Exit light, enter night, take my hand, off to never never land…
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When the words of the famed Metallica song, “Enter Sandman”, reverberate throughout Yankee Stadium, it means only one thing. It’s the entrance of Mariano Rivera for yet another save opportunity. On Sunday night, against the New York Mets, Mo reached a milestone with his 500th career save. He became only the second man to reach 500 saves, behind leader Trevor Hoffman.
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Mo also picked up his first career RBI on a bases-loaded walk from Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez, bringing home Melky Cabrera for an insurance run in the Yankees’ 4-2 win over the Mets. The Yankees swept the weekend series against the Mets, and won the season series, taking 5 of 6 games.
Jason Szenes/The New York Times
At the end of the game, there were no fist pumps, no wild displays of emotion. Mo, in his usual business-like approach, calmly watched Robinson Cano fire Alex Cora’s ground out to Mark Teixeira to end the game. Tex handed Mo the game ball and gave him a big hug. The rest of the team came and did the same. It was a very touching scene, and I have to admit that I got chills watching the moment. I have said it will be a very difficult day when Mo decides to hang up his glove, but I am very appreciative for moments like this as we move toward the sunset of an absolutely fantastic career.
As usual, Mo is quicker to credit his teammates than he is to take praise alone.
“But don’t get me wrong, this is definitely special, being the second guy who does that in the history of baseball; it’s kind of special, but I’m a team player. My team fought hard today to give me that opportunity to be there. I tried to do my job. Really, all the 500 saves belong to my teammates.”
“I’m proud of what I have done with the team. I’m proud of my teammates. I’m proud of everything we have accomplished. Every time I have the chance to wear this uniform, I’m proud.”
Mo, we’re even prouder of you…
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Congrats on #500…and #1!
The game started with a double by Derek Jeter. Nick Swisher followed with a fielder’s choice to first, but first baseman David Murphy opted to throw to third to stop an advancing Jeter. But a double pump caused too much of a delay so Murphy’s throw third arrived late, and it allowed Swisher to reach first uncontested. Mark Teixeira promptly hit a double to score both Jeter and Swisher. Tex advanced to third on a fielder’s choice hit by Robinson Cano, and scored on a sac fly by Jorge Posada. Quickly, the Yankees had raced to a 3-0 lead and those were all the runs they would need.
New York Post
Chien-Ming Wang was unable to match the pitching performances of CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett in the first two games of the series, but it was still enough to pick up his first win of the year, and his first in 379 days. The Mets did mount a mini-rally in the 4th on a run-scoring double by Fernando Martinez and a RBI single by Luis Castillo. But pitcher Livan Hernandez grounded out to end the threat.
For the game, Wang went 5 1/3 innings, giving up four hits and two runs. He walked three batters and struck out three. His ERA remains in double-digits (10.06), but another quality start will bring it down to single digits after the horrendous start to the season.
Keivom/NY Daily News
Phil Hughes continued his successful transition to the bullpen. In his last five outings, he’s pitched 7 1/3 scoreless innings. That’s a far cry of the early season disasters involving Jose Veras and Damaso Marte. Hughes has played a huge role in re-shaping the bullpen into a quality unit. Granted, it still doesn’t match the stellar Red Sox bullpen, but at least it’s improving.
I realize that the Subway Series would have had a different look had Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, Carlos Delgado et al been healthy. But wins are wins, and I’ll take them. My friend Julia seems to enjoy “distance” but we are quietly gaining ground on her beloved Red Sox. Hey Julia, I’ll use one you used on me once upon a time…even if the deficit is 3 ½ games heading into Tuesday’s action…
Xavier Nady definitely facing an uphill battle in his attempt to come back from his right elbow injury. He previously underwent Tommy John surgery in 2001, so another surgery will be the second of its kind. I read that the success rate for a second surgery is only about 20%. Nady will miss the rest of 2009 and most likely all of 2010 (typical recovery time is 12-14 months). However, it is possible that he may never return and that would truly be unfortunate.
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Speaking of injuries, I want to put the rivalry with the Red Sox aside and wish Mike Lowell the very best. He had fluid drained from his ailing right hip and received an injection to relieve inflammation in the joint. It will take a few days to determine if Lowell will be able to play now or if he’ll need to be placed on the DL for a return later this summer. I truly hope that the best case scenario works out for Mike, and that he is back on the field sooner rather than later. I want to beat Boston, but I want to beat Boston with their best on the field. Mike is a huge part of why the Red Sox have been so successful, and I hope he has a speedy recovery.
Finally, today was the funeral for Iowa high school football coach Ed Thomas (of Aplington-Parkersburg). A 24-year old former player has been charged with the murder of Thomas, who coached the likes of Aaron Kampman, Brad Meester, Jared DeVries, and Casey Wiegmann during his 37-year coaching career. Thomas was the NFL’s High School Coach of the Year in 2005, and won two state titles. I grew up playing Iowa high school football, and it is shocking that something like this could happen in the Hawkeye State. My high school coach, Pearl Smith, never won a state championship (not for the lack of trying, I can assure you), but he was a winner in my eyes. It’s been many years since I’ve seen him, but he had a huge impact on my life and the lessons he taught stick with me to this day. So, I am deeply saddened to see the loss of Ed Thomas and what it means to everyone whose life he touched during his long and very successful coaching career.