Sep
15

Yankees take back first place with dramatic win

By

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.

Leftovers

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.

Categories : Game Stories

69 Comments»

  1. seimiya says:

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

    http://27.media.tumblr.com/tum.....o1_500.png

  2. All Star Carl says:

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

  3. http://www.puristbleedspinstri.....sual-form/

    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

  4. Esteban says:

    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?

  5. RL says:

    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. :-)

  6. Dax J. says:

    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.

  7. MikeD says:

    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.

  8. Chip says:

    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 says:

      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.

    • bexarama says:

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

    • Jonathan says:

      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.

      • 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.

  9. Tom Zig says:

    Michael Kay sure knows how to play up the dramatics.

  10. Wil Nieves #1 Fan says:

    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.

  11. larryf says:

    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…

  12. LarryM.,Fl. says:

    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.

  13. kosmo says:

    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.

  14. jesse says:

    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 says:

      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!

  15. JerZGuy says:

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

    Go Yankees!!!

  16. Al says:

    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?

  17. Fair Weather Freddy says:

    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.

  18. Hughesus Christo says:

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

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

    Whatevs…

    • 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..

  20. Captain Jack says:

    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.

  21. 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.

  22. rek4gehrig says:

    I watched QuickPitch over and over again.

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