Yankees 6 Mariners 5: First Late-Inning Comeback of 2008

HUGE win for the Yankees this afternoon, coming from behind in the eighth inning for the first time this year to make up for Wang’s subpar start. Trailing 5-2, the Yankees scored 4 in the eighth, then Mariano cinched it to give the Yanks the series sweep, their fifth straight win, and an even .500 record before hitting the road to face Baltimore and Minnesota. Way to bring back the W, Mike Sommer. With Boston’s loss, the Yankees have moved back to within 4 1/2 games, and five behind Tampa Bay, despite injury woes and offensive inconsistencies.

Wang struggled and the Yanks struggled to hit Washburn, but the game was tight through six.
Wang escaped a two-out spot in the first when Vidro singled and Ibanez walked. He also issued a two-out walk in the second. Seattle finally scored a run in the third when Ichiro led off the inning with a homer, ripping a 2-0 hanging slider that was letter-high to deep right. Jeter then made a terrific snag of Lopez’s liner to settle things for Wang. The Yankees responded right away, a very good sign for the offense, as JD and Jeter hit back-to-back two-out doubles to tie it at 1. Wang got into a mess in the fourth that cost him a couple runs, and was hurt and helped defensively by Shelley. Beltre walked, Johjima singled, Sexson walked to load the bases with no outs, Balentien’s 5-2 force was the first out, but Betancourt’s single to left gave Seattle a 2-1 lead, and Duncan misplayed Ichiro’s grounder, making it 3-1. But Shelley atoned right away, knocking down a Lopez liner for an unorthodox but effective 3-2-6 DP, gunning the ball home and Molina firing the ball to short since the runners had to hold on the line drive.

The Yankees cut it to 3-2 in the fifth when Cano came back from 0-2 for a big lead-off walk, Molina singled, Melky the Clutch bunted them to second and third, and JD’s 3-1 made it 3-2. They could have tied it in the sixth with A-Rod on second with two outs, but Beltre snared Shelley’s scalded liner for the third out. Then Wang coughed up two more in the seventh. I can understand why the ace came out for the seventh at 97 pitches, if Wang had gone batter-to-batter. But he was left in too long and, after getting Betancourt on an F7, allowed a single to Ichiro and a double to Lopez before Vidro’s single to center scored them both. Yet Edwar came in and got Ibanez to pop to short and Beltre on an F9. Edwar then worked out of a two-on, two out jam in the eighth, getting Ichiro to ground to first; clutch relief pitching from the kid.

Then the Yanks stormed back. Jeter worked a good walk after being behind 1-2. Perennial Yankee punching bag Arthur Rhodes then entered, raising everyone’s hopes for a comeback as he faced lefty Abreu. BA fouled off four pitches and, with the count 3-2, hammered the ninth pitch of the at-bat to center to score Jeter, 5-3. Rhodes then exited stage left and off a cliff and Putz the tough closer entered. A-Rod immediately walked, Giambi struck out without getting the bat off his shoulder (figuratively), Matsui pinch-hit for Shelley and hit a slow grounder in no-man’s land, sidling its way past the mound. Putz dove for it and stopped it, landing face first in the grass, then lobbed a throw to first away for an error, allowing Abreu to score, 5-4. Putz probably wouldn’t have had Matsui anyway. Cano then cranked a deep sac fly to tie the game, and, crucially, Matsui advanced to second. Molina then slugged a double deep to right-center, a ball on which Ichiro seemed to misread in the sun and take a bad angle on, scoring Matsui from second, 6-5 Yankees. It’s questionable that Matsui would have scored had he not taken second on Cano’s sac fly; great heads-up running from Matsui, helping to win the game. Mariano then entered and manhandled the Mariners, getting Lopez on a pop to short and fanning Vidro and Ibanez in succession for his 12th save of the year and 455th of his illustrious career–as if there was any doubt.

Molina was 2-4 with the game-winning RBI double to raise his average to .216. A-Rod was 1-2 with 2 walks, batting .295. Cano was 0-2 but deserves credit for working the walk leading to a run, and tying the game on his sac fly, his 19th RBI. JD (.266) and Abreu (.294) were each 1-4 with a run and an RBI, JD’s 20th and Abreu’s team-leading 32nd. Jeter and Melky were 1-3 apiece, with Jeter scoring one and driving in his 23rd, batting .287. Matsui’s pinch-hit infield single upped his average to .321. The team left six on base, four in scoring position, but had two two-out RBIs, and stole two bases, an encouraging sign. Wang struggled, allowing five runs earned on seven hits, four walks and fanning two on 112 pitches/70 strikes. His day probably should have ended after six, and he was left in surely for two batters too long. Edwar was clutch today, pitching 1 2/3 scoreless innings to hold the line late, fanning two and keeping his ERA at zero. The guy has done much to round out the bullpen. His first win of the year was well-earned and deserved. Mariano was, well, Mariano and that is not said or taken lightly.

On to Baltimore tomorrow for the start of a three-game set, and tomorrow’s 1:35 EDT start is an HDLR game for anyone not tied up with Memorial Day plans. I’m back from vacation and fired up about the five-game winning streak. The Yankees have won in myriad ways, a very good sign–three blowouts with lots of offense and two very good starts, a pitcher’s duel with the first walk-off ninth-inning win, and a big comeback to cinch the sweep with the first time all year that the Yanks have won a game when trailing in the eighth. I’m doubtful that today’s win would have occurred a week ago. With the recent offensive outbursts, the team efforts, the recent dramatic win in the ninth, and the quality starts, the Yankees have been in games and shown the ability to hang in there for a change. Today was huge, and should be another spark for a club that is finally playing like we–and they–certainly expected all along.

Published in: on May 25, 2008 at 8:24 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. today seemed like a real turning point. if they had lost it would have been their familiar pattern of gaining 2 steps only to take one back etc, but today they actually came out and fought for a victory. granted arthur rhodes was an unexpected gift, but nevertheless, the yanks picked themselves up and took a win from the hands of the mariners. it doesn’t get much better. the sox being swept was lovely as well.
    looking forward to tomorrow’s HDLR!!

    glad you’re home safe and sound

  2. Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation 🙂 Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Ran.

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