Last night the New York Yankees hit their stride. In the sixth inning with the Oakland A’s leading 1-0, Hideki Matsui celebrated his 34th birthday in grand style and hit a home run with the bases loaded (video). It was the fifth Grand Slam of Matsui’s career. The Yankees took the rubber game of their three-game series with Oakland, 4-1.
“Birthday boy,” said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. “I mean, that’s what you’re supposed to do on your birthday, isn’t it?”
Besides delivering the thrill of a Grand Slam, the team performed the way we expect the Yankees to perform. Andy Pettitte pitched a full eight innings, limiting Oakland to one run and snapping a two-start winless string. Pettitte had allowed 14 earned runs over his last 14 2/3 innings coming into Thursday’s game, but was a different pitcher last night. Then in the ninth, the flawless Mariano Rivera came in and did his thing, pitching a scoreless inning for his 18th save.
The win places the Yankees, once again this season, one game above the .500 mark, at 34-33.
This is the way I like to see my guys. This was the Yankees at their best.
It’s a relief to welcome back Jorge Posada, who came off the disabled list last week and resumed as ace catcher and hot bat. Some guys, upon learning I’m into baseball, immediately assume it’s all about ogling muscular athletes in tight uniforms. I don’t dismiss the importance of that–but I blow away their sexist assumptions when I tell them that Jorge’s my favorite player. Hardly a sex symbol, Posada’s earned my respect with his dedication to the team and the game. He’s got the second best catcher’s record in Major League Baseball, and the best catcher’s batting average. He’s also a sweet, all-around nice guy. And as Derek Jeter jokingly noted, a healthy Posada means a louder clubhouse. “Jorge really takes control of the pitching staff,” Jeter said. Whoa! How many other players can make such a claim!?