Tonight’s game against the Marlins was split between starters Hiroki Kuroda and Masahiro Tanaka, saving the now finalized bullpen roster from any work tonight. Each gave up 3 hits and had 14 strikeouts between them. Kuroda’s first 3 innings and 4 strikeouts kept those scattered hits (one per inning) from doing much damage. Tanaka flourished in his 6 innings and 10 strikeouts. Neither pitcher allowed the Marlins any breathing room to attempt anything close to a scoring attempt, with one Marlins batter (and former Red Sox catcher) getting all the way to 3rd before the Yankees shut them down.
On the Yankees offense side, it was actually kind of quiet. The Yankees remained hitless until Kelly Johnson’s double in the bottom of the 8th. Oddly enough, the Yankees were already up 1-0 at that point. Yes, you heard that right. The Yankees were looking at a hitless win up until the 8th inning.
Here’s what happened: at first, the Yankees were held to a perfect game by the Marlins starter for 3 innings. And their next four pitchers continued a hitless streak. But in the 4th, Brett Gardner reached on a fielding error, Derek Jeter walked, and Gardner scored on Brian McCann’s ground out. And there the Yankees sat on a 1-0 lead.
And then suddenly, in the 8th inning, they broke through. Johnson doubled, his pinch-runner Eduardo Nunez moved to 3rd on a wild pitch, and then scored on Brian Roberts’ single. Roberts’ pinch-runner Antoan Richardson eventually scored on Yangervis Solarte’s single. And the Yankees walked away with their 3-0 win as fireworks boomed over Steinbrenner Field.
Prior to tonight’s game, the Yankees honored the Quantum Leap Farm, a local non-profit organization that provide equine rehabilitation and events to those with mental and physical disabilities of all ages. As a preview of things to come in this year’s HOPE Week (the time when the Yankees donate their time and money to special organizations serving in their communities), the Yankees gave $10,000 to the farm to help with expenses so they can continue their great work. The farm brought a large group of their staff and special young people who benefit from their work in the Tampa area. One of their special participants even got to throw out the first pitch, which seemed to just make her day (and indirectly mine because of her joy and confidence).
I was talking with some of the staff at the field about how HOPE Week is everyone’s favorite week in the Yankees organization. Everyone seemed to have a story about some organization or something about a HOPE Week in the past that inspired them to do something to give back to their own community. One security guy shared about spending time volunteering in the children’s wing of a New York area hospital (where he lives), bringing them coloring books and gifts because he heard the Yankees doing something similar and wanted to give back however he could. And I think that’s the point of HOPE Week — to inspire people to give back in their own way and make this world a better place, recognizing people and groups that dedicate their lives to helping others.
And there are some finalized roster moves, but there’s still a few moves to be made. That’s a post to come, I guess.