Yanks walk off to seventh straight win

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The standings might say that these are meaningless games, but the Yankees aren’t acting like it. They started to surge last week by taking two of three from the Angels in Anaheim and haven’t let off the accelerator, even after clinching everything. Early last night it looked as if they’d let up a bit, but they mounted yet another late-inning comeback to steal a win from the Kansas City Royals.

The Royals staged the first rally, in the top of the seventh, though it had more to do with Phil Coke than the Kansas City offense. He came with a man on first and one out, to face Alex Gordon, Josh Anderson, and Mitch Maier, three weak-hitting lefties. For Coke, a guy who’s faced tight situations in meaningful games, it should have been a cakewalk. It was anything but.

Alex Gordon bunted the first pitch back to Coke, but the latter hung on too long and allowed Gordon to reach and Mark Teahen to reach second. Anderson handed Coke instant atonement with a bouncer right to him, but Coke again muffed the play, this time throwing way behind Derek Jeter and into center. Teahen scored and the Royals had runners on second and third with one out.

The lead lost, Coke got ahead of Maier 0-2, and again got a grounder right back to him. Gordon had already broken for home, but Coke paid no mind. He fired over to first as if there were two outs. The announcers couldn’t believe it, the crowd couldn’t believe it, and the replay showed that Molina couldn’t believe it. Coke had three consecutive plays and managed to botch each one. What should have been an easy appearance turned into a two-run deficit.

Had the game any real meaning, maybe Coke wouldn’t have even been in. Girardi pulled A.J. Burnett after recording the first out of the seventh and having thrown 108 pitches. It was one of A.J.’s better performances. He allowed six baserunners, but kept the Royals at bay with his favorite weapon, the curveball. It helped him strike out eight. With 6.1 innings of one-run ball, three walks, three hits, and eight strikeouts, I’d say Burnett had himself a fine game.

The Yankees used four pitchers last night, and Coke was the standout disappointment. Dave Robertson came out for the eighth and retired the first two batters he faced, including one strikeout, before walking the third batter. That was apparently his limit, as Girardi went with Bruney to finish things off. He allowed a hit and walked a guy, but also fanned two Royals and didn’t allow a run to score. He also had the benefit of Jerry Hairston, who turned a pop up bunt into a double play, teaching rookie Josh Anderson a lesson that will stick with him.

The story of the ninth inning dates back to Sunday. Trey Hillman’s team was up 4-1 against the Twins, and Zack Greinke was in line for the win. Instead of taking a chance with one of his unpredictable setup men, Hillman went to closer Joakim Soria for two. It paid off, but after 46 pitches Soria apparently needed a few days off. He surely wasn’t available last night, given Hillman’s decisions.

Taking the hill to preserve the one-run lead was Kyle Farnsworth. Signed to replace Tom Gordon in 2006, Farnsworth was a disaster from the start. Only when he hit a streak of semi-reliability were the Yanks able to deal him, in a contract swap with the Tigers for Pudge Rodriguez. Both players were horrible to finish out the year, but that didn’t stop Royals GM Dayton Moore from handing Farnsworth a two-year, $9 million contract. Had he waited, he could have had Fanrnsworth for a song later that winter.

With one out in the ninth, Frankie Cervelli bounced one back up the middle. It was out of Farnsworth’s reach, and Alberto Callaspo couldn’t get a handle on it. Eric Hinske pinch hit for Ramiro Pena, and it looked like he wanted the walk-off right there, putting his home run swing on the first pitch but missing. As Farnsworth is apt to do, he missed with the next two pitches and then gave Hinske something he could hit. The ball landed in right, and Cervelli hustled to third. The walk-off was already in the air.

For a guy who can’t hit with runners in scoring position, Robinson Cano sure has driven in a lot of runs lately. After a grand slam last night he got another chance in a tight spot — tight, at least, in the context of this one game. He unloaded on a 3-0 pitch, but just missed. It was deep enough to score Cervelli and tie the game, though. Blown save, Farnsworth.

The last thing the team wanted last night was to go into extra innings. Everything’s clinched. They’d already used a ton of their bench players. I’m sure the regulars just wanted to get on with it. Eric Hinske must have felt that vibe. Otherwise, why would he have have tried to steal second with two outs? Not only did he make it, but he also scampered into third on an errant throw.

The Royals decided they’d rather face Juan Miranda than Johnny Damon, but at that point it didn’t seem to matter. The Yanks were walking off with that win one way or another. Miranda hit a grounder back to Farnsworth, but it was just hard enough to bounce off the pitcher’s shins and into foul territory. The Yanks swarmed from the dugout just as Miranda touched first, and the Yankees had recorded their 15th walk-off victory.

That was a lot of writing for a meaningless game, eh? Well, sometimes big things happen in the least likely games. Coke’s blunders, A.J.’s solid performance, the late-inning heroics. It added up to another quality game in a time when they’re supposed to be boring. Ladies and gentlemen, your 2009 Yankees: the team that can make even the most drab game a thriller.

Vizcaino, Warren, Paredes & Medchill among NY-Penn League's top prospects
The A.J. and Jose show
  • http://www.puristbleedspinstripes.com Rebecca-Optimist Prime

    Stat of the night for everyone: In the entire 2009 season there was one homestand where the NYY didnt have a walkoff win

    • Tom Zig

      that’s absurd. Which stretch of games was it?

      • http://www.puristbleedspinstripes.com Rebecca-Optimist Prime

        beginning of June vs the Rangers and the Rays. Couple 8th inning comebacks in that stretch though.

  • Moshe Mandel

    A few things-

    -Coke pitched well despite fielding poorly. Good to see.

    -Bruney and Robertson made this morning’s post look good.

    -Is Molina going to catch AJ in October?

    • RCK

      Is Molina going to catch AJ in October?


      And furthermore, no freakin’ way.

    • Free Mick Vick

      part of pitching well, imo is…ummm…fielding your position. Which Coke did not do…at all! 1 mistake and can live with it. 2 mistakes you start getting a little mad. By the time you get a comebacker and don’t check the runner back to 3rd….its to the “get off the field” stage!

      i think Bruney is doing all he can to get on the roster…is it too late for him to make it? idk…but probably. Robertson’s FB had life…it was very good. His curve ball…not so much…but you knew that was going to be the case.

      as for molina…i don’t care if posada is on his damn death bed…under no circumstances would i start jose molina in a playoff game.

      • Chris

        I assume that after his first mistake it got in his head and just snowballed from there.

      • http://www.wiredtowns.com Short Porch

        In Robertson’s defense, he was on the mound for the first time in a long time, with his playoff spot at stake, and focused on his elbow. A tad distracted? You bet.

        One mistake begets others, as is often the case.

        And when you are striking out an INSANE 13.39 K/9 and a have a STOOPID .49 FB/GB ratio, when do you ever have the opportunity to field anything?

    • http://www.theyankeeuniverse.com/ The Artist

      “-Is Molina going to catch AJ in October?”

      If that’s what it takes to get him to perform, then I certainly hope so. Nobody influences a baseball game more than the man on the mound, and that’s not even debatable.

  • Salty Buggah

    Actually they’re acting like these are meaningless games but they’re so good, they still win.

  • http://bronxbaseballdaily.baby-bombers.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/melky-cabrera-317x400.jpg Drew

    102>>>1? Maybe. Even though it is seemingly meaningless, it feels good to win.

    I almost felt bad for Kyle. heh, looking back, I’m not surprised my favorite Farnsy memory is my boy Melky’s catch to rob ManRam.
    He knew how to throw the ball straight and give up the fly. That’s why I was confused tonight when he was throwing a 2 seamer with mad movement at 94 mph. That’s not something I remember.

    My main concern heading into October:
    JD needs to get his shit together. I think he will, and it’s important that he does, he’s our two hitter and we need him.

    Lastly, wtf Coke?

    • JMK aka The Overshare

      BTW Drew, regarding your last post in the spillover thread:

      Not only did that ball hit the netting, a fan touched it first. I’m pretty sure at least (I was running to the subway today and my glasses fell onto the track, so I’m kind of blind right now).

  • Zack

    KC deserves to lose 100 games for giving Farnsworth, Cruz, Yabuta and Bloomquist a combined 24.25m.

    • Rey22

      Don’t forget Betancourt and Jacobs.

      • Bo

        This is why small market teams cant complain. if they made better decisions they would be much better off.

        Why wouldnt they take that 30 mill and sign Abreu for 6, Dunn for 10, Hudson for 3, and Wolf for 5? and you still got money to play with to improve

  • Tom Zig

    My question is will we have more wins than Washington has losses?

    • Salty Buggah

      We will. The Nats will definitely lose that “race too,” even though we are 1 game behind after tonight.

      • Salty Buggah

        end quotation placement fail

        • http://www.workwithpete.com Pete

          “that’s okay”

  • ShuutoHeat

    With all the walk offs, I want to put together a “music video” with all the walk offs+celebrations+pies.

    • Tom Zig

      doooooooo ittttttt

    • Tom Zig

      Will you include the walk off pop-up?

      • Salty Buggah

        He should. That was a great moment.

    • Salty Buggah

      do it, it would be awesome.

      • ShuutoHeat

        I want to, but I’m having some trouble looking for the clips, I would like to include the walk off pop-up as well (since it IS a walk off).

        Also…would it jinx the post game series if I made the video?

        I’m also not that good at making videos, haha. But it’ll be something I do as a fan.

    • AndrewYF

      Why must it be some kind of mock non-music video? Why not put together a real one?

    • http://www.workwithpete.com Pete

      Try using “Elevation” by U2 for your soundtrack.

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

        It wouldn’t get a sniff at RAB in that case.

        • http://www.workwithpete.com Pete

          What then, “Celebration”? Too cliche for my tastes.

          • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

            No, it’s just that all three of your hosts hate U2.

            • http://www.workwithpete.com Pete

              Aw, ‘hate’ is such a strong word. No love for the old stuff either?

            • http://www.newyorkjets.com/image_assets/8997/052109_coach_rex_ryan_presser_320.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

              “No, it’s just that all three of your hosts hate U2”

              Amen to that, U2 is awful. (I’m a little late to this party, but anytime there’s an opportunity to get on the record your dislike of U2, you gotta lock that shit down.)

              • JMK aka The Overshare

                That comment just killed kids in Africa. I hope you plan on buying a nice big diamond ring for Ms. Mondesi as penance.

      • http://kierstenschmidt.com Kiersten

        Would using a song called “Gotta Believe” be too circa 2000 Mets-ish?

  • AJ’s Chin Music Ensemble

    I love that we did it to Farnsworthless…wouldn’t it have been grand if he had followed Scott Proctor and Tanyon Sturtze…

    • Tom Zig

      I got no bad feelings for Scotty Proctor. That guy is the man.

      • Salty Buggah

        +Nick Swisher

  • Salty Buggah

    I kinda felt bad for Farnsy but a walk-off made me forget it.

    • Bryan

      Which was a better hit, Miranda’s walk off or that little boy knocking the other kid on his ass during the foam finger fight.

      As for Farnsworth, I don’t feel bad. I pulled for him when he was here but it was rough watching him most of the time. How many times in his career do you think he’s said this in postgame interviews?

      • http://bronxbaseballdaily.baby-bombers.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/melky-cabrera-317x400.jpg Drew

        “2-0 pitch to Swisher” ha. That made me chuckle. He pissed me off to no end but he really wanted to help us win, it was evident when he found out he got traded. I don’t have any ill-will towards the guy. His fastball was just too straight.

    • http://www.theyankeeuniverse.com/ The Artist

      Yeah, that was about as ‘busted’ a rally as you’ll ever see.

      -Hinske throw to 2nd
      -Cervelli’s ball takes a crazy hop off the mound
      -Miranda’s ball goes off Kyle’s leg for the win

      Even the Hinske hit would have been an out if the 1B isn’t holding the runner. Not blaming Hillman, that’s playing by the book there being on the road and Cervelli being the tying run. But the luck involved in that inning was incredible.

  • Dela G

    farnsworth got what was coming to him. Good to see him get hit up

  • http://www.newyorkjets.com/image_assets/8997/052109_coach_rex_ryan_presser_320.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

    To all the people who took pleasure in Farnsworth’s failure last night or somehow think of what happened to him last night as some sort of payback: Farnsworth may not have been successful in pinstripes, but it wasn’t for lack of effort. He wanted to pitch well and it’s not like the guy left the Yankees by choice, he was reportedly very upset about being traded away.

    If a guy seems to lack effort/motivation or has some other problem, or chooses to leave the team you root for, I get the negative feelings. But this guy’s only sin is that he didn’t perform as well as we, and he, wanted. Holding some sort of grudge against someone like that is pretty weak.

    • http://bronxbaseballdaily.baby-bombers.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/melky-cabrera-317x400.jpg Drew
    • Zack

      I dont know, he came here on a big contract, for a set up guy, and only positive thing people can say is that during a brawl we’d glad that he was on our team’s side. I cant argue with anyone who doesnt wish him the best.

      • http://bronxbaseballdaily.baby-bombers.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/melky-cabrera-317x400.jpg Drew

        Eh. It’s not his fault he got paid. Let’s face it, if we won in October no one would hold such malice towards him. He only pitched 3 postseason innings with us and he didn’t allow a run. I can’t hate em, in 06 he actually pitched pretty well, the starters deserve the hate.

        • http://www.newyorkjets.com/image_assets/8997/052109_coach_rex_ryan_presser_320.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

          I agree with you that Farnsworth doesn’t deserve the hate, but neither does anyone else. The ’06 team didn’t want to lose – they didn’t lose because they didn’t play hard enough. They just didn’t succeed, but it had nothing to do with effort.

          It’s… let’s say less than classy… to hold a grudge against someone who tries but doesn’t succeed. If a guy comes to a team and stops exercising and his performance suffers because of it, or if he clearly dogs it on the field, or if he exhibits symptoms of emotional problems that lead to his suspension by his own team, or if he leaves a team and burns bridges on the way out… That’s a guy I can see deserving some ire. But a guy whose only crime is that he just didn’t live up to (unrealistic, but that’s besides the point) expectations, not for lack of effort or motivation, deserves no ire.

    • http://and-that-happened.blogspot.com Evan

      You have a point.

      That said, it doesn’t take away the fluky, comical way the bottom of the ninth unfolded.

  • yankeegirl49

    I was at last night’s game. I had planned on leaving early, but ended up staying for the entire thing. It was fun to watch even if it was meaningless.
    I was glad to see that things with Farnsworth have not changed. I would have hated to see him go elsewhere and be great.
    I admit to being one of the “haters”..more a product of listening to broadcasters go on and on about his “stuff” than Kyle himself. That “stuff” may be great, but did me no good when his 98 mph fastball was either over the catchers head or sailing over the CF fence.

    • Bo

      Why would anyone leave early with this team especially at home?

      • yankeegirl49

        Because it is a meaningless Sept game vs the Royals.

  • JohnC

    Lets hope Coke cleans up those mental errors by next week. Mistakes like that can be very costly in a short series.

  • http://www.workwithpete.com Pete

    I was starting to turn around on Farnsworth around the time he was traded. I feel like was given more of a fair shake under Girardi than the previous Joe, and seemed to prosper in that environment.

    Just think, if we hadn’t had Posada go down last year, Farnsworth might still be in pinstripes…

    • Zack

      Under what circumstance would Farsnworth be in pinestripes this year?

      • http://www.workwithpete.com Pete

        Who knows. He could have finished up strong and Girardi might have lobbied to keep him. I could see it.

        • Bo

          Theres no way they would have resigned him.

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