(Pimp juice. Courtesy of Getty Images)
It was implied when Joe used him as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the 9th last night, and it was made official when tonight's lineup was posted. Nick Swisher is back. Not all the way back, as he's the DH tonight and not playing his usual spot in right field, but being healthy enough to swing the bat and run the bases is a step in the right direction and the Yankees could certainly use Swish back in the lineup to help lengthen it a bit.
The Bombers are looking to bounce back from last night's 9th inning disappointment to get the series win, and based on the way he pitched last time out, they've got the right man for the job in Hiroki Kuroda. There's some weather in the area again, which is good if you're looking for a symbolic final cleansing of last night's loss but not so great if you're live blogging the game like me and hoping that rain delays don't drag this thing out until midnight. Hopefully the heavy stuff clears through and stays away once the game starts.
Yankee Starting Lineup-
1) Derek Jeter- SS
2) Curtis Granderson- CF
3) Mark Teixeira- 1B
4) Robinson Cano- 2B
5) Nick Swisher- DH
6) Andruw Jones- LF
7) Russell Martin- C
8) Ichiro Suzuki- RF
9) Jayson Nix- 3B
SP) Hiroki Kuroda- RHP
First pitch is scheduled for just after 8PM Eastern/7PM Central. Regardless of Mother Nature's cooperation in making that happen, I'll be back sometime right around 7 to kick this live blog off right. Go Yankees!
6:54PM- Living in the greater Milwaukee area, I have to say that I am absolutely LOVING the week-long choke job the Brewers' bullpen has been putting on, including 9 ER allowed in 5.1 innings this afternoon. Brewers fans are already a strange bunch. Checking their reactions to the bullpen's implosion on Facebook and Twitter this week has been quite enjoyable.
6:58PM- Barry Larkin on Felix Doubront's strategy tonight: "He needs to throw strikes and throw strikes early." Hall of Fame analysis right there, folks!
7:00PM- Pretty sure I just heard "Lunatic Fringe" playing at The Stadium in the background of the ESPN opening. +1 for whoever made the call to play that. Awesome song.
7:02PM- I know it's not worth it, but I can't help but wonder if Doubront or somebody else on the Bahhston staff will take it upon themselves to throw a little chin music Teix's way for his ham job last night. And if that happens, I wonder if mild-mannered Kuroda will respond in kind.
7:07PM- I don't know who Pedro Ciriaco is, or what his deal is, but if he has another 3-hit night against the Yankees tonight, he's quickly going to move up on my list of hated Fraud Sawx.
7:10PM- Hiroki needs just 5 pitches to get through the top of the 1st in order. Nice play by Jeter to his left to get the final out of the inning.
7:15PM- Nasty pitch by Doubront to get Jeter looking for the first out. 96 on the outside corner and at the knees.
7:18PM- No issues for Doubront getting through the 1st. 0-0 early.
7:24PM- Kuroda gets his first strikeout on the night on a good slider to Cody Ross. That's one of the 2 pitches that's really been working for him in his last 2 starts and he threw a good one there.
7:26PM- And naturally he follows that up by walking Jarrod Saltalamacchia on 4 pitches.
7:28PM- And then he follows THAT up by striking out Will Middlebrooks on 3 pitches. Slider's can be a bitch, kid.
7:29PM- And then he leaves a splitter up in the zone and Ryan Sweeney hits it for a 2-run double. I got nothing. Fuckin' A.
7:32PM- Major props to whatever ad agency came up with the concept for that Kayak commercial where the guy wants to put 12 kilos of rice flour in his briefcase, and major props to the people at Kayak for greenlighting it. Cocaine jokes on national TV? That's good stuff.
7:36PM- 1-out seeing eye single for Swish through the left side and the Yankees have their first baserunner of the night in the bottom of the 2nd. Welcome back, sir.
7:39PM- 4-pitch walk to Russell Martin and Ichiro comes to the plate with a chance to put the Yanks on the board with 2 outs. Instead he grounds out weakly to end the inning.
7:48PM- Kuroda was clearly bothered by Ellsbury at first base after his IF single, but he still managed to almost coax a DP out of Carl Crawford. Anybody else running to first and that's 2 easy.
7:51PM- Case in point, Dustin Pedroia hits a DP ball to Nix at third and the Yankees turn it with ease. Nice job by Kuroda of making pitches with that kind of speed on base to prevent the speed from becoming a weapon.
7:54PM- Francona on Chavez: "Eric's body PROBABLY can't handle playing 6, 7 days in a row." Ya think??? Trust me, Tito, there ain't nothing probable about it. 7 days in a row and Chavez would be in a Hoveround.
7:56PM- Doubront walks Nix to lead off the bottom of the 3rd. Walking the 9 hitter is never good, and walking him to start an inning is even worse. Yanks can really do some damage here...
7:57PM- Or Derek Jeter could not be patient and ground weakly into a double play. That works too.
/grabs another beer
8:00PM- Doubront with another walk. His command of the strike zone has decreased in each inning so far. Yanks need to keep taking pitches and capitalize.
8:04PM- Teix hits one on a line, but right at Crawford, and the Yanks come away scoreless again. Still 2-0 Bahhston through 3.
8:08PM- I understand Cash saying that Andy's setback isn't a big deal; I mean, what else is he going to say? But what is the deal with this "pushed it too hard" nonsense? Why is Andy, or any player for that matter, allowed to dictate how hard they push themselves in a comeback from an injury? OF COURSE a player is going to push it too hard; they want to get back ASAP and play! The team medical and coaching staffs need to do their jobs and tell Andy "no." There's too much at stake to risk further injury because a player's pride gets in the way of his better judgement. Just stupid by the Yankee staff if you ask me.
8:10PM- Kuroda gets another DP ball and makes quick work of the Sawx in the top of the 4th. He's only thrown 49 pitches through 4 innings and is getting a lot of weak contact thanks to his late movement down in the zone. Take away that one bad splitter to Sweeney and Kuroda has been really good thus far.
8:20PM- As much as I want to tell Francona to shut the fuck up, he's right on point about the atmosphere of the new Stadium. The crowd has been dead silent since the first pitch tonight, and that seems to happen more often than not in this park. Too many bougie fans.
8:23PM- 2 straight walks for Doubront with 2 outs, his 4th and 5th of the night, and once again the Yankees have an opportunity to finally get on the scoreboard. He's definitely over-throwing right now. If I'm Ichiro, I'd be looking for a meaty fastball over the plate somewhere in the first 3 pitches.
8:27PM- Ichiro pops up to short to end the inning and the parade of missed opportunities continues.
8:34PM- 10 pitches, 2 GB outs, 1 K, and Kuroda has another quick inning. Now would be the time for the offense to wake up.
8:38PM- Nix gives one a ride to right field trying to repeat his performance from last night, but comes up about 10 feet short. That was the best scoring chance the Yankees have had tonight. 1 out.
8:42PM- C-Grand strikes out swinging to end the 5th. All the good he did in the first game of the series has been effectively canceled out by how shitty he's been the last 2. The strikeouts are starting to become a problem.
8:45PM- Leadoff double for Ellsbury to start the 6th, and that's not what Kuroda or the Yankees needed at all. In a game like tonight's where the offense is dormant, every run is precious.
8:49PM- I'll actually take that liner by Crawford. At least it sets up a force play at any base.
8:52PM- ESPN guys keep talking about the Fraud Sawx getting back to .500 like that's a major accomplishment, something to be proud of. Check the payroll, boys. If the roles were reversed, and the Yankees were 50-51, you'd be crucifying them. Injuries or no injuries, Bahhston has been shitty this year, period.
8:56PM- Give credit to Joe for not being dumb and walking Gonzalez in that situation, first and third with 1 out, and give Kuroda credit for going right after Gonzalez and getting him to hit another groundball. This one didn't find a hole, Cano and Jeter turned it perfectly, and Kuroda is out of the jam unscathed.
9:01PM- Doubront is really feeling it right now. He made Teix and Cano look absolutely foolish on back-to-back Ks, and he's re-found his command of his curveball. Give the kid credit.
9:03PM- Swish singles up the middle, and I can't even believe that he's the only Yankee with a hit tonight. Doubront's walks have got him into trouble, but his stuff has really been on point and that's the proof.
9:04PM- That being said, the Yankees have bailed him out with shit swings on good pitches like the one Jones just put on right there. Fastball belt high, right over the heart of the plate, and he pops it up to second base. Still 2-0 Fraud Sawx through 6.
9:09PM- Tough night for Andruw in left. He played Sweeney's double into an extra base and probably an extra run in the 2nd with a bad angle, and he looked old as fuck on that late break and lack of ground covered on Cody Ross' bloop single.
9:12PM- What a turn by Robbie Cano!! He hung in and took the slide to make a good throw and Kuroda has his 4th double play of the night. And honestly, he deserves them because at least 3-4 of the hits he's given up have been on weak contact.
9:14PM- Kuroda Ks Middlebrooks on the slider again and shouts coming off the mound to end the top of the 7th. Can somebody score some fucking runs for this guy??? Please?????
9:20PM- WHADDA YA KNOW?!?! THEY CAN!!! Russell Martin launches a solo HR to right field, the Yanks are on the board, the crowd has finally woken up, and we got ourselves a ballgame!
9:23PM- Ichiro with a full-count dribbler down the third baseline for an infield hit, and that might be it for Doubront. Lotta options with his speed on the bases.
9:29PM- Doubront Ks Nix and that'll be it for him tonight. Even though Nix didn't advance the runner, I'm glad Joe took the bunt off there. Giving up an out to play for 1 run against a tiring pitcher who had spotty control all night would have been the wrong play. Albers coming on to face Jeter.
9:34PM- Great call to send Ichiro first pitch, great jump and steal by Ichiro, and great hitting by Jeter to shoot the ball through the hole on the right side. Just good, smart baseball all around and the Yanks are in business with runners on the corners and 1 out with Curtis coming up.
9:39PM- Curtis flies out to shallow left and Teix inexplicably swings at the first pitch from the right side and grounds out to end the inning. That was fucking terrible on both of their parts.
9:45PM- Kuroda goes 3 up, 3 down in the top of the 8th and the offense is coming right back up with the heart of the order against the shaky Fraud Sawx bullpen. If the offense doesn't get a few runs in the bottom half and Hiroki doesn't get a win tonight, it will be a tragedy because he has been very, very good.
9:54PM- After getting the first 2 guys out, Andrew Miller makes a mistake to Andruw Jones and Jones hits a double to left. I know he had to be moved down to make room for Ichiro, but right now would be the perfect time for Dewayne Wise to pinch run. Just sayin'...
9:58PM- YEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAHHH!!!!! Former Yankee Alfredo Aceves relieves Miller and is rudely welcomed by Russell Martin with a base hit back up to the box. Bad location, Jones scores running on contact, and it's a 2-2 game.
10:01PM- Ichiro can't keep the rally going, but the Yanks are back! This game has an eerily similar feel to yesterday's game. Hopefully the bullpen can change the result going into the 9th.
10:05PM- A wild HBP on the second pitch to Crawford? Not a good start, Raffy.
10:07PM- Check it out! Curtis actually made a catch in center field! Who knew??
10:10PM- That'll do, Sour Puss. That'll do. Time for a little walk-off action...
10:20PM- Not this inning, though, as Aceves retires Eric Chavez, Jeter, and C-Grand in order. Curtis gave it a ride for the final out, but got under the ball just enough to keep it in the park.
10:21PM- This is probably a good a time as any to mention that I don't have much negative to say about the broadcast team tonight. I've always liked Schulman and Orel, but Francona is usually a boob. They've all been really good tonight, and haven't taken anything away from the game.
10:24PM- Second straight inning that a Yankee reliever has put the leadoff runner on. Nothing but fastballs from D-Rob to Saltalamacchia and only 1 of them anywhere near the strike zone.
10:27PM- Well that was interesting. Middlebrooks goes down, the homeplate ump goes down, and to me it looked like the ball hit the bat along with his hand, which would render the whole "pulling the bat back" argument meaningless. Bobby V gets tossed trying to stand up for his guy, but Middlebrooks isn't getting first base. On some replays, it doesn't even look like Middlebrooks pulled the bat back.
10:30PM- And after all that, Middlebrooks singles through the left side of the infield. Jesus fucking Christ.
10:34PM- Ciriaco flares one into shallow right with the infield playing in and the run scores to make it 3-2 Bahhston. Can't think of a time where I've seen 3 cheaper runs scored, but that's just what Robertson gets for walking the leadoff hitter. You just can't. Walk. The leadoff. Hitter.
10:36PM- Another DP to end the inning, but the damage is done and the Yankee offense will have to work some more magic to keep this game going in the bottom of the 10th.
10:39PM- That's a poor effort by those fans down the right field line not even attempting to get in Sweeney's way on that ball. Teix with an 0-5 night at the plate.
10:42PM- Swish takes one off the elbow pad and that will give Ibanez a chance to test the short porch with 2 outs in the 10th...
10:49PM- Ibanez goes down swinging after a good at-bat and that'll do it. Tough loss for the Yankees but a much less important loss for them than it was a win for Bahhston. They lost the series, but get a big opportunity to boost their division lead back up when Baltimore comes to town tomorrow. That's enough for tonight, I'm shot. We'll recap tomorrow.