It’s amazing what a two-out, two-strike, two-run, walk-off home run will do for a team.
Shortly before 4 p.m., Yankee fans were ready to write this game off. Chien-Ming Wang had another terrible outing; Melky Cabrera had made a very costly play in the field; and Kyle Farnsworth had just pitched yet another ineffective eighth inning, giving up a run that I assumed would be the end of the Yankees.
But the loss just wasn’t meant to be. With two outs, A-Rod singled and moved to second on what would be a costly defensive indifference. Hideki Matsui singled him home, and up to the plate strode the red-hot Jason Giambi, battling a foot problem. Giambi fell behind 0-2, and then he launched one, high and deep and far into the upper deck. Watching the game, I thought the ball was foul. I shook my head and said, “Almost.” It was the same “Almost” I had said to myself when Brad Wilkerson tracked down Johnny Damon’s blast in the bottom of the 8th.
But somehow, the ball stayed fair, and the crowd and the Yankees erupted. It was a come-from-behind win, a badly needed W that drew the Yankees even at 30-30. It marked a comeback from five down, and it showed that, yes, Jason Giambi is a force to be reckoned with, just as Jamal has told us all for the entire season.
As the adrenaline from that victory flowed, I couldn’t help but reflect on the problems in the game that were sure to be ignored. We saw Chien-Ming Wang struggle, Melky Cabrera make a bad play and Robinson Cano fail to get down a bunt.
Cano and Cabrera are simply playing below what anyone expected. Melky’s inexplicably dropped double play line drive led to five runs. Instead of being out of the inning, Chien-Ming Wang was out of the game. It seems to me to be another sign that Melky just isn’t quite what he’s supposed to be.
Cano’s bad play came late in the game when he failed to bunt Wilson Betemit to second. We could argue night and day whether the Yanks should be bunting in the eighth (short answer: They shouldn’t be), but Cano must get that bunt down. I know he’s been a middle-of-the-order hitter for a long time, but really, a Major Leaguer should be able to bunt now and then.
We’ll end with Wang. I am officially concerned. Wang is now winless since the start of May, and he’s been utterly terrible lately. He’s given up 26 earned runs in 37.2 innings, while allowing 39 hits and 20 walks while striking out 16. That is a 6.21 ERA, and Wang is, whether we want to admit it, scuffling. Something’s got to give, and I have to believe that perhaps Dave Eiland is to blame. Outside of Mike Mussina, he’s hardly done a good job this year with Kennedy and Hughes struggling and Wang looking lost on the mound.
But in the end, the Yanks won, and they won in grand style. For a day, we’ll forget these problems, and we’ll look forward to chasing the Red Sox, just 6.5 games ahead of the Yankees. But these problems linger; let’s not forget that either.
Site Notes: Just want to say thank you to everyone who dropped by on Thursday. We had a record-breaking day on RAB.