In celebration of our nation’s independence, the Yankees decided to stage an epic battle against our neighbors to the north. A few lead changes made the early innings interesting, and at the end of nine they were tied at five. The game wouldn’t end any time soon thereafter.
The story of the day, as we all knew going in, was Chien-Ming Wang — though it wasn’t quite for the reasons we expected. He pitched well through the first two innings, allowing two runs on four hits and one walk. Even the runs — a bloop ground rule double to right by Vernon Wells followed by a chopper up the middle by Alex Rios — were forgivable. Things weren’t so nice in the sixth.
Marco Scutaro led off the inning with a double, and after an Aaron Hill groundout Adam Lind parked one over the right field wall, staking the Blue Jays to a 4-3 lead. After throwing one pitch to Scott Rolen Wang was done. Jorge Posada called out the trainer after he saw something. After the game he said that Wang “didn’t throw that ball.” Not good news, especially because of his effective early innings.
We’ll be sure to discuss the Wang injury in a bit more depth tomorrow morning. For now, all we have is the word from Girardi, which came after Wang had an MRI. “Shoulder strain and some bursitis,” he explained. “I’m confident he’ll be back, but I can’t tell you exactly when.” The plan for now wounds like rest and rehab, but that could certainly change. Wang, you will remember, had a rotator cuff injury after the All-Star break in 2005, and made it back for September with rest and rehab.
David Robertson didn’t help matters in relief, walking the first two batters he faced before allowing another Blue Jays run. Brian Bruney had his own struggles in the seventh, loading the bases with one out before getting Scott Rolen to pop out and Lyle Overbay to line out to finish the inning without any damage. It’s a good thing, because the Yanks mounted their comeback in the seventh.
Derek Jeter singled to lead off the inning, and Johnny Damon put one over the short porch to tie the game up. It was the fifth run the Yankees scored off Roy Halladay. How many runs had Halladay allowed in his last five outings against the Yankees? It was the most runs he’d allowed to the Yankees in six years. Yankees fans knew this all too well, making today’s game just a bit sweeter. He is human, after all.
The Yanks had chances in both the eighth and ninth, but trends from earlier in the game came back to haunt them. In every inning one through seven, either Robinson Cano or Brett Gardner ended the inning. That continued through the last two frames, as Gardner ended the eight with a strikeout, leaving Cody Ransom, pinch-running for Hideki Matsui after a ground rule double, stranded on second. The Yanks again put a runner in scoring position with two outs in the ninth, as Derek Jeter tagged up from first on a long fly ball. Can grounded out to second to end that frame.
After both teams failed to score in the 10th and 11th and Brett Tomko retired the Blue Jays in the 12th, Cano had another chance. Mark Teixeira led off with a double, leaving the door open for Cito Gaston to walk Alex Rodriguez. Girardi put on the bunt sign, which makes sense in this situation. Cano has been in a funk lately, especially with runners in scoring position. Shawn Camp let him off the hook, though, throwing three straight balls. but then on 3-0, Cano showed bunt again, tapping one in front of the mound. Raul Chavez pounced on it and got Mark Teixeira at third. Cano had just wasted an out on an ill-advised bunt attempt.
“Let’s just say that somebody missed something,” Girardi said after the game. “He misunderstood something.” The mental gaffe could, and probably should, land Cano on the bench tomorrow. Gardner, who is 0 for 15 since his five-hit night at Citi Field, could join him to give Eric Hinske his first Yankees start.
Ah, but the game is not yet over, at least as far as concerns this recap. Before pontificating on the near-term ramifications of Cano’s and Gardner’s slumps, we were left with runners on first and second with one out and Jorge Posada on the plate. After looking at two pitches, a ball and a strike. The third one would end the game. Jorge punched it into right-center, plating Alex Rodriguez to cap a 6-5 Independence Day win. I can’t imagine the horrors of having lost to Canada.
It wasn’t a pretty game, but a win’s a win. Combined with a Red Sox loss, the Yanks are just a game out of the division lead. Not that it matters at this point. We’re not even halfway through, so winning games is the only thing the Yanks, and their fans, need to worry about.
It was supposed to be Joba vs. Scott Richmond tomorrow, but late word came that Richmond will hit the DL. The Yanks will face rookie Brett Cecil for the series win.