The best way to describe this game to someone who didn’t see it: the play of the game was a Mark Teixeira scoop at first on an off-line Derek Jeter throw. Sure, it was a good play, but when you think play of the game, don’t you think of a homer or a big RBI? The Yanks didn’t get one in this game. They scored on a Jeter single, a Teixeira groundout, and a Swisher sac fly. Nothing flashy. Just three — dare I say it? — gritty runs and some timely pitching. The Yanks rode it all the way to first place in the AL East, beating the Indians 3-1.
When you look at Pettitte’s final line, it’s surprising he allowed only one run. He threw just 45 of his 84 pitches for strikes (54%) and allowed 11 baserunners in five-plus innings. This led to a number of Indians threats, none greater than one he left in the sixth. After a single, walk, and a 2-0 count on the next batter, Joe Girardi had seen enough. Pettitte clearly wasn’t feeling 100 percent; Girardi and the trainer had to visit the mound in the fourth for a possible injury concern. With a bases loaded, no outs situation just two pitches away, Girardi insisted that his starter hand over the ball.
Al Aceves took care of the next two balls, but bore down after that. To allow just one run with the bases loaded and no outs is admirable, and that’s just what Aceves did. Then he did some more, shutting down the Indians for two more innings and yes, laid the bridge to Mo. Since Mo is Mo, and Mo has already had his freakout moment of the year, he was just fine, striking out Asdrubal Cabrera and Grady Sizemore before getting Victor Martinez to ground out, giving the Yanks the W. With a Boston loss against Toronto, the Yankees are in first place by themselves for the first time since the last day of the 2006 season.
While the Yanks’ offense did a good job of manufacturing a few runs, pitching won the day. Pettitte was shaky but limited the damage with runners on base. Aceves allowed just one baserunner of his own in three innings pitched. And, of course, Mo did what Mo does. The offense did have a few chances to lay it to the Indians, but they went 2 for 12 with runners in scoring position. That’s why pitching is so damn important. The Yankees have been hitting better lately with RISP, but sometimes they’re going to have games like this. When the pitching doesn’t go out and allow five runs, as we saw countless times last year, the team has a chance. Those two hits with RISP, plus the sac fly, was enough with this staff.
The Yanks won on Wednesday and they won today. One more and that’s a winning streak. Thankfully, they’ll call on their best man to do it, as CC Sabathia takes the hill tomorrow evening in his return to Cleveland. I’m certainly looking forward to this one. It’s one of the benefits of having the Yanks being in first place: I’m always looking forward to the next game. Not that I’m not when they’re in second, third, hell, even last. It’s just when the team is going well, I just can’t wait to get to the next game. It’s quite the feeling. Hopefully the Yanks keep it going.