The Yankees and the power of 27 - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

The Yankees and the power of 27

AP - Alex Rodriguez is greeted at home plate by teammates after hitting a game-winning grand slam in the ninth inning on April 7. AP - Alex Rodriguez is greeted at home plate by teammates after hitting a game-winning grand slam in the ninth inning on April 7.
AP - Chase Wright looks skyward after the Red Sox tattooed him for four consecutive homers on April 22. AP - Chase Wright looks skyward after the Red Sox tattooed him for four consecutive homers on April 22.
AP - Mayday! Mayday! Phil Hughes walks to the dugout with Yankees trainer Gene Monahan after getting injured in the seventh inning on May 1. AP - Mayday! Mayday! Phil Hughes walks to the dugout with Yankees trainer Gene Monahan after getting injured in the seventh inning on May 1.
AP - Johnny Damon reacts upon turning his ankle while popping out in a 15-11 loss to the Seattle Mariners on May 4. AP - Johnny Damon reacts upon turning his ankle while popping out in a 15-11 loss to the Seattle Mariners on May 4.
AP - Toronto's John McDonald has words with Alex Rodriguez during the ninth inning on May 30 after Toronto infielder Howie Clark accused A-Rod of shouting, 'MINE,' while Clark was fielding a popup. AP - Toronto's John McDonald has words with Alex Rodriguez during the ninth inning on May 30 after Toronto infielder Howie Clark accused A-Rod of shouting, 'MINE,' while Clark was fielding a popup.
How many numerologists does it take to set a record for giddiness? Don't answer that.

But, in a weekend that saw a jackpot of 7s on Saturday (7/7/7) and the not-coincidental unveiling of Boeing's 787 on July 8, Yankeeologists prefer to focus on the integer 27. After all, the '27 Yankees, the famed Murderers' Row, are thought by many to have had the best lineup ever assembled. And here, in 2007, the Bronx Bombers have a chance to win the franchise's 27th World Series title ... if only they can stumble above .500 first.

Twenty-seven. That's three-cubed. That's the number of outs you get in a ballgame. And, it's the number of games above .500 New York will likely have to be at season's end to make the playoffs (although that's impossible if they play 162 games, but go with us here). Below are 27 moments from the first half of a season that has been both sublime and ridiculous.

1. Your Opening Day starter ... Carl Pavano? (April 2)

One day after April Fools' Day, Pavano makes his first Major League start since June 27, 2005, as New York's opening day hurler. "American Idle" will start one more contest before reverting to his usual position, DL, for the rest of the season and foreseeably, the remainder of his Pinstriped-career. Chien-Ming Wang, the likely opening day starter, went on the disabled list four days earlier with a strained right hamstring. Wang injured his hammy while sprinting; surely, a freak injury.

2. A-Rod, he's clutch (April 7)

Alex Rodriguez caps a ninth-inning comeback with a walk-off grand slam off Chris Ray of the Baltimore Orioles as New York wins, 10-7. Earlier, Hideki Matsui walks off the field more gingerly after straining his hamstring. Another freak injury.

3. Does a Moose even have a hamstring? (April 11)

In the third inning of a 5-1 loss at Minnesota, Mike Mussina departs with a strained left hamstring. Four days later, he will join Matsui on the DL.

4. The bummer of 42 (April 15)

Leading the Oakland A's 4-2 on Jackie Robinson Day, Joe Torre calls on closer Mariano Rivera -- the only man in Major League Baseball who still wears Robinson's retired "42" -- to pitch the bottom of the 9th. It is Rivera's first save opportunity of the season, and the future Hall of Famer quicky records two outs. Then Todd Walker singles and Jason Kendall walks. Marco Scutaro, the A's No. 9 hitter who is batting below .100, pulls an 0-2 pitch off the left-field foul pole for a game-winning three-run homer.

5. A-Rod tarnishes his reputation (April 19)

Trailing Cleveland 6-2 at home with two outs and nobody on in the bottom of the ninth, Josh Phelps homers. The next four Yankee hitters reach base safely, setting the stage for A-Rod. No. 13, who has a 13-game hitting streak dating back to Opening Day, is 0-for-4 to this point. A-Rod, completely sullying his reputation as choke artist, hammers his second walk-off home run of the season, a three-run blast off Joe Borowski. Yankees win, 8-6, improving their record to 8-6.

Afterward, a YES Network field reporter asks A-Rod if this type of win can provide the Yankees with a "momentum shift" as they head up to Boston.

6. No mo mentum (April 20)

Breaking a vow he'd made in spring training -- that he'd never call on Rivera before the ninth inning -- Torre brings in Mo with one out in the 8th and the Yanks up 6-3 at Fenway Park. The Red Sox, who'd lost seven straight at home to the Yankees, score four runs with Rivera on the mound. The go-ahead run comes on a bloop single to left by Alex Cora over a drawn-in infield, reminiscent of the World Series-clinching hit by Luis Gonzalez of the D-Backs in 2001. Rivera's blown save is his second in as many appearances this season.

7. Chase Wright chased (April 22)

Rookie right-hander Chase Wright, making his second big-league start, surrenders four home runs to four consecutive Red Sox batters (Manny Ramirez, J.D. Drew, Mike Lowe and Jason Varitek) with two out and nobody on in the third inning. Wright is the second pitcher in MLB history to give up four consecutive homers, and the Yankees are swept in a three-game series at Boston for the first time since 1990.

8. Joe yanks Mo (April 27)

Trailing the Red Sox 7-4 at Yankee Stadium, Torre brings in Rivera to pitch the ninth. One out and four runs later, Torre walks to the mound to take out his closer, whose ERA is above 12. The Yankees lose their seventh straight following A-Rod's "momentum shift" walk-off home run against the Indians. It is their longest losing streak in seven years.

9. Kei Igawa to the rescue? (April 28)

Boston's Julio Lugo lines the first pitch of the game off Yankee rookie starter Jeff Karstens' leg, shattering his fibula. New York has lost seven straight and the back pages of the tabloids are flush with musings about whether Torre will be fired. The only available pitcher? Japanese import Kei Igawa, who is already being declared a $46 million bust and has lost his spot in the starting rotation.

What happens? Igawa tosses six innings of shutout ball (the longest outing by a Yankee starter thus far, even if he was not in fact starting), Rivera picks up his first save, and New York stops the bleeding with a 3-2 win.

10. Hughes Got To Be Kidding (May 1)

In his second big-league start rookie flamethrower Phil Hughes, the "phenom", has a no-hitter going through 6 1/3 innings at Texas. Then the Rangers' Mark Teixeira fouls off an 0-1 pitch against Hughes, 20, who comes out of his release grabbing at his left hamstring. It is the Yankees' fourth significant hamstring injury of the spring. Hughes heads to the DL as Roger Clemens' agent's eyeballs flash with dollar signs.

11. Where have you gone, Marty Miller? (May 3)

Fearful of becoming the first team in Major League history forced to forfeit the remainder of the season due to an epidemic of hamstring pulls, the Yankees fire first-year strength-and-conditioning coach Marty Miller.

12. The Bronx is bumbling (May 4)

The Yankees bat around in the first inning, set season highs in hits (16) and runs (11) and lose 15-11 to the Seattle Mariners. The nadir is an 8-run, 30-minute long fifth inning low-lighted by reliever Colter Bean walking the first two batters he faces on eight pitches and giving up four runs without getting an out. Somehow Derek Jeter goes 0-for-6, ending his 20-game hitting streak.

13. Wangtastic (May 5)

One day after the pitching staff allowed 20 hits and 15 runs to the Mariners, Ming-Wang pitches 7 1/3 innings of perfect ball in an 8-1 defeat of Seattle. Ben Broussard breaks up the perfect game with a solo homer in the 8th.

14. "I'll Have What She's Having" (May 6)

During the seventh inning stretch of a 5-0 shutout of the Mariners, Clemens, 44, announces that he will return to the Yankees. Yankee radio broadcaster Suzyn Waldman, effecting a passion not seen in New York City since Meg Ryan sat across from Billy Crystal in a deli, reacts with YouTube-ready histrionics ("Oh my goodness, goodness gracious!").

15. That rundown feeling (May 10)

With a chance to go above .500 for the first time since April 22, the Yankees are hammered at home by last-place Texas, 14-2. With the score tied 1-1 in the top of the fifth, A-Rod muffs a run-down play between third base and home. Ranger catcher Gerald Laird outraces A-Rod to home plate. A-Rod has nothing to show for his diving tag but a scratch on his chin. Things unravel from there as Wang, perfect through seven innings five days earlier, allows seven runs in 6 1/3.

16. Stuff happens (May 16)

Designated hitter Jason Giambi, apparently mistaking a USA Today reporter for a grand gury, tells him that "I was wrong for doing that stuff. What we should have done a long time ago was stand up -- players, ownership, everybody -- and say, 'We made a mistake.' "

17. Fox pox knocks Rasner out of box (May 19)

Darrell Rasner becomes the second Yankee pitcher to have a bone broken by a come-backer during the first inning of a nationally televised game on Fox. Rasner's ninth pitch of the game was hit back to the box by the Mets' Endy Chavez, fracturing the hurler's right index finger.

The following night Tyler Clippard allows just three hits and one run in his Major League debut against the Mets. Yankees win, 6-2. Clippard is the 11th different pitcher -- seven of them rookies -- to start for the Yankees this spring (a Major League record for an entire season), but not the last.

18. Stray-Rod? (May 28)

The New York Post, in a ground-breaking story sure to rock the foundations of American sport and society, run a full-page, back page photograph of Rodriguez waiting for an elevator in Toronto with a shapely blonde who is not his wife. Somewhere, Charles Barkley yawns.

19. Adding insult to adultery? (May 29)

Toronto second baseman Aaron Hill steals home against the Yankees' top pickoff artist, Andy Pettite, in a 3-2 Blue Jay win. New York loses its fifth straight game.

20. Bray-Rod (May 30)

Did he yell, "Ha!" or did he yell, "Mine?" Makes no difference. Baseball's best player commits the season's most bush play, yelling as he runs by Toronto third baseman Howie Clark, who drops the popup, but New York ends its slide with a 10-5 win. Baseball historians, take note: The Blue Jay reliever, Brian Wolfe, was facing his first Major League batter, Jorge Posada, on that play.

21. Papelbon voyage (June 3)

Baseball's best hitter versus its best closer in its most charged atmosphere. Rodriguez versus Jonathan Papelbon at Fenway. With two out in the top of the ninth inning, the score tied 5-5, and Papelbon ahead 0-2 on the count, he fires a 95 mph heater that A-Rod smokes into the bullpen. Yankees win 10 of their next 11.

22. Roger, liftoff (June 9)

Clemens, in what New York Post columnist Joel Sherman calls his "fourth minor-league start" of the season, defeats the Pittsburgh Pirates, 9-3. The Rocket relaunch was delayed by the season's most uncomfortable-to-discuss-in-mixed-company malady: "fatigued groin syndrome."

23. Rocky Mountain low (June 19-22)

After going three games over .500 for the first time, the Bombers blow it by getting swept by the Rockies at Coors Field. New York, which scored 41 runs in a three-game set at Coors in 2002, scores five runs total in the three losses.

24. Let's burn stuff (June 30)

After his teammates are one-hit by the A's Chad Gaudin, Scott Proctor starts a small bonfire just beyond the steps of the Yankee dugout that includes some of his gear. It had been a difficult week for Proctor, who gave up the game-winning hit in the 12th inning at San Francisco the previous Saturday and walked in the winning run at Baltimore four days earlier ... on Derek Jeter's 33rd birthday.

25. The slugger's wife (July 1)

Cynthia Rodriguez, possibly peeved that a New York tabloid had published photos of her husband Alex with a mysterious blonde, retorts with some dirty laundry of her own. C-Rod shows up to the Yankees' Sunday afternoon game with Oakland wearing a tight-fitting tank top with the phrase "F--- You" clearly printed on the back.

26. MelKKKKKy (July 7)

Centerfielder Melky Cabrera whiffs five times, the last time with the tying run at third base with one out in the bottom of the 13th , in a gut-wrenching 2-1 loss to the Angels. The defeat ensures that the Yankees will enter the All-Star break with a sub-.500 record for the first time since Derek Jeter and Joe Torre arrived in the Bronx in 1996.

27. Finally (July 8)

At last resembling the squad observers expected them to be, New York drills the A.L. West-leading Angels 12-0. Wang, who a month earlier threw the Yanks' only complete game of the season, wins his sixth straight decision and A-Rod becomes only the second Yankee (after Roger Maris) to hit his 30th home run by the All-Star break.

(Joe Gesue contributed to this report)

For more sports coverage, visit NBCSports.com
HD DOPPLER 6i
/