At around 6 p.m., I had to leave my apartment in Brooklyn to head to Manhattan for the evening. When I left the house, the Yankees had just begun their half of the 7th inning. Already, the team had hit two grand slams to overcome a 7-1 deficit, and they weren’t finished. So in the amount of time it took me to walk to the 7th Ave. stop, take the Q to Herald Square and walk to the bar, the Yanks didn’t even finish their half of the 7th. It was one of those games that ended with a football score, and to think that a few hours earlier, we had been bemoaning the Yanks’ lack of hitting with a runner on third and less than two outs.
The good in this game far outweighed the bad. The Yanks set a Major League record with three grand slams in one game. They went 10 for 21 with runners in scoring position. They walked 12 times in three innings. They mashed away two games worth of frustrating losses to a mediocre Oakland club, and Derek Jeter boosted his average to the .300 mark for a few innings. And to think I was rooting for a rainout in the third inning. That should teach me a lesson.
For the Yankees, it’s tough to pick a true hero. Russell Martin’s grand slam — his second longball of the day — gave the Yanks a lead they wouldn’t relinquish, and it was one of the better comebacks of the season. We’ll get to Phil Hughes in a minute, but after being down 7-1, I had nearly given up on the game. I couldn’t shut the TV, and my personal perseverance paid off. Martin, by the way, finished the game 5 for 5 with 6 RBI and is now hitting .243/.332/.429 with 17 HR. If he can shake off his mid-season slump and finish strong, the Yanks will be thrilled. Robinson Cano’s grand slam brought the team back into the game, and Curtis Granderson’s was the icing on the cake.
There were, of course, a few negatives. Despite his 3 for 6 day, Jeter, who may have broken up with Minka Kelly, stranded nine runners. Mark Teixeira failed to pick up a hit and seems mired in a slump. Brett Gardner left the bases loaded twice, and Joe Girardi probably should have pinch hit for him in the 5th with lefty Craig Breslow on the mound and Andruw Jones on the bench. Those bumps seemed minor when the dust settled four and a half hours after this marathon began.
That’s mostly just nitpicking though. The true negative was Phil Hughes. He couldn’t last the third, and through the first 1.2 innings, he had thrown 50 pitches with just one swing-and-miss strike. He was sitting in the low 90s again with no out pitch and no real strike pitch either. He ended up striking out five in 2.2 innings, but he also allowed six runs on seven hits. Cory Wade allowed both inherited runners to score, but after Hughes’ solid outing against the Twins, this was a clear step back.
So the Yanks’ bats work. After two and a half games of frustration, they overcame the demons of driving in runners from third with less than two outs. They pounded a vulnerable pitching staff and did what we expected them to do all along. Of course, their starting rotation remains in flux, and their starters’ ERA in August is well over 5. At some point, someone will have to step up to be that second starter behind CC Sabathia, but if the bats are going to explode more often than not, the starters don’t need to be quite that good yet. It was a very good day.
For more on this ridiculous game, check out Chad Jennings’ recap. He has a great slew of notes from this game. Also, props to Boone Logan for holding down the A’s at a key moment. He recorded four outs and all by the strike out. His work was overshadowed by the offensive explosion, but he earned that win today. Also, Jorge Posada at second base. That’s a good one.