In the first inning this afternoon, the Yankees looked to be on the verge of getting to Jose Contreras early. Derek Jeter opened the game with yet another hit, and Johnny Damon reached when Jayson Nix made an error. But Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez both struck out, and Hideki Matsui flew out to left. For now, Contreras escaped unscathed.
At that point, the Yanks had gone just 1 for 10 over their last 10 ABs with runners in scoring position. The one, of course, was Robinson Cano’s walk-off home run last night, but my frustrating was mounting. I e-mailed Joe and Mike: “A hit would be nice now and then.” Mike replied: “Mitre’s throwing a perfect game. They’ll only need one run.” Little did we realize how close to the truth that would be.
An inning later, with Mitre’s perfect game still in tact, the Yankee offense broke through against the former Yankee hurler. Nick Swisher singled, and Robinson Cano doubled. Jerry Hairston, filling in for a slumping Melky Cabrera, lined a two-run double into right-center field. Jose Molina walked, and then Derek Jeter frustratingly gave away an out on a sac bunt. Johnny Damon made the point moot with a two-run double of his own, and the Yanks had a 4-0 lead. They never looked back.
In every other inning, the Yankees plated runs today. Thanks to a pair of White Sox errors, they tacked on another four runs in the fourth as they knocked Contreras out after 3.1 ugly innings.
Mitre, meanwhile, was dealing. Into the fifth he went with a perfect game when Jim Thome scorched a ball toward Mark Teixeira. The sure-handed Yankee first baseman couldn’t pick up the short hop, and the ball went into right field for a double. It would have been a tremendous play by Teixeira, and as it stood, it was the only hit Mitre would surrender.
In the sixth, the Yanks added a ninth run as Robbie Cano plated Mark Teixeira with a two-out hit. The Yanks would ad their tenth and final run on an A-Rod home run in the 8th. He was, of course, just padding those gaudy August stats and now finds himself batting .269 with a .400 OBP and 23 home runs with a bad hip.
In the seventh, Mitre ran into a spot of bad luck. He walked Brent Lillibridge, and then A.J. Pierzynski lined a ball off of Mitre’s arm. While the Yanks’ righty recovered to record the out, he was quickly pulled from the game with a forearm contusion. X-Rays were negative, but it put a bit of a damper on a great start. Mitre threw first-pitch strikes to 15 of 21 hitters, and his sinker delivered 11 ground ball outs. It was vintage Sergio Mitre if one can say “vintage” about Mitre.
Chad Gaudin took over for Mitre and picked up right where Sergio left off. He threw 2.2 innings and allowed no hits. He walked one White Sox hitter and struck out four as the Yanks coasted to their Major League-leading 81st win of the season. They are 33 games over .500 for the first time since the end of the 2006 season, and their Magic Number is down to 28. Joba will look for the series sweep tomorrow at 1:05 p.m.