For nearly five hours, the Yankees and the A’s played an excruciating game of baseball. Over 14 innings, the teams combined for 16 runs, 26 hits and 14 — fourteen! — walks. That the Yanks managed to eke out a 9-7 win is due to two piece who haven’t gotten much love lately: Melky Cabrera and the bullpen.
The game started with CC Sabathia on the hill. Sabathia, who’s had one good start and three mediocre starts as a Yankee, couldn’t locate his fastball gain. In 6.2 innings, he threw 112 pitches but just 59 percent of them, or 66 pitches, for strikes. He scattered six hits but allowed four walks, and those walks hurt. He left the game after blowing a two-run lead in the 7th and gave up seven runs, six earned, while striking out just two. It was one of those days.
Meanwhile, Sabathia’s departure in the seventh was a significant turning point in the game, but no one knew at the time. Joe Girardi trotted Sabathia out to the mound to start the inning when he was over 100 pitches and not flashing his best stuff. The first two runners reached base, and still Joe Girardi did not make the call to the pen. After the first 14 games of the year, Girardi would rather see his struggling ace attempt to battle than anyone trot out of that pen.
The pen though, after last week’s drubbing at the hands of the Indians, did not disappoint. Phil Coke, Jonathan Albaladejo, Mariano Rivera, Damaso Marte, Edwar Ramirez and Jose Veras — everyone except Steven Jackson and Brian Bruney — combined for 7.1 scoreless innings. The sextet combined for three walks, three hits and six strike outs. Even Marte, who by retiring one man lowered his ERA a full 2.10 runs, contributed.
The gold star though goes to Jose Veras. For the second straight appearance, Veras gave the Yankees length, and for the second straight appearance, he did so effectively. Since getting shelled in the stadium opener against Cleveland, Veras has made two appearances. He’s gone 6.1 innings, allowing one hit and one run — both on Saturday — while walking two and striking out six. Order has seemingly been restored to the bullpen for a day.
Offensively, the Yanks plated nine again with the help of the longball. Hideki Matsui and Melky Cabrera went back-to-back in the 2nd to get the Yanks on the board, and Derek Jeter added a solo shot in the 4th. In between, the Yankees went 5 for 12 with runners on base and still managed to strand 13. In reality, this game should have been won long before Melky’s second home run cleared the right field fence in the bottom of the 14th.
Before the 14th though, Melky wasn’t looking like too much of a hero. In the bottom of the 7th, the Yanks loaded the bases with no one out. Melky then struck out on a pitch practically at his eyes, and when Brett Gardner pinch hitting failed to get the run in and Derek made out, the Yanks and A’s were primed for a long, long battle of the bullpens.
But Melky redeemed himself as only Melky can. He smashed a line drive — a true Yankee home run at old Yankee Stadium — and Nick Swisher hit the plate with the winning run. For Melky, his fourth home run of the season and his sixth and seventh RBIs. (Joe will have more on Melky “Mr. April” Cabrera later tonight.)
The Yankees now head up to Boston to play a team that’s won, as of this writing, six in a row. With the bullpen coming together and the offense clicking, we should be in for a weekend of great baseball, and it’s always comforting to leave home with a win, 4-2 on what started out as a bad homestand.
My TV Appearance
For everyone who missed my shot on NBC’s Nightly News with David Ushery yesterday, you can watch it here thanks to the good folks at my dad’s office. I’m not smiling in the first few seconds on air because I didn’t realize the camera was on. I have to work on that. As my girlfriend said, I look like I’m on death row, but once I start talking, it’s all good. It’s a brief bit, and I talk about the empty seats at Yankee Stadium.
Use this as your open thread. We’ll be back with DotF later on.