Briefly, with street hockey looming, Mitre was pretty decent and the offense awoke, winning 7-5. Coke came on and allowed a two-run homer in the 6th to surrender the lead 5-4 A’s. But the Yanks scored 3 in the bottom of the 6th, responding right away. Melky walked and Ransom hit his second double with one out, putting the Yanks in the same situation they had in the 4th when they didn’t cash in. This time was different, for Jeter looped a single to center for a 6-5 Yankees lead. Jeter immediately got picked off, which was big for JD laced a double to right, but Teixeira bailed him out with an RBI single, 7-5 Yankees.
Hughes was tremendous in the seventh, striking out two and throwing 95-97 gas. After striking out Suzuki, Sweeney walked and Barton doubled and, with Hughes at 39 pitches through 1 1/3 from long at-bats, Bruney entered to much trepidation at The Heartland. But he availed himself well, fanning Crosby on a fastball tailing in for the second out. Mariano then entered and got Garciaparra pinch-hitting on a comebacker to end the eighth on three pitches. He then fanned Kennedy and Cabrera in the ninth before getting Hairston on a grounder to Ransom to end it, 29 saves this year, 511 in his incomparable career.
Everyone in the Yanks’ lineup had at least a hit today. Ransom was 2-4 with 2 doubles (9 this year), scoring a run and doing a fabulous job of turning over the lineup. Jeter was 2-4 with a walk and the two-run single in the sixth, giving him 43 RBI and a .321 average. Teixeira was 2-5 with his 26th double and an RBI single, his 72nd RBI, batting .281. Cano was 1-4 with his 26th double, a bases-clearing shot in the bottom of the first, 52 RBI this year and a .309 average. Posada was 1-4 with a walk, batting .287. Matsui was 1-4 with a walk and his 44th RBI, batting .252. Melky was 1-2 with 2 walks, batting .287. JD was 1-4 with his 22nd double and 2 runs, batting .279. The Yanks were 4-14 with RISP, stranding 10 many of those as the game went on. But the bottom of the order was key today, going 4-10 with 2 runs and 3 RBI. The Yanks cranked 6 doubles and worked 7 walks, while issuing only 1 themselves.
Mitre was fairly good, allowing nine hits but getting 3 DPs, including two beauties in which Jeter avoided a hard slide on a 1-6-3, and Cano made the fastest of turns on a 6-4-3 that Jeter started in the hole. Jeter and Cano have honestly been the best SS-2B tandem in the AL both offensively and defensively, to me. Coke allowed the run, but the Yanks’ bullpen allowed three hits and a walk in 4 IP, fanning 6. Hughes threw 39 and is probably unavailable tomorrow, but Bruney’s K was a good sign and surely a confidence boost for him and the team.
On to Tampa for the biggest series of the year. Winning 2 of 3 would be very good. Great home stand for the Yanks; hard to ask for anything more than 9 of 10 and very good starting pitching.
Below, as per Pete Abraham, is the Yanks’ lineup. A-Rod sit for some rest, and he’s been cold anyway. Brett the Jet is on the DL with a broken thumb, and will likely miss a good few weeks. Amazing, he broke his thumb during yesterday’s game, yet made an excellent catch and hit a triple with hit. He will be missed. The offense needs to get going a bit, and hopefully Mitre will pitch well. If not, the indications from Cashman a few days ago are that either Aceves or Hughes will be moved into the rotation, which will only hurt the bullpen. The Yanks need Mitre to pitch fairly well and keep them in games.
Enjoy the game, everyone.
Pitching: RHP Sergio Mitre (1-0, 4.76).
In perhaps the longest first inning in the history of baseball (kidding), Cabrera singled and stole second, then Hairston doubled him in, 1-0 A’s. Cust singled him to third, and Suzuki singled Hairston home, 2-0 A’s. Mitre got two ground balls to escape. The Yanks atoned with four in the bottom half. Jeter singled, JD walked, Teixeira struck out on a nasty change, Posada popped out, Matsui singled to left to score Jeter, 2-1. Cano, with all his RISP problems, stepped up and I politely urged him, C’mon, Mr. Cano sir, how about a hit with runners in scoring position? To this my wife responded, “He will. He will.” Sure enough, Cano blasted it to deep right center past a diving Patterson, scoring all three runs. Cano over-slid the bag at third, making the third out at third and therefore inadvertently committing one of the cardinal sins of baseball. Yet under the circumstances, and especially because it was just the result of a lack of body control on a hustle play, I’l take it. Cano broke the ice with that huge hit, giving the Yanks a 4-2 lead. Crucially, they made Braden work every bit as hard as the A’s did Mitre.
Mitre had a nice 13-pitch second, working around a hit. In the bottom half, Melky popped out meekly to the catcher. Ransom popped out quickly for the second out. [During Jeter’s at-bat, Waldman reported that Gene Monahan has an ice pack on Melky’s jaw; why I’m not sure. It would be a bad blow to lose two good defensive outfielders.] Jeter walked, but JD grounded out. Braden is at 39 pitches after 2.
Melky is playing CF. Hairston had his uniform brushed with a pitch and takes first. Yet Mitre’s sinker worked effectively on Cust for a 1-6-3 DP that Jeter turned very well, getting past a hard slide from Hairston; two pitches, two outs. On an inning-ending 6-3 by Suzuki, Mitre had a four-pitch third, 41 pitches through three. Teixeira grounded out, Posada singled to left, Matsui scalded one to right center for a loud out, two down, and Swish K’d to end the third. Braden has a nasty change-up. Yanks still up 4-2.
Sweeney singled to start the fourth. Barton followed up with a nice single through the hole on the right side on a sinker away, runners at the corners with no outs. Ellis drove home Sweeney with a sac fly to right center, 4-3 Yanks, one out. Mitre got a comebacker for what should have been an easy 1-6-3 DP, but he threw it terribly off Jeter’s glove, runners at the corners again; poorly done, Mitre. But Jeter and Cano saved him, with Jeter going into the hole to retrieve it and flip it to Cano, who pivoted rapidly and turned it as he does–beautifully–for the DP, preserving the lead. Huge, beautiful DP. How about turning that nice momentum into some insurance runs?
After the great DP turn, Cano led off but lined out to first. Melky singled to left center, and Ransom ripped a thigh-high fastball for a double into the left field corner. Big moment here for The Captain, but he failed to deliver with am F9 shallow. Two down for JD, who weakly pops out to first. Big, blown opportunity there, 4-3 Yanks through 4.
Mitre got his third DP to erase a lead-off single by Cabrera, then fanned Cust to end a fast fifth. He’s at 72 pitches and working well, quickly, and effectively with his sinker. He’s not the sinker baller that Wang is when Wang is right, but his sinker has been pretty good in his two starts. Hopefully he can get into the seventh. Teixeira flew out to left, Posada grounded out to deep short, Matsui walked, but Swish grounded out to short. Braden is at 82 pitches through 5. Coke is warming in the bullpen and may enter in the sixth to face the stretch of lefties at the bottom of the A’s order. I can see it but, at the same time, Mitre has been pretty good. I trust Coke, but Mitre has settled in; good thing I’m not managing.
Mitre allowed a lead-off single and that’s it for Mitre–5+. Coke must hold. Coke got Sweeney on a weak fly, one down. Coke got a DP ball, but Barton just beat it, two down. Coke got ahead 0-1 but threw a wild pitch to give Barton second. Ellis then homered to left, 5-4 A’s. Yanks need to wake up and stop playing down to the competition, especially offensively. That DP that Barton beat out was costly. It really wasn’t a bad pitch from Coke; Ellis went down and got it. Patterson singled and Coke is not doing the job today. A groundout ends the top of the sixth but the Yanks lost the lead. Still, it’s just one run. The bottom of the order is up for the Yanks.
With one out, Melky walked and Ransom laced another double to left, second and third, one out, just as it was in the fourth. The result was be different this time. It is! Jeter singles to center, scoring two, 6-5 Yankees. Great job, Captain. The Jeter got picked off, stumbling on the way back to the bag, poorly done Jeter, two down. JD doubles to right; how costly was that pick-off now? Teixeira must deliver to ameliorate it. He does, delivering JD with an RBI single to center, 7-5 Yanks, big inning. Posada walked, ending Braden’s day. Breslow got Matsui to pop out to second, but the Yanks regained the lead with a big, clutch sixth.
Hughes enters for the seventh (and perhaps the eighth). Cabrera popped out to shallow center, one down. Hughes fanned Mitre, throwing 96-97. Wow. He also fanned Cust on the same–97 mph fastball. I’m totally amazed by the guy, just tremendous work. Mike texted me his concerns about Hughes going two today, rightly tracing it to the early hook of Mitre, about which I had my own suspicions, and with the Yanks facing TB starting tomorrow. But the alternatives aren’t there, and Aceves is available tomorrow. I think they need to win today and, after Mariano has had three days off, maybe he could go 1 1/3. Regardless, Hughes is just mowing ‘em down. Add on, boys.
Swish doubled to right to start the seventh, then moved to third on Cano’s deep F8; nicely done, Cano. Melky got walked, and I presume a righty will face Ransom. Hopefully he’ll make them pay. He’s had a great day at the plate–2 doubles and a run–thus far. But he hastily chased high heat to fan for the second out. Jeter up to try to deliver Swish, but he grounds out to first. Missed chance to add on. Hold it here, Hughes.
He fanned Suzuki on a 96-mph fastball, three straight K’s. He walked Sweeney on an eight-pitch at-bat, and Hughes is up to 33 pitches. Ahead 0-2 to Barton, Hughes threw two outside the zone to even it at 2-2, and Barton belts a curve to right for a double, second and third, one out and Bruney enters. Huge moment for him and the Yanks, with Bruney facing Ellis. With TB having lost and Boston down 4 in the 8th, the Yanks cannot let this game get away. Bruney K’s Ellis on a nasty fastball tailing in, two down, and Mariano enters to face Nomar as Bruney exits to nice applause–some for him, and some surely for Mariano. Nasty cutter low and away waved at and missed 0-1, foul ball 0-2, easy comebacker for the third out. Mariano.JD flew out, Teixeira doubled, Posada fanned, and Matsui worked the count to 3-2 before a flyout to right. Mariano in the ninth to save it.
Mariano nailed the outside corner to get Kennedy looking, one down. He also fanned Cabrera with a nasty cutter away, two down. Ransom nailed Hairston with a nice throw, 5-3. Mariano earned his 29th save of the year, and 511th of his incomparable career. Tremendous win today as Boston and Tampa Bay lost. With that, the Yanks return to 2 1/2 ahead of Boston and 6 1/2 ahead of Tampa (7 in the loss column). I will post more later after what will surely be a vicious street hockey game with my son. I hoped they would win 8 or 9 of 10, and they won 9. I didn’t quite expect them to gain that much ground on Boston and TB, but am thrilled they did. Now they need to take 2 of 3 in TB.