In one of my very favorites wins of the year, one that appeared unlikely early on, the Yankees gutted out a big, come-from-behind 5-4 win in Tampa Bay last night. Grandy continued his terrific play by going 2-3 with 2 runs, 2 stolen bases, and 2 walks. Gardner continues to shine, going 1-3 with a run, a stolen base, 2 walks, and a huge break-up of what would have been an inning-ending double play that allowed the tying run in Swish to score in the 8th inning. Andruw Jones had a big walk to load the bases, and Russ pushed across the winning run with a bases-loaded walk, in the 9th. Swish was 1-3 with 2 walks. Cano had an RBI single in the 2nd.
To be fair, even though he was all over the place and, when he was close to the plate, getting squeezed by home plate umpire Ed Hickox, AJ hung in there after a dreadful first inning. He kept the game close while the stellar Yankees bullpen allowed but a hit and a walk–both from Noesi who looked good–in the remaining 3 2/3. Robertson is so dominant, fanning two in the 8th last night to lower his ERA to 1.21, and raise his K total to an amazing 59 in just 37 2/3 IP. That’s officially ridiculous. Mariano, His Eminence, got his 24th save of the year and his 583rd of his incomparable career on a mere 8 pitches, making Upton look silly on a K.
This win was huge, allowing the Yanks to keep pace with a surging Boston, padding the lead in the loss column to 7 over TB, and stealing one when it looked so unlikely early on. This was one I was extremely glad to stick with.
Edit: One would be hard pressed to find a bigger difference maker in the Yankee lineup right now than Gardner, who really ought to be batting lead off. He is highly disruptive on the bases as last night’s great, clean wipe out slide also showed. While he ought to bat first, that he is batting above ninth more often at least solidifies a bottom third that has scuffled. Still, Girardi needs to do the right thing and move Gardner up.
I was reminded of Geoff from The BPS last night when Teixeira smack yet another one into the teeth of the shift–the shift works, and has done much to tamp down on Teixeira’s average. Heck, Tampa even employed it when Teixeira batted right-handed. I like that Teixeira has steered the ball to the other side a couple times lately, for it shows that he’s adjusting, but he needs to drive the ball the other way with consistency to reduce the shift on him, and I don’t see it happening any time soon. I love the guy, and his defense (including a terrific catch by the stands to end the game) is first rate. But his declining average (.239) is worrisome, all the more so as A-Rod recovers from surgery.
I’d like to see Noesi pitch quite a bit more. He is nasty when he keeps the ball down, and I am a big fan of the mid-90s heat.
Hard to imagine where the Yankees offense would be without Grandy. He is every bit the player I had hoped for when they traded for him, and this season stands right with his monster 2007 season as his best.