Yanks Best Their Bete Noire With a Great Comeback, 10-9

Amazing comeback win last night, The May Day Comeback.  After taking a 4-0 lead in the first off Jered Weaver, the Yanks sputtered offensively and let him settle into a groove.  Pettite, meanwhile, skirted trouble until the sixth, when he and Melancon got touched up for six runs.  Three more came off the increasingly useless Veras in the seventh to set the Yanks back five.  Yet something told me the Yanks weren’t done, that they would make a run at the Superfluous Acronyms.  As it turned out, they made two, scoring four in the eighth and two more in the ninth off closer Brian Fuentes to cap an outstanding comeback victory, 10-9.  The dramatic win, the team’s fourth straight, had the new Stadium rocking a bit like the old one, with finally some full-throated noise emanating from the new digs.

To me, the game had the feel of two comeback wins the Yanks earned against the Superfluous Acronyms at the end of July 2005.  In those games July 30 and 31, the Yanks twice overcame four-run deficits from the eighth inning onward to beat the Acronyms–the first time in major-league history that it had been done twice in a row, so late.  One of those was against the now departed, histrionic K-Rod–a good sign.  It is also a good sign that Yankee nemesis Scot Shields (who did not pitch last night) has hardly been himself this year.  Nor do the Acronyms, who certainly have their fair share of injuries, inspire the same dread in me that they have in years past.  They’re still a capable team, but not one I fear, and the feeling grew that, if they could string together some good at-bats, a comeback was possible.  Last night had the feeling of some moderate measure of payback, making it all the more satisfying that New York not only came back, but did so against the team that has been their bete noire for most of the last decade.

I agree with Frank the Sage, with whom I spoke at length right after the game and who made a good point, that what was as impressive as anything was the fact that the Yanks had two innings at the end in which they mounted comebacks.  So often we see the Yanks–really most teams–assemble a big inning late and, should they score most but not all of the runs they need to overcome the deficit in that frame, they fail to complete the comeback.  Not the Yanks last night, getting contributions from myriad heroes familiar and unsung.  Again, the bottom of the order was the catalyst.  After Cano’s one-out double and Jorge’s walk in the eighth, Brett the Jet singled to load the bases, and Melky the Once-Again Clutch singled to left to make it 9-5.  It was a good sign to me that Melky the Once-Again Clutch laid off the first pitch change in the dirt, for it showed that he wasn’t up there anxious and hacking at the first thing he saw.  He was relaxed and readily recognized a pitch that, so often in the past couple years, would have pointlessly enticed him into a futile hack or feeble ground ball.  Not this time.

Ramiro Pena delivered a big two-run hit for the second night in a row, belting a single to right to make it 9-7.  I didn’t like that Jeter swung at the first pitch from a pitcher in Arredondo who was on the ropes, but the 6-3 was productive, cutting the lead to 9-8.  But JD’s K looking ended the first stage of the comeback.

Albaladejo was terrific in the ninth, setting down the Angels 1-2-3 on just 9 pitches.  Teixeira worked a walk to lead off the ninth, Matsui singled to left, Cano singled to center to load the bases, and Jorge belted a mid-thigh 3-2 fastball to left center to score Teixeira and Berroa pinch-running for Matsui for the win.  I love how they all reacted, with Teixeira coming home screaming and the team absolutely mugging Jorge between first and second.  This was a huge win, coming from way down late to beat a team that for almost the entire decade has been their nemesis, providing the new Yankee Stadium and the fans who stuck it out through what became a laborious game with a tremendous moment.

The bats went silent after the first, when the Yanks jumped on Weaver.  Jeter and JD walked, Teixeira’s ground-out moved them to second and third, Matsui’s sac fly plated Jeter for the first run of the game, Cano’s single to right scored JD, 2-0.  Posada then crushed a belt-high fastball to deep right-center, 4-0.  Yet the bats bounced back when they were needed most.  Jorge was big at both ends of the game, going 2-4, scoring twice, working a walk, and driving in 4 (18 RBI on the year) with the single and his 4th homer, batting .288.  Yet again, Jorge reminded us how vital he is to the team.  Cano continues his torrid streak, batting .378 with an 18-game hitting streak after going 3-5 with 2 runs, a double, and his 17th RBI.  Cano may well be the AL player of the month after turning the ball into jelly throughout April.  I don’t know how long Ramiro Pena can keep it up, but he’s already done more at the plate than Cody Ransom did, going 3-4 with 2 RBIs and a stolen base, batting .333.  It’s great to see the kid succeed, especially at the plate since we know he’s a professional glove.  When A-Rod returns, there is little doubt that Pena should stay.  Melky the Once-Again Clutch and Matsui each earned their 10th RBI with a single.  JD was 1-4 and Brett the Jet 1-2, but Jeter and Teixeira went hitless, with Teixeira down to .189.  But his OBP is a respectable .358 thanks to 18 walks, and when he starts to hit, he’ll take off.

The team was 6-10 with RISP, stranding eight.  They’re hitting a robust 11-21 with RISP against the Angels in these two games, a stark turnaround from most of April.  From Cano on down, the #5-9 hitters carried the load last night, getting 10 of the team’s 12 hits (10-19), scoring 6 runs and driving in 8.  On the down side, Swish got hit on the elbow and, while X-rays were negative, he’s day-to-day and probably won’t play today, making the bench and especially outfield thin.

Most of the pitchers struggled, with Pettite finally succumbing to the pressure he put on himself–5 2/3 IP, 9 hits, 5 runs earned, 4 BB, 2 K on 108 pitches/61 strikes.  Melancon struggled to complete the sixth, allowing a run on a hit and walk and the big bases-clearing triple to Matthews to give the Angels the lead.  Is Veras any longer useful? He got all of one out, and the two batters who got hits and the one he walked all scored.  At this point, regardless of his lack of options to make him clear waivers before going to SWB, how long will the Yanks stick with the erratic, hard-throwing righty?  I can’t think much longer.  Edwar allowed an inherited run but held the line in the eighth, allowing a hit and walk right after relieving Veras, and Albaladejo bounced back with a perfect ninth for his second win.

Sabathia (1-2, 4.73 ERA) looks to make it five straight for the Yanks against righty Matt Palmer (1-0, 6.00 ERA) at 1:05 today.  The Yanks remain two back in the East, now 13-10.

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Published in: on May 2, 2009 at 9:03 am  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. great re-cap–

    is veras useful? as what? i’d keep edwar over him. at least he shows a team something different. even if what he shows them is a slow fastball with no movement and his predictable change up. still. veras cannot be trusted under any circumstances. our pitching is truly awful and threy need to fix what’s wrong with these guys in a hurry. girardi needs to get a quicker hook. this was the umpteenth time he’s left someone in too long. one might say that melancon came in and gave up a bases clearing triple. perhaps if he had come in before the bases were loaded the pressure wouldn’t have been so great. anyway the most fun win in such a long time

  2. I agree about Girardi and, in this instance, not pulling Pettite. He wasn’t very sharp all night, constantly flirting with trouble. It’s almost as if Girardi is using the pitch count as a floor instead of a ceiling, pushing starters to that limit in the low 100s whether or not they merit staying in that long. It indicates what he thinks about the bullpen, most of whom he surely distrusts and not without reason. So last night, the problem was two-fold–Pettite’s troublesome and inefficient pitching, and the bullpen most of which justified his trepidation about using them.

  3. well at least we got one of the wins we should have had in boston back.

  4. That was a good game.


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