Why don’t we just file this one under “a win is a win is a win”? The Yanks beat the Nationals 5-3 in a game that was far closer than it should have been. In the end, though, they won to keep pace with the Red Sox and surging Rays in the AL East. That’s what counts.
For two-thirds of the game, it didn’t look quite that nice. Through six innings, the Yankees were down 3-2, and it seemed as though this one would turn out to be One of Those Days. Just two days removed from their slaughtering of Johan Santana, the Yankees were being shut down by Shairon Martis, a pitcher six weeks older than my sister making just his 17th Major League start.
It wasn’t, though, from a lack of trying on Martis’ part. While he left the game after allowing just one earned run in sixth inning — thus lowering his June ERA to 2.00 — he spotted the Yanks five walks. Unfortunately, the team could not get that big hit with runners in scoring position. And so it went.
But with Martis out of the game, the Nationals’ bullpen took over, and if there’s one thing that brings tears of joy to the eyes of opponents this year it is the Nationals’ bullpen. While the Yanks’ bullpen has given us troubles, the Nationals’ bullpen is nothing short of spectacularly awful. Worst in the NL in almost every statistic, they did not disappoint.
With the Yanks facing a one-run deficit in the 7th, old friend Ron Villone gave up three hits and two runs to give the Yanks the lead. Mike MacDougal — good old Mac the Knife — gave up an insurance run for good measure in the 8th. It would be all the Yanks would need.
From the Yanks’ perspective, though, this game should have been better. The team had 15 baserunners tonight and went just 3 for 13 with runners in scoring position. A-Rod continued his slow month, Derek Jeter left the game with an ankle injury, and after I spent today defending Jorge Posada, he called for a terrible 1-2 pitch to Anderson Hernandez that ended up on the wrong side of the left field fence.
Yet, on the plus side, Robinson Cano went 4 for 4, driving in two key runs, and the Yanks’ pitching was outstanding. Although CC Sabathia didn’t have the strikeout pitch working last night, he threw 75 of 109 pitches for strikes. He scattered just six hits over 7.2 innings and walked only one. Clearly, CC doesn’t mind throwing in the home run haven that is new Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees also welcomed back their 8th inning man. Freshly activated off the DL, Brian Bruney came in with a runner on and two outs in the 8th. He induced a ground out off the bat of Ryan Zimmerman to end the threat. Mariano threw a perfect 9th to nail down his 15th save, and all was right in Yankeeland.