A Win is a Win is a Win…

Not the prettiest victory, but a much-needed and important one nonetheless, as the Yanks cobbled together a three-run eighth-inning rally with some help from Tampa to again come from behind, 4-3.  Joba gave the Yanks six strong despite the fact that he should be a reliever (YEEEEESH!), Mariano atoned for yesterday’s poor effort, and in my estimation, the Yanks did a bit more to win than Tampa did to give the game away.  To a good degree, I concur with the inimitable Casey Stengel–you make your own luck.  The Yanks did that today, albeit with some assistance–and no hits with RISP.  Congratulations to Mike Sommer for bringing back a W in his first trip to the new place.

Upton gave the Rays a 1-0 lead in the top of the third with an RBI double, but the Yanks responded right away in the bottom half when Swish got a 3-1 belt-high fastball, tailing over the outer half, and extended his arms to absolutely belt it to deep right center.  Yet just as importantly, Teixeira erased a base runner with a great diving stop to his right on Brignac’s hot grounder, throwing out Navarro at second from his knees.  That’s the third time already this year that I’ve seen Teixeira make a diving stop and throw out someone from his knees. The guy is totally aces in the field at first.

Joba didn’t allow a hit in the fourth or fifth frames, but three hits and a walk hurt Joba–in addition to throwing a ball on the first pitch to four of the seven batters he faced in the inning, with the Rays scoring two to take a 3-1 lead.  Joba did get more defensive help, however, with Melky the Clutch making a nice running catch to his right and lunging for Zobrist’s deep liner, preventing extra bases and, in retrospect, a potentially big and fatal inning.  Aceves was excellent yet again in relief, allowing just a hit in two sterling innings, fanning four.  Again, the Yanks’ defense helped the cause and kept the game close, with Jorge throwing out Brignac trying to steal second with two outs and Carl Crawford at the plate.

After Aceves fanned the side in the top of the eighth, the Yankee Stadium ghosts that Joe Maddon felt weren’t around in the new place appeared.  JD lined a one-out single to left, Teixeira lined a single to right to send JD to third, A-Rod walked to load the bases–all off Grant Balfour, a linchpin in last year’s team and especially bullpen revival for the Rays.  As I’ve speculated at various times, not this year.  Maddon the Ghost Denier summoned lefty J.P. Howell, another player whose big season last year I questioned would repeat this year, promptly walked Cano on five pitches to cut it to 3-2, Jorge on the first pitch hit a slow grounder to third that Aybar booted, tying the game at 3.  Also on the first pitch, Matsui hit a high chop to second and, after Cano was tagged out, Matsui (who is still not right in the knees, a bad sign) somehow beat the throw to first to allow A-Rod to score, 4-3 Yanks.  The impatience was nettlesome, but the Yanks got breaks.  However, they also made their own breaks, and the Rays didn’t.  The key?  Defense.  The Yanks committed an error–again–with Jorge’s throwing error.  Yet that didn’t cost the Yanks and, in fact, excellent and timely defensive plays by various Yanks kept the game tight enough for them to come back, made all the easier by the Rays’ failing to make their own luck.  Mariano closed out the ninth with a 1-2-3 save, his 13th this season and 495th of his illustrious career.

JD’s 2-4 day returns him to .300.  Teixeira’s single has him at .286, A-Rod’s at .255, Jorge’s at .306, and Swish has been mashing, with his 11th homer and 33rd RBI key off Garza early in the game, batting .250.  The Yanks won and mounted a comeback without a hit with RISP (0-9, stranding 8).  But in addition to playing good defense, the Yanks worked 5 walks.  The Rays? 1.  In a well-pitched game especially by the starters, the Yanks’ bullpen atoned for yesterday’s collapse, while the Rays assembled (or dissembled?) one of their own.  Yes, the Rays’ sloppiness hurt them and cost them the game.  But the Yanks found a way to win without playing the best.  Why?  Pitching (Tampa was 1-8 with RISP), defense, and patience (Garza threw 96 pitches in just five innings), all crucial to today’s win but to a team more dedicated to these facets than in recent years.  Tampa didn’t just give it away; the Yanks put themselves in a position to take it away, and did, moving back to 10 games above .500 and staying in first by a half-game over Boston.

Good work by Joba–6 IP, 5 hits, 3 runs earned, 1 BB, 4 K on 100 pitches/56 strikes.  He wasn’t as efficient as I’d like, but was on the whole pretty good.  Aceves has earned a spot in The Bronx with excellent and flexible relief work–2-0, 2.70 ERA.  Is anyone surprised that Mariano bounced back today after yesterday?  Not I, nor Frank the Sage, who last week touted Mariano’s unparalleled ability to shrug off what few failures he experiences to return to form as fast as anyone.  The guy is quite simply one of a kind.

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Published in: on June 7, 2009 at 10:33 pm  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. it’s also nice to see noted baseball historian evan longoria weigh in on the new stadium.

    i love this team’s late inning magic. i believe johnny damon when he says the guys in the clubhouse expect to win every day. they are fun to watch. i’ll tell you one thing. i’m SICK to death of joe girardi and damn bunts. and the reasons he gives defending them after the game are utterly lame. he can go back to the NL. it’s a shame i hate the manager on a team i love so much, but so be it. mariano was superb to watch and i’m sure he loved getting longoria. i hope andy had his game on tomorrow. sonnenstine could be horrendous or cy young…

  2. oh and how bout now when one actually looks forward to a melky at bat?! how times have changed…

  3. It’s so true about Melky Mike. The guy has been money thus far, and it’s easy to see how confident he is both at the plate and in the field. He’s aggressive but in control, minimizing the mental errors and eliminating the poor plate approaches. I totally see what JD is saying, and Frank and I said the same thing last week on the phone. They are never out of games, and seem to approach every one with the confidence that they’ll come out with a win. It’s a good sign that, whether it’s a comeback from four down fueled by good hitting, or coming back because the pitching and defense were very good, this team finds a way.

    You’ve not warmed up to Girardi over time, and I know the bunting gets to you. On the whole, I’m not keen on it, though there are times when that’s effective and works. Personally, I’d rather see it less often and used more selectively, though I like that more players than before can effectively bunt. I also think that Jeter often takes it upon himself to do that, when he could just as well hit someone in. I like his leadership, but the guy is a .316 lifetime hitter for a reason–hitting.

  4. I agree the bunts can be annoying if used indiscriminately. But I also remember complaining last year. “Why can’t anyone bunt!” There must be a happy medium. Very glad to see Mo bounce back. I just wish we were grooming somebody to take over when the time comes….


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