Yankees take back first place with dramatic win

Notes following the rollercoaster
Nova's third trip through the order

It’s tough to call any game a must win at this point of the season given the Yankees’ comfortable lead on a postseason berth, but Tuesday’s game was about as close to a must win as it comes. Losers of four in a row and seven of eight, the Yanks needed something to feel good about. A long, rollercoaster ride of a game later, we’re looking at what might be the biggest win of the season for the Bombers.

(AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Biggest Hit: Jorge Goes Boom

We’ve seen a lot of monster homeruns this year (I’m talking distance), but very rarely do they mean anything. Usually it’s a tack-on run or a meaningless homer in June or something, but Jorge Posada‘s tenth inning blast in this one was big in every way. Big on the scoreboard, big on distance, big in the standings.

The two teams played to a seven-all tie through the first nine frames, and given the Yanks’ recent play, it’s completely understandable if you were sitting watching the game wondering how they’d lose this one. Even the most hardened of fans had to have their doubts given the past week, so each scoreless inning by the bullpen just seemed like a delay of the inevitable. Jorge Posada changed all of that with one swing of the bat, a swing that sent a 2-0 Dan Wheeler fastball into orbit. When it did finally return to Earth, it landed on top of the restaurant in centerfield, 445 feet from home plate according to ESPN, and gave the Yankees an 8-7 in extra innings.

Big distance, big run, big WPA swing. Try 0.328. Massive for a non-walk-off hit.

Honorable Mention: Cano Ties It Up

As great as the ending of this game was, the middle was throw the remote worthy. The Yanks pushed six runs across in the first five innings, the most comfortable lead they had in more than a week. Of course, Tampa took it all back and then some, scoring seven runs in a fifth inning that was capped off by a Willy Aybar three-run homerun off Boone Logan.

Obviously deflated (it’s hard not to be after that), that old Yankee resolve reared it’s glorious head and the Yanks managed to tie things back up in the very next half inning. Granderson led off the frame with a walk against rookie Jake McGee, and Mark Teixeira pushed him into scoring position with a single to the opposite field. Two batters later, Robbie Cano knotted things back up with an run-scoring double into the rightfield corner, his 98th RBI of the season and a new career high. That’s all well and good, but the score was back even, and that’s all that mattered.

Biggest Out: Nobody Runs On Greg Golson … Nobody!

(AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

The 2009 Yankees were the kings of the walk-off, but one thing they never did was win a game on a walk-off throw. That’s exactly what happened in this game, when Greg Golson gunned down Carl Crawford – a nice, slow runner, you know? – trying to advance to third on a fly ball to rightfield. It was an absolutely perfect throw, right on bag, handled beautifully on the short-hop by Alex Rodriguez before he applied the tag. It really gets no better than that. Crawford makes it in safe 99 times out of 100 on that play, but luckily for the Yanks, this was that one.

The most amazing part about it is that Golson didn’t even think Crawford was going, as he admitted after the game. It wasn’t until he heard Curtis Granderson yelling from centerfield that he prepped and threw flatfooted. “Who ever would have thought Greg Golson would make a huge play in the middle of a great pennant race?” said A-Rod after the game, meaning no disrespect to the kid. Hell, I’m sure Golson himself would tell you that. What a throw.

Curtis Muthaf*%&in’ Granderson

The Grandy Man has been the target of much criticism this year, and justifiably so. You don’t come to New York and hit .248/.322/.444 one year after being an All Star and expect to get a free pass, but Granderson showed everyone what he’s capable of doing in this one. He launched a monster opposite field double in the first inning, then yanked one into right-center two innings later for his second two-bagger. A few innings after that he drew a walk that started the game-tying rally. And none of that represents his best play of the game.

As the game entered the late innings, one swing is all that it would take for the Rays to win, as we learned so painfully on Monday. Ben Zobrist, .368/.538/.895 over the last week or so, connected with a David Robertson offering with two outs in the ninth, and although it didn’t have the distance to leave the yard, it was a no-doubt extra base hit off the bat. With a favorable bounce, we might be talking about an inside-the-parker, which would have cut the population of Yankee Universe in half after everyone got done jumping off the bridge.

Granderson was having none of that nonsense. He got right on his horse, broke right away for right-center, dove and made the full-extension catch in the gap. It was arguably the greatest single defensive play of the Yankees’ season, and that’s not hyperbole. Here’s the video if you don’t believe me. It was a glimpse of Grandy’s game-changing talent, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Not So Super Nova

There’s been a bit of a pattern in each of Ivan Nova‘s first five big league starts; he starts out strong, then struggles the second and third times through the order. This game was no different, as he cruised right through four innings of work before completely imploding in the fifth.

(AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Staked to a six-run lead, he gave up a solo homer to Carlos Pena to lead off the frame, hardly a fireable offense. B.J. Upton followed that with an opposite field double, not the end of the world, especially when Reid Brignac strikes out as the next batter, but there seemed to be no escape after that. Three singles, a walk, and a grounder later Nova was out of the game, handing a two-run lead over toLogan with two men on. All the Yanks needed was one out, but they couldn’t get it until after Aybar put Tampa ahead with a three-run blast to left.

It’s pretty obvious that Joe Girardi left Nova in so long because he was trying to get him to complete five innings and thus put him in line for the win, but the move backfired in a big way. The Yanks got away with it in the end, but man, that was an absolute disaster inning. Every bit as bad as Granderson’s catch was good.


Two more hits and a walk for Derek Jeter, who has now reached base seven times in three games since getting a day off in Texas. It all starts with the Cap’n, as he goes, so does the lineup.

(AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

While his game-tying double was his biggest, Cano also launched a two-run homer early in the game to extend the Yankees lead. He reached base four times and drove in three. A-Rod also went deep, turning around a 94 mph Matt Garza fastball in the fifth for a solo shot. He won’t get the seven needs to reach 30 for the 13th straight season, but as long as he’s peaking at the right time, I couldn’t care less how many homers he hits.

It all turned out fine in the end, but how in the world was Colin Curtis allowed to bat for himself with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth? That’s where Posada has to be deployed, not with no one on to leadoff an inning. Anyway, no harm no foul, I begrudgingly guess.

Four strikeouts in five plate appearances for Austin Kearns, who continues to look absolutely horrible at the plate. With Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner banged up, the Yanks are going to need him, so he better snap out of it soon. The other deadline pickup, Lance Berkman, singled and walked, continuing his recent stretch of awesomeness.

After Logan served up the homer to Aybar, the bullpen threw five scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and a walk while striking out seven. Can’t say enough about the job those guys did, and they sorely need Thursday’s off day to rest and recoup.

The win moves the Yankees back in first place in the AL East, albeit by just half-a-game. The magic number to clinch a playoff berth is down to just 11.

WPA Graph & Box Score

Now that’s a fun one, isn’t it? Of course the middle innings took years off my life, but so be it. MLB.com has the box score and video, FanGraphs everything else.

Up Next

The rubber game on Wednesday will pit Phil Hughes against changeup guru Jamie Shields. No question about it, the Yanks need a big-time outing from their young starter.

Notes following the rollercoaster
Nova's third trip through the order
  • seimiya

    I’d just like everyone to see Mark Teixiera at his best.


    • Wil Nieves #1 Fan

      Reminds me of a younger me.

      Not proud of it.

  • All Star Carl

    The rubber game is on Wednesday not Thursday. I thought I just missed class :(

  • http://www.puristbleedspinstripes.com Rebecca-Optimist Prime-Jesus & Maquinito FTW


    Top picture is an EKG of a heart condition that can potentially kill you, the bottom is tonight’s WPA graph.

    Draw your own conclusions

    • Pat D

      Well, that’s not what my EKG looked like, thankfully.

    • RL

      Great comparison!

    • seimiya

      Tumblr’d that.

    • Brian in NH

      I can’t handle these stressful games anymore. Been lucky that a lot of them have been on national TV lately but the stress is taking years off my life as well :(

    • ThrillHouseMD

      Looks sinus to me.

  • Esteban

    I liked that bat flip by Cano, though if he were on another team, I would’ve hated it.

    Are the bridge jumpers still jumping if they lose tomorrow?

  • RL

    Yankees back in first place. All is well in the world, although I my be bridge-jumping and the sky may be falling again tomorrow after the game. :-)

  • http://www.twitter.com/astrophunq Dax J.

    That Golson throw to first was a missile. Wow! Posada’s homer was an absolute bomb. Feels good to be back in 1st place. I hope Phil has an excellent game tomorrow.

    • http://www.twitter.com/astrophunq Dax J.

      Sorry, it was to third. Typo.

    • Klemy

      No doubt. That throw was amazing! I was left just stunned that Crawford was actually out. I was wondering why even bothering throwing that ball and then I was stunned. Just an awesome missile of a throw.

  • MikeD

    Just another nice reminder of the value Posada has been bringing to the Yankees since the mid-90s. Yankee fans are going to miss him when he’s gone.

    • RKelly39


    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder



      • ecks

        Bravo, bravo.

  • Chip

    I’d like people to now stop talking about the Yankees as the only team who do stupid things. The Rays just made the last out of the game at third base from a guy who scores on almost any single. No more

    • Esteban

      Stop covering up for this sorry sad sack team, which has somehow managed to be in first place in September in the best division of the better league. Admit it, they have no heart, no character. They always make stupid mistakes.

      /Things dumb overreacting Rays fans are probably saying.

      • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama


        I laughed.

    • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

      But it’s so exciting when the Rayngels do it!!!!

      • Wil Nieves #1 Fan

        lmao “Rayngels.” The two teams I hate the most not named the Red Sox.

    • Jonathan

      Nobody said we’re the only team that does it. We just notice that we do it since obviously this is our team and we watch every game. I haven’t heard a single person say the Yankees are the only team that makes those kind of mistakes. This isn’t the Pirates blog, we’re going to talk about the Yankees and sometimes they make stupid plays. It happens.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        The problem arises when people use that anecdotal evidence (I see the Yankees playing listlessly and making bad errors and poor plays) and use it to build conclusions (like “therefore, we’re going to not make the playoffs/lose badly in the playoffs because this listless and mistake-prone play we do means we will lose games due to those terrible flaws”).

        Those conclusions are flawed because they lack proper perspective of other unseen anecdotal evidence (namely, that other teams also have those flaws and thus, any decrease in effectiveness that would result in us losing games we should have won will be offset by the same phenomenon happening to other teams).

        There’s nothing wrong with seeing your team play poorly and noting it, but it becomes poor logic when you see your team play poorly and use that information in a vacuum to say your team is doomed to fail in the future and “the season is over”. It’s not that simple.

        • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama


          Just yesterday, after Gardner tried to steal third, someone said that the Yankees have the lowest baseball IQ of any team and it’s a miracle we win.

  • http://www.twitter.com/tomzig Tom Zig

    Michael Kay sure knows how to play up the dramatics.

  • Wil Nieves #1 Fan

    Tip of the Hat to the bullpen, Greg Golson, Granderson, Cano, A-Rod…basically everybody except Kearns, Nova, and Colin Curtis. And even though one of my biggest pet peeves is giving up leads, I felt different going to bed/waking up this morning than I have in recent days. So, for now, I will gladly bask in the glory that is a major win against the Rays.

    Definitely looking forward to game three of this series, which has been every bit of exciting as it should be.

  • larryf

    That Posada homer was a nice preview of what we should be seeing from Montero for many years to come. Same type of jaw dropping power…

  • LarryM.,Fl.

    As I watched last night and all was well through 4 innings. I saw some moves by our manager which I felt questionable.While Nova was imploding not becuase of fatigue but lack of experience.Not knowing how to use his tools effectively and gut it out. He has the pitches but obviously has not pitched in those situations on such a stage before. Girardi did ot make moves based on the perception of Maddom making moves. Joe than left Nova in the game who could not handle the emotion of the inning not the physical part of it. Your warming up Robinson and Logan bring in Robinson and everything stays the same except the 2 runs already scored.

    Does Kearns look a bit out of place. It takes a certain type of player to be in Pinstripes and produce. Maybe he needs a rest and Golson’s glove should be in left. Oh, well enough of my vent he’s a Yankee come on Kearns, you can do it.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      Robertson, not Robinson.

      • LarryM.,Fl.

        Thank you, for reading my comments on last night’s game.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          The fact that all I said was a friendly correction of a typo doesn’t mean I didn’t read what you wrote. No need to return kindness with nastiness.

          • LarryM.,Fl.

            It was not meant to be nasty or sarcastic.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

              Oh, okay. Seemed that way to me, my bad.

              (It was probably the superfluous comma.)

    • http://twitter.com/joero23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      Re the Nova point… You know, I’m sure most of us were having the same thought during that inning, worrying that Girardi was leaving Nova out there too long. But, on the other hand, there’s the ‘see what you’ve got’ argument – Girardi took an opportunity to see if Nova could get out of the jam on his own and maybe save his currently over-used bullpen a bit.

      So, not saying the concern is crazy, but just keep in mind the flip-side. Since it was a game against the Rays with first-place in the balance late in the season, I was looking for Girardi to go get Nova out of there, too, but I also understand why he made the decision he made.

    • Chris

      Kearns has been injured for a while. I think it’s just a matter of getting back healthy and then getting back into a rhythm.

      • larryf

        what is the Kearns injury? he sure doesn’t swing like he’s injured. All or nothing swings with men on base more frequently leads to…


        he is late on good fastballs and looks silly on offspeed stuff

        Oh well-maybe it was just one bad game…

  • kosmo

    I know this is off topic but it strikes me as particularly weird and great that just maybe Montero will catch Cliff Lee as early as next year in pinstripes no less.

  • jesse

    Posada can sure hit. I hope Montero can play better defensively than him, he can hit as well.

    I guess Crawford missed Gardner getting thrown out at 3rd the night before, never make the third out and third.

    • RL

      If Montero’s defense can match Posada’s (in reasonable amount of time), the team will be fine. I feel strongly he’ll match Posada’s offensive output.

      Regardless, I’m looking forward to the continued offensive production Posada provides this year and next!

  • JerZGuy

    Just came across the site guys, terrific! Very professionally layed out, tons of usefull information. Lokk forward to taking it all in.

    Go Yankees!!!

    • http://twitter.com/cephster Ross in Jersey

      We don’t need YOUR kind here!

      (looks at own screen name)

      Uh, carry on then.

      • Big DaveyNJ

        Best state everrrrrr!

  • Al

    Difficult to understand why Joe G seems to be most concerned about resting his players and Joe Maddon seems to be doing everything he can to win these games. Both Teams are fighting for Division Crown, why is so
    so much more important to Rays??

    Also, isnt 25,000+ fans at last two games, sorta show lack of fan support?

    • Yank the Frank

      Maybe because Maddon knows that this is the Rays last year to be competitive for a while.

      • Chris

        With their pitching staff, I don’t think that’s the case.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          With their financial and stadium situation, it probably is.

      • JerZGuy

        Or maybe because Maddoon realizes when you go into a shell you usually wind up losing.

    • I am not the droids you’re looking for

      Maybe because the average age of players on the Rays roster is like 10 years younger* than the average age of players the Yanks’?

      *Okay so I didn’t look it up but you get my point.

    • rek4gehrig

      Through the 2009 season, the Yankees have played in 40 World Series and won 27.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        Fun Fact:

        The Tampa Bay Devil Rays played their first ever game AFTER Princess Diana’s death.

  • Fair Weather Freddy

    Great win! Though its disappointing how quickly a 6 run lead got wiped out. Whats with Austin Kearns lately? The guy has become a K machine. Anyway, lets hope our hitters finally went to school and don’t get fooled again by Shields’s variety of change ups and slop. Need Hughes to come up big tonight.

  • Hughesus Christo

    Does anyone here listen to The B.S. Report? I know Johnny posts here (actually, probably LoHud).

    • ecks

      Did you mean JackO?

  • http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bring-Melvin-To-America/193013541601?ref=sgm Andy In Sunny Daytona

    Posada’s home run was only 27 feet longer than Pena’s wall scraper over the CF fence?


    • http://twitter.com/cephster Ross in Jersey

      I never understood why the calculate HR distance like that. Pena’s ball got to travel it’s full distance, while Posada’s monster shot was interrupted about 75% of the way through by hitting the restaurant. It shouldn’t be THAT hard to figure out how long it would have gone if nothing was in the way..

  • Captain Jack

    They needed a win like that, after yesterday when I heard that Gardner and Swisher might be out longer and Teixeira had a broken toe, I was about ready to concede the WS to the less annoying division rival; although I’m glad they were able to survive a bad start and beat a good starter of a division rival.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      … after yesterday when I heard that Gardner and Swisher might be out longer and Teixeira had a broken toe, I was about ready to concede the WS to the less annoying division rival…


    • rek4gehrig

      It’s lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believe in myself
      –Muhammad Ali

  • http://twitter.com/cephster Ross in Jersey

    Joe deserves some credit for his use of the bullpen last night. Logan, despite giving up the HR, was the right move in that spot. And personally, the thought of a Joba/Wood/Robertson 6/7/8 in the playoffs makes me JiMP.

    • JerZGuy

      Not so sure. Aybars power #’s are significantly higher against lefty’s. 4 hr’s to 2, .50 pts higher batting and 100 pts higher slugging.

      • http://twitter.com/cephster Ross in Jersey

        He also hadn’t homered since June, and 4 of the next 5 hitters due up were left-handed. If Aybar had literally done anything else in that spot, no one would have questioned it.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      Indeed, Joba is really coming around. And Logan’s hiccup last night was just that, a hiccup.

      Having 5/7ths of our playoff bullpen set with Mo/Wood/Joba/Robertson/Logan is a nice coup, and there’s plenty of decent candidates (Hughes? Nova? Vazquez? Moseley? Albaladejo? Ring? Gaudin? Mitre? Brackman?) for those last two spots.

      • http://ballcraft.blogspot.com Zanath

        And the matchup wasn’t exactly favorable either, with Logan. Let’s face it, Logan is money against lefties, but isn’t so much against righties.

        • http://ballcraft.blogspot.com Zanath

          Aybar was batting right-handed, right? I’m not imagining this am I?

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

            You’re correct. Aybar’s not dumb enough to suddenly stop switch hitting while facing a LOOGY who is death to lefties.

            • http://ballcraft.blogspot.com Zanath

              Ok thanks. I had sudden self-doubt.

  • rek4gehrig

    I watched QuickPitch over and over again.