Results tagged ‘ New York Yankees ’

Statement from Hal & Hank Steinbrenner

“After the overwhelming public response to the historic achievement of our 27th World Championship, I would like to thank our fans for their highly spirited and remarkably steadfast support this season.

“The New York Yankees have long enjoyed the positive effects of the world’s greatest fans. It is a real and tangible benefit to our success every day and every game.  Each and every fan contributed this season, from the 3.7 million who attended our home games to the millions more who lined the ‘Canyon of Heroes’ for our victory parade.

“Throughout the season, the team found inspiration in the very essence of New York City and its people. By persevering and never wavering from our goal, the Yankees reflected the true spirit and determination that defines the city of New York.”

Boss: The quest for No. 28 begins

“The Steinbrenner Family and the Yankees Organization are extremely proud of the members of the 2009 New York Yankees for bringing a 27th World Championship to New York City and our fans, the greatest fans in the world. Every World Series victory is special, but this one is especially sweet coming in the first year in our new home.  

“The 2009 New York Yankees proved that we are the best in baseball. We beat truly worthy opponents in the American League Division Series, the American League Championship Series and the World Series. As we did all season long, we fought hard, never lost focus and gave a true team victory.  Our players have a lot to be proud of. This group will become legendary – similar to the 26 World Championship teams that preceded them.

“Joe Girardi and his team deserve great credit for racking up wins over a long, tough season.    

“We are so grateful to our fans. They have never wavered in their faith or enthusiasm through the good and bad years.  This World Series belongs to them and to all Yankees, past, present and future.

“We’ll enjoy this win. And the quest for No. 28 begins.”  

Close the deal

questfor27.jpgBy Jon Lane
I started covering the Yankees regularly in 2003, preceded by two seasons (1997 and 1998) for a magazine when I wasn’t as immersed in the daily grind. The last time the Yankees won it all was 2000 when Mike Piazza’s loud out put a scare into Yankees Nation before it landed safely in Bernie Williams’ glove. That was at Shea Stadium. The last time the Yankees celebrated a World Championship on their turf – the original Yankee Stadium – was 1999 after completing a four-game sweep of the Atlanta Braves.

In the nine years since Shea it’s been near-misses, heartache and high hopes smashed to pieces. We’ve had to endure Kevin Brown, Carl Pavano, Tony Womack, Kenny Lofton, Angry Randy Johnson … I’ve probably left out a few. Fans have all shared in the pain of bitter disappointment and another year of waiting.

Okay, 26 World Championships will never be matched and will always be cherished. But the Boston Celtics never stopped compiling championship trophies. Neither did the Montreal Canadiens, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Los Angeles Lakers or John Wooden’s UCLA Bruins. Outsiders like to view dynasties and institutions with scorn; fans appreciate it and always leave room for more.

The Yankees have won 113 games, more than anybody in Major League Baseball. They have to win one more. If they don’t, 113 wins mean nothing and the Phillies will deserve the accolades that come with being a repeat champion, and their fans will have earned the right to brag.

Tonight is Game 6. The hell with the safety net. The Yankees need to get it done – and it’s your chance to implore them to close the deal. Show Philadelphia that New York is louder, prouder, crazier. Don’t fret over the chance of a Game 7 or how you may wake up tomorrow with laryngitis.

Of course, how the Yankees respond is totally out of your control, but the illusion of influencing the outcome by superstition and prayer is part of being a fan, and there are things the Yankees can control to put them in position to finally finish the Phighting Phillies:

? Leave no doubt: The great Pedro Martinez stands in the way one more time. As always he arrived with bravado and will take the ball with confidence.

“Everybody that grows up in the Dominican and didn’t have a rich life is a survivor,” Martinez said during Tuesday’s media conference. “And in baseball I’m a survivor. I’m someone that wasn’t meant to be, and here I am on one big stage.”

You can hate him if that’s your prerogative, but Martinez demands your respect. That said, there’s no stopping you from giving him an enemy’s welcome, writes Benjamin Kabak, one of our friends from River Ave. Blues. There’s been debate over Andy Pettitte starting on three days’ rest and the possible usage of Mariano Rivera for more than two innings. The Yankees’ offense can eliminate those seeds – and keep stress levels at a minimum – by pounding Pedro early and feasting on the Phillies’ weak bullpen.

pettitte_250_110409.jpg? If Chad Gaudin had started Game 5 and gotten lit up, many would be screaming at Joe Girardi about why he didn’t go for the kill with A.J. Burnett. It’s the nature of this beast, and now that we’re at Game 6, give Girardi a break. You want Pettitte on the mound tonight – period. He’s 3-0 with a 3.24 ERA in four postseason starts, and tops baseball’s charts with 17 playoff wins and five series-clinching victories.  

“He’s done it the whole year, but there’s something about the postseason that makes him rise to the occasion,” Burnett told reporters on Tuesday. “I think we’re going to be all right.”

While Pettitte hasn’t gone on short rest since his final start of the 2006 season, he also had at least one extra day’s rest over his final eight starts of 2009. The extra rest has made a world of difference for CC Sabathia. It will help Pettitte.

“I would think that he’s rested,” Girardi said. “That we haven’t had to overwork him the last two months, that’s probably why he feels extremely well.”

(Here are links to videos of the full press conferences with Pettitte and Girardi.)

? Provided the bats don’t blow away Pedro or the Phillies’ bullpen, and if Pettitte and the Yankees take a close lead into the seventh inning, lock it down. I don’t always agree with Mike Francesa, but Rivera’s had two days rest and probably won’t throw again until February. Ride that final leg with the greatest closer ever.

“Hopefully, we don’t need it,” Rivera said. “We will have to do whatever it takes to win the game. It’s a big game for us.”

Rivera’s ERA this postseason is 0.63 ERA in 11 outings (one run, nine hits in 14 1/3 innings). Opponents are batting .176 against him. He’s saved 39 postseason games and closed out 14 clinchers. Convinced?

Talk to you tonight. If you can get to Yankee Stadium early, here’s a rundown of the festivities:

4:50 p.m. – 5:50 p.m. Yankees take BP

5:00 p.m. Gates Open

5:50 p.m. – 6:50 p.m. Phillies take BP

7:35 p.m. Lineups Announced

7:45 p.m. Presentation of Colors: United States Coast Guard Color Guard

7:46 p.m. National Anthem: Mary J. Blige

7:49 p.m. Ceremonial First Pitch

7:51 p.m. Game Ball Delivered to Mound – Boys and Girls Clubs of America

7:52 p.m. Umpires and Managers to Home Plate

7:55 p.m. Yankees Take the Field

7:57 p.m. First Pitch

Live from Section 405 – The Game

stadium_450_102809.jpgBy Jon Lane
Slight exaggeration, but this measures the height of my view of the field. For the first time since I can recall, I’m closer to the blimp flying overhead.

The rain has let up, but there’s that dreaded wind chill. I’m dressed in layers but wishing I was wearing a hat. Until tomorrow ….

Anyway, less than 10 minutes from baseball. Click here for documentation of my pregame activities. And Yogi Berra, escorted by Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, met retired Army Captain Tony Odinero at the mound for his throwing of the ceremonial first pitch. A nice touch.

Enjoy the game.

8:14 p.m. After two quick outs the heart of the Phillies’ order loaded the bases – Ryan Howard’s double was sandwiched between two walks – but Sabathia escaped by getting Raul Ibanez to ground out to second. The big guy threw 24 pitches in the first, 12 for strikes.

Early fan behavior: Chants of “CC! CC!” and “Philly sucks!”

8:28 p.m. CC settles down in the second, needing only 10 pitches to retire the side in order.

lee_250_102809.jpg8:54 p.m. Sorry for the lack of updates. To better protect my
laptop, the mist circling above the outfield chased me from my post.
Thus far it’s been the pitchers’ duel we’ve all expected, except the
Phillies made Sabathia (58 pitches after three) work before Chase Utley
homered with two out in the first to put Philadelphia on the board.
That said, the ball hasn’t carried here like it did during the regular
season. Teams combined for 237 homers in 2009, but only seven to date
in the playoffs. Furthermore, Utley’s homer was the first by a Yankees’
opponent in this building.

9:11 p.m. We’ve seen this often during the regular season. Sabathia has a bad inning or throws a bad pitch. Then he works with more anger, more of a scowl. After Utley’s homer he retired the last four, including a clean fourth with two strikeouts.

9:21 p.m. Lee is dealing, striking out the Yankees’ 3-4-5 hitters on nasty breaking pitches. Ruben Amaro Jr. made the trade of the season in my view. For all the hoopla over Roy Halladay, Amaro told J.P. Riccardi to shove it and made the better deal with the Indians. Halladay remains in Toronto, Riccardi is out of a job and Lee could be the final piece to a repeat World Series win for the Phillies.

By the way, it must stink to be a Cleveland sports fan. The Indians trade Sabathia, Lee and Victor Martinez, and the Cavaliers may lose LeBron James after this season. Then there’s Eric Mangini’s Browns. Whoa boy.

9:48 p.m. Utley goes yard – again. He’s been the Phillies’ entire offense, supplying both of their two runs. Seeing how Lee has been turning out the Yankees’ lights, rare has a 2-0 lead been insurmountable. Lee has thrown just 69 pitches through five innings. Unless the Yankees can make him work and get to the Phils’ bullpen, Lee could all the way and lead Philly to a 1-0 series lead.

Then again, the Yankees have rallied from worse.

9:58 p.m. Kudos to Yankees radio announcer Suzyn Waldman. The Yankees’ media relations department paid homage to her being the first woman to call a World Series game.

Tonight’s attendance: 50,207 – a new Yankee Stadium high.

clifflee_250_102809.jpg10:09 p.m. Here’s the Yankees offense in a nutshell: It has four hits, two from Derek Jeter. Johnny Damon, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez are a combined 0-for-8 with four strikeouts, and the former two stranded Jeter on first base to end the sixth. Lee’s been that good and at 86 pitches is showing no signs of letting up. If Sabathia and Co. keep it at 2-0, the only chance the Yankees have is against Brad Lidge in the ninth.

Lidge, incidentally, has pitched four scoreless innings with three saves this postseason.

10:18 p.m. A good stat passed on by Howie Karpin, one of the Yankees’ official scorers: The Yankees have gone 15 straight World Series innings without scoring a run (Game 5 of the 2003 WS) and 19 at home (Alfonso Soriano’s two-run homer in Game 2).

10:35 p.m. What has happened to Phil Hughes? Joe Girardi put him in to start the eighth in hopes of getting his confidence rebuilt. Instead, Hughes walked the first two batters and got the hook for Damaso Marte (I never thought I’d write that). Hughes has a 5.79 ERA (three runs in 4 2/3 IP) in six appearances. For someone who thrives on confidence, Hughes’ body language did not look good.

10:50 p.m. Phils get a big third run with Ibanez’s two-out single to right off David Robertson, after Damaso Marte recorded two outs in relief of Hughes. Down three against Lee and (perhaps) a rejuvenated Lidge. Not good odds.

11:24 p.m. If only the bullpen had done its job – the Phillies scored two in the eighth and two in the ninth – the Yankees would be in business. Alas, to quote Miracle Max, “It would take a miracle.”

At least the Yankees snapped their postseason scoreless streak at 17 1/3 innings. Barring a big comeback, I’ll check back in after postgame.

Live from Section 405

rally_350_102809.jpgBy Jon Lane
Well, not yet. It’s raining and the media auxiliary press area is soaked at the moment. I’m told that not only will there be a Game 1, but the rain is expected to let up by around 5:30.

I love it how all of us make a simple attempt at meteorology.

Showers did not prevent a bevy of Yankees fans from attending a pep rally this afternoon at Times Square, where New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, Yankees legend Reggie Jackson and the YES Network’s Michael Kay addressed Yankees Nation.

Joe Girardi is speaking at 3:45, followed by Game 2 starter A.J. Burnett. Later it’ll be Charlie Manuel and your favorite, Pedro Martinez, addressing the media.

Once the rain (hopefully) let’s up, I’ll be watching Game 1 from a unique vantage point. Right field is where I camped out during postseason (and the All-Star) games across the street, though in the loge section. Yet there’s something about being amongst the fans, as my colleague and friend Jerome Preisler can attest.

Oh, if you’re reading this and have tickets for the game, shut the computer off and leave now. Gates open at 5 p.m. and on top of New York/New Jersey’s prolific rush-hour traffic, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, wil be here and Major League Baseball is implementing additional security measures in select seating locations. The additional security screening will occur every time guests enter their location before the start of the game. If guests leave their seats, they will be screened again upon returning.

Additional security measures are in effect from the time gates open until the start of the game, so please allow yourself extra time to enjoy batting practice and the pregame ceremonies scheduled to begin at approximately 7:30 p.m.

Here’s the latest hour-by-hour forecast, which calls for a 55 percent chance of “light rain” by first pitch.

Back with more later.

4 p.m. I cannot tell a lie … the sun is out!

4:35 p.m. Joe Girardi said the expected when asked about the
roster adjustments. Eric Hinske provides another pinch-hitter and Brian
Bruney an extra arm that will be important in Philadelphia. The
exclusion of a third catcher (Francisco Cervelli) also increases the
likelihood of Jorge Posada catching A.J. Burnett if he gets the call
for Game 5.

He’s also not in any rush to name a starter for Game
4; the current great debate is whether he’ll throw his top three arms
on short rest. “The focus is Game 1 tonight, and that’s what we’ll
worry about,” he said.

You can watch the full presser here.

burnett_250_102809.jpg5:01 p.m. There was his first postseason start in the Division Series. Now A.J. Burnett is set to make his World Series debut in Game 2 tomorrow night. Burnett played for the 2003 champion Marlins but missed out while recovering from Tommy John surgery.

I”m looking forward to it, I’m excited,” Burnett said. “I’m going to prepare, yeah, maybe, as another game, but deep down I know what it’s about. I know how real it is and I don’t want to change it. I want to go out there knowing it’s my first World Series start.”

Burnett, of course, said he’s all for making a potential Game 5 start on short rest. First there’s Game 2, when his opponent will be Pedro Martinez.

“He’s come back and what he’s accomplished this year is great,” Burnett said. “As a fellow starting pitcher you can respect that. I’m looking forward to going up against him. I’ve seen him pitch and he’s going to bring a lot of excitement here tomorrow night, and I think everybody in the world knows what he can do in the postseason this year or in the past, or whenever he takes the ball.”

Burnett was also asked about facing Ryan Howard and his 45 home runs and 141 runs batted in. He kept the Phillies slugger hitless in three at-bats with a strikeout in a 7-3 loss at Yankee Stadium on May 22. In 12 career at-bats, Howard is 2-for-12 (.167) with six strikeouts lifetime against the Yankees’ right-hander. Both hits have been homers.

“You try to get ahead and strike him out, I guess,” Burnett said. “I think you’ve seen him do more this postseason than hit home runs. He’s hit the ball pretty much everywhere. I’m going to probably pitch him the same as I pitch all lefties, pretty much the same. Just try to get ahead and put them away as quick as I can, and not leave anything over the plate or in his hot spot when the game is on the line.”

Here’s the Burnett conference in its entirety.

7 p.m. What’s a Yankees game, especially a World Series game, without Freddy Sez (aka) Freddy Schuman, who since 1988 has encouraged fan interaction by walking around hitting a pot with a teaspoon while allowing fans to do the same? In the Great Hall, fans lined up to get their picture taking with Freddy.

“We’re here to celebrate the Yankees winning,” he said before two clanks of his famous pot.

The Hard Rock Cafe was already packed well before 6 p.m. The wait for a table was 2 1/2 hours and climbing.

All fans received a 2010 MLB calendar along with a protective cover to hold their World Series ticket.

Two hours before first pitch, Yankee Stadium was playing highlights of the 1950 World Series. The Yankees swept the Phillies in four games in what before tonight is the only time the teams met in the Fall Classic.

pedro_250_102809.jpgCharlie Manuel spoke in depth about Pedro. It’s amazing the amount of attention he’s receiving but given his history with the Yankees and his legacy of, from where I sit, being the greatest pitcher of this generation, that attention is justified.

“I looked at him in Dodger Stadium, I think he’s a guy who’s in good shape physically, and I think with the knowledge and knowing how to pitch, I think that definitely he’s ready, and I think that he can handle the big setting,” Manuel said. “He’s been there before, and he likes being there, and he likes everything about it.

“I saw a guy who was cocky, which is fine. Sometimes to be good you’ve got to be cocky and you’ve got to be — someone has to let you be who you are sometimes. Sometimes you don’t want to take who somebody is and their identity and stuff or what they stand for and try to change it because who they are sometimes makes them — that’s why they’re good. He had an arrogance about him, and you would think — at times I thought he was kind of arrogant, but at the same time everything about him, I felt like — I always thought he was a professional and that he loved to pitch.

And since I got to know him, not only does he love to pitch and the competitive part I already knew about, but the guy, he really studies the game and he loves baseball and he’s a baseball guy. If you sit and listen to him talk and everything, he’ll impress you with what he knows and how he kind of sees things. That’s the part about it I’ve gotten to know him, and I’m very proud that he was able to sign and come on our team and pitch for us because that way I got to know who he is.”

7:21 p.m. Pedro Martinez says he’s “older and wiser,” but he remains very entertaining. Check out these money quotes from his meeting with the media. Warning, he pulled no punches taking shots at the scribes.

pedro2_250_102809.jpg“Because of you guys in some ways, I might be at times the most influential player that ever stepped in Yankee Stadium. I can honestly say that. I mean, I have been a big fan of baseball for a long time, since I was a kid. My first ball I ever got from a Big League player I actually got to purchase in Dodger Stadium in a silent auction, was Reggie Jackson. I was actually a big fan of the Yankees, too.

For some reason with all the hype and different players that have passed by, maybe because I played for the Red Sox, is probably why you guys made it such a big deal every time I came in, but you know, I have a good bond with the people. After playing in New York, I went to realize something: New York fans are very passionate and very aggressive. But after it all, after you take your uniform off and you deal with the people, they’re real human beings. It’s all just being fans.

I have all the respect in the world for the way they enjoy being fans. Sometimes they might be giving you the middle finger, just like they will be cursing you and telling you what color underwear you’re wearing. All those things you can hear when you’re a fan. But at the end of the day, they’re just great fans that want to see the team win. I don’t have any problem with that.”

On his rumored meeting with George Steinbrenner :

“I remember quotes in the paper, ‘Here comes the man that New York loves to hate.’ Man? None of you have probably ever eaten steak with me or rice and beans with me to understand what the man is about. You might say the player, the competitor, but the man? You guys have abused my name. You guys have said so many things, have written so many things. There was one time I remember when I was a free agent, there was talk that I might meet with Steinbrenner. One of your colleagues had me in the papers with horns and a tail, red horns and a tail. That’s a sign of the devil. I’m a Christian man.

“I don’t like those things. I take those things very serious.”

On hearing “Who’s your daddy?”
“It really reminds me that God is my daddy. It gives me strength. It keeps me strong and healthy, and I believe I can do anything. And when you have — I said it before, when you have 60,000 people chanting your name, waiting for you to throw the ball, you have to consider yourself someone special, someone that really has a
purpose out there.

“Maybe when I said that quote out of frustration, I had the purpose of maybe hearing it now, hearing it the following few years that I played, because every time I hear it, it reminds me not to make the same mistake. And at the same time it reminds me that God is my real daddy, and he’s the one that keeps me strong to compete, just like he does to Mariano [Rivera]. I’ve seen Mariano when I know his shoulder is barking, and he still succeeds. Men of faith. It’s only God who can probably do that for him.”

On his tangle with Don Zimmer during Game 3 of the 2003 ALCS:

“We are both, I consider, mature people, Zim more than I am, wiser than I am, and he acknowledged that it wasn’t my fault; that it was his fault.

“I never wanted to apologize to you guys because why should I apologize to you guys or come to a press conference and say, I apologize for something I didn’t intend to do? It’s a normal human reaction to defend yourself when you feel threatened, and that’s what happened to me at that point. I had to defend myself, and I know how. Don’t let this small body fool you; I know how. I just don’t put it into play.

“I mean, that Zim situation is over with. I didn’t feel like I had to apologize at that time, give an apology because I didn’t feel like I did anything to apologize. But it’s something I’m not happy about. It’s something I don’t condone, and it’s something that I don’t want to see in baseball.”

The Turnpike Tangle

worldseriespainting.jpgBy Jon Lane
Yankees vs. Phillies. Phillies vs. Yankees. Not baseball’s two best teams record-wise, but unquestionably the game’s finest. The 2009 World Series pits baseball’s most storied franchise against the defending champions, a team looking to be the first to repeat since the Yankees from 1998-2000 and the first National League team to do so since the Cincinnati Reds in 1975-76.

Johnny Damon will face his old teammate and friend, Pedro Martinez. Martinez will battle the team he tormented while he worked in Boston – and vice versa. CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee, the two pitchers who competed in the first regular-season game at the new Yankee Stadium when the latter threw for the Indians, will match wits in Game 1 Wednesday night – and both southpaws are at the top of their games.

While it’s not New York vs. Boston, there is no love lost between The Big Apple and The City of Brotherly Love. Giants and Eagles fans hate each other; ditto loyal followers of the Rangers and Flyers. The cities are separated by an hour-plus drive up and down the New Jersey Turnpike.

For many reasons, this World Series is wholly appropriate.

“The fact that we have to go through the world champs to become champs, and they have their chance to defend it. Not too many teams get that opportunity,” Damon said.

Fans, talk-show hosts and scribes from each city aren’t as civil. Celebrity bets have already been wagered, writes Sam Borden. The trash talk has started and will continue until one team is declared World Champions in seven games or less.

To quote Jim Kaat, this is East Coast passion. The teams stand toe-to-toe in terms of firepower, so look for this series to go deep and come down to pitching, where you can make the case the Yankees have the edge in the rotation and especially the bullpen, though it became clear down the stretch and in the NLCS that Martinez still has plenty of magic left.

A snapshot look at the regular season matchup and respective team leaders:

Records
Yankees: 103-59
Phillies: 93-69

Season Series: Phillies took two of three Memorial Day weekend at Yankee Stadium.

Memorable Game
May 23: Melky Cabrera’s walk-off single off Brad Lidge in the ninth won Game 2 for the Yankees, capping a three-run rally that started with Alex Rodriguez’s two-run home run.
 
“Right now, I’m probably the happiest .200 hitter in baseball,” said Rodriguez, who was batting .204 at the time.

Old Friends
Miguel Cairo (played for the Yankees 2004 and 2006-07)
Pedro Martinez (Who’s your daddy?)

Team leaders
Batting
Yankees: Derek Jeter (.334)
Phillies: Shane Victorino (.292)

Home Runs
Yankees: Mark Teixeira (39)
Phillies: Ryan Howard (45)

Runs Batted In
Yankees: Mark Teixeira (122)
Phillies: Ryan Howard (141)

Wins
Yankees: CC Sabathia (19)
Phillies: J.A. Happ, Joe Blanton, Jamie Moyer (12)

ERA
Yankees: CC Sabathia (3.37)
Phillies: J.A. Happ (2.93)

Strikeouts
Yankees: CC Sabathia (197)
Phillies: Cole Hamels (168)

Saves
Yankees: Mariano Rivera (44)
Phillies: Brad Lidge (31)

Projected Pitching Matchups
Game 1 (Wednesday, 7:57 p.m.): Cliff Lee (7-4, 3.39) vs. CC Sabathia (19-7, 3.21)
Game 2 (Thursday, 7:57 p.m.): Pedro Martinez (5-1, 3.63) vs. A.J. Burnett (12-9, 4.10)
Game 3 (Saturday, 7:57): Andy Pettitte (14-7, 4.11) vs. Cole Hamels (10-11, 4.32)
Game 4 (Sunday, 8:20): Chad Gaudin (6-2, 3.43) vs. Joe Blanton (12-8, 4.05)

Game 6 – Take II

stadium_450_102509.jpgBy Jon Lane
It’s definitely not a stretch to say that the weather is a tad better than it was 25 hours ago. At that time the game was postponed, we were scurrying to piece together information, and I ended driving home on the Northern State River.

A different story this evening one hour before Andy Pettitte throws the first pitch of what could be an American League-pennant clinching game, which would be the 40th in Yankees history. Two things I noted yesterday was Pettitte being one win from becoming baseball’s all-time leader in series-clinching wins (his four is tied with Roger Clemens, Catfish Hunter and Dave Stewart). Yesterday was also 13 years to the night when Pettitte out-dueled John Smoltz in a 1-0 victory in Game 5 of the 1996 World Series, a win that gave New York a 3-2 win and set the table for its first World Championship in 18 years.

What more historical karma? Twenty-three years ago tonight, Mookie Wilson’s grounder ate Bill Buckner and gave the Mets an improbable 6-5 win that tied the 1986 Fall Classic at 3-3. Watching batting practice earlier, these Yankees had that all-business aura about them, yet kept each other loose. Robinson Cano was at the dugout steps exchanging small talk when Derek Jeter tapped him on the helmet with his bat.

The Angels are taking BP now. As I’ve written previously, there is no quit in Mike Scioscia’s team. If the Yankees can pound Joe Saunders earlier, it would certainly give everyone a chance to catch their breath. But don’t count in it. Three out of the five games played in this ALCS have been decided by one run – with Games 2 and 3 needing extra innings. I’m anticipating another pitcher’s duel. Saunders is a 16-game winner who gave up two runs in seven frames in Game 2. Pettitte is 6-2 with a 4.14 ERA in 12 LCS starts and 6-1, 3.95 in 10 starts as a Yankee.

Given how the 2009 season has played out, a close game benefits the New Yorkers. Besides their league-high 57 wins at Yankee Stadium (4-0 in the playoffs), they own 22 postseason walk-off wins. After winning 15 of the walk-off variety in the regular season, the Yankees have two in the playoffs, one coming on a home run.

Of course, all this means nothing; the game has to be played. But I’m one of many who has played the mystique and aura cards while telling stories (my colleague Chris Shearn is a firm believer in karma.) When you think you’ve seen enough, Alex Rodriguez takes Joe Nathan and Brian Fuentes deep to rescue the Yankees from certain defeat.

Let’s see what develops tonight. Back with much more, starting with Bernie Williams throwing out the first pitch.

7:50 p.m. Playing on the Stadium jukebox during a montage of Yankees highlights: The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Tonight,” The Black Eyed Peas’ “Tonight’s Gonna Be a Good Night.” Think Stadium Ops want the Yankees to get it done this evening?
 
8:10 p.m. Chuck Mangione with a beautiful rendition of our national anthem. Mangione also played the anthem the day Dave Righetti threw his no-hitter on July 4, 1983. Thanks to Bill Stimers (aka “Bill the Baker” and longtime friend of George Steinbrenner) for that nugget. (There’s that karma thing again.)

bernie_250_102509.jpgMeanwhile, Bernie Williams walked to the mound to an incredible ovation to throw out the first pitch.

8:19 p.m. Andy Pettitte warming up to “Welcome to the Jungle.” The new house is stoked.

8:21 p.m. First pitch a called strike to Chone Figgins. Game time temperature 58 degrees.

8:26 p.m. Man on a mission: Pettitte pitches a clean first throwing 12 pitches, nine for strikes.

8:37 p.m. An eventful bottom of the first ends with a thud. Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez stroke back-to-back two-out singles (the latter extended his postseason hitting streak to 11 games). Jorge Posada, however, ended the threat with a fly out to right field. The Yankees are batting .216 (16-for-74) with runners in scoring position in the playoffs.

8:41 p.m. Swishlicious! Nick Swisher executes a 9-9-3 double play, capitalizing on yet another Angels baserunning blunder, this time when Vladimir Guerrero got caught too far off first. Now Nick Swisher has to start hitting.

8:46 p.m. 0-0 after 1 1/2. For fun facts and figures, meet Joe Auriemma At the Bat.

8:55 p.m. Swisher just gets under a Saunders 3-2 pitch and flies out to left. He’s now 3-for-30 (.100) in the postseason.

8:59 p.m. Big spot for Johnny Damon: Bases loaded, Saunders needing a breather and that galling RISP postseason stat.

9:03 p.m. Unreal. A ground out to first on the second pitch Damon sees. Saunders has thrown 38 pitches, yet the Yankees have stranded five through two innings and there’s no score. That RISP average? It’s now .213. The Yankees may be the cardiac crew, but they cannot continue to blow these golden opportunities.

9:05 p.m. The Jeff Mathis now has eight hits (five doubles) this postseason. The Yankees might rue the day they failed with runners on base.

9:15 p.m. 1-0 Angels on Bobby Abreu’s run-scoring single. Pettitte is pitching well outside of the Mathis double. He needs help from his offense.

9:23 p.m. Hmmm …. A fly ball to deep right that did NOT carry out of this ballpark?

9:33 p.m. Pettitte razor-sharp in the fourth with two called strikeouts (with help from plate umpire Dale Scott on a low-and-outside Strike 3 to Guerrero). It’d be a good time for the offense to break through. Swisher is due up second.

9:38 p.m. Swisher with a base hit to left. First and second with nobody out. Now or never.

damon_250_102509.jpg9:48 p.m. Breakthrough and redemption. Damon strokes a two-run single to center field.

10:00 p.m. The good news: Yankees chase Saunders, put up three runs and Posada faces Darren Oliver with the bases loaded. The bad news: A double-play grounder ends the inning. You can’t squander chances to break the game open in the postseason, folks. Think of it like a football team stalling in the red zone and settling for field goals.

At this rate you’re getting Pettitte for seven and Mariano Rivera for two.

10:13 p.m. Game 6 attendance: 50,173, the largest ever at the new Yankee Stadium.

10:25 p.m. Big spot for Guerrero, who went yard of Pettitte in Game 3.

10:27 p.m. Guerrero has something left, lofting a pitch about four inches from the ground into right for a double. It’s second and third with two out for Pettitte with Joba Chamberlain warming up.

10:32 p.m. Pettitte squeaks out of the sixth after deflecting Kendry Morales’ comebacker and throwing the first for the final out to put the Yankees nine outs away from their 40th AL pennant. He’s thrown 91 pitches through six innings and could be done for the night. Cabrera, Jeter and Damon are due up. An insurance run or three
won’t hurt, especially the way Chamberlain and Phil Hughes have looked in the postseason.

10:43 p.m. Here’s why this game is far from over: The Yankees have left nine men on base and ended the sixth when Mark Teixeira grounded into a double play. Failing to break it open against Darren Oliver is cause for concern.

Pettitte’s out to start the seventh, BTW.

pettitte_200_102509.jpg10:49 p.m. Pettitte leaves to a well-deserved standing ovation with a runner on and one out, and tips his cap, after throwing 99 pitchers in 6 1/3 innings. Chamberlain in relief. Two years ago this is a security blanket. Not so this year (seven hits, 2 2/3 innings).

11:02 p.m. Yankees are six outs away thanks to a Joba well done. A-Rod leads off the seventh with a single. He’s my choice for ALCS MVP if the Yankees get those last six outs.

11:08 p.m. Rivera warming up to work two innings. Good move. Meanwhile, Posada grounds into his second double play.

11:11 p.m. Make that the Yankees are six Mariano Rivera outs from their 40th AL pennant and a date with Cliff Lee and the Phillies here Wednesday night.

11:24 p.m. Inopportune time for Rivera to allow his first earned
run in a postseason home game since October 22, 2000 (Game 2 of the World Series against the Mets). It sliced the
Yankees’ lead to 3-2 before Rivera recovered to retire Kendry Morales.
Three outs to go.

Give credit to these Angels. They don’t quit. Ever.

11:36 p.m. The Angels have heart, but they are careless and probably threw away their season. First, Howie Kendrick dropped Morales’ throw after he fielded Swisher’s sacrifice bunt. Melky Cabrera put down a sacrifice that was to move runners to second and third, except Scott Kazmir threw it 10 feet over Kendrick’s head, allowing a valuable insurance run to come home.

11:44 p.m. Well, Teixeira made one loud out, but it got another run home to give Rivera a three-run lead. Is the game over? No. But I like those odds.

11:55 p.m. Rivera working the ninth needing those last three outs. Yankees fans are ready to party. And as I write, Kenrick grounds out to first. Two to go.

12:01 a.m.
Gary Matthews Jr., pinch-hitting for Mike Napoli, strikes out and the Yankees win their 40th American League pennant. They begin their first World Series since 2003 Wednesday night when CC Sabathia opposes Cliff Lee in this building. More from the clubhouse coming later.

ALCS Game 6 schedule

manginoe_250_102309.jpg5:00 p.m. Gates Open to the public

5:20 p.m.-6:30 p.m. Yankees hit

6:30 p.m.-7:10 p.m. Angels hit

7:42 p.m. Presentation of Colors: Yonkers Fire Department Color Guard

7:43 p.m. Moment of Silence: Yonkers Firefighter Patrick Joyce from Rescue 1

7:44 p.m. National Anthem: Chuck Mangione

7:48 p.m. Ceremonial First Pitch

7:55 p.m. Yankees Take the Field

7:57 p.m. First Pitch

Latest on the weather

By Jon Lane
Here’s tonight’s forecast as of this writing, a little past 10:20 a.m.: Considerable cloudiness with occasional rain showers. Low near 40F. Winds NNE at 15 to 25 mph. Chance of rain 60%.

If you’re going to the game, you can follow weather updates and the status of the game on Twitter at @YankeesWeather.

There is hope. Last week bad weather, albeit not winter-like, was expected before Game 1 of the ALDS and that went off without a hitch.

Official ALCS start times

Game 1: Friday, October 16, 7:57 p.m. (Angels vs. Yankees)
Game 2: Saturday, October 17, 7:57 p.m. (Angels vs. Yankees)
Game 3: Monday, October 19, 4:13 p.m. (Yankees vs. Angels)
Game 4: Tuesday, October 20, 7:57 p.m. (Yankees vs. Angels)
Game 5: Thursday, October 22, 7:57 p.m.* (Yankees vs. Angels)
Game 6: Saturday, October 24, 4:14 p.m.* (Angels vs. Yankees)
(will switch to 7:57 p.m. if the NLCS is over)
Game 7: Sunday, October 25, 8:20 p.m.* (Angels vs. Yankees)
*If necessary