If you had to lose a series leading into a series against the team that you’re chasing, and you had to pick only one game to win, you’d definitely pick the last game. Glass half-full? Yeah, so what. The Yankees pulled it all together tonight: hitting, pitching and defense.
Welcome back to Earth, John Maine. The Yankees worked Maine over to the tune of 5 earned in 5 innings on 8 hits and 3 walks. The most heartening thing about the game for the Yanks was their patience (Maine threw 107 pitches in his 5 innings) and their power. Jeter, Posada and A-Rod all hit monster home runs. Shea barely held A-Rod’s, it hit the fence at the back of the bleachers on a line. Posada’s landed in the third deck in right. Endy Chavez barely moved when Jeter hit his line drive bomb into the seats in left-center.
The game turned on a bloop. The Yankees had Maine on the ropes throughout the first three innings, but couldn’t push a run across. In the fourth, they had first and second with one out and the pitcher up. Tyler Clippard (more on him later), laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners up with two down. Johnny Damon stepped in, on an 0–2 pitch he blooped one in front of a diving Shawn Green in right. This was the break they needed. Both runs scored, and Derek Jeter stepped up to the plate with a 2–1 lead. By the time he got back to the bench it was 4–1.
The pitching was outstanding. Tyler Clippard opened the game by striking Jose Reyes out on a sharp curve in the dirt, and he only hit one speed bump after that. An opposite field bomb to David Wright. Clippard’s final line: 6 IP, 1 earned, 3 hits, 3 walks, 6 Ks. Proctor pitched a scoreless seventh and eight, then Mo came in to get some work before the Sox series. This was the only downer of the night for the Yanks. Mo gave up a bomb to Damion Easley in the bottom of the ninth. That doesn’t really bother me, he never has pitched well in mop up duty. What does bother me is that he threw 27 pitches to get the final three outs. He may not be available tomorrow night, if needed.
It’s nice to have a good feeling going into the Red Sox series, and tomorrow night Chien-Ming Wang will take the hill on his normal rest against Tim Wakefield, who got lit up by the Tigers in his last outing. The bad news: even if the Yanks take two out of three from the Sox, they’ll still be 9.5 games back.
Let’s not think about that, though. Tonight, we can rest easy, and our friends over at Loge 13 can put the broom away.
Player of the Game: Derek Jeter: 2 for 4, 1 run, 2 RBIs, 1 HR. (I was leaning toward giving it to Clippard for his first major league win, and a dominant performance, but this game was really Jeter’s. He rose to the occasion tonight, like a captain should.)