Results tagged ‘ Barry Zito ’

Honorary Bat Girl on Mother’s Day

Erika Rech, a sophomore at the Villanova University School of Business, is the Yankees’ winner of Major League Baseball’s Honorary Bat Girl program that recognizes baseball fans – one for each of the 30 clubs – who have been affected by breast cancer and show a commitment to the fight against the disease.

Erika will throw out the ceremonial first pitch Sunday at Yankee Stadium as well as bring the lineup card to the plate prior to the 1:05 p.m. Mother’s Day pairing of the Yankees and Mariners.

Rech was 15 years old when her mother was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. Six months later, her aunt was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer. A second aunt was diagnosed soon after. Erika wanted to make a difference to women struggling with breast cancer and, with her cousin, started the charity Breast Intentions. (www.breastintentions.org).

Erika has worked the past four years to build her charity and raise money for women who are struggling financially while at the lowest point in their lives. Her charity has raised more than $500,000, which has all gone back to patients in need. She has expanded her charity to New York, Georgia, Massachusetts, Illinois and Connecticut.

In 2011, Rech paid the following for patients in need: 13 mortgage payments, 8 medication payments,11 co-pays, 21 electric bills, 14 gas bills, 2 sewer bills, 8 phone bills, 7 cable bills, 4 water bills, 18 rent payments, 1 maintenance fee, 5 car payments, 1 car repair bill, 2 garbage bills, 2 tax bills, 2 health insurance premiums, 2 car insurance premiums, 1 MRI, purchased a wheelchair, purchased groceries/gift cards for 12 patients, purchased gas cards for 16 patients, purchased holiday gifts for 2 families, purchased college text books for 1 family, purchased a microwave for 1 family, purchased flowers for 1 family, arranged for lawn mowing service for 1 patient and provided transportation from surgery for 1 patient.

Erika is one of the 30 winners who will take part in pre-game activities, be honored during an on-field ceremony and receive pink MLB merchandise and two tickets to the game. Winners were selected by a guest judging panel that includes MLB players and celebrities in addition to fan votes casted on HonoraryBatGirl.com.

The panel included Phillies pitcher Joe Blanton, whose mom is a breast cancer survivor; Braves outfielder Jason Heyward, whose aunt passed away from lung cancer; Angels infielder Howie Kendrick, whose best friend’s mom is a breast cancer survivor; and Giants pitcher Barry Zito, whose mother was affected by cancer. Also on the panel was MLB Network host Chris Rose, who has several close friends who have been affected by the disease; international soccer star Mia Hamm, supporter of the Honorary Girl Initiative with her husband, former player and current ESPN analyst Nomar Garciaparra, whose grandmother passed away from breast cancer; actor James Denton of Desperate Housewives, who lost his mother to breast cancer.

Nine-time Grammy award winner Bonnie Raitt, who lost her brother and close friends to cancer, recorded a special video at the MLB Fan Cave to lend support to the Honorary Bat Girl initiative and the ongoing fight to eradicate the disease.

Also on Mother’s Day, hundreds of MLB players will use pink bats by Louisville Slugger stamped with the MLB breast cancer awareness logo. To demonstrate further their support for the breast cancer cause, players and on-field personnel will wear the symbolic pink ribbon on uniforms along with pink wrist bands. Commemorative dugout lineup cards also will be pink.

The Honorary Bat Girl contest was introduced in 2009 to raise awareness and support for the annual Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer initiative created by MLB in 2006 and celebrated each Mother’s Day. Game-used Louisville Slugger pink bats from Mother’s Day games that are authenticated by MLB will be auctioned exclusively on MLB.com to benefit cancer research.

Swish takes to the charts

Yankees right fielder Nick Swisher will take his swings behind a microphone with the release next week of a 12-song CD geared to children entitled “Believe,” through digital outlets. A portion of the proceeds will go to Swish’s Wishes, the outfielder’s charitable foundation that is dedicated to enriching lives and lifting the spirits of children facing vital health issues.

“I had an absolute blast working on this project, but I couldn’t have done it without having a true pro as my producer, Loren Harriet,” Swisher said. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for all of the talented artists and musicians that performed on this album, but most of all I want to thank the kids. They sound amazing, and I’m honored just to have been given this opportunity.”

Harriet was the producer of two critically acclaimed albums by former Yankees center fielder and Latin Grammy Award nominee Bernie Williams, who will play guitar on Swisher’s album along with Giants pitcher Barry Zito, who was Nick’s teammate in Oakland from 2004-06.

The title song, which is the 12th cut on the album, will feature several other prominent musicians: drummer Kenny Aronoff (who has accompanied John Mellencamp and Melissa Etheridge), bassist Leland Sklar (James Taylor, Phil Collins), guitarist Tim Pierce (Goo Goo Dolls, Michael Jackson) and keyboardist Matt Rollings (Tim McGraw, Lyle Lovett).

In addition, a group of talented youngsters ages 8-13 sing backup vocals on each song. Included are kids from the nationally acclaimed music education franchise, “School Of Rock,” as well as Natalie Prieb, 13, granddaughter of commissioner Bud Selig.

The track list selected by Swisher includes such tunes as David Bowie’s “Heroes,” Bill Winters’ “Lean On Me,” the Beatles’ “With a Little Help From My Friends,” Sly and the Family Stone’s “Everyday People,” Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Proud Mary,” Three Dog Night’s “Joy To The World,” the Rolling Stones’ “Jumping Jack Flash” and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ “I Won’t Back Down.”

Of personal interest to Swisher are two other favorites: John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” a tribute to his hometown of Parkersburg, W. Va., and the McCoys’ “Hang On Sloopy,” a nod to his alma mater, Ohio State University.

As I was saying. . .

Travel difficulties Sunday spoiled my chance to see one of the best World Series games pitched by a rookie as Madison Bumgarner put the Giants on the verge of winning their first championship in San Francisco.

I was flying home from Dallas where I attended the Baseball Writers’ Association of America’s annual meeting and blogged off Game 3. My original plan was to get back to New York to catch Game 4 on television, but the plane I was supposed to board was put out of service because of mechanical problems. We were finally given clearance to board another plane about three hours later. By the time I got back home, the game was over.

I had envisioned the 2010 post-season being one in which the Phillies would take revenge for last year’s loss in the World Series to the Yankees. The trade for Roy Halladay, the likely National League Cy Young Award winner, was part of that plan, along with the mid-season acquisition of Roy Oswalt of the Astros. With Cole Hamels, the Phillies created their H2O rotation that to me seemed head and shoulders over everyone else.

Two things happened that the Phillies didn’t count on, however. The big one was that the Giants stayed hot on the Padres’ tail and ended up winning the NL West. San Francisco’s rotation of Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Jonathan Sanchez was so good that former American League Cy Young Award winner Barry Zito wasn’t even placed on the post-season roster.

The Giants out-pitched the Phillies to win the NL Championship Series in six games, holding slugger Ryan Howard without a run batted in.

And out of the AL emerged the Texas Rangers, who reached the World Series for the first time in the franchise’s 50th season and had in their holster one of the most impressive post-season pitchers of all time, Cliff Lee. He was the same guy who beat the Yankees twice in the Series last year for the Phillies, who traded him to Seattle after they got Halladay.

Lee helped Texas get to the Series with three victories in the first two playoff rounds but got roughed up in Game 1 by the Giants. The lefthander stood in their way in Game 5. Lee just could be making his last start for the Rangers if the Series ends Monday night and he bolts Arlington for free agency. A Texas victory Monday night may not be much more than a bump in the road for the Giants, who would return to San Francisco still with the upper hand.

Bumgarner saw to that with eight innings of shutout pitching, limiting the Rangers to three singles and two walks. Only one player, Josh Hamilton, got as far as second base, and he reached base initially on an error. The Giants got all the offense they needed in the third inning on a two-run home run by Aubrey Huff, who has the Yankees to thank for where he is today. Well, sort of.

Giants general manager Brian Sabean mentioned the other day that during the previous off-season the club was in need of a left-handed hitter, preferably a first baseman, and had targeted Nick Johnson, late of the Nationals. But Johnson signed instead with the Yankees, so the Giants decided to go after Huff, who grew up about 50 miles from Arlington as a Rangers fan and is now in position to end their dream of a title and help the Giants to their first since 1954 when they still played at the Polo Grounds.

A home run to savor

There isn’t a major-league player who cannot remember everything about his first home run in the big leagues. In the case of Colin Curtis, he will have quite a story to tell years from now.

Okay, so it may not be as hard to believe as the Red Sox’ Daniel Nava hitting a grand slam on the first pitch he saw as a major leaguer June 12, but Curtis will be able to spin a pretty good yard and get his fair share of “I can’t believe it” looks.

There was the rookie outfielder sitting on the bench of the home dugout at Yankee Stadium wondering with the rest of his teammates just what Brett Gardner did to get ejected from the game for beefing to plate umpire Paul Emmel about a called strike in the seventh inning. Emmel was the same ump who threw manager Joe Girardi out of Tuesday night’s game, so this is not the Yankees’ favorite crew.

Curtis was snapped into action by the voice of bench coach Tony Pena, who chirped, “Ready to hit, CC!” I’m just surprised that CC Sabathia, who is always ready to swing a bat, didn’t get to his feet first and volunteer to celebrate his 30th birthday by taking some hacks.

A player sort of knows where he stands on the depth chart when he is the one chosen to pinch hit and inherit a count of no balls and two strikes. Curtis, a testicular cancer survivor, has been a feel-good story for the Yankees this year, but he is a rookie, and this was a situation for a rookie. Man, did he never make the most of it.

Curtis hung tough against Scot Shields and worked the count full before getting a fastball to his liking and driving the ball into the right field stands, a three-run blow that turned a 7-5 score into 10-5 on the way to a 10-6 Yankees victory.

This was a game that the Yankees should have put away but were on the verge of losing several times. Only some uncharacteristically strange base running by the Angels kept them from coming back completely from an early 6-0 deficit. The Halos closed to 6-5 against a withering Javier Vazquez in the sixth on a two-run homer by 2009 World Series hero Hideki Matsui, his second bomb of the series and third at the Stadium this year.

The Angels left the bases loaded that inning against David Robertson with Juan Rivera oddly held at third base on a single by Erick Aybar that should have tied the score. Aybar had pulled a rock on the bases in the fifth. At second base with one out and left-handed hitting Bobby Abreu, who owns Vazquez (.316, 10 homers) at bat, Aybar tried to steal third and was thrown out by a wide margin by Francisco Cervelli, who had a clear shot at the runner.

Los Angeles left the bags full again in the seventh before the Yankees took charge in the bottom half on Juan Miranda’s solo homer that preceded Curtis’ dramatics. And if you don’t think the Yankees wanted this game badly, consider that Mariano Rivera pitched the ninth in a non-save situation with a four-run lead.

Mo preserved the victory for Vazquez, who beat the Angels for his first time in his career to join lefthanders Jamie Moyer of the Phillies and Barry Zito of the Giants as the only active pitchers in the majors to have defeated all 30 clubs. Still, Vazquez lasted merely two batters into the sixth, forcing the bullpen to log four innings, raising its total to 20 over the past four games.

Each team had 15 hits and was 3-for-10 with runners in scoring position, but the Yankees had one more home run and did not do anything stupid on the basepaths. Robinson Cano was walked twice intentionally but also found time to hit his 18th home run. Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira had three hits apiece. Tex also drove in three runs to keep up his scorching July pace. He is batting .383 with eight doubles, five home runs and 17 RBI in 16 games covering 60 at-bats this month and hiked his batting average 25 points to .256.

For all that, Wednesday’s game could easily have gone into the L column and was saved by a rookie down to his last strike the moment he stepped to the plate coming through and providing his team and himself a special memory.

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