As Bobby Abreu — the league’s least effective right fielder — blasted a ball into the right-center field gap and Derek Jeter rounded third to score the game’s winning run in the 10th, all was right in the Yankee Universe. Four games removed from a second straight loss at the hands of the Red Sox, the Yanks have won four in a row, two against the hated Red Sox and two against the division-leading Rays, to move right back into the thick of the AL Playoff race.
Today’s game had “blow out” written all over it. Coming into the festivities, Sidney Ponson had allowed nearly two baserunners per inning as a Yankee, and the Rays are a good offensive team. But Sir Sidney was effective over his 87 pitches today. He threw 6 innings, allowing five hits and two walks — 1.17 WHIP, baby. The only blemish was a Carlos Pena home run in the sixth, and Jose Veras, Kyle Farnsworth and Mariano Rivera did their thing.
The Yanks were facing an equally effective Edwin Jackson, and after plating a run in the first, the offense mustered nothing until the 10th. Melky Cabrera struck out in the 9th with one out and the winning run on third. Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada were held hitless as, one day after five Yanks each had two hits apiece, no one managed more than one. The Power of the ‘Stache — looking mighty fine on Mike Mussina — drove in the first run; Abreu drove in the last. And all was good.
As is his wont these days, my player of the game was Mariano Rivera. He threw 2 scoreless innings and struck out four. Again. Can’t say enough about Mo.
Meanwhile, for the Yankees, they needed this mini-sweep. They held the Rays to one run over two games and halted the Tampa Bay juggernaut’s roll through the AL. They’ve crawled back to within 6.5 of the division lead and face the Pittsburgh Pirates and last-place Blue Jays prior to the All Star Break. With Moose, Joba and Pettitte all lined up to start before the break, they could win three of four this week and end the first half on a very strong note become playoff buyers at the deadline indeed.