- EJ, Eric, and I were at the game last night, and it was my first trip to the new park. Let me give a very brief review: We sat in Section 203, the new home of the bleacher creatures. From our seats, the Stadium felt exactly like the old place, just a bit nicer and shinier. The concourses, however, are a huge improvement, particularly in the bleacher area. In the old ballpark, the bleacher concourses were tiny and entirely enclosed, giving a very claustrophobic, dungeon-esque feel. The new Stadium has open air concourses with plenty of concessions, making for a significantly more pleasant experience. All in all, the new place gets two thumbs up.
- AJ Burnett struggled a bit with his stuff, but managed to work his way through 7 innings of 3 run ball. The lone blemish came in the third inning, in which he allowed 4 of his 8 hits and his only walk, serving up 3 runs on a long homer by Nelson Cruz. He struck out 8 and lowered his ERA to 4.61. If he can continue to pitch like this when he does not have his best stuff, his numbers should look fine by the end of the season.
- The story of last night’s game was the Mark Teixeira incident in the 7 run 4th inning. Vicente Padilla hit Tex for the second time, and Mark was not pleased. He jawed a bit with Padilla, and then got the ultimate payback when he slid hard into second and broke up a possible inning ending double play. One run scored on the play, and the Yankees added 5 more in the inning. In the 5th, Burnett threw a pitch over the head of Cruz, knocking him to the ground and showing the Rangers that the Yankees are not to be trifled with. This is what Tex had to say after the game (from Bob Klapisch):
“I hit home runs in my first two at-bats against him, the third time I got hit. Every time I’ve faced him since there’ve been balls near my head or my body,” Teixeira said. “He’s been doing this his whole career; it’s not the right way to play the game. If you can’t get a guy out, don’t pitch to him. Put down the four fingers and walk him.”In the span of a single game, Teixeira eclipsed both Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez as the Bombers’ most emotive leader. Think of it: Who actually calls out opposing pitchers anymore? Who issues taunts like this, the way the Mets used to 20 years ago?
Not even Johnny Damon, a straight shooter, has the kind of edge to his personality that Teixeira displayed. One Yankee insider said, “Tex doesn’t show it in public, but he’s got some Tino [Martinez] and Paulie [O’Neill] in him. You should see him in the dugout.
“Him and A.J. [Burnett]. They’ve both got [tempers].”
That’s precisely the quality the Yankees lacked in Joe Torre’s latter years, worn out, perhaps, as the manager was consumed with fighting off his enemies in Tampa. The ’09 Yankees have greater charisma (and talent) than any Yankee team of the last few years, and seem to be gaining confidence at just the right time.
As Steve has been saying lately, the core of this team seems to be shifting, as the personality of the club seems to be emanating from the four new players that the Yankees brought in this offseason, as well as Johnny Damon. Considering that guys like CC and Tex are likely to be around longer than the “old core,” this is a very positive development.
- Jorge Posada and Hideki Matsui both hit 3 run homers last night. Posada looked poor defensively and made an awful baserunning error, and Matsui can barely run, but both are still excellent hitters. The Yankees lineup has incredible depth, and with Jeter currently mashing at the top and the CF platoon playing well, there really is not a single break for an opposing pitcher in this lineup.
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