GAME 101: The New York Yankees did what they were supposed to do today — close out a series win against a struggling team. Especially at home. Behind the pitching of Brandon McCarthy, timely hitting from Francisco Cervelli and Chase Headley, and a bullpen that bent but didn’t break, New York defeated the Rangers, 4-2, taking the 4-games series, 3 games to 1.
Here’s the box score and recap.
Cervelli Heating Up
In addition to the pleasant surprise righty starter McCarthy has brought to the Yankees rotation, Cervelli has put together a solid string of games behind the plate. Over the four game set with Texas, Cervelli went 5-14 with 3 doubles and 1 ribby. He raised his BA from .277 to .293 (20 points above his career average), and equally important — provided solid work behind the plate. His passion is clearly contagious, and that’s a welcome element to the dugout right about now.
What We Like to Hear
“I was at a point where I really felt like I wanted more pressure, more something. Kind of the fight or flight thing; I’ve always responded well to it. To get into a situation now where that’s the case — especially doing it for a team like the Yankees — it’s ramped up all the way.
— Today’s winning pitcher Brandon McCarthy
MEMORY LANE: On July 24th, 1983, in the memorable Pine Tar Game (video) at Yankee Stadium, George Brett hits an apparent 2-run home run off Rich Gossage to give the Royals a 5-4 lead with two outs in the ninth inning. But Yankees manager Billy Martin points out that the pine tar on Brett’s bat handle exceeds the seventeen inches allowed in the rules.
As a result, Brett is called out for illegally batting the ball, giving New York a 4-3 victory. The Royals immediately protest, and American League President Lee MacPhail overrules his umpires for the first time saying that, while the rules should certainly be rewritten and clarified, the home run will stand and the game will be resumed from that point on August 18. (Source: Today In Baseball History)
For a great read on the incident, and quotes from every principal involved in the moment, be sure to check out ‘An oral history of the Pine Tar Game‘ from Sports Illustrated.
For example: “We were playing in Kansas City a couple of weeks before they came to New York, and we had noticed the excessive pine tar on Brett’s bat, so I told Billy about it, and he said, “That’s a good deal. If he gets a big hit against us, I’ll bring it up.” — Graig Nettles.
Of note, Nettles has never been given proper credit for his role in instigating the ‘pine tar game’ episode in Yankees’ lore, and he deserves his due!