Teixeira’s Big Blast Caps Another Comeback, Yanks Win 5-3

Although the Yanks stayed within a run or two for much of the game, I was less than sanguine about the Yanks’ chances.  Sure, I figured, a comeback was possible, perhaps probable.  But would the pitching hold the Tigers?  If so, for how long?  Those two questions lingered as the Yanks cut a two-run deficit (courtesy of a home run by Curtis Granderson, one of the outfielders I should have mentioned at The Sommer Frieze among current Yankees killers and non-Yankees I respect) to one in the fifth after Anderson let Teixeira’s single through the five hole to let JD score.  It stuck with me as A-Rod seemingly failed to pick up the ball in front of him on Matsui’s soft liner to second, easily doubling A-Rod off first to thwart what should have been more than a one-run inning.  It nagged me in the bottom of the sixth, as Jorge led off with a ground-rule double yet stayed there while Cano popped weakly out to short, Swish struck out, and Jorge was thrown out at the plate after Melky’s two-out single to left.  As the blown chances mounted, would the Yanks a.) continue to keep the Tigers at 3, and b.) score anything off the hard-throwing but oft-injured Joel Zumaya?

They did right away in the seventh.  After Hughes worked around two two-out singles to strike out the side (for the first of two such innings by The Franchise), Jeter led off with a looping single to right.  JD followed and barely missed a homer off the very top of the wall in right, second and third and no outs.  C’Mon, Teixeira, drive the ball, I implored him through the computer.  Two productive outs can mean the lead. Teixeira did indeed drive the ball, but not for a productive, run-scoring out.  Rather, Teixeira took three pitches outside the zone, watched a strike, then positively lambasted a 99-mph fastball belt-high and inside deep to right, a towering blast into the second deck to make it 5-3.  YESSSSS! I quietly cheered, raising my hands high to high-five my son who entered the kitchen, then low for a dab of my dog, whose deep and abiding loyalty to me I presume extends to adhering to my sports allegiances.  Just to savor the moment, I held my hands high into A-Rod’s three-pitch at-bat. With the hard-throwing Zumaya having thrown 36 pitches in the seventh alone, don’t expect him before Sunday–another facet to savor.

Hughes allowed another single in the eighth, but fanned pinch-hitter Santiago looking with a fastball tailing over the outside corner to again strike out the side, mostly with rising fastballs that were routinely 94-95.  Good work by Jorge to milk the high heat for all it was worth tonight, and it was worth a ton.  While Hughes threw 40 pitches in his two-inning stint to earn the win, don’t expect him before Sunday, either.  Yet he not only helped slam the door shut, and not only earned the win, he also spared the rest of the pen for the rest of the series.  With Mitre up to start Tuesday, Aceves returns to the bullpen and can likely go a couple.  Coke is still fresh for lefty match-ups, especially against a predominately righty lineup.  A good CC tomorrow should hopefully take the ball deep into the game.  Additionally, while not to make too much out of it, the Yanks needed to wash the taste of the sweep in Anaheim out of their collective mouth and get a win.  With the way that Hughes pitched tonight, he was money, the guy to stick with.  I liked the decision by Girardi to use him for two, honestly, his unavailability tomorrow notwithstanding.  He had most of a week off, and looked just great, really dominant despite allowing three hits–unusual for him in relief.  He never seemed really threatened or rattled at all, and his poise is a welcome addition to a budding star starting to show signs of brilliance the last couple months.

Mariano mopped up the ninth, allowing a one-out double to Polanco but otherwise shutting down the Tigers for his 24th save this year, and his 506th in his incomparable career.  I know he has allowed five homers thus far, as many as any year in his tremendous career.  But I’m really, really not concerned about those and any implications.  Good to see the rest, except for his record-setting fourth career All-Star save Tuesday night, do his velocity some good, throwing 92-93 with typically good movement.  After tonight, he hasn’t allowed a run in his last 11 appearances.  His ERA is down to 2.37.  He’s blown all of one save this year.  He’s pretty much been Mariano, humming right along.

Lots of good defense tonight, including a couple gems by Melky in back-to-back innings.  In the fifth, he hustled over to right center to cleanly and quickly play the hard carom of Miguel Cabrera’s hit off the wall, then threw it in to second for Jeter to apply the swipe tag in a close play, nailing his fellow Cabrera.  Great play for the second out, all the more important since Burnett, who was erratic, walked the next two batters.  In the sixth, Melky lurched low to the grass to make a terrific running catch on Everett’s sinking liner in shallow right center, then doubled off Laird at first to end the inning.  Great stuff by Melky, really showing his value in the field.  Cano did likewise, first in the first with two on a runner already in by making a leaping catch to rob Inge on a liner tailing away from him, then in the fourth with a flawless and quick turn on an inning-ending, 5-4-3 DP.  Cano’s defense this season has been outstanding, giving the Yanks a right side of the infield with him and Teixeira that is as good as anyone’s.

Burnett wasn’t by any means great, though he provided a quality start and, with some help from the defense that he readily acknowledged during the game, kept the game close.  The five walks and a hit batter made the stint laborious, especially coming when they did.  Like auto or computer repairs, there is never a good time for walks, but two of Burnett’s five led off innings, and the other three came with two outs–bad timing.  He wasn’t efficient, and he only struck out one, but he bore down, also getting a bevy of ground ball outs.  In all, I’ll take it.  Burnett provided a quality start against a first-place team when he clearly didn’t have his best stuff or precise location.  Three runs after six innings means the Yanks are, at worst, in the game.  They were tonight, and pulled out some 9:30 lightning–just before the actual lightning came after some steady rain, providing a delay in the bottom of the eighth.

Teixeira was magnificent, going 3-5 with his 22nd homer and driving in 3, giving him 66 RBI and a .280 average.  Jeter was 2-4, scoring once and batting a robust .323.  JD was also 2-4 with a double, scoring thrice and batting .278.  Cano was 2-4 with a ground-rule double, batting .310.  Matsui was 2-4 with his 41st RBI, batting an improved .269.  Posada also had a ground-rule double, hitting .286, and Melky a single, .284 for him.  3-12 with RISP didn’t help, especially stranding 11, but the pitching and defense helped hold Detroit off until the offense could finally deliver.

The win was all the more crucial, for Boston keeps winning and Tampa came from behind to beat KC 8-7.  A very successful home stand would provide lots of momentum before the Yanks hit the road and, soon enough, play more and top-flight division foes.  It also keeps the Yanks in the hunt, for the East has been shaping up for the last month as the three-team race most of us envisioned it would be. It would not surprise me to see one of the three with 94 wins but out of the playoffs.  All three are that good, and the competition that fierce.  The Yanks must keep winning.

CC (8-6, 3.86 ERA) and Verlander (10-4, 3.38 ERA) square off in a great pitching match-up tomorrow at 1:05 ET.  I believe Mike Sommer is going to the game.  Bring back the W, buddy, and enjoy.

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Published in: on July 17, 2009 at 11:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

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