C.C. pitched a gem but got touched up for two in the seventh to tie the game, while the Yanks wasted more early chances off Buehrle, letting him settle in. Yet the bullpen threw three perfect innings, and Cano came through by crushing a 2-2 slider belt-high and over the plate in the bottom of the tenth to beat Chicago 5-2. Huge win in a game played entirely during a steady rain, with the wind blowing in and surely depriving the Yanks of two homers–Teixeira in the first, and A-Rod in the tenth.
Jeter again led off the game with a homer to left center, made all the more impressive considering how the driving wind blowing in from left prevented the aforementioned players from homering. But the Yanks began last night’s game as they ended it Thursday afternoon–stranding runners, starting with 2 in the first, one in the second, and two more in the third after JD”s lead-off homer made it 2-0 Yanks. Damon’s shot, while not hit deep to right, was very impressive for he got a curve, strode out to swing, paused, then ripped into it for a line-drive homer, literally adjusting mid-swing; beautiful.
Cano left the bases loaded in the fifth after a comebacker to Buehrle. Good thing C.C. was rolling, allowing just three hits through five while fanning nine, including striking out the side in order after Konerko’s lazy fly ball dropped in for a double when Melky lost it in the lights. He stranded Nix after his lead-off single started the sixth, fanning Beckham and Thome before retiring Konerko on a 4-3. He had Thome’s lunch all night, whiffing the great slugger thrice, with Thome earning his golden sombrero later against Hughes, who impressively struck out the side in the eighth.
C.C. got into trouble in the seventh when Dye doubled, Quentin walked, and Rios blooped a double to right, 2-1 Yanks but second and third, no outs. Cano made a nice play on Ramirez’s humpback liner for the first out, holding the runners. A-Rod made a nice play on Castro’s grounder, nailing Quentin at home for the second out. But Nix hit a single down the third base line, with A-Rod making a run-saving play to hold the bases loaded. Beckham then singled to right to score Rios, but Swish charged the ball and threw a seed–in the rain with a slick ball no less–to nail Castro at the plate with ease and keep the game tied. Swish’s play was great, but not to be overlooked was A-Rod’s excellent dive, for on either play, the Sox could have had more runs.
Unfortunately for the Yanks, they struggled in the seventh and eighth off hard-throwing lefty Matt Thornton who, despite throwing 42 pitches in two frames, didn’t allow a base runner. Yet the Yanks’ relievers were equally staunch, with Hughes, Mariano, then Bruney yielding nothing in the eighth, ninth, and tenth respectively.
A terrific two-out rally in the tenth won it for the Yanks. After Teixeira struck out and A-Rod hit what would have been a homer without the hard wind, Matsui walked. Swish did too, although it was apparent that the lefty Williams was avoiding Swish to get to the RISP-impaired Cano, no doubt also for the lefty-lefty match-up. Cano tattooed a 2-2 hanging slider to deep right center, through the rain, for the big dramatic win. I didn’t like his walking halfway to first, for it’s just poor sportsmanship to gawk especially given how awful he’s been in such situations. Yet there is no denying the importance of the walk-off win. The Yanks did not overuse their bullpen, while probably eliminating Thornton from being used today (should the game be played). C.C.’s outstanding start–eight hits and two runs earned, one walk and ten K’s in seven strong innings, on 113 pitches/78 strikes–was exactly what the team needed and did not go wasted. The Big Guy is every bit as reliable as the season winds on as he has proven the last few years in August. C.C. is a flat-out ace.
All starters had a hit except Swish, who had two walks. Jeter’s homer was his 17th with 60 RBI, batting .329. JD’s homer was his 23rd with 69 RBI, batting .290. Cano’s walk-off jack was his 21st with 68 RBI, batting .313. I don’t like that the team had all their runs via the homer, for they simply coudln’t hit with RISP until Cano’s homer–their only situational hit in seven chances, stranding nine. But a win is a win is a win. Last night’s had to hurt Chicago, for they played through over three hours in the rain, Chicago came back against an impressive effort from C.C. to tie it and, until Williams’s two-out meltdown in the tenth, got strong relief work themselves. Plus, the Sox’s division chances are fading as they continue to struggle.
The Yanks are back to 32 games above .500 at 80-48 and, with 34 left to play, remain six ahead of Boston in the East, and 3 1/2 ahead of the Angels for home field. The magic number for the East is down to 29. Tense win, but a good one.