I have had really bad luck with weather so far this baseball season. I’ve attempted to go to five games and have only made it to three after being snowed out twice. And the second and third games I actually saw played were rainy/lightning/windy/cold in a variety of combinations. Super fun. But The Show must go on, and I’m not one to let a little moisture threaten my enjoyment.
I was very unsure of which way last night’s game would go. I was already a little surprised about Tuesday’s shutout victory, and I didn’t know if it meant that this was a Yankees team that could be beaten, or if the Rockies were really that good this year, or if we’d been given a gift and it could easily be taken away. My boyfriend predicted David Phelps would give up at least three home runs. But Juan Nicasio was pitching for the Rockies, and he’s yet to find his equilibrium this season. A lot of unknowns would factor into this game.
In many ways, it was eerily similar to the previous game. Both pitchers gave up the same number of hits (2) and the same number of runs (2) over the same number of innings (5), just like Jorge De La Rosa and Hiroki Kuroda the night before. Let’s try not to think too hard about the fact that the Yankees are playing with a roster of almost entirely second-string, and in some case third-string, guys, but this fact also remains: these teams are pretty evenly matched. The runs scored on a homer to left by Vernon Wells in the 1st and a homer to right by Todd Helton in the 2nd. (P.S. Watching the Toddfather hit a home run never ever gets old.) Otherwise, the pitchers pitched and the hitters mostly stayed quiet. Big ups to Nicasio especially for settling down after giving up the early lead. His pitch count ran high, but otherwise it was a solid outing for him.
Things changed a little in the 6th when Nicasio’s 91 pitches drove him from the game and brought in lefty Josh Outman. Outman has gone a long way towards changing my opinion of him. Last season it was all sighing and regret whenever I talked about the trade with Oakland that brought over Outman and Guillermo Moscoso. But while Moscoso was a total wash, Outman is steadily improving. Over 2 innings he gave up only 2 hits, and despite each of those runners advancing into scoring position on some truly awful fielding by Dexter Fowler, Outman remained unruffled. Especially gorgeous was his 6-pitch strikeout of Robinson Cano, the Yankees’ best hitter, who could not get to Outman to save his life.
It got interesting again in the bottom of the 8th when Troy Tulowitzki came in to pinch hit and took his base after Preston Claiborne airmailed the first pitch and hit him. Unfortunately, the Rockies could not make use of this opportunity, and it was up to Rafael Betancourt to maintain the tie in the 9th. He gave up a lead-off single to Vernon Wells, who stole second, and who is apparently neither too beefy nor too old to steal second. Which I did not know. Lyle Overbay walked and Ichiro Suzuki laid down a perfect bunt to advance both runners. Betancourt walked Jayson Nix in order to take his chances with the still-nearly-hitless-in-the-American-League Chris Nelson, but Joe Girardi passed on Nelson in favor of Travis Hafner. Hafner struck out swinging. Things were looking up. Then Brennan Boesch, who had yet to play in this series, came to the plate. He hit a grounder to Nolan Arenado, who made his usual bang-bang play at 1st, but the ump called safe. It was definitely close, but I give it to Boesch by about half a step. Unfortunately, this meant that Wells crossed the plate with only 2 outs, and the Yankees grabbed the lead. In the confusion that followed, Nix got himself into a pickle between 2nd and 3rd and Josh Rutledge tagged him out, but the damage was done.
Here’s why I’m not upset though. It’s just never a bad day when you get to see the greatest closer of all time pitch. And in his final season, Mariano Rivera is as filthy as ever. He gave up a single to Michael Cuddyer, but otherwise threw 15 of the best cutters you or I have ever seen and finished the job. It’s the last time I’ll ever see him in person, and it was the first time my boyfriend, lifelong Yankees fan that he is, had ever seen him. Some things are more important than bringing up the number in the W column. Though I hope we crush them in the rubber match today.