In the eighth inning, following Delmon Young’s one-out, three-run home run against Mariano Rivera, tonight’s Yankee game seemed like Just One of Those Nights. Lately, we’ve known that feeling all too well. Following a solid start, the Yanks’ bullpen steps in to blow the game while the offense can’t quite push across enough runs.
Luckily, tonight, the game ended in the Yanks’ favor when the beleaguered Alex Rodriguez, 0 for the night until the 12th, blasted a shot to straightaway center field. Following a Xavier Nady two-run home run and a 1-2-3 bottom of the inning for Edwar Ramirez, the Yanks walked away winners.
For the team, this win may yet turn out to be the game that saved the season — or at least delayed the inevitable — as the Red Sox blew a 10-run first-inning but still managed to win. The Yanks maintained the five-game divide separating them and Boston and narrowed the AL East deficit to eight. They’re down, but not quite out of it yet.
For the first seven innings, Mike Mussina and the Yanks’ offense were the stars of the game. With Johnny Damon — the AL’s leading hitter — back in the lineup after an inexplicable day off, the Yanks got off to a very first start. One batter into the game, and the Yanks were up a run. While the Twins would answer with two in the second, Nady picked up two of his four RBIs in the third. He now has 17 ribbies as a Yank. But of course, the other half of that trade would strike back.
By the seven, the Yanks were up 6-3. Mike Mussina threw 104 pitches in seven innings, allowing three runs on eight hits and his customary one walk. He struck out five. But Damaso Marte, called upon to pitch the eighth, couldn’t handle the job. Again. Marte gave up a hit, got an out, gave up another hit and then hit the showers.
And then disaster struck. Mariano Rivera is having a season for the ages, but since July 1, his totals are less than stellar. In 14 innings prior to tonight, he has a 3.21 ERA and two losses. Now, he can finally add a blown save to that line. After Young’s home run, Rivera made the most of it, and Jose Veras picked up the slack. By the time A-Rod homered and Nady added the icing on the cake, the bullpen had done an admirable job outside of the eighth.
For the Yanks, 2-6 on the road before tonight, this was about as big a must-win as they’ve had all season. With Darrell Rasner set to go this afternoon, they need every win they can get on the road right now. As the calendar pages disappear and the season marches inevitably closer to the end, the Yanks basically just have to keep on winning. Tonight it was nearly Mo’s turn to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, but in the end, A-Rod — the much-maligned A-Rod — stepped in to save the day. I’ll take it.