Game 81: Post-Game Notes

– Check out my game story in The Trentonian.  Meant a lot to be trusted with the game story for the first Jeter rehab game for one of the big Trenton papers…hope I delivered the goods.

– Man, it feels like I played nine innings instead of covering it.  I got to the ballpark at 12:45 PM, and am just starting these post-game notes at 12:33 AM.  Was a long, exhausting day…but a fun one, too.  It’s nice when it feels like the collective eyes of the baseball world are staring at the team you cover…ESPN sent Jeannine Edwards, and every New York paper had someone there as well.

Yep, that’s Derek Jeter

Ultimately, Jeter played just five innings and went 1-for-2 with a run scored and a walk.  But you know that already.  And, if you check out the video I shot of his entire press conference, you know what he had to say as well.

Something that might be a little harder to gauge is how he looked, and the answer is: Very good.  Both Jeter and Yankees GM Brian Cashman said they couldn’t have expected any more out of the day, and it’s hard to disagree.  Jeter got tested in every way possible and passed them all…going from first to third on Corban Joseph’s double and being forced to range to both his left and right on five defensive plays he made.

I’m not sold on Jeter playing all nine innings tomorrow, but it seems it’ll be something close to that.

– There was an ugly rumor going around the ballpark that there was an actual game going on.  Now, my focus was clearly on Jeter tonight, so I can’t confirm that…but I was handed a boxscore by Ben Youngerman at the end of the night that would indicate that there were other players on the field besides the Yankees captain.

One such ballplayer was Craig Heyer, who very quietly shut out the Altoona Curve over five innings to the tune of one walk and three hits.  He also struck out one.  He was also a bit awestruck by Jeter…

“It’s a moment I don’t think I’m ever going to forget,” Heyer said.  “Taking the field with Jeter and seeing that number two on his back as he’s going out there with you, it was pretty exciting.”

The play that had everyone talking came in the fourth inning, when Jeter ranged towards second base and effortlessly spun and threw to first to nip Josh Rodriguez at the bag. 

“I don’t know if you guys saw my facial expressions, but Bradley Suttle and I looked at each other and both were like, ‘Wow,’” Heyer said.

“He’s an amazing shortstop, and it’s awesome that he got to rehab here.”

Usually, Heyer is focused on what’s ahead of him as well…but he somehow didn’t see Cashman sitting behind the plate.  Not that he knows if Cashman saw him, of course.

“I couldn’t see him in the stands, but I’m sure he was watching (Jeter) more than he was watching me,” Heyer joked.

– All kidding about there being an actual game played aside, the Thunder were pretty close to losing this one.  They trailed 3-2 heading into the bottom of the ninth before Rob Lyerly doubled and Damon Sublett tripled to tie it up at three.  Jose Pirela was intentionally walked with one out to get to Corban Joseph — yes, you read that correctly — and Joseph legged out what seemed to be a sure 4-6-3 DP ball to let the winning run score. 

“I was looking for something to drive,” Joseph said.

“I got 2-0 and could have hit the pitch, but it was outside.  The next pitch, I fouled it back.  I was right on it, but a little bit out front.  After that, with two strikes I had to battle.  I saw their infield kind of moved back a little bit, so I was just trying to put something in play.  He threw me a slider and it kind of broke a little early, I tried to hit it off the end.  Pirela did a good job of not really forcing them to break up the double play, but seeing that the second baseman was trying to tag him, which bought me an extra second.  That helped everything out.” 

– Nice job by the Thunder front office tonight.  Everything went off without a hitch, and things were handled well.  The official attendance was 9,002, which is the second highest in franchise history…and it’ll be tough to be the 9,134 that packed the place for Roger Clemens in 2007.  What were once bleacher seats down the left field is now an expanded picnic area that will accommodate fewer people, so logistically speaking, they may never top the Clemens circus.

– Here are some photos from the day…

Boomer and Strike get into the spirit…

Meanwhile, Chase could care less that Derek Jeter is here…

Head groundskeeper Ryan Hills prepares the infield…

Patriotism FTW!

Corban Joseph switches to number three for the weekend…

Gene “Stick” Michael prior to throwing out a first pitch…

Jose Pirela, who shall return to his shortstop perch on Monday.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

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