Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Yankees Sweep Astros In Houston

My biggest highlight since I've lived in Houston was this past weekend when the NY Yankees visited Minute Maid Park for a weekend interleague series. The weekend was filled with mostly positives, the lone negative being the Yankees possibly losing ace Chien-Ming Wang for the season.

Yankees fans shouldn't keep their heads down. Mussina got his 10th win of the season on Saturday, Joba pitched 6 strong innings on Friday, Andy Pettitte is Andy Pettitte and Darrell Rasner continues to pitch solid.

And a 3 game sweep in Houston put New York 4 games above .500 (37-33) and now 5 1/2 behind Boston. With all that being said, the Yanks as of now are minus a 5th slinger. Rumors already developing about the possibility of landing Cleveland pitcher C.C. Sabathia.

Back to the weekend. Friday night's game I had great seats, 5 rows behind the Yankees' on deck circle. Combine that with Nebraska native, flame thrower Joba Chamberlain making his third start and even Rudy Giuliani throwing out the first pitch, and you know it was set to be a memorable night. All this happening on Friday the 13th.

Still not quite sure why Giuliani made the trip all the way to Houston, maybe to strike some oil deal (no pun intended). Giuliani sat behind home plate with Astros' owner Drayton McLane. Rudy never hesitated to sign an autograph or pose for pictures.

The weather was also a sweltering 96 degrees all weekend, but never mind, Minute Maid Park had the roof closed in the AC blasting. Honestly, it must cost $5 million to cool that park down.

Friday's game was a total pitcher's duel. Not surprising with Joba on the mound, but the Stros' countering with former Yankee Shawn Chacon! This happened to be the one in every ten starts where Chacon actually looks good. Chacon limited the Yankees to just 3 hits in 6 1/3. But his pitch count reached the triple digits and he was pulled. In 2005 and 2006, Chacon actually looked decent in New York going 12-6 in his brief stay in pinstripes.

Watching Joba that close up was awesome! Yeah, he may not have his control down, reminiscent of "Wild Thing" Vaughn from Major League, but you can tell this guy will dominate the Majors for many years to come.

Chamberlain finished throwing 6 innings, allowing 6 hits, only 2 K's, and walking 4. Joba had 89 pitches and Girardi said he would have left him in another inning if he hadn't been forced to pinch hit 4 Joba in the 7th.

Being played in a National League Park, Joba was forced to hit, going 0-2 and striking out his first time up. This was the only time Joba looked out of character.
After striking out Brad Ausmus to end the 6th, Joba even did a fist pump.

Sitting so close to the Yanks' on deck circle, I was able to give all of them my vocal support. Especially Joba, Yelling "Go Huskers", "Nebraska represent", "Go Big Red", etc. And everytime, Joba turned around, smiled at me and tipped his helmet. What a fuckin stud. I later found out that Joba hears similar chants every park he goes to. Husker Nation baby!

Astros' manager Cecil Cooper tried to take advantage on Joba's windup by being aggressive on the base paths. The Astros stole 4 bases but were also thrown out a franchise record 4 times.

With the game tied 1-1 in the top of the 8th, Captain Derek Jeter led off with a tie breaking, game winning solo shot opposite field. Sweet! It was Jeter's 199th career homerun and after the game, Jeter had 259 career interleague hits, a MLB record.

The only other downer of the series was Mariano Rivera not appearing in any game. 2-1 in the bottom of the ninth, I looked out at the Yankee bullpen expecting to see one of my all time favorite Yankees stroll out with his patented, intimidating walk to close it out. Who did I see? Kyle Farnsworth! What a buzz kill. Apparently Rivera had pitched in 5 of the last 6 games for New York so Girardi gave him the night off.

Farnsworth closed it out and the Yankees took game 1, 2-1.

Saturday night's game, Mike Mussina gave up a three run homer to Carlos Lee in the first inning, but that was pretty much it. Moose got his 10th win of the year, and the Yankees won 8-4.

Sunday, my girlfriend and I spent Father's Day at Series Finale. The Yankees bat's were in full effected crushing the Astro's 13-0. Arod hit his 12th homer of the year, a moon shot to deep left. Of course, this was also the game Wang injured himself running the bases.

The only time Houston poised any threat was the bottom of third, two outs and runners at the corners. Miguel Tejada ripped one down the left field line and ARod (who probably muffs the play 9 times out of 10) made a dazzling play to rob Tejada and the Astros. Of course on such an exciting play like that, my emotions may have got the best of me and I immediatley jumped up and yelled. That was followed by a few fans telling me to Shh! and don't be so loud. WTF? I know I was in the opposing team's ballpark, but come on! Did I mention that at least 25% of the fans were wearing Yankees paraphernalia?

Astro's fans tell their own fans to "sit down, you're in the way," with the bases loaded and Lance "Big Puma" Berkman up at the plate. Weak!

Enjoy the pictures!

I'll start out with the Giambi Girls at Minute Maid Park.

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