Last night’s first inning was a familiar scene. Jeter, Damon, and Teixeira had all collected hits, and the Yankees led 1-0. Even after back to back strikeouts by A-Rod and Matsui, Jorge Posada tore into a Scott Richmond pitch and ripped it into right center to plate another. But Rob Thompson got greedy, sending Teixeira around third at around the time Aaron Hill received the relay throw. Teixeira was done for, leaving Robinson Cano standing in the on-deck circle instead of in the batter’s box with two ducks on the pond*.
* Yes, he has a .203 batting average with RISP. Better than .000.
They would pick up another run on a Robinson Cano double followed by a Melky Cabrera sac fly for a 3-0 lead through two innings. Joba looked good up to that point, allowing just one hit and throwing first-pitch strikes to four out of the six batters he faced. Everything looked Yankees, but it wouldn’t for long.
It all started with a one-out walk of Joe Inglett in the third. After a single, a fielder’s choice, and a walk, Lyle Overbay stepped to the plate with the bases loaded. Monday he crushed a homer to give the Jays the lead for good. Last night he smacked a double to center, clearing the bases and tying the game. In all Joba threw 31 pitches and only 16 strikes, allowing a single, a double, and two walks.
Then, as if nothing had happened, Joba returned to the guy he was in the first two innings. Maybe the Randy Ruiz homer sparked it, or maybe it was just some rookie luck. In any case, Joba used 41 pitches to finish off his final three innings, allowing just the Ruiz homer and an Aaron Hill single. He left trailing, as the Yankees could muster no runs in innings three through six.
It wasn’t Joba’s best start, but it was far from his worst. The four runs in six innings aren’t looked upon kindly when the the pitcher leaves his team trailing. Yet Joba allowed just seven baserunners in those six innings, which isn’t bad by any stretch. It just happened that his two walks came in the same inning that he let a fastball to Overbay catch a little too much of the plate. These things happen. Thankfully, there is the Yankees offense.
Richmond settled down after the first, allowing just one run on four hits in the next five. The Yankees couldn’t figure him out, and again had to face a Blue Jays bullpen which shut them down on Monday night. Jeremy Accardo allowed a leadoff single to Jeter in the seventh, but he stood there for the next three batters. For a few moments it felt like the Jays bullpen would do it again, but that feeling didn’t last long.
Cito Gaston brought in lefty Jesse Carlson, who had pitched a perfect inning on Monday, to face the lefty-heavy portion of the Yankees order. For Hideki Matsui this season, it was good news. While Matsui has always hit lefties well, he’s hitting them better than righties this year, a .916 OPS vs. a .835 OPS against righties. It may be a small sample, just 101 plate appearances, but in the 102nd he added to his .580 slugging percentage against lefties, crushing one into the right field bleachers to tie the game.
One batter later, amid chants of Hip-Hip Jorge, Posada took a 2-1 pitch to the short part of Yankee Stadium, barely clearing the wall to put his team on top. The umps were convinced it was legit, but Cito Gaston talked his way into a review. A few minutes later the umps confirmed it, reigniting the Yankee Stadium crowd. They tacked on a few more, including the second RBI of the night for birthday boy Melky Cabrera.
Mo had a slight hiccup, breaking his 21-appearance scoreless streak on a home run to Edwin Encarnacion. Other than that, it was bang bang, as he struck out the last two batters and handed the Yanks a 7-5 win. It was the 70th of the season, a feat they did not accomplish until Game 130 last season.
It’s a getaway day game tomorrow, as the Yanks have to head out to Seattle to start a four-game weekend series. A.J. Burnett takes the mound against Ricky Romero at 1:05.