Live from the Bronx

By Jon Lane
Good Wednesday morning from the Bronx Majal. I can’t take credit for that one. My dot com colleague Chris Shearn is holding a nickname contest for the new Yankee Stadium. The top five choices will be narrowed down into a poll that will be decided by you, our readers.

Skies are overcast at the moment and while the sun has tried to break through, the forecast is calling for a few showers that will become steady in the afternoon. Chance of rain is 70 percent with rainfall expected to be near a quarter of an inch. That means there’s a 70 percent chance we’ll be in a rain delay and this will be the “I Hate Rain” version of the YES Blog.

For now, it’s down to the clubhouse to being reporting on the news of the day coming off a 5-3 win over the A’s. It’s CC Sabathia against highly-touted prospect Brett Anderson. I’ll be back later with lineups along with news and nuggets. Shearn and Joe Auriemma are also here to conduct exclusive interviews, including Joe’s one-on-one conversation with manager Joe Girardi.

11:03 a.m.
Today’s lineups

11:30 a.m.
A few quick hits

  • Brett Gardner gets the day off. Melky Cabrera hasn’t had a plate appearance since Saturday and Joe Girardi is playing the percentages. A’s starter Brett Anderson has held lefties to a .211 batting average and Gardner is batting .171 against left-handed pitching.

  • The Yankees are keeping a close eye on Hideki Matsui’s ailing knees. Yet Matsui’s bat has showed signs of life since his left knee was drained last Thursday. Yesterday was his first multi-hit game of the season (2-for-3 with a double) and he has seven hits in his last 18 at-bats (.389).

  • Chien-Ming Wang leaves for Tampa this afternoon for his extended spring game tomorrow morning and will re-join the Yankees Friday in Boston. He’ll throw under the supervision of Minor League pitching coordinator Nardi Contreras, Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations Mark Newman and other personnel. Whether Wang starts next week in Detroit will be determined after the game based on his performance.

“The bottom line is we get him right,” Girardi said. “Once we get him right we think he’ll be very effective for us.”

Already saddled with that 34.50 ERA, Wang’s career ERA at Fenway Park is 5.11. But he would have been skipped regardless of the opponent.

“This was pretty much made up because we thought he just needed to work on his stuff, not so much who we’re playing,” Girardi said. “He’s really struggled. We need to get his sinker to where it’s more consistent. We felt under a controlled setting it might be a little easier in a sense to get it going.”

Girardi added that Wang’s bullpen session yesterday was the best he’s had. It has to carry over to the game and since Wang and the Yankees continue to insist he’s healthy, the problem here is mental. Something is consuming the normally unflappable Wang once he’s on the mound and a solution needs to be unlocked – now.

  • Nick Swisher will ring the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange tomorrow morning at 9:30. Swisher, who has reached base safely in all 14 games in which he has appeared, was again a media favorite this morning. Friday, like Mark Texieira and A.J. Burnett, Swisher will be participating in his first Yankees-Red Sox game. “What’s the point of asking about it?” Swisher said in response to whether he’ll seek advice from veteran Yankees on handling what’s certainly a different animal. “I’m going to experience it in 48 hours. The biggest thing is trying to keep your emotions low. And me being somewhat of a shy guy … being pretty rambuctious, that’s going to be key for me.”

  • During an otherwise quiet pregame, I got plenty of material for a Red Sox series preview I’ll be penning tomorrow, including exclusive interviews with Gardner and Joba Chamberlain. Joba starts Friday night against Jon Lester. The last time he was on Fenway’s mound was last July 25, when he pitched seven shutout innings to defeat Josh Beckett and the Red Sox, 1-0.

Back with ongoing commentary – rain or no rain.

1:24 p.m.
No score after one under a light drizzle; CC Sabathia caught Jason Giambi looking at strike three to retire the A’s in order to start the game.
 
Speaking of weather, a makeup date for Monday’s rainout has been announced: Thursday, July 23. The Yankees lose an off day, the A’s a travel day and that becomes a four-game series. Other alternatives were a double-header on July 23 or playing here tomorrow afternoon. The Yankees travel to Boston and the A’s to Tampa, so it’s not like they have to fly across the country.

1:34 p.m.
Kurt Suzuki’s three-run home run is being looked at by instant replay. The sets here are showing a fan reached over the left field wall and prevented an opportunity for Johnny Damon to make the catch. Obviously nobody has learned from Steve Bartman. We saw this in Baltimore, here on Sunday and it’s happened again.

1:37 p.m.
It’s a home run and CC & Co. are down 3-0. Suzuki’s blast came after a walk and a hard-hit single to right by Jack Cust. Robinson Cano’s diving catch took away another hit by Mark Ellis.

1:44 p.m.
Before the game I took my first walk around the entire Stadium, making stops at the Mohegian Sun Sports Bar and the Bleachers. The sports bar has been open to the public for the entire homestand, but that ends after today’s game when it turns into a membership club. You can purchase a season pass for a cool $750. Outside the place was a controlled line to get in; think of it like waiting to get into your favorite club.

Inside it’s an enclosed area offering top shelf liquor and a great shot of the field from dead center. Looking on the outside you’ll notice tinted windows, reason being is because it’s the batter’s eye, which also prohibits photography from the inside.

If this is outside of your price range, Tommy Bahama’s, a martini bar located on the second floor right above the great hall, is a nice alternative. You can’t see the field, but there’s plenty of room, a good crowd and the hard stuff.

1:52 p.m.
Back-to-back jacks from Hideki Matsui and Melky Cabrera have Sabathia and the Yankees back in the game. Twenty-four homers have been hit in this building, one shy of the record for most home runs over the first six games of a new place, one shy of the record set at Municipal Stadium in Kansas City in 1955, the year the A’s moved from Philadelphia.

2:08 p.m.
Sabathia’s defense betrayed him in the third, but he’s thrown 54 pitches off a start in which he threw 122. Before you roast him, another friendly reminder that he was 1-4, 7.76 last April.  That summer he reeled off a career-high 12 straight wins with a 1.55 ERA with 126 strikeouts in 128 innings pitched.

2:17 p.m.
Jorge Posada’s third-inning double was the 322nd of his career, which passes Yogi Berra for 11th place on the Yankees’ all-time list. It’s 4-4 after three in what’s shaping up to be a slugfest.

2:28 p.m.
Jeter hits one to Monument Park to put the Yankees ahead 5-4 after four. That’s the fourth homer today and 25th in this place, and we’re a scoreless half-inning away from this being an official game. The captain also passed Jason Giambi for sole possession of 10th place on the Yankees’ all-time list with career homer No. 210.

2:49 p.m.
It’s raining harder, but this game was in the books
after Sabathia worked a scoreless fifth with the Yankees ahead by one.
Sabathia has settled down nicely, having retired the last eight A’s
batters before walking Cust with one out.

2:54 p.m.
We’re back to square one. It’s 5-5 after 5 1/2.

3:12 p.m.
Cabrera was caught stealing second base with one out in the sixth, which proved costly after Cody Ransom laced a two-out double to left field until Derek Jeter doubled Ransom home with the go-ahead run. For all the chatter about the inordinate amount of home runs that have been hit here, Jeter hustling to take the extra base, a slow roller from Johnny Damon and a big hit from Mark Teixeira have given CC & Co. a two-run bulge.

That was a big spot for Teixeira, who was batting .286 with runners in scoring position and .333 with RISP and two outs. His base hit to right scored Jeter to make it 7-5, Yankees.

3:26 p.m.
Sabathia left after failing to protect a two-run lead; Phil Coke got the final out of the seventh. Not a good day for the big guy. He allowed seven runs (six earned) on six hits with four walks and two strikeouts and threw 112 pitches, 66 for strikes. But again, like last season proved, seasons aren’t made in April. To quote what Nick Swisher once told me, “Check his track record, bro.”

3:51 p.m.
The Yankees blew a golden opportunity in the seventh inning, loading the bases with nobody out but coming away with zilch. So much for Yankee Stadium being a homer haven. That wasted chance may cost them the game.

3:57 p.m.
Great job by Jonathan Albaladejo keeping the game tied after allowing a leadoff single and the A’s moved the runner to third base. Albaladejo has quickly earned clout. He bailed out A.J. Burnett on Sunday by working out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam that set the table for Jorge Posada’s game-winning home run.

4:26 p.m.
We’re in extra innings and approaching 3 1/2 hours. The Yankees have left 10 runners on base and Damaso Marte is in the game. The last we saw him was mop-up duty in last Saturday’s 22-4 game. He still allowed a run on four hits in an inning’s work. For his confidence alone this is a big spot for him.

5:31 p.m.
We’re still here. It’s the top of the 13th and approaching 4 1/2 hours. Neither team has blinked. Only three runners have reached base since extra innings began, one was caught stealing. Jose Veras has looked sharp in 1 1/3 innings. The only arms available to the Yankees are Brian Bruney and Steven Jackson. Maybe it’s been the quality of pitching all along responsible for the 25 home runs hit in six games here? Just a thought.

5:59 p.m.
Veras: 3 1/3 IP, no hits, four strikeouts. He’s retired his last 10 batters and is a big hero in this game if the Yankees can pull it off. Meanwhile, we just got through the traditional 14th-inning stretch.

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