Mariano-mania is now in full effect at Yankee Stadium. Look what was happening outside Gate 6:
I only caught one ball during the Yankees’ portion of batting practice, or should I say . . . it caught me. I was in right field when Brett Gardner crushed a line-drive homer 40 feet to my left. The sun was kinda in my eyes, and as I was running and reaching for the ball, some fans in front of me reached up. This caused me to flinch, and I don’t know what happened, but I guess I got distracted, and somehow the ball handcuffed me and hit the meaty part of my thumb/hand (which was barely sticking out of my glove). It was a direct shot, and OH-MY-GOD did it hurt! Despite the painful bobble, I technically caught the ball on the fly, but I’ll admit it wasn’t pretty.
After the Yankees finished hitting, several players headed toward the bullpen. I got Phil Hughes to toss me one of the home run balls that had landed there, and I handed it to the nearest fan.
When the White Sox started hitting, I headed to the left field side and ended up snagging two home runs. The first was hit by Adam Dunn, and I grabbed it in the seats. The second was hit by a righty that I couldn’t identify, and by catching it on the fly, I saved this TV camera from getting drilled:
That was it for BP.
Look who showed up for the game:
In the photo above, that’s me with my ex-girlfriend Robin. She had never seen Mariano pitch, so that’s why she was here. After seven innings, it didn’t look like it was gonna happen because the Yankees were winning, 6-1, but somehow the hapless White Sox scored four runs in the top of the 8th to make things interesting. Not only did Mariano pitch, but he was brought in to try to nail down a four-out save. Here’s a photo of him entering the game:
Were you able to spot him? In the photo above (which shows Robin taking her own photo), Mariano is behind 2nd base, having just jogged from the outfield grass onto the infield dirt.
Here he is warming up:
Mariano Rivera is the best. Not only did he save the game, but he stranded both of the runners that he’d inherited, and he only needed to throw 15 pitches to retire four batters. It was his 41st save of the season and the 649th of his career. His season ERA is now 2.06, and by the way, he’s just a few months shy of his 44th birthday.
Final score: Yankees 6, White Sox 5, Zack 4.
• 565 balls in 75 games this season = 7.53 balls per game.
• 498 balls in 77 lifetime games at the new Yankee Stadium = 6.47 balls per game.
• 947 consecutive games with at least one ball
• 29 stadiums this season with a game-used ball: Citi Field, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Angel Stadium, PETCO Park, AT&T Park, Safeco Field, Kauffman Stadium, Rangers Ballpark, Minute Maid Park, Great American Ball Park, Progressive Field, PNC Park, Camden Yards, U.S. Cellular Field, Comerica Park, Rogers Centre, Miller Park, Busch Stadium, Wrigley Field, Target Field, Nationals Park, Marlins Park, Tropicana Field, Turner Field, Citizens Bank Park, Dodger Stadium, Chase Field, and the Oakland Coliseum
• 7,024 total balls
(For every stadium this season at which I snag a game-used ball, BIGS Sunflower Seeds will donate $500 to Pitch In For Baseball, a non-profit charity that provides baseball equipment to underprivileged kids all over the world. In addition to that, I’m doing my own fundraiser again this season for Pitch In For Baseball, and if you donate money, you’ll be eligible to win one of these prizes.)
• 38 donors for my fundraiser
• $3.43 pledged per ball (if you add up all the pledges)
• $13.72 raised at this game
• $1,937.95 raised this season through my fundraiser
• $14,500 from BIGS Sunflower Seeds for my game-used baseballs
• $37,843.95 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009