I could literally sit here all night and write about this special night in Yankee history. Around 6:45 PM, the festivities began as the New York Yankees unveiled a 7 x 5 foot, 760 pound monument in Monument Park commemorating George Steinbrenner. Steinbrenner’s monument is easily the largest one out in monument park and the first addition to the hallowed grounds since 1999. Many past and present Yankees walked out to center field to pay tribute to the monument. However, the most popular attendees aren’t currently in the Yankee fold. Dodger manager in waiting, Don Mattingly and future Hall-Of-Fame manager, Joe Torre returned to the Bronx for the first time since 2007 and received the biggest applause from the Yankee crowd. Mattingly and Torre had a twenty-minute press conference before the festivities. To summarize what Torre said, he told the reporters that he has no hard feelings for the organization and it was simply a marriage in which the two sides didn’t know how to walk away from each other. I agree with that analogy 100%.

After the festivities ended, the Yankees and Rays squared off for the first game of this four-gamer. Curtis Granderson hit two home runs, accounting for five of the Yankees eight runs. When the dust settled, the Yankees took the first game of this four-game set, 8-6. The Boston Red Sox lost to the Orioles tonight so the Yankees magic number has fallen to 5.

Initial Reaction:

Tonight was all about the memory of Mr. Steinbrenner. You could just sense that the Yankees were destined to win this game. Everything just felt right. Curtis Granderson made those feelings a bit stronger with a deep third inning, two-run home run. Granderson would answer again later with a three-run moon shot that hit high off the right field foul pole.

Overall, the pitching wasn’t great tonight. Ivan Nova had his classic, dominated for four or five innings, then give up a big inning. After cruising for the first five innings, Nova was charged with four runs in the six innings, allowing the Rays to tie the score at four. Boone Logan came in relief of Nova and was charged with a run on two hits, failing to record an out. Kerry Wood was very effective in the seventh and eighth innings while Mariano Rivera struggled through the ninth inning. In the end, the Yanks got the win and move 1.5 games ahead of the Rays.

Positives From The Game:

Got to Garza: Like I mentioned in the write-up, the Yankees needed to get to the Rays starters early. Like they did last week, the Yankees got to Garza, scoring seven runs in five innings. Garza is winless in his last eight starts against the Bombers.

Multi-Hits: Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, and Nick Swisher all had multi-hits games.Pretty good when Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez, and Mark Teixeira went a collective 0 for 13.

Wood’ed Ya Know: Kerry Wood was excellent in his 1 1/3 innings of relief work.

Negatives From The Game:

Middle 3: Mentioned above, the 3-4-5 hitters went 0 for 13 for the Yankees tonight.

Interesting Facts:

Winless: The Rays have lost each of Garza’s last eight starts against the Yanks.

What’s Next?: The Yankees will look to knock off ‘Big Game’ James.

Tuesday, 7:05 PM, YES: James Shields (13-12, 4.86 ERA) vs. Phil Hughes (16-8, 4.31 ERA)

Last Start:
Shields: ND, 6 1/3 innings, one run, eight strikeouts (vs. NYY)
Hughes: Loss, 6 2/3 innings, four runs, five strikeouts (at TB)

**Shields has been a thorn in the side of the Yanks. In five starts, Shields is 2-0 with a 2.51 ERA.
**Hughes has a 4.88 ERA at home this year and is 0-2 with a 6.59 ERA in September.