Jorgie cleans up
September, 25, 2011
By Ian Begley | ESPNNewYork.com
It must be, because you've heard it over and over at the Stadium this week.
Hitting cleanup for the first time in two years, Posada homered and singled against the Red Sox in the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader.
Earlier in the week, he knocked in the game-winning RBIs in the Yankees’ AL East title-clinching win.
Posada got loud ovations on Wednesday and Sunday, with “Hip Hip Jorge” chants echoing throughout the stadium on both days.
“The fans have been amazing all through my career but especially this year. They’ve been very supportive,” Posada said.
There's no denying it’s been a tough year for the 40-year-old Posada.
In the offseason, Yankees GM Brian Cashman told Posada he likely wouldn't be catching this year.
Then the team signed Russell Martin, meaning Posada wouldn't be the Yankees' regular catcher for the first time in his career.
Posada struggled to adjust to his role as a part-time designated hitter, at one point asking to be taken out of the lineup after he was dropped to ninth in the order prior to a game against the Red Sox in May.
Following a very public spat with the Yankees' front office, Posada eventually apologized. It was one of the lowest moments of his career. Then it got worse: Joe Girardi benched him in early August before a Sunday night game in Boston.
At that point, it seemed there was no way the final year of Posada's four-year, $52 million contract was going to end amicably.
But that’s all changed now, thanks in large part to the past week. Posada locked down a spot on the Yankees’ playoff roster thanks to his clutch pinch-hit in the eighth inning on Wednesday night.
He justified it on Sunday afternoon, hitting a two-run homer off of Tim Wakefield in the third and answering a curtain call shortly thereafter. Posada then added a single in the seventh.
“We loved it,” Girardi said. “…. He was right in the middle of our offense.”
Some may have scratched their heads when they saw the lineup Sunday because Girardi inserted Posada as the cleanup hitter. According to ESPN Stats & Information's Mark Simon, Posada hadn't hit cleanup since 2009.
Girardi explained the move by saying that he liked Posada's experience against Wakefield. Posada entered Sunday batting .217 with four homers in 69 career at-bats.
Posada made Girardi look smart with a big day Sunday. The manager will reward Posada with a spot on the postseason roster.
"This is a guy that has a lot of experience in the postseason," Girardi said, citing Posada's success against righties this season (.277) as one reason to carry him.
Posada didn’t want to talk playoffs on Sunday afternoon. But he was more than happy to relive the fans' ovations.
"It’s very meaningful for me that the fans are behind me 100% and they have been the whole year,” he said.