Riding the heels of their dramatic, walk-off comeback win against Brad Lidge on Saturday, the Yanks handed the ball to their ace on Sunday feeling good about themselves. And why not? They had won 10 of their last 11 games and found themselves right back in the thick of things in the AL East race.
After two relatively uneventful innings, the Phillies took a 2-0 in the third when Jimmy Rollins looped a double pastadivingGardner and Shane Victorino singled to left. CC Sabathia had retired the first eight men he faced to that point, and he would go on to retire six of the next seven following the rally. The Yanks answered with a run of their own in the bottom of the third when Frankie Cervelli and Johnny Damon shot doubles down each line. Cole Hamels was pitching well, but the 2-1 lead didn’t feel insurmountable.
The game was again uneventful until the sixth inning, when Raul Ibanez doubled in Shane Victorino for a 3-1 lead. It was the first extra base hit Sabathia has allowed to a lefthanded hitter since last July, when AJ Pierzynski took CC deep in his final start for the Indians. That’s a helluva streak, covering 206.2 IP. The Yankees answered with a Mark Teixeira broken bat homerun to left field in the bottom of the inning, and the score stayed at 3-2 until Brad Lidge emerged from the bullpen in the bottom of the ninth.
Robinson Cano wasted no time kicking off the rally by sending Lidge’s first pitch back up the middle for a barely made it out of the infield single. Joe Girardi chose to pinch run Ramiro Pena for Cano, which is a bit odd considering it’s not much of an upgrade in terms of speed, plus Cano had just stolen second off Lidge the day before. Anywho, Pena swiped second and Melky Cabrera drove him in with a squibber back up the middle. After a steal of second put the winning run in scoring position with no outs, Hideki Matsui struck out, pinch hitter Nick Swisher grounded out to second, and Gardner grounded out to first. The Yanks had come back to tie, but the win was on hold.
Mariano Rivera worked a scoreless tenth inning to set up the top of lineup in the bottom half. Derek Jeter led off the inning with his second single to left (when’s the last time we saw the Cap’n pull the ball twice in a game?) and Johnny Damon followed up with a single to the right. The Yanks had runners on first and second with the thunder due up, and everyone was preparing themselves for what seemed like the inevitable walk-off win. Seven Clay Condrey pitches later, Teixeira grounded into a deflating 4-6-3 double play. Alex Rodriguez was intentionally walked to get to Pena – who had taken over for Cano an inning earlier – and it took all of one pitch for Pena to play out to center for the third out. Opportunity squandered.
Extra innings isn’t what the Yanks wanted on a getaway day, especially when the bullpen was very shorthanded. Let’s recap:
- Jose Veras & Mariano Rivera had already pitching in the game.
- Al Aceves & Chien-Ming Wang were still unavailable following extended long relief outings in the past few days.
- Brian Bruney is out with a balky elbow.
- Phil Coke had thrown 21 pitches the day before and 105 pitches in the last nine days. He was an emergency option only.
So because of this, Girardi turned to his only available reliever in the 11th inning, journeyman Brett Tomko. Sure, he could have left Mo in for another inning, but after 19 pitches I can understand pulling the plug on the 39 year old after one inning. Tomko quickly recorded the first two outs of the inning, but ended up surrendering the go-ahead run on a Carlos Ruiz double, the catcher’s fourth freaking hit of the day. The Yanks went down like wimps in the bottom of the inning, and just like that the Phillies had taken two of three to end the homestand on a sour note.
The Yanks are now off to Texas for a seven game road trip, but they leave with a slightly bitter taste in their mouths. Despite the loss, the bottom line is that the Yankees were 8-2 on the homestand and were very close to being 9-1. We’d all take that every single day of the week. Phil Hughes returns to Arlington tomorrow, surely looking to finish up the no-hitter this time.