Back in first: Yanks hold on for win over Rays

Empire State & Trenton open playoffs with losses
9/6-9/9 Series Preview: Baltimore Orioles

For at least one game, all was right in Yankeeland. The Bombers battled in their 6-4 win over the Rays, salvaging a three-game series that had gone nothing but wrong up until Wednesday night.

(J. Meric/Getty)


Man, it looked like we were in for another one of those games in the first inning. Derek Jeter led off the game with a single, but he didn’t advance any further after Nick Swisher struck out and Robinson Cano bounced into a double play. That’s happened far too often in recent weeks. Matt Moore settled down and retired eight straight until Jeter led off the third with another single, a charitable piece of scoring as Elliot Johnson dropped a pop-up in shallow center. Obviously wasn’t a routine play for the second baseman, but it hit him right in the glove.

Anyway, as we all waited for the RISPFAIL to set in, something weird happened: the Yankees scored some runs. Plural. Swisher followed Jeter with a fly ball to right but Cano put men on first and second with a walk. It was a good time for Alex Rodriguez to deliver his hardest-hit ball since coming off the DL, a line drive double to left. That scored Jeter and put men at second and third for Russell Martin. Martin plated both with a ground rule double to the right field corner, a play made possible by a sketchy route taken by Matt Joyce. After weeks worth of blown opportunities, the 3-1 lead after three and a half innings felt like a minor miracle.

M-M-My Kuroda

>( (J. Meric/Getty)

One of the most deflating things for a team struggling through a losing stretch is blown leads, and Hiroki Kuroda chipped in a pair of those on Wednesday. The 3-1 lead lasted just one full inning while a 4-3 lead hung around for two whole batters. The two-run fifth was much worse, mostly because Kuroda got two quick outs and had the punchless Sam Fuld down 0-2 in the count. Instead of putting him away, Hiroki walked him and proceeded to blow the lead on a Desmond Jennings single and Ben Zobrist triple. Zobrist was down to two strikes as well, and Kuroda appeared to be focused too much on the baserunner on first. It was a real bad mistake pitch, a fastball right on a tee.

Other than that, Kuroda allowed a first inning run on an Evan Longoria single and a sixth inning run on a Luke Scott solo homer after Martin gave his team another lead with a solo homer. Eight hits and two walks in six innings is the definition of a laborious start, which is pretty much all the Yankees seem to get from their staff these days. Considering that the Rays had the leadoff men on-base in five of his six innings and left runners on in four of the six, I suppose it coulda been a whole lot worse.

(J. Meric/Getty)

Small Ball

Hitting coach Kevin Long said the Yankees would employ a little more small ball to escape this rut following Tuesday’s loss, something Joe Girardi refuted before this game. When push came to shove though, the Yankees went to the bunt. Andruw Jones and Steve Pearce led the seventh off with first-pitch singles, then Jayson Nix bunted them into scoring position. With the infield in and former Yankee Kyle Farnsworth on the bump, Jeter grounded a routine ball to Johnson at second, who came home for the non-force out. Unfortunately for Tampa, it was wide left and not only did pinch-runner Ichiro Suzuki score from third, but Pearce chugged around to score from second as well.

When I said the Yankees needed to pick their spots with the bunts on Wednesday afternoon, this was exactly the kind of situation I was talking about. Close (or in this case, tied) game in the later innings, bottom of the order due up. This one worked even better because the runner on second was pushed over to third with less than two outs. Ichiro was dead to rights at home if Johnson’s throw was on-line, so the Yankees did benefit from the error in a huge way. That said, they forced the Rays to make the perfect play and they couldn’t execute it. For at least one night, small ball reigned supreme.

Late-Inning Relief

(J. Meric/Getty)

The Yankees only have three reliable relievers in their bullpen — two and a half really, since Boone Logan is a specialist — and all three combined to nail down the much-needed win. Logan didn’t allow any contact, striking out two and walking one while facing just the three hitters in the seventh. David Robertson came out of the bullpen for the four-out hold, escaping the seventh with a big assist from a nice running grab by Jeter in shallow left. If that thing blooped in — there were runners on first and second — I would have been quite annoyed.

Robertson, who threw just one curveball out of 18 pitches, followed up with a perfect eighth before handing the ball off to former Rays closer Rafael Soriano for a perfect ninth. Soriano really tested the limits of Tropicana Field with the 27th out, a Jennings fly ball right to the wall in dead center. That ball is probably out in the Bronx considering how much better the ball carries outside than it does in the air-conditioned dome. Anyway, the three reliable relievers did a solid job protecting what felt like the most important lead of the season.


Jeter had a huge game and really carried his club to the win. He had three hits, stole third, and was involved in both multi-run rallies, plus he made the nice defensive play to end the seventh. The three knocks give him an MLB-best 182 hits for the season, the most by a 38-year-old shortstop in baseball history. He still has 26 games left to go, so 200 hits seems like a foregone conclusion at this point. It’s worth noting that Jeter tweaked his ankle on Tuesday and aggravated it a bit on the play in the seventh, but it’s nothing that will keep him out of the lineup according to Girardi.

Martin was the only other player with multiple hits, and both of his went for extra bases. He’s managed to get his average (temporarily) above the Mendoza line at .202. Both Swisher and Curtis Granderson went 0-4 with two strikeouts while Nix went 0-for-3 with three whiffs and the sacrifice bunt. As a team, the Yankees struck out a season-high tying 15 times. They did that one other time, in the final game of the three-game sweep by the White Sox in Chicago two weeks ago. The Chris Sale game.

Annoying but true fact: the Rays had at least one inning in all three games in which they scored a run after having two outs and no baserunners in the inning. The Yankees have really struggled to finish off innings at times. With play like that, it’s not much of a surprise that they won just two of nine games at Tropicana Field this season.

This certainly wasn’t a game for Elliot Johnson’s career highlight reel. He botched a safety squeeze attempt in the second, dropped the pop-up to start the fourth inning rally, and threw away the ball on what proved to be the game-winning rally in the seventh. It was downright Nunezian, if I do say so myself.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings has the box score and video highlights while ESPN has the updated standings. The Orioles actually lost to the Blue Jays, so the Yankees have reclaimed sole possession of first place one night after relinquishing it. The Rays are three back in the loss column and the magic number sits at 26 with exactly that many games left to play. Hooray for controlling your own destiny.

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next

The Yankees haven’t won consecutive games since taking three straight from the Rangers a few weeks ago (remember that? feels like a lifetime ago, doesn’t it?), but they’ll try to get off that schneid when they arrive in Baltimore for the latest biggest series of the season on Thursday. It’ll be the second important September series these two teams have played a) in a week, and b) in the last 15 years. Craziness. David Phelps will oppose Jason Hammel — who is coming off the DL to make the start — in the evening opener.

Empire State & Trenton open playoffs with losses
9/6-9/9 Series Preview: Baltimore Orioles
  • Anthony

    What a refreshing, satisfying win. While Kuroda wasn’t beautiful, the bullpen and the bats got the job done. Let’s hope this is the (re)start of something.

  • Brian S.

    Fuck, of course Hammel would be back right in time for us.

    • Kramerica Industries

      Just in time for him to be rusty as hell and primed to get beat up.

      Lets all be glad changeup artist Miguel Gonzalez isn’t pitching in that series.

      • Jim Is Bored

        He’s had a couple rehab starts and looked to be in early season form. Granted against AA competition, so take it for what it’s worth.

        • Kramerica Industries


          As I like to say, let me grasp for straws as I please.

          • Jim Is Bored

            Haha as you wish! I’ll actually be at the game tonight. Hoping the straws your grasping at materialize!

    • Matt DiBari

      Maybe he’ll come back from the DL and go back to being Jason Hammel of old.

    • AdamC6

      Really?….this is Hammel, not Hamels.

      I know he’s pitched well (above his head), but come on.

      • Jim Is Bored

        Not sure it’s above his head. He was pitching very differently than he had in the past. The results were bearing that out.

        He’s certainly not Hamels, but he’s a very good starter, and it’s not like the Yankees have been hitting anyone recently.

  • Pat D

    Not gonna lie. More upset the Giants lost than I am happy the Yankees won.

    • JonS

      Well yea, it would kinda be like the Yankees losing 10 games in one night. lol


    I’m so glad Girardi didn’t cave to pressure and stuck with his guys. There were some who wanted Martin benched and Cervelli to play and Martin comes up with his best game of the season. Andruw got a big single, Pearce with a big single to help us take the lead. And the Captain and MVP with the game winning hit. It’s a great day to be a Yankee fan.

  • JonS

    Anyone notice that Granderson now has the same WAR as Coco Crisp? 1.9…and dropping.

    • WHIPunk

      Don’t throw a negative onto my parade of us finally winning!

      • JonS

        I am genuinely excited for the win. They actually played good ball when they had too. But Granderson’s last K made me go look at his WAR and sure enough…

    • DT

      Grandy was on pace for another 4 WAR season before the all star break. He was at like 2.2 i think, i’m actually shocked that his WAR dropped only .3. But that’s only because of an increase in his -20 UZR to like -15.

  • WHIPunk

    Yankees Updated (9/5) Chance Of Winning The Division, WC, Making It To The Playoffs Do Not Know Why I Capitalized Every Word:

    Division- 59.8%
    WC- 25.4%
    Playoffs- 85.4%

    Compared To Yesterday:

    Division- 49.4 %
    WC- 30.00%
    Playoffs- 79.4%

    What a difference one win makes, hopefully now we go on a roll motha f’ers!!

    As always my reference is

  • Kramerica Industries

    This upcoming series reminds me of an old Seinfeld scene.

    From the season eight premiere, opening scene, when Jerry, George, and Susan parents are standing in front of Susan’s grave, and the other three excuse themselves to allow George some “desired” private time with his ex-fiancee.

    George being George, he BS’s his way through this private time, and says relatively useless stuff instead. What he had to say was:

    “George: (to Susan’s stone) …And then, right after the All-Star Break, we, we just swept the Orioles. Four games . In Baltimore . (adjusts necktie nervously) So… yeah.”

    This was 1996. From George’s lips to the Yankees’ ears, may history repeat itself 16 years later.

    • Anthony

      Haha, I love Seinfeld, but I honestly can’t remember seeing that scene. Gonna try to look it up on youtube.

    • FIPster Doofus

      Nice. Just saw that episode the other day.

    • jesse

      Love the Seinfeld reference. Hope the Yanks can sweep, though I’d be OK with a split considering they way they’ve been playing.

  • Pat D

    Oh, of course Luke Scott just had to hit a home run today. I’m sure he’ll do his damnedest to hit one tomorrow, too. If Tampa plays, that is. Maybe even if they don’t.

    • Kramerica Industries

      Is there some political joke here that I’m totally missing?

      • JohnnyC


      • WhittakerWalt

        Luke Scott is a birther, but what does that have to do with his home runs?

  • Ted Nelson

    “He’s managed to get his average (temporarily) above the Mendoza line at .202.”

    Really with the batting average? He’s been bad offensively this season, but his overall offensive production is not nearly as bad as the BA suggests: only Joe Buck has a worse BA among Cs with 250 PAs, but after last night there should be 8 Cs with 250+ PAs and lower wOBAs. Not sure why you’d list only BA with no other stats other than to feed the trolls.

    • Need Pitching & Hitting

      obsessed much?

      • Ted Nelson

        How many comments have I made regarding Russell Martin in the last two, three months?

        Other people seem to be obsessed with pretending the guy is struggling more than he is.

        • JobaWockeeZ

          Every comment that says he sucks. Which he does. I’m not obsessed over it, it’s a fact.

          There are over 20 better catches according to WAR. If anything is being obsessed about it’s defending him because he’s a Yankee and therefore = great.

          • RetroRob

            …and then there is you, who feels the need to chime in whenever he supports Martin. Seems you are obsessed not only with Martin, but with Ted Nelson.

            As for 20 “better” catchers, he ranks 15th in MLB, and ninth in the AL based on fWAR, right with Mike Napoli and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and in front of Jesus Montero, who sits at -0.1. Martin is still in the postive at 1.3, which seems to be somewhere ahead of “sucks.” But, yeah, there are three or four catchers in the AL that would be better. Maybe they Yankees can acquire Joe Mauer and his $23M per to get his 4.3 fWAR. There’s always A.J. Pierzynski and his 3.1. He’ll be a free agent if you really want the Yankees to spend a ton of money to bring him him. Matt Wieters and Carlos Santana and their 2.8 probably won’t be on the market. So basically you’re stuck in the 1.2-.1.8 range for suck catchers. Good luck.

            • Jose M. Vazquez

              The truth be told. Martin has not hit in over one and a half years. If pitch framing is what you base your opinion on this assumes that umpires are some sort of shmucks go are fooled every time the catcher moves his miitt. Jesus Montero:2b17,Hr15, BB24, SO 88, OBP.301, SLG .405, OPS .706. AVE .264 and he plays in a pitcher’s park. Martin: 2b 15, HR15, SO 73, OBP .305, SLG .376 OPS.681. AVE.201. This in no way is a means to start a controversy with Ted Nelson whom I respect very much for his valued opinions. I want to set the facts straaight because too many people attack Montero unjustly.

              • Hardy

                Russell Martin hits ok for a catcher (88 wRC+), grades as about average for control of the running game and passed balls (-0.4 runs / 1080 Innings caught) and plays as a full time catcher (on pace for 1034 IC).

                Jesus Montero hits ok for a catcher (91 wRC+), grades as one of the worst MLB catchers for control of the running game and passed balls (-11.4 r / 1080 IC) and plays as a backup catcher (on pace for 477 IC).

                In 2012, Russell Martin has been an average everyday catcher while Jesus Montero sucked with very limited time on the field. And this is not based on any consideration of pitch framing.

              • DM

                There’s more to catching than pitch framing. And if those other aspects meant so little to the position, Montero would be doing a lot more catching for Seattle. Instead, Olivo still gets starts behind the plate (despite his offense) and Montero is being prepped for 1st base (with a real catcher in Zunino on the fast track).


    • Get Phelps Up

      Joe Buck?

      • Need Pitching & Hitting

        You know you’re having a rough season when you’re average is only better than a bad broadcaster’s average.

      • Ted Nelson

        Pretty obvious that I meant John… Really resorting to pointing out typos on a blog?

        • Brian S.

          I don’t think you just used an ellipse correctly right there.

          • Jim Is Bored


    • BigDavey88

      I don’t really see what’s so vitriolic about that sentence. If anything, it’s a season milestone and a fact that Mike reported on and that’s it.

      • Incitatus

        I thought the “temporarily” was a bit snide. What if he hits ok for the next few weeks and it stays above .200?

  • BigBlueAL

    Win 3 of 4 in Baltimore and all will be good in the world again.

    • DT

      Fuck it go for the Sweep. Tex is back right? Last time Tex had some rest he came back with a vengeance.

      • Brian S.

        Probably not for the first two games

  • Matt DiBari

    If the Yankees hold on to the division, Jeter’s catch is my moment of the year.

    That had “annoying, frustrating disaster inning” written all over it

  • Rich in NJ


  • Pat D

    Brandon Laird hit a home run tonight.

    The Astros still lost.

    • jesse

      Should of kept. Should of.

  • Gonzo

    Whew, the earth will not be spinning off its axis. At least not yet.

  • stuart a

    nice win…

    arod with a big real double. good job.

    win 3 out of 4 in baltimore.

    swisher and grandy are still in lala land..

  • stuart a

    garcia should not pitch on sunday.. then need to get him out of the rotation now.

  • jesse

    Nice win. Kuroda’s been less-than-stellar for his last three starts. Hopefully it’s just a blip on the radar and not a sign of things to come, though it’s hard to expect him to be stellar for the rest of the season.

    Great to see Russell provide something useful as well. Big four game series coming up. Winning three out of four would be fantastic, though I won’t be too upset if they split considering they’ve been playing s/a baseball for the longest time.

  • dkidd

    our last two wins have come as a result of our opponent botching a routine play, but i’ll take it

    26 games to glory!

  • Raul Ibanez AKA Tom Marvolo Riddle

    After going out to watch the Giant game, I got home right in time for the encore to start, excellent win tonight. We didn’t really out play the Rays in any aspect, but we actually out Rays’d them. Being very aggressive and forcing the other team to make a play, something we haven’t really seen from the Yankees honestly since I started watching the team.

    After all the gloom and doom over the past few days/weeks we are going into Baltimore tomorrow with a 1 game lead over them. Regardless of how this season’s gone, all the injuries, the huge division lead, the ‘collapse,’ Nova, Hughes, BABIPFAIL, RISPFAIL, if you told me at the beginning of the season that on 9/6 we would be in first place by a game going into the ballpark of the divisional rival we’re leading I would sign up for it in a heart beat.

    Hopefully we can at least split in Baltimore, if not take 3-4, and restart building the divisional lead a bit as Tex and Pettitte come back.

    • Raul Ibanez AKA Tom Marvolo Riddle

      PS, I wore my Yankee cap today and they won. I think the cap is back to stay.

      • DC

        Don’t EVER take that cap off again.

  • Brian S.

    Granderson has been below replacement level since late July.

  • Andrew

    Great win for the Yankees. Tampa Bay is a disgrace, a crowd of 16,711 show up for the biggest game of the year. If they make it to the Series, may be they get 20,000. They don’t deserve a franchise. Let’s see if anyone shows up in Baltimore.

    • Jim Is Bored

      Sold out for 3/4 games so far, expected to sell out Sundays game by the end of today.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Awful, isn’t it?

  • Syrio Forel

    If they can take 3/4 in Baltimore they’ll be right back on track. Hopefully Teix is back this weekend. They’ve taken 1/3 in the last 3 series just keeping them afloat. The offense will eventually get going, hopefully last night was the start of a breakout.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    Clearly my tactic of completely ignoring the game in favor of the DNC worked. Yanks regained first-place and Clinton hit a walk-off HR.

    Potentially season-defining series against the “Greg whined ‘I told you so'” Baltimore Orioles. Sigh.

    • jjyank

      Heh. Clinton did hit a walk off homer. Watched it this morning, great stuff.

    • Matt :: Sec110

      and if by potential you mean an Orioles sweep, then MAYBE.

      Even if they take 3 out of 4 they’d only be 1 game up…slow your roll.

  • Matt :: Sec110

    If I had to vote for team MVP at this point in the season, it would be as follows:

    1) Soriano
    2) Kuroda
    3) Jeter

    • Luisergi

      I’d say;


  • John R.

    If Martin can start hitting consistently with that occasional pop, it could go a long way. If Grandy can get it together and Tex comes back we could make a huge leap from being an injury ridden team with the league nursing home supplying our players.