Never-Say-Die Yanks Top Jays 7-5

The more I watch the Yanks, the more impressed I am by their resiliency.  That I have come to expect Yankee comebacks renders them no less remarkable when they occur.  Down 4-3 entering the bottom of the eighth, Matsui and Posada went back-to-back to lead off, the second time in three games that the Yanks overcame an eighth-inning deficit with back-to-back homers.  As they did Sunday night against Boston, the Yanks also added on after the dramatic home runs, with Hinske doubling, Melky the Once-Again Clutch singling him in off Josh Roenicke, then stealing second and, after Jeter struck out, JD driving in Melky, 7-4 Yankees just like that.  Mariano allowed a run for the first time since June 12th when Encarnacion homered to dead center on a belt-high cutter to cut it to 7-5, and Barajas made it interesting with a single, but he struck out Inglett and Scutaro to end the game, earning his 33nd save of the year and his 515th of his incomparable career.  The comeback win, which according to Josh Thomson of The Amsterdam Journal News is the 37th this year, was important in its own right, but also because Boston beat Detroit, also by 7-5, to stay within 5 1/2 of the East-leading Yanks.

The game started auspiciously enough for the Yanks scoring three in the first two innings against Richmond.  Jeter led off with a sharp single, JD doubled, Teixeira singled home Jeter 1-0 Yanks, A-Rod struck out looking, Matsui fanned, and Jorge clubbed one to the wall, scoring JD 2-0.  But Teixeira was out by a mile at home, and I didn’t see a good replay to indicate if he ran through Thomson’s sign or was waved home.  Regardless, someone made a poor decision.  Still, the 2-0 start was welcome as Joba buzzed through the first two innings.  The Yanks added a run in the second as Cano led off with a double, went to third on a balk, and scored on Melky the Once-Again Clutch’s one-out sac fly, 3-0 Yanks.  They threatened for more, with Jeter singling, JD hitting a ground-rule double to right center, and Teixeira walking.  But A-Rod flew out to shallow center to end the threat.

Momentum turned right away as Joba’s incessant nibbling squandered the lead.  Inglett walked with one out, Scutaro singled, Hill grounded into a force, Lind walked on four pitches, and Overbay smacked a 2-1 fastball on which Joba missed Jorge’s target away, putting it low and in as Overbay cleared the bases to tie it.  A solo homer by Ruiz in the top of the fourth put the Yanks in a hole 4-3 at just the same time that the offense, which had let Richmond off the hook, now sank into a futile stretch, going scoreless from the third through the seventh and managing just three base runners.  Good defense by the Jays also squelched some threats, with Inglett robbing JD of at least a double with a great leaping catch near the wall in right, and Encarnacion taking a two-out hit away from A-Rod in the seventh with a diving stop to his right.

The JD drive was especially infuriating, for Sterling shifted into his patented “It is high, it is far…” call, then called it off the wall, then changed his call saying Inglett caught it.  Multiple times last night, Sterling launched into his home run call, only to have the ball carom off the wall or get caught.  I’ve said it many times, I like Sterling as a game announcer, but I actually cursed him out loud as he botched JD’s long, loud out to right.  He really needs to pay more attention to the fielder–which is what Kay does–as well as get a new prescription for his glasses, for he genuinely seems less able than ever before to determine whether or not balls will leave the yard–home or away, new stadium or old.  Last night, Sterling  was particularly brutal.

It also tempered his home run calls later, especially as Matsui crushed his 17th homer of the year to deep right center.  Culminating a great at-bat against the lefty sidearmer Carlson in which he fouled off four pitches, Matsui got a fastball right over the plate and he pasted it a good 15 rows back in the right center bleachers to tie the game.  Sterling practically waited until the ball landed to begin his “It is high…” call.  Jorge’s homer was more difficult to judge, understandably, for it was an opposite field shot that landed in the first row of the right field stands, and was eventually contested by Jays manager Cito Gaston.  Upheld, the Yanks took the 5-4 lead, tacking on two more as described above. [Edit: As Posada homered, my daughter, listening from the living room, queried, “Did he get it right THIS time, Dad?”  Hilarious.  She doesn’t miss a thing.]

Not to be overlooked, the comeback was made possible by some good Yankees pitching.  After allowing Ruiz’s opposite field homer off the foul pole, Joba settled in, allowing just a fifth-inning single to Hill and, on the whole last night, looking good except for his flirtation with disaster in the third inning.  His final line–6 IP, 5 hits, 4 runs earned, 2 BB, and 5 K on 103 pitches/64 strikes–represented improvement over last Thursday’s sloppy win against Boston at the same time that it continued to show his inexperience.  His inability to locate his fastball again reared its ugly head, getting him behind in counts that led to walks and, later, Overbay’s game-tying double.  Yet his final three innings kept the game close.

Importantly, so did Bruney, who worked around Inglett’s one-out single to fan Scutaro on a nasty slider.  Bruney also threw an effective cutter that nicely complemented his crackling fastball, inspiring fans that, if he can get it together as he did to start the year, the Yanks will have an even more formidable bullpen from the seventh on.  Coke’s setting down lefties Lind and Overbay to start the eighth was crucial, doing his job before handing it off to Robertson, who got Wells to ground out and earned his second win after the dramatic comeback in the bottom of the eighth.

After the homers, I texted Frank the Sage in jubilation about another late-inning comeback, for which he thanked me because his cable did not show the MY9 game, instead showing the Mets’ so-called farm team the Buffalo Bisons.  Worse, since a perennial Yankees market of Western New York no longer broadcasts Yankees baseball games the past few years–a genuine disgrace for an area that, despite being far closer to Toronto and Cleveland than The Bronx, has always been Yankee country–The Sage was blacked out of the game after getting home from work.  I felt obliged to call him and walk him through the final innings, with Mariano’s first hiccup in two months providing a little unease, but nothing that consecutive strikeouts couldn’t abate as I put the phone to the computer speaker for Frank to hear Sterling’s other trademark call to end the game that he never botches.  “Ballgame over; Yankees win!  The-e-e-e-e, Yankees win!”

Jeter (.318) and JD (.285) were each 3-5, with JD doubling twice (25 doubles) and driving in his 66th run.  Posada was 2-4 with his 15th homer and 18th double, driving in two (52 this year) and batting .283.  Melky the Once-Again Clutch was 1-3 with a sac fly and the RBI single in the eighth, driving in 2 (45 this year) and batting .279.  Matsui’s enormous, money blast was his 17th, batting .265 with 53 RBI.  Cano was 2-4 with a double, leading the team with 32, batting .316.  Teixeira was 1-3 with his RBI single (84 RBI) and a walk, batting .286.  Hinske doubled, and only A-Rod among the starters didn’t get a hit.  The Yanks pounded out 7 extra-base hits, got 14 hits in all, and hit well in the clutch, going 4-9 with RISP, stranding 7.  Again the Yanks, just a swing away from tying the game late, got that swing and another to propel them into the lead, adding on immediately afterward.  Again the Yanks showed toughness and the refusal to lose.  Again they came back.  Again they got good relief pitching, with Mariano allowing two of the three hits and the only run the bullpen allowed in three good innings following Joba.

I’ll reserve my judgment about whether or not last night’s hiccup from Mariano represents his frequent August struggles, for he’s been great this month and before, and it was the only run he allowed in two months.  Also worth considering is the fact that, although the six homers thus far are the most Mariano has yielded in his career as a reliever, only one–Bay’s game-tying homer April 24–was not a solo homer.  That is, when Mariano has made the rare mistake that gets hit out, it has been only one run.  I’m not sweating it at all.  He’s Mariano, the greatest relief pitcher ever, and that last night’s homer put his ERA barely above 2 at 2.02 actually leaves me reassured that he’s having yet another great year, a few solo homers aside.  He’ll be fine.

The Yanks look to take the series this afternoon at 1:05 ET, with Burnett (10-5, 3.67 ERA) facing rookie lefty Ricky Romero (10-5, 3.66 ERA) on getaway day before heading out to Seattle for four games, three of them late-night action.  The great comeback win keeps the Yanks 5 1/2 up on Boston and 9 ahead of Tampa in the East, and 2 up on the Angels (1 in the loss column) for home field.

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Published in: on August 12, 2009 at 7:38 am  Comments (1)  

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  1. H-Mosk needs to retire because he can’t see the field anymore. He was tolerable when Michael Kay sat beside him in the booth but Waldman just adds to the pain of listening to games on the radio.

    Impressive win made all the more important by the fact that Boston won and Tampa lost. As I said yesterday, if the Yankees win tonight then no one will care what happened on Monday. Go get em AJ.


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