Yankees’ Star Track: The Next Generation


I always feel bad for the pitcher who comes in when there’s an 8-run lead. While half of me thinks, What the hell do they care, they’re getting paid their weight in gold just to play Soduku in the bullpen.

The other half of me thinks that there’s gotta be at least a small part of them that feels like shamed or embarrassed. No matter how tough and professional you are, no how much money you make, you still (presumably) have emotional mortality.

And I felt the same way today when the heavy hitters and all stars on the Yankees got the day off to catch up on rest/nurse their hangovers/keep out of harm’s way. The Yankee team that ended up taking the field today was a hodgepodge of young talent, half of which probably found the best part of the champagne celebration was the fact they didn’t have to use their fake IDs to score alcohol.

But in a game where a win was far from needed, the Yankees, being the Yankees, still reigned supreme…

(To be clear, this is what an actual “unimportant” game looks like, Boston. Not a 3-game sweep at the hands of your rivals, when you haven’t even secured a playoff spot yet.)

After a rain delay pushed the start time to 9pm, the game prodded along like an Ambien-addled scuba diver. No score through 4, until Eric Hinske roped an RBI-single that plated Robinson Cano.

Mark Teahan tied it up in the following inning with a solo shot of Chad Gaudin, but it wasn’t til the bottom of the 5th that the game went from “Watching Paint Dry” to unbelievably refreshing.

Ramiro “I was Henry Rowengartner’s Understudy” Pena steps up, and I’m pretty sure there won’t be a time when my first reaction doesn’t involve something alongs the line of “if you’re here, who’s doing the bat boy duties?”

Seriously, take one look at him and tell me he doesn’t look like he should be doing awkward middle school slow dances in the gym with some braces-clad tweener, rather than striding to home plate of Yankee Stadium.

But little Pena had a big day, and sailed a no-doubter deep into the stands. It was very fitting that the Staten Island Little League took the field with the Yanks for the National Anthem, because as Pena galloped around the basepath, he looked like he had been plucked off the field in Williamsport, PA.

What followed Pena’s 1st Major League homerun is something that has slipped into the #1 spot for My Favorite Moment of the Season (which doesn’t consider items like breaking the hit record or save record. I mean favorite as in most endearing clubhouse moment.). There are a few close contenders, like when Melky face-planted trying to stretch a single against the Phillies, or when Mo got his first RBI.

But this? This was just gold. I haven’t seen the Yankees look this cohesive and this much like a team in years. How do you declerate that kind of dynamic force?

People have made hating on the Yankees more of a requisite hobby than joining NYSC. But the linchpin of their preconceived notions is no longer substantiated. This isn’t a team of stoic gargoyles paid to smash the ball. They have character. And they have selfless pride in their teammates. It’s admirable and almost disarming.

But before I start canonizing anyone, there was one other small highlight of the night.

Robinson Cano, who patently refuses to get a base hit if there’s someone already on the bases, took Luke Hochevar deep with THE BASES LOADED. Huzzah! And it was an f’n blast, too.

(As a side note, if I hear “short porch” one more time to qualify a Yankee ding–cough, Francona, cough–I’m going to have to rip the endocrine system out.of your body.)

The only other KC run would come off the bat of Mark Jacobs’, whose sac fly scored Betancourt. Cano’s salami capped off the 5-run 7th inning.

So there you have it. The Yanks beat the Royals with the B-team kicking ass/taking names, and with the A-Team revelling in their success. I’m not sure they could have asked for a better outcome of tonight.

Their next generation of baby-boomer-bats is promising. If I were a Yankee Hater, I’d reconvene a summit to discuss next steps and alternate options for the “buy their team/trendy players” drivel.

In terms of our pitching that has been cited as problematic since the dawn of time, Chad Gaudin has never looked this good. The movement on his balls was remarkable, and he managed to only walk 2, blank 5, and hold KC to 2 runs in just under 7 innings.

Gaudin’s stores of pitches is something the Yanks could use, especially against the heavily right-hand hitting Tigers, who is a likely first round opponent. And if nothing else, I get a big kick out of his intermediary pitching stance. Like when he’s waiting for the catcher to toss it back, or the batter’s taking his sweet time getting in the box, etc..Gaudin stands on the mound half drooped back, weight loosely shifted to one leg, like he’s just as comfortable on the mound at Yankee Stadium as he’d be on a mound in Central Park tossing underhand slow pitch softball.

I guess you don’t have many options beyond a laissez faire demeanor if you’re a pitcher who’s never quite sure where the ball will end up once he’s released it.

That said, I’d be more than ok with him backing up our arms in the coming week(s). Between him, Aceves, and Joba, the hybrid relievers-starter contingent can offer a collective reissuance of comfort.

As for KC’s pitcher, I think next time he should bring his lucky feather.

Excellent game, and fantastic prologue to the next two in the series, where our resident pitching-question marks will engage in the REAL determining starts. (I feel like every start for either AJ or Joba in the last month has been termed as the do or the die outing.)

Keep it up, Yanks. Or don’t. Either way. Just don’t get hurt. Please.