Joba again wasn’t very efficient, and the Yanks’ inability to add on early threatened to cost the Yanks against Seattle, who stayed close. Yet A-Rod ripped his 12th homer this year and the 565th of his career to make it 5-3 and, after Bruney struggled in relief to allow Seattle to tie it, the Yanks poured on three to lead off the eighth. Mariano clinched it with his 19th save this year and 501st save, 8-5 Yanks. It wasn’t pretty, but the Yanks showed good grit.
The Yanks scored in the second from two from some good hitting and poor Seattle defense. Cano and Posada led off with singles, and Woodward mishandled Matsui’s slow chopper, then threw wildly to allow Cano to score, 1-0. Swisher fanned, but Melky (who had a good game) delivered a sac fly to center, 2-0 Yanks. Joba allowed a solo homer to Cedeno of all people to lead off the third cut the lead to one but, in spite of some awful nibbling, Joba emerged from the third otherwise unscathed. He worked around Johjima’s two-out ground-rule double in the fourth, while the Yanks added one in the fourth, when it should have been more. They loaded the bases with no outs when Cano led off with a single, and Posada and Matsui walked. Swish popped out in an unproductive at-bat, but Melky grounded into a 1-6 force, 3-1 Yanks.
Yet Joba gave it right back right away in the top of the fifth, when he missed a slow comebacker from Ichiro who, after getting on with the infield hit, stole second and third, and came home on Branyan’s single. After grounding into a 6-4 force, Lopez stole second, and scored on Gutierrez’s two-out single to tie the game. The Yanks promptly squandered a bases-loaded opportunity in the bottom half when Matsui grounded out.
Yet Coke and Hughes were terrific in relief, holding Seattle at three. Coke impressively got Ichiro on an F8, and fanned Branyan with gas to strand Johjima and end the sixth. Hughes pitched a great 1-2-3 seventh, and really should have gone the eighth since he is stretched out, looked strong, and had a nine-pitch seventh. The Yanks scored two in the seventh when JD hit a ground-rule double to left, and A-Rod absolutely crushed a 2-2 fastball way deep to left, 5-3 Yanks.
Against Bruney, Gutierrez, and Johjima strung together three singles to start the eighth to cut it to 5-4, and after Cedeno sac bunted the runners over, and the Yanks intentionally walked Ichiro, Branyan hit a sac fly to left to tie the game at five. But the Yanks jumped on Sean White, which I felt they may right as the announcers touted his previously sub-2.00 ERA. Matsui led off with a double and Brett the Jet pinch ran for him. Swish bunted to third for a single, well done. Melky the Clutch then doubled to center, 6-5 Yanks, second and third with no outs, and The Captain blooped a single to center, 8-5 Yanks. Good defense prevented the Yanks from adding on more, as I wished for four more in a text to Mike. No matter, for Mariano mowed down the three batters he faced in the top of the ninth, getting Gutierrez on a weak check swing to lock down his 19th save this year and 501st of his incredible career.
Melky the Clutch drove in three (31 this year) with the sac fly and double, hitting .286 and turning over the bottom of the lineup. A-Rod’s 12th homer this year and 565th for his career gave him his 39th RBI thus far, batting .233. JD was 2-4 with 2 doubles, batting .291. Cano was 2-4 with 2 runs, batting .300 even. Jeter was 1-5 with the big two-RBI single in the eighth, batting .307 with 32 RBI. Matsui’s lead-off double (.248 now, and 13th double this year) started the big eighth-inning rally. Swish, Teixeira, and Posada each had a hit, and Posada walked twice. The Yanks were 4 for their last 6 with RISP after starting the game 0-10; in all, the team stranded eight.
The Yanks are 10-5 in games that Joba starts, in good part because he pitches out of trouble well. However, he is also very inefficient in his approach, too often nibbling instead of overpowering batters. His numbers make it hard to characterize Joba as anything more than decent–5 1/3 IP, 9 hits, 3 runs earned, 3 walks, and 4 K’s on 96 pitches/55 strikes. 12 base runners in just over 5 innings is poor, but Joba managed to wriggle out of his long counts and often laborious innings. Coke was tremendous, getting the two big outs to mop up Joba’s slop. In Coke’s last 12 2/3 IP, he has allowed a mere 5 hits, 1 run earned, 3 walks, and 14 K’s, lowering his ERA from 4.79 to 3.24. Hughes has also been tremendous, and really should have worked the eighth, and I felt that before Bruney collapsed. After throwing all of nine pitches in the seventh and looking great, another inning with anything short of 30 pitches would have done no harm at all. Girardi has done well with Hughes out of the pen, but would be wise not to waste the fact that Hughes. having started primarily this year, is more than sufficiently stretched out to work a good two innings. Maybe Girardi wants him available more often, and short stints best help that. Yet Hughes would likely have bought Bruney a day off without being hard-pressed. Bruney’s eighth was bad–3 hits, 2 runs earned, and a walk. Hughes’s last 8 1/3 are most impressive–3 hits, no runs, 1 walk, and 10 K’s. The guy is bearing down, attacking hitters, and throwing 96 routinely out of the pen. He’s provided much-needed depth and stability. Mariano, well, he’s the man. This makes six straight and, sitting 12 above .500, the Yanks have hit their high water mark.
This game was huge, for the Red Sox blew a 10-1 lead, with Baltimore scoring 5 in the seventh and five more in the eighth to come back and win, 11-10. Tremendous benefit for the Yanks, who now trail by 2 1/2, 2 back in the loss column. The streaking Yanks, who have won six straight, helped themselves by staying 1 1/2 games ahead of TB, who won their seventh straight and nine of their last ten. Pettite (7-3, 4.38 ERA) faces Jarrod Washburn (4-5, 3.22 ERA) tomorrow night.
Keep stringing them together, guys.