Youth is a state of mind, isn’t it?
That’s apparently what the older veterans of the New York Yankees think. Yesterday, it was 40-year-old Raul Ibanez rescuing the Yankees with not one but two home run blasts, the second of which helped make an improbable comeback from four runs down in the 13th inning a reality. The Yankees would go on to win the game on an error in the 14th inning, but what everyone will remember most about yesterday’s victory is Ibanez’s heroics, which allowed the Yankees to stay one game ahead of those pesky Baltimore Orioles.
Until Ibanez’s fantastic day, most of the attention and marvel around Yankeeland was directed at 38-year-old Ichiro Suzuki, who had another home run yesterday that helped the Yankees start to climb out of the hole that Ivan Nova put them in. Ichiro has an unbelievable.700 batting average in the last five games and has been a key contributor to the current Yankees 7-game winning streak. I had my doubts about the Ichiro trade, not about him as a player, but about whether he was a necessary addition to the Yankees roster. A rejuvenated Ichiro is proving that he is.
Until Ichiro got hot, the only offense being provided by the Yankees vaunted lineup came from their hobbling Captain Derek Jeter. The 38-year-old Yankees Captain has returned to shortstop where he belongs, but is still bothered by that unfortunate ankle injury. You wouldn’t know it from his 16-game hitting streak, even though he had a rare 1 for 7 day yesterday.
Of course, no discussion of ace performances by veteran Yankees would be complete without mention of 40-year-old Andy Pettitte coming off a nearly 3-month stint on the disabled list this week to give the Yankees five shutout innings in the opening game of a doubleheader. Pettitte schooled the younger Yankees about how to win a game when you are a bit rusty or don’t have your best stuff. What was interesting about Pettitte’s performance is that manager Joe Girardi, who is usually very protective against overusing his pitchers to prevent injuries, allowed Pettitte to go out for that 5th inning even though he was very close to his pitch limit. Girardi has that much confidence in his veteran lefty and wanted to squeeze one more inning out of Pettitte in a game the Yankees had to win.
I hope the Yankee kids are paying attention to what the older Yankees are doing this month. They could learn a few things.