October 2007

Yankee Stadium, Seinfeld, October baseball

Every time we drive into Yankee Stadium, all I think about is ?Seinfeld.? I remember the episode where George Costanza parks his car out in front of the ballpark and leaves it there so that George Steinbrenner thinks he?s always working, and he keeps getting promoted.

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But I also think about all the playoff games that have played here. We?ve all seen the playoff games since ?96 or ?97. We know what it?s going to be like. It?s going to be great. It?s going to be Roger Clemens in Yankee Stadium in October. It doesn?t get any better than that.

The trip here to New York was fun. I sat in front of Victor Martinez and Rafael Betancourt on the plane. They were blasting their music and having a good time. It was big that we won that game Friday in that fashion, because the plane ride was so much fun. It would have been a drag if we had lost.

We?ve still got work to do. Once we landed, we knew that game was over and the celebration was over. It?s time to start getting ready for Game 3.

With the off day we have a chance to exhale a little bit. But as soon as we stepped onto the field for batting practice today, you see it?s Yankee Stadium and it?s October, and everybody kind of realizes the moment.

My brother and sister and my aunt and uncle are coming into town for the games here. My brother Michael and I can?t stop talking about October baseball in New York. It?s going to be cool. A lot of it is surreal and hasn?t really sunk in with my family yet. My mom and dad have been at home in California watching on TV. They can?t believe it. It?s been my dream since I was a kid.

Game 2 was a huge win heading to New York

Celebration_blog_1Tonight the whole game felt like the first two or three innings in Game 1. We went 11 innings where you could just feel the tension in the stadium. We kept getting guys on base and kept getting guys on base but just couldn?t get the big hit. That had a lot to do with the way Andy Pettitte was pitching. He really clutched up for them.

You really want to win these kinds of games, because there?s so much emotion. Because when you go into extra innings and start using all your pitchers, it?s tough. It would have been a tough flight going to New York losing a game like that after all the opportunities we had.

The win is big, because, if we lose this game, it would have taken away all the momentum we had from Game 1. And we would have had to go into Yankee Stadium  needing to win a game, or else our season would be over. To win is just nice. The Yankees are a team of All-Stars, and it?s Yankee Stadium in October, so it?s going to be tough to go there. But we?re not going to relax. Eric?s not going to let us relax. We have to play this next game just like it?s an elimination game,
because it?s the playoffs and we?ve got to get after it. But obviously, the pressure?s not going to be what it could have been.

It?s not like we go to New York and relax and see what happens. We need to keep focused. By no stretch can we relax one bit, just because we?re up 2-0. It?s about winning three games, nFlycartoonot two.

The bugs caused a lot of drama tonight. But Fausto didn?t flinch. He didn?t blink. That says a lot about him. You?ve got to give him credit. There was some adversity thrown at him. That might have been my favorite part of the game. He didn?t step off the mound once, and the other guys on the Yankees were acting like there were bullets flying around their heads, not gnats. I mean? this is the big leagues.

Garko_blog_3 My grandparents [Frank and Vera Rimolt] were in town from Pittsburgh for these two games.
They?re loving this. That Yankee mystique hangs over everybody. You throw out the records, and it?s still a David versus Goliath kind of thing. My grandparents were sitting at dinner Thursday night and just kept saying, ?I can?t believe you guys beat the Yankees.? They remember all those great players on the Yankees. All of us do.

We knew coming in that C.C. and Fausto were two aces. They?re pitching like it. Hopefully Jake and Byrdie can carry this on.

Game 1 a blast, but its only one

Tonight was great. I didn?t start feeling it until the pregame introductions and seeing them calling the Yankee lineup. It was amazing seeing all those guys I used to watch as a fan in college. That was pretty much the same lineup I watched in the last four or five playoffs. And the crowd? you could just feel the excitement in the air.

I came up in my first at-bat with two guys on and two out. I was so bad all year with guys in scoring position and two outs. It was nice to wipe the slate clean and trade in all the times I got out in the regular season for one postseason RBI with two outs. It was great, in that sense.

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I had never faced Chien-Ming Wang, so it was a weird spot. I always hit fifth, and I?m always hoping if I come up in the first inning that there?s going to be guys on base. That was a great spot to come through in, because it changes the momentum. If Wang gets me out there, he goes back to the dugout and it?s still 1-0. Two-out hits are golden. They?re the best kind of RBIs you can get.

On the solo home run in the eighth, I was behind in the count, 0-2. I was in battle mode. Phil Hughes has got a great fastball. I was just choking up and trying to put something in play. I was fortunate to get a fastball. It was down the middle. That was so exciting to get a home run on only my fifth at-bat in the postseason.

The win was great, but this is just Game 1. We can?t lose sight of it being a five-game series, not a one-game series. We need to keep playing hard. Early on, they got up early, and we?ve struggled against the Yankees all year, and it was kind of like, ?Oh man, here we go.? But one thing Eric [Wedge] has talked about all year is separating. If you?re up five, you can get up eight. If you?re up eight, you can get up nine or 10. You have to put people away. That?s what he?s said from day one, and that?s what we did tonight.

Andy Pettitte is a great pitcher. He?ll be ready in Game 2. I don?t care if we lost by 20 or won by 20 tonight. He?ll be ready to go. We?ve got to be just as ready to go tomorrow as we were today.

The thing we talked about the last three days in the workouts was to enjoy this. Instead of putting pressure on ourselves, we want to go out and have fun. This is what we worked for — as individuals and as a team — for all our lives. The last thing we want to do is go out there and be tight and try too hard and squeeze the bat too hard and all that stuff. Tonight, we just got in the box and we were just let everything go. You saw that with the home runs. We were letting it go. We were trying to get out there and do something with the opportunity. Because who knows if we?ll ever have another one like this?

Extra day off an advantage

Monday?s workout felt more like Spring Training than anything else. It was like one of those first days of the spring, when you get done early. After the workout, I went back to the hotel I?m staying at in the suburbs. It?s a good location. There are a lot of places to eat. Especially when you?re used to living downtown, where there?s nowhere to eat. You have a choice of maybe one or two places downtown. I?m almost in heaven with all these options I have with places to eat.

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I spent a lot of time Monday night watching ESPN. And now that the Phillies-Rockies game is on, it?s starting to sink in for all of us how big a moment this is. I think we have a little bit of an advantage having this extra day off. It gives us a chance to sit back and watch these playoff games and not be thrown right into the fire. Especially us younger guys.

I?ve watched a lot of playoff games in my day, but I haven?t really watched one thinking about what it?s going to be like to play in one on the next day. I?ll definitely be watching the games [Wednesday night], after we finish working out.

I took some time Monday to look back and reflect on the good and the bad, personally, for me this season. It was a fun year. I?m proud of the way it went for me. I never pouted or complained about the position I was put in [being the 25th man on the roster on Opening Day]. I just went out and worked hard. [Manager] Eric [Wedge] said if you go out and work hard and do the right things, it?s going to work out. It seems like he was right.

I hope this blog goes on for a long time. It?s been great seeing how much this city is supporting us right now. I think all 25 guys in here are realizing that. We?re doing everything we possibly can to win this thing and be ready.

Second season starts now

Driving into the ballpark today, it started to sink inthat it?s about to be here and we?ve got a lot to play for. As soon as that
last game
on Sunday finished up, the season was over and everything was in the
books. It was nice having that day off Monday to think about what we
accomplished that we?re proud of and what we want to do better. But the regular
season is over. That door is shut. This is a second season for us now.

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During the off-day, I moved out of my
apartment downtown, because our lease ended on the first of the month. So Josh
Barfield
and I moved out and I moved into a hotel and took care of all that
stuff. Then I went to ?WWE Raw? with Travis Hafner and his wife and Bill McCracken. Everywhere Travis goes, people know him. They took
him up and interviewed him in the ring during the show. They were talking about
the series and stuff and then they put a camera on us. A lot of people were
coming down and saying hi.

I?ll tell you what ? going to that event was
fun for two reasons, just relating it to baseball. No. 1, a ton of Indians fans
were there. It was cool to go out and just talk to people and realize how this
city is really behind this team and really pulling for us. The other cool part
was just sitting at an event like that and being a fan. When you?re out on the
field, sometimes you lose sight of how fun it is and what it?s like to just be
a fan and enjoy it. I think this is going to be really fun for the City of Cleveland. I was just
sitting there all caught up in Triple H fighting Vince McMahon and stuff. And
that?s just entertainment. This is an actual sport. So it will be fun.Paintingoneguy_275

I?m looking forward to getting back on the
field Thursday. Three days off is almost like an All-Star break. We never get
days off like this. I?m just treating it like a game day where I?m not playing.
I just went through my normal routine in the cage with [hitting coach] Derek Shelton. Then we?ll go
out and take batting practice, like we normally do before a game. But instead
of going out and playing afterward, I?ll just go home. Personally, I think
these workout days are pretty important, just to watch a lot of film of the
opposing pitchers and make sure my swing is where I want it to be so I?ll be ready
for Thursday.