guests were very nice and said, “This chicken is delicious. You’re a really good cook, She-Fan.” But the truth is I forgot to add the salt and pepper, and the chicken tasted really bland – like one of these.
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Good thing I made a salad and garlic bread, and had brownies and lemon bars for dessert. Nobody left hungry. But here’s the thing: While I had fun with my friends, I was missing the Yankees too. Which made me wonder….With less than six weeks to go in the regular season, how on earth will I get along without my Yanks when it’s all over? I’ll be so….lonely.
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Are The Yankees Babying Joba?

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Tonight’s 10-9 loss to the Rangers was about pitching, pure and simple. The offense was fine (except for Nick Swisher’s lame bunt attempt). Nothing wrong with four runs in the first, another in the fifth and a four-run rally in the ninth that fell just short of a pie in someone’s face.
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But Joba’s outing was another story. Another sad story.
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He was coming off eight days rest – the idea being to prevent injury and keep him fresh should the Yankees be playing October baseball. I get it. I do. He’s never thrown this many innings in a season and the Yanks have to be careful not to overtax their valuable asset.
Or is that just a crock?
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“Do you honestly think his arm will fall off if he pitches on regular rest?” I asked my husband Michael, who is far wiser than I am. More patient, too.
“They can’t just throw him out there every four days if he’s not stretched out,” said Michael. “He’ll end up with an injury – and it could jeopardize his future.”
“Stretched out,” I scoffed. “In the old days, pitchers just pitched. Nobody worried about how much.”
“Yeah, and their careers didn’t last long. Look at Koufax. Look at Sam McDowell. Look at Tommy John. There were tons of them whose arms blew out.”
“But who’s to say their arms wouldn’t have blown out even if their innings had been restricted? Some of these injuries have to do with the pitcher’s mechanics.”
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“It’s been medically proven that you can’t have young pitchers throw an unlimited number of innings or they’ll have problems.”
“So you agree with the Yankees’ Joba Rules?”
“I don’t agree with how they keep messing with his routine,” said Michael. “Pitchers are creatures of habit. You can’t tell a guy he’s on eight days rest, then four days rest, then eight days rest again. No wonder he’s screwed up.”
“You blame outings like tonight on his routine?” I said. “He gave up seven runs in four innings. He’s not aggressive. He doesn’t throw strikes. He goes to full counts on everybody. Maybe he’s just not as good as we thought.”
“He does seem to go out there without a plan, completely lost.”
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“Maybe he has a plan but can’t execute it,” I suggested.
“But then why isn’t Dave Eiland talking to him in the dugout during a game? Or Jorge? They should be coaching him more.”
I shrugged. “It’s a mystery. But I know one thing.”
“What?”
“I’m not wild about Chad Gaudin. Please make him go away.”
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“I’ll work on it,” he said.
What a guy. If only I could get Cashman to work on it too.

Yankees 2009: A Remarkably Soap-Opera Free Season

With the off-day and no Yankees baseball to watch, I had more time to read the stories about the supposed incompatibility between A.J. and Posada. When I was finished, I had the following thought: If this is the biggest Yankees controversy, it’s been an awfully quiet summer at the Bronx Zoo.
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Seriously. This is the season that began with A-Rod’s “affair of the heart” with Madonna…
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…his acrimonious split with C-Rod…
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…his admission of steroids use…
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…and his unexpected trip to the Steadman-Hawkins Clinic in Colorado for hip surgery.
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Oh, and there was Joba’s DUI and his mother’s arrest on drug possession.
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I expected tabloid headlines to dog the team for months. Instead, A-Rod is focusing on baseball (albeit with another celebrity girlfriend), Joba has come to terms with the Joba Rules and the players are behaving like model citizens, supporting HOPE week and other charitable activities, hanging out together at sporting events and concerts, even appearing on “Letterman.” (I’m looking forward to seeing Mark Teixeira with Dave tonight. Good luck, Tex! Break a leg! No, don’t!)
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There haven’t been any dugout brawls or players whining to the media about not being in the lineup or rotation (not counting Brett Bombko) or threats from Hal or Hank about firing Girardi. Speaking of whom…
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…at least some of the tranquility this season has to be credited to him. Yes, there’s a good mix of guys who genuinely seem to like each other. And winning helps promote unity in the clubhouse. But he’s the one who got the best out of Melky and Gardner when they were competing for the CF job, believed in Swisher when I certainly didn’t, switched Hughes over to the bull pen, and came up with the idea to bat Jeter in the #1 spot and move Damon to #2. That’s worked out pretty well for both guys, hasn’t it?
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Not that everything is perfect, by any means. I’m always second-guessing Girardi’s pitching decisions, just like I used to question Torre’s, and I’m not wild about the way player injuries are handled. (Remember Wang, anyone?) But this team is in first place, and everybody’s having fun. No more pitchers who can’t control their temper (Kevin Brown)…
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…or can’t deal with the media (Randy Johnson)…
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…or don’t want to pitch in New York (Carl Pavano).
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Way to be, 2009 Yankees. Way to be.

Matsuino Is The New Bambino

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OK, that’s stretching it. But Hideki, who is very likely finishing up his final season in pinstripes, has been belting homers lately. He hit two in Seattle on Thursday night, two in Boston on Friday night and two in Boston tonight. Not too shabby for a guy whose knees are so bad he has to keep having them drained.
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His wife must be very proud (if she really exists).
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He wasn’t the only Bomber to hit bombs off Beckett in the Yankees’ 8-4 series win at Fenway.
Jeter in the first: Boom!
Cano in the fourth: Boom!
A-Rod in the fifth: Boom!
It was that sort of night. And CC provided the power from the mound. Wouldn’t you be scared to hit against a guy that looked like this?
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He went six-plus, didn’t walk a batter and threw 118 pitches, giving up four runs, three earned, and staying focused even when his defense let him down. He was a beast, plain and simple. Watch him roar.
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(Here, kitty kitty. That lion has seriously scary teeth. CC, on the other hand, can afford a good dentist.)
Hughes and Mo came in to finish the Sox off, and the Yankees left town with a 7.5 game lead in the division.
But all was not perfect tonight. Cano made two errors. (Maybe he needs a few days off, Joe.) And Damon did one of his flying Wallenda acts in left field.
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Still, it was a spectacular road trip that Yankee fans have to feel pumped about. Sure, there’s over a month to go, and if I were Brian Cashman I’d try to pick up better pitching insurance than Mitre or Gaudin. I wouldn’t mind another glove in the outfield, either. But I’m as optimistic about the postseason as a pessimist can be. I’m seeing the glass half full.
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P.S. I’m passing along a photo that was sent to me the other day. A Yankee she-fan from Texas read my book while she was on vacation in Hawaii and wanted me to see the proof. Thanks, Mary. Very thoughtful of you.
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A.J. to Posada: “I’m Melting!”

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Maybe A.J. Burnett was overheating in the 91-degree weather. Maybe he ate some iffy cream pie before the game. Maybe he couldn’t get on the same page as his catcher. Or maybe he was just plain bad.
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Whatever the problem, A.J. had a nationally televised meltdown at Fenway, and it led to the Yankees’ 14-1 drubbing by the Red Sox. His pitches were up in the zone. His stuff wasn’t dipping and diving. His body language was crappy. In the fifth, after he teed one up for Ortiz to put Boston ahead 8-0, he was captured by the Fox cameras muttering to himself, “Why? Why did you do that?” I’ll tell you why, honey. You sucked today and we all saw it.
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But the Yankees wouldn’t be 6.5 games up in the division if it weren’t for A.J., who’s been superb for the most part. So I forgive him for having a lousy outing. I just hope he doesn’t take it too hard. I hear he has a tendency to play the brooding hero.
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Well? They kind of look alike.
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OK. No, they don’t. Not like these two.
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Moving right along…..While A.J. certainly set the losing tone today, he had plenty of company. Aceves gave up three runs and hasn’t been effective for awhile now. Robertson has the ability to strike people out, but he allowed two runs. Cano made a base running blunder. (Memo to Yankees: Stop trying to stretch singles into doubles at Fenway!) Hinske is ill equipped to handle left field duties. And the Yankees were 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position. Oh, and we had no bench – not when Molina was pressed into service at third base.
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Aside from Nick Swisher’s offense, the game was enough to make any Yankee tear out his hair.
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But I expected it. This rivalry is all about insanely long games and extremely unlikely results. I don’t even want to speculate about CC versus Beckett on Sunday night, because I’m sure I’ll be wrong. All I know is that we’ll still be in first place when it’s over.

Yankees-Red Sox Game 1: My Cup Runneth Over

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I think it was in the second inning. The Yankees had scored six runs off Brad Penny, who, despite a generous strike zone by Joe West, was having trouble getting people out. I said to my husband, “I’d really like it if the Yankees scored twenty runs tonight.”

He rolled his eyes, as if I’d asked for the impossible, and made a crazy face at me.
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I said, “The Yankees can do it,” and made a crazy face right back at him.
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After A-Rod’s almost-homer in the fifth, Penny was pulled for Bowden, a call-up, and Matsui promptly went deep for 9-1. Posada, Cano, Melky, Jeter, Hinske and Tex all got on base, and it was 12-1 by the time the inning was over. I kind of felt sorry for the kid because he was back on the mound for the sixth, gave up three more runs and was clearly taking one for the team. 
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Meanwhile, Andy Pettitte was pitching a decent (if inefficient) game. He benefitted from Jeter’s amazing throw-out of Pedroia at third but was victimized by that lame play when Hinske and Melky couldn’t figure out which of them was supposed to catch the ball. Andy came out and Brian Bruney came in, and the Red Sox started to come back.
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“I’m telling you, the Yankees need twenty runs to win this game,” I said with greater urgency after Bruney walked two and hit a batter.
“That’s ridiculous,” he scoffed. “You’re just saying that because you love blowouts.”
No, I’m saying it because no lead is safe at Fenway.
My wish was granted when Ramirez relieved in the top of the ninth. Matsui homered again (seven RBIs!) and Swisher doubled home Cano. The score: 20-7. I was in heaven. “Who’s crazy now?” I said. “We did get twenty.
I’m sorry I doubted you,” said my husband.
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We made up and watched the bottom of the ninth. Mitre was pitching.
I wonder if he’ll be any good out of the pen,” I said.
I got my answer quickly. Varitek? Homer. Kotchman? Single. Ortiz? Double. Lowell? Homer. Baldelli? Hit by pitch. The score was 20-11 with two outs, but Mitre, who would be shipped to Tazmania if it were up to me, retired Gonzalez to end the nearly four-hour contest.
Feel better now?” asked my husband.
Much,” I said. “But I’m already worrying about tomorrow. I hope Johnny will be OK after fouling that pitch off his knee.”


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“They said he’s day to day.”

“And I hope the Yankees didn’t use up all their offense.”

“They can’t ‘use up’ their offense. It doesn’t work that way.”

“Then how does it ‘work?’”

“Baseball is all about pitching,” said my husband. “If AJ is on tomorrow, everything should be fine.
Right. But twenty runs would still be good.
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