When we last saw the New York Giants and even old residents of New York and New Jersey when they were given a beating by Carolina, 41-9, last Dec. 27. They got their chance at redemption yesterday, and came through with a somewhat sloppy 31-18 butt-whipping of the Panthers to open up the New Meadowlands. On the baseball side of things, it was a disastrous week for the Yankees, as they were almost swept by the Orioles, and then in a possible playoff preview, they dropped all three games to Texas, with the seemingly impossible happening - a blown save by Mariano Rivera, and he hit Jeff Francoeur to boot to end the game. In the crowd watching all the games together were Nolan Ryan and Reggie Jackson. Who wouldn't want to listen in on that conversation? For the record, Reggie put up a .210/.383/.403 line against Ryan in 62 career at-bats, with three home runs, 18 RBIs, 22 strikeouts and 18 walks. And then there are the Mets. Even though they're just playing out the string, they had a slightly better week than their crosstown rivals (at least on the field), going 3-3 vs. Washington and Philadelphia. And now on to the honors:here at home they were embarrassing old Giants Stadium, old
Eli Manning: How can a quarterback who threw three interceptions be named the Player of the Week? Well, I'm glad you asked. The answer's easy - all three picks should have been caught by his receivers. Manning got off to a rollicking start to the 2010 season. With the running game completely absent in the first half, the Giants had to rely on their QB, and he came through in the clutch. His final stats are impressive, but he actually played better because of all the dropped passes. He threw for 263 yards, at a .667 clip (20 for 30), and tossed three touchdown passes, all to Hakeem Nicks. It's a promising start for him and the team, and was a great way to christen the new stadium and stick it to the Panthers at the same time for what they did to the Giants last year (and in the playoffs a few years ago).
Runners Up & Other Notables
Hakeem Nicks: Catching three touchdown passes is surely a nice way to open up the season. The second-year receiver only hauled in a total of four passes, but when three result in scores, that's a solid game's effort. He gained 75 yards in total, and helped the offensive line and running backs shake off their early rust by buying them time and being productive early. His one miscue? Having a very catchable pass bounce off his hands for one of Manning's three INTs.
Mathias Kiwanuka: In the preseason the Giants described their defense as "bend don't break" while emphasizing turnovers, and that's just how they played yesterday. They forced five turnovers (three interceptions and recovered two fumbles). Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and the whole secondary had solid games, but Kiwanuka will get the honor here. He had two sacks, four tackles, a forced fumble and he played about five different positions during the day.
Ike Davis/Josh Thole: One of the only reasons left to keep watching the Mets is to gage the progress of the up-and-coming young guys. Hopefully the stink that has stuck to the Mets the last few years (we'll call it the Wilpon Stench) won't rub off on these guys. Ike Davis is in the "adjustments" stage of his debut season (it almost seems like he's a grizzled veteran by now, though), and the adjustments he's making are paying off. He's back to hitting the ball the other way like he did when he was first called up, and he's doing it with power, too, not just dinking and dunking balls to left. For the week, he batted .400, with a homer, six RBIs, two doubles and three walks. And he had two four-hit games in the span of seven days. Thole just continues to impress, with a great eye at the plate. He might not ever be a power guy or an All-Star, but it looks like he's already won the job for next year. He hit for a .375 average this week, and in just over 200 career at-bats has a .303 average and .372 OBP. But on the flip side, there's poor old Lucas Duda. Still stuck on one hit.
Alex Rodriguez: It was not a good week for the Yankees, with not much to choose from when giving out Player of the Week kudos. A-Rod played in five games while going seven for 17 at the plate (.412), with seven RBIs. He also became the first player to drive in 100 runs 14 times, and tied Lou Gehrig and Jimmie Foxx by doing it 13 consecutive times. Of course, those two legends didn't have the same artificial help that A-Rod did. The Yankee third baseman isn't showing much rust after coming off the DL with no rehab tune-ups. But the Yankees just can't win since he's come back.
Dillon Gee: After missing most of 2009 with a torn labrum, Gee led all of Triple-A in strikeouts this season, with 165, which earned him a September call-up. The 24-year-old made his major league debut on Tuesday, and did it in dazzling fashion. Taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning, he finished with seven innings of two-hit ball, striking out four and walking three, and did it all by throwing only 86 pitches. He kept Washington's hitters off balance by throwing four different pitches and making adjustments as he went through the lineup a few times. Wearing #35, he looked like Rick Reed out there, working fast and throwing strike after strike. He also chimed in with an RBI single. After the game he channeled Frank the Tank by saying, "I kind of blacked out, I think. I don't know what happened out there." Before he takes the mound tonight, he'll be debating James Carville on SNY's pregame show.
R.A. Dickey/Ivan Nova: The knuckleballing phenomenon bounced back on Wednesday after the pounding he took at Wrigley Field in his previous game. He pitched a solid six innings, only allowing two runs on five hits, while striking out one without any walks. His record stands at 10-6, with a 2.91 ERA and 1.17 WHIP. But he makes the list because of his hitting. He went two for two and scored the first run of the game. He's now batting .233, which is not only good for a pitcher but is better than Henry Blanco, Ruben Tejada and is giving Carlos Beltran a run for his money. While Dickey was beating the Nationals on Wednesday afternoon, Nova was pitching in the Bronx against Baltimore, and he also lasted six innings (his longest outing yet) while only giving up two runs. He struck out six and walked two. In his four starts (and two relief appearances), he has an impressive 2.92 ERA and 1.34 WHIP. And with the way the Yankees rotation has been pitching lately they really need him to keep it up.
Nick Swisher: The Yankee's right fielder bashed a game-winning, two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth Wednesday afternoon to save the Yankees from the embarrassment and humiliation of being swept by the Orioles. How dare the Bombers lose two games in the series let alone almost three. But the Buck Showalter Orioles are not your father's Orioles (though they may be your grandfather's because Baltimore used to be one of the exemplary organizations in baseball). Wednesday was the one year anniversary of Swisher's walk-off job vs. Tampa Bay. Sept. 8 is also the one-year anniversary of Swisher eating a tuna fish sandwich for lunch while watching a rerun of The Wonder Years before heading to the park, too.
Francisco Cervelli: The fist-pumping backup catcher only went two for five for the week with two runs scored, but he walked an astounding seven times in his four games played. That should count for something.
Hisanori Takahashi: The veteran/rookie lefty's been a starter, setup guy, seventh-inning guy, long reliever, mop-up guy and is now the Mets' closer. Is there anything left? Takahashi picked up three more saves this week, making him six for six so far. On top of that he hasn't given up a run in his last 11 appearances. Now who's the best closer in New York? Ok, we know, it's Rivera.