This day started with many members of the Yankees Organization, including Joe Girardi, Derek Jeter, and Andy Pettitte, attending a Farewell Memorial Service, in Oklahoma City, for Bobby Murcer, who passed away on July 12th after a long battle with brain cancer.
Jeter and Pettitte were the only current Yankee players to attend, representing the rest of the team.
Then, during the afternoon, it was announced that Joba Chamberlain was placed on the 15-game disabled list with rotator cuff tendinitis. Not many more details were given regarding this very devastating injury.
It goes without saying, this is a major loss for the Yankees; and, the way it looks now, there is much uncertainty surrounding this injury. So, it’s basically, wait and see, and pray that Joba makes a full recovery.
In the end, though, I think, Joba Chamberlain’s role on the Yankees pitching staff should not be compromised. At this point, Joba is a starting pitcher; and, if there is any “doubt” that the injury is more serious than reported, Joba Chamberlain should be shut-down for the remainder of the 2008 season. In my view, a return to the bullpen should not be part of the discussion, and really not be an option, if Joba is not able to continue as a starter this year. Also, whatever happens the rest of this year should not prevent Joba from being in the starting rotation, from spring training, on, in the 2009 season.
All this leads to yesterday’s game, which was a “must-win” game for the Yankees, as they lost the first two games of this series to the Texas Rangers, 9-5, and, 8-6. A big victory was needed to get the Bronx Bombers back on a winning track.
Former Texas Ranger, Sidney Ponson, was the Yankees starting pitcher, and the Yanks were hopeful that Ponson would deliver another great effort — as good as his last start when he shut-down the Boston Red Sox over seven masterful scoreless innings at Fenway last week, in the Yankees 1-0 loss to the Sox. Ponson did not get a decision in that contest, but pitched well enough to earn the victory.
Well, Mr. Ponson did turn in a great performance last night, as he threw 95 pitches, over 6 1/3 solid innings, allowing three runs, on six hits, one walk, and four strikeouts, to earn the win in this game. Sidney now has a (7-2) record this season; and, is (3-1) in his seven starts as a Yankee.
The Rangers took an early 2-0 lead in this game in the second inning, when Ponson loaded the bases, and Chris Davis drove home both runs on a two-RBI single.
The inning ended with a violent collision at the plate between Ivan Rodriguez and David Murphy, when Murphy was trying to score on Ian Kinsler’s single. Bobby Abreu fired the ball home, and both the ball and Murphy arrived at the plate at the same time, resulting in David Murphy sliding into I-Rod with his knee, as Rodriuez placed the tag on him. The collision knocked both players down on the ground, but the out was made.
Both Ivan Rodriguez and David Murphy had to leave the game, as the Rangers headed into the top of the third with the 2-0 lead.
The Yankees charged right back, and scored three runs in the third. Singles by Robinson Cano and Jose Molina [who replaced Ivan Rodriguez] started the inning off. Then, a RBI double, by Wilson Betemit, drove home Cano for the first run by the Bombers, followed by a fielders choice RBI grounder by Damon, and a RBI single by Jeter, that moved the Yankees into the lead 3-2.
Jason Giambi led off the 4th inning with his 22nd homer of the year giving the Yanks a 4-2 lead.
In the 5th inning, the Yankees scored again, on a single by Johnny Damon (2-for-5), and a RBI double by Derek Jeter (2-for-4), with two RBI’s. The Rangers starter, Hunter (0-1), was replaced by the bullpen in the middlle of this inning, as the Yanks now had a 5-2 lead.
Sidney Ponson settled down after the second inning, and threw scoreless innings in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th.
Michael Young hit a lead off homerun in the bottom of the 6th, making the score, 5-3, which completed the scoring this night.
The Yankee middle relievers held the lead until Mariano Rivera entered the game in the 9th inning. The “Great Mariano” then closed out this 5-3 win, recording his 27th save.
This was a very important victory for the Yankees, as they go for the split in game 4 of this series, with Mike Mussina pitching for his 15th win this season.
After the game, Derek Jeter was interviewed by Kim Jones of the Yes Network, and when talking about the Memorial Service for Bobby Murcer earlier in the morning, Jeter said, “this game, and win, was dedicated to Bobby Murcer”.
So, this game had even more meaning for the Yankees, and it is very fitting that this victory was in the memory of the great Yankee, Bobby Murcer.