If I told you that Sergio Mitre would only last 4.1 innings last night, you’d surely lower your head into your palm. Yet it wasn’t that bad. Girardi exercised caution and relieved Mitre before he could cause any serious trouble. Al Aceves fended off the Blue Jays for an inning and two thirds, and that bought the Yankees offense enough time to rally ahead and take their second straight game from the Jays, 8-4.
Mitre didn’t look bad to start the game, striking out Marco Scutaro and Aaron Hill. The Jays then went single happy, hitting ground balls and bloops on their way to four straight hits which resulted in two runs. The box score looked bad, but at least Mitre was keeping the ball on the ground. And striking out guys. Five innings, two runs was still a possibility.
Over the next few innings, it appeared he might just hold up. Mitre was by no means perfect over the next three innings, but he made some good pitches and got a strikeout with a runner on and two outs in the second, and a ground out with two on and two outs in the fourth. Jose Molina assisted in the third, picking off Vernon Wells on a snap throw to fist.
After getting yet another grounder to open the fifth, Mitre left one up to Adam Lind, and Lind did as Lind does, parking it in the right field seats. After a Lyle Overbay single, Girardi had seen enough. His team was down just one and he didn’t want to see any more distance in the score, so he called on Ol’ Reliable, Al Aceves, to finish off the fifth and then some. Al fulfilled his duty, retiring the first five batters he faced.
Meanwhile, the Yankees were thinking rally. Nick Swisher sparked them in the seventh with a leadoff solo homer, tying the game. This led to a multi-run inning, which is strange, because you’d think that a leadoff walk would lead to more multi-run innings. But no, Swisher’s one run started a series of events which would eventually end with Mark Teixeira singling home the Yankees fourth run of the inning. Sandwiched in there was Jose Molina walking and Rod Barajas botching a play at the plate, so it was quite an eventful series of at bats. Even better, it left the Yankees with a lead.
I was a bit surprised to see Aceves back out to start the seventh after a long top of the inning. It made it easy to excuse the lead off home run to Marco Scutaro. Thankfully, the Blue Jays would not get a multi-run inning of their own. Ace got Aaron Hill to hit one right at Jeter, and then Phil Coke took care of the lefties Adam Lind and Lyle Overbay to cap the frame. Hughes and, after a few insurance runs, Robetson cleaned up.
It was encouraging to see the Yanks come back, despite a short start from Mitre. It’s never a welcome sight to see a starter fail to finish five innings, but the Yankees bullpen was good enough to pick up the slack and limit the Jays. I keep thinking back to years past in games like this. Would the offense have come back last year? Would the bullpen have held together for so long in 2007? I’m not so sure. It’s reassuring to know that both can happen in 2009.
The Yanks have now won three straight, and with two straight Red Sox losses they head into the weekend series two and a half games up in the AL East. The Yankees have no excuses this time. They’ve got to take three out of four, though there’s always the thought of a sweep right in the front of my mind. They’ll kick it off with Joba vs. Smoltz tomorrow night. I couldn’t be more excited.