Nothing quite like a thrilling late-inning comeback to kick off the second half, eh? The best part is that the Yankees were carried by two guys who they really need to step up their game down the stretch. Let’s recap…
- HR-iroki: Hiroki Kuroda had his moments, but that back-breaking three-run homer by Mark Trumbo in the seventh really took the shine off his outing. He seemed to be behind hitters all night — I was surprised to see that he threw a first-pitch strike to 14 of 30 hitters faced, thought it would be less — and when you miss your spot against a dude like Trumbo, he’ll hit the ball over the visitor’s bullpen and into the left field bleachers. Hiroki’s been picking teammates up all season despite their lack of run support, so they owed him one.
- On the Mark: The All-Star break did Mark Teixeira some good, as he drove in five runs thanks to a two-run homer (off C.J. Wilson) and a three-run homer (off Scott Downs). That second homer was the big one; it tied the game in the eighth off a guy who had allowed one earned run all year and had not allowed a homer since last August. It was a terrible pitch, a hanging curveball that screamed “Hit Me!,” and Tex sure did hit it. Here’s to a huge second half, Tex.
- Russ Bus: You can’t overstate how awful Russell Martin was in the first half, but he opened the second half with arguably his best all-around game of the season. He threw out two attempted base-stealers as well as another runner trying to advance to second on a ball in the dirt (to end the game!), and also had the game-winning knock. It was just a little excuse-me single that stayed inside the right field foul line, but those are the types of hits he wasn’t getting in the first half. Martin always seems to play better with ample rest, so hopefully he comes out swinging the bat these next few weeks after the four days off.
- Leftovers: Holy RISPFAIL were they bad in those spots (2-for-11), most notably stranding Curtis Granderson on third after a leadoff triple in the sixth … Robinson Cano extended his hit streak to 16 games with a single … Derek Jeter (single and double) and Teixeira (two homers) were the only Yankees with multiple knocks, but Granderson (triple and walk), Nick Swisher (double and two walks), and Martin (single and walk) reached base multiple times as well … Rafael Soriano nailed down the save but allowed his first hit since the near-disaster against the Indians, when he almost walked in the tying run (a span of five appearances) … Chad Qualls got the win because Swisher was nice enough to rob Trumbo’s near-homer to end the eighth, love how that works.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the nerd score, and ESPN the updated standings. The Orioles lost, so the Yankees now have an eight game lead (!) in the division. The Rays and Red Sox are nine and ten games back, respectively. That just blows my mind. I don’t remember the last time any team had a lead that big in this division at this point of the season. The Yankees will look to expand that lead on Saturday afternoon, when Freddy Garcia and Jerome Williams square off in the middle game of this three-game set.