Game 122: CLE vs. NYY — Big win to honor Posada, #HipHipJorge

After another wonderful HOPE Week, the Yankees end their week of generosity honoring two of their great Yankees. Today, it was Jorge Posada Day in the Bronx. The Yankees hosted a pre-game ceremony retiring #20, putting a plaque in Monument Park, and surrounded him with former teammates and mentors, friends and family. (More following the game recap.)

Then the Yankees were looking to stop the advance of the Cleveland Indians, who have already taken the first two of their 4-game weekend series in the Bronx. And it was Luis Severino to start, looking for his first win of his career, who after 2 hours and 52 minutes got that coveted first win in his MLB career. Severino threw 107 pitches in 6 innings, giving up just 3 hits, 1 run, and 4 walks, and striking out 6 Cleveland batters. The sole run he allowed was a 1-out solo home run in the 1st inning. And after that, Severino showed off why everyone has been talking about him as a really amazing prospect all year.

The Yankees struck back in the bottom of the 1st and never looked back. Ellsbury led-off with a single and then scored on Brett Gardner’s 2-run home run. Immediately, the Yankees were in the lead, and that just fired them up. One out later, Brian McCann hit a solo home run, his 22nd of the season. Then in the 2nd, the Yankees went from long-ball to small-ball to score their runs. Drew and Murphy were on the corners with singles. Ellsbury reaches on a combination fielder’s choice and error, which scored Drew. A fly out allowed Murphy to move to 3rd, where he could then score easily on Carlos Beltran’s sacrifice fly.

And then the runs seemed to dry up for a while. Adam Warren’s 7th was nearly flawless with 2 strikeouts and 12 pitches; Warren is certainly finding a really nice home in the bullpen in this half of the season. Dellin Betances’ 8th was a little shaky, with a lead-off double that scored on a 2-out RBI single, but relying on his defense primarily pulled the Yankees through the inning.

The Yankees pushed the Indians’ starter out of the game in the 5th inning by driving up his pitch count early. His relievers were a bit better, but they still managed to rack up a total of 13 hits in the game. That included some offensive additions in the 8th inning. Gregorius hit a 1-out double, moved to 3rd on Drew’s single, and scored on a sacrifice fly by John Ryan Murphy. The Indians finally pulled their defense together and threw out Drew trying to score on Ellsbury’s single to end the inning.

And Andrew Miller’s 9th was just a beautiful 8-pitch inning to close out the game and seal the win for the Yankees on this beautiful Saturday afternoon.

Final score: 6-2 Yankees.

Yes, today was Jorge Posada Day. Following a video tribute that featured Posada’s amazing 17-year career with the Yankees, including his 275 home runs, 1065 RBIs, 5-times as an All-Star, and 5 World Series championships, Posada and his family (his parents, sister, wife, and two teenage children) unveiled his newly retired number in Monument Park before they were taken by golf cart from the area beyond center field to the area in front of the pitcher’s mound for the ceremony.

Special guests for the ceremony today included former GM and Yankees executive Gene Michael; former trainer Gene Monahan; former teammates Scott Brosius, David Cone, Hideki Matsui, and Paul O’Neill; former manager Joe Torre; and former teammates Tino Martinez, Bernie Williams, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Derek Jeter.

After Posada and his wife Laura unveiled his Monument Park plaque (which incited his “Core Four” brethren to make some teasing remarks), the Yankees presented some further gifts to the great catcher from other legendary Yankees catchers — Yogi Berra sent a video message, and the late Thurman Munson’s wife Diana presented Posada with a replica of his plaque with Girardi (remember, he was also a Yankees catcher). Managing partner Hal Steinbrenner gave him a replica of his retired number, and vice chairperson Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal gave him an engraved ring with diamonds forming the number 20.

Posada took the microphone for his moment to reflect, remember, and show his gratitude for the honor in front of the packed house at Yankee Stadium. He admitted to never having a “plan B” and just being passionate about baseball and the Yankees, borrowing DiMaggio’s famous line, “I thank the good Lord for making me a Yankee.”

(You can watch the full pre-game ceremony here. It’s about 35 minutes.)

Posada later threw out the ceremonial first pitch to his son, Jorge Jr. (who from birth dealt with a severe medical issue called craniosynostosis, which is an abnormal brain-skull growth pattern that required many corrective surgeries). Posada, never being a pitcher, threw wide, for which he caught a lot of guff from his son for his bad throw. In hindsight, maybe the roles should’ve been reversed, but I think we all liked seeing the strong father-son bond between them.

Well, we’re all pretty glad He made Posada a Yankee. Posada will be eligible for Cooperstown in 2017, and critics aren’t sure of his chances. Yankee fans though know why Posada deserves such a recognition. Posada certainly fits my set requirements for what makes a great ball player — ability (in spades), teamwork (just take a look at the “Flip Play” or Cone’s perfect game), and character (absolutely undisputed). And great players deserve to be honored and remembered for the icons they are so that future generations can aspire to such greatness — dream big like this kid who started his career playing the wrong position and ended his career a legend and an inspiration.

Because dreams really do come true.

Go Yankees!

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