I'm finally doing it, gang. For those of who don't know, I've never been to the new Stadium. It opened the year after I moved out to Wisconsin and most of the time when I come home to Connecticut it's for specific events or during the holidays after the baseball season is over, so my opportunities have been extremely limited. With this being Mo's last year, I made a promise that this was the year I had to go, to check out the Stadium and see Mo pitch one more time and that's exactly what I'm doing this weekend with my 2 best friends. We'll miss tonight's game, which hopefully doesn't feature the A-Rod payback fireworks I'm dying to see, but I'll be there for the other 3. Now that this series and the rest of the season has some meaning, let's talk about some stuff. - First and foremost, who do you think gets assigned to carry out the plunking payback this weekend? Or does somebody take it upon himself to do it when the opportunity presents itself? Smart money would have been on CC but he's missing the series after pitching last night. Of the scheduled starters, Ivan Nova seems the most likely and he's starting tonight. He's had no problem buzzing towers in the past and I could see him getting it out of the way early tonight if he's got 2 outs and Pedroia at the plate. Gosh that would be sweet.
- On the topic of sweet, I don't think I can put into words how badly I want to see the Yanks knock around John Lackey on Saturday afternoon. I'm talking 9 runs in 2 or 3 innings type of stuff. For my money, there isn't any player on the Red Sox more unlikable than Lackey and it would be worth the price of admission to get to watch him take a shelling in person.
- As for last night's game, I don't know how I feel about CC Sabathia's outing. It was good to see him go 7+ innings again and it was good to see so many GB outs. I want to be happy with the progress he made, but I can't be. The 4 BB is still a huge concern and from reading other game recaps and his pitching line it looks like he may have gotten a bit lucky against a crummy lineup. It's almost a relief that he's not pitching in this weekend's series.
- Tough night for D-Rob in the 8th. He was lights out in August so he obviously gets a pass, but I think it's worth noting how much rest he's had lately. Last night was the first time Robertson had pitched this month, the second since August 25th, and just the third in the last 2 calendar weeks. There's a good chance he was just a little rusty last night from not pitching a lot. I'm glad Joe hasn't burned out his top guys this season, but starting now that extra rest mentality has to go out the window. It's time to ride the bullpen horses that got you here: Mo, D-Rob, Kelley, Logan, Claiborne. No reason any of those guys should go more than 3 days without appearing in a game unless they're hurt.
- On that same topic, how cool was it to see Mo come out for a 4-out save last night? First time since July of 2011. Joe said after the game he was going to do that "as much as I need to, I guess, and as much as he's capable of doing it." That's what I want to hear.
- Last night was also the first time since April of 2011 that D-Rob allowed a baserunner with the bases load. That streak ends at 25 at-bats. Too bad, that was one of my favorite running Yankee stats.
- Give a call to Brett Gardner for turning things around at the plate recently. He's got 12 hits, 4 BB, and 8 R scored in his last 10 games and he's had 2 hits in 4 of his last 5. Not only that, he's seemingly found his power stroke again. 6 of those 12 hits have been doubles and he hit a triple last night. A hot Gardner at the top of the lineup makes the beefed up middle of the order even more dangerous.
- How many times does Phil Hughes even see the field for the remainder of this season? 2? 3? What a sad ending to what was supposed to be a great Yankee career. No bigger poster boy for the Yankees' pitching development problems than Hughes.