Rainout worked to Yanks’ advantage
The Yankees were not happy about having to play two games Wednesday in Cincinnati. They agreed to play the dual-gate doubleheader rather than lose an off-day Thursday, but to their thinking the Yankees and Reds should have played Tuesday night instead of being rained out.
Conspiracy theories were rampant, especially since the Reds’ scheduled starter, Johnny Cueto, was down with a stiff neck, and although it rained all day in Cincinnati the weather cleared up after 6 p.m., an hour and 10 minutes before the scheduled first pitch.
As it turned out, however, the two games in one day proved a blessing for the Yanks. It allowed manager Joe Girardi the opportunity to rest a couple of veterans, first baseman Mark Teixeira and third baseman Alex Rodriguez, in the afternoon game. This put a bat in Jorge Posada’s hands, which was a good thing, and a glove on Ramiro Pena’s left hand, which was not such a good thing.
Let’s concentrate on the positive, shall we? The toughest thing about inter-league play for an American League club is that it loses one of its regular players, the designated hitter, which is prohibited in National League parks. Posada had gotten three plate appearances in the first four games of the trip to Chicago and Cincinnati just at the time when he was getting hot at the plate.
Getting back in the lineup Wednesday as the first baseman, Posada ended up getting the biggest hit of the game, a two-run home run into the teeth of the wind blowing in from right field in the sixth inning that unlocked a 2-2 score. The timing of the hit was ideal, coming directly after the Yankees had lost a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the fifth when the Reds scored two unearned runs off Freddy Garcia, who had another solid outing.
Both runs were the result of two of the three errors Pena made in the game, a nightmare of a performance from a player known for dependable defense. The two errors in the fifth were on wild throws. Pena actually struck Drew Stubbs in the head with his toss to first base. After a single to left by Edgar Renteria moved Stubbs to third, he scored when Pena’s peg to the plate bounced off the chest protector of catcher Francisco Cervelli. Renteria got to third base on the play and was able to score on Fred Lewis’ sacrifice fly to center.
Pena’s third error also came against Stubbs on a grounder between the infielder’s legs in the seventh. Pena got to atone for that one, however, on the next play by starting a double play against Renteria, who was last year’s World Series hero with the Giants.
But the big atonement job was that of Posada, who put Garcia in place for the victory with one inning apiece of strong relief from David Robertson and Mariano Rivera (19th save). Posada’s seventh home run of the season was his first in nearly two months. It ended a drought of 126 at-bats and 145 plate appearances since April 23 at Baltimore.
Yet even without an abundance of long balls, Posada has turned around his season offensively over the past two weeks. In 13 games and 39 at-bats, Posada has hit .436 with a .590 slugging percentage, three doubles, one home run and six RBI. He has raised his season batting average over that time from .169 to .227.
And there is something about wearing a glove that brings out the best in Posada. He is batting an even .500 (6-for-12) with two doubles, a homer and four RBI in games where he has played first base. Just the same, Jorgie will be glad to get off this NL trip and get back to Yankee Stadium so he can get into the lineup as the DH on a regular basis.