Big inning gives Yankees series win over Rays

Sunday Night Open Thread
Fan Confidence Poll: September 17th, 2012

Don’t look now, but the Yankees have suddenly won four of their last five games and seven of their last eleven overall. The second-half skid isn’t over by any means, but it’s good to see things starting to break right for a change. Sunday’s 6-4 win over the Rays gave New York an important series win over a division rival.

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Steals, Bunts, Homers

The Yankees haven’t put up many crooked numbers this season, especially of late, but they struck for five runs in a third inning that featured a little of everything. Eduardo Nunez started it all with a walk — cardinal sin, walking the number nine hitter to leadoff an inning — and quickly stole second. Derek Jeter singled him in and took second on the throw to the plate, then moved to third on Nick Swisher‘s sacrifice bunt. Alex Rodriguez plated the Cap’n with a single to center, then wound up on third after a wild pitch and a stolen base. That was the small ball portion of the inning.

With two runs on the board and a man on third with one out, the offense went back into power and patience mode. Robinson Cano worked a walk off the struggling Matt Moore, then Russell Martin followed up with (easily) the best at-bat of the game. Moore jumped ahead in the count 0-2, but three balls and a foul-off later, the count had run full. Martin reached out and drove the eighth pitch of the at-bat — a 94 mph fastball on the outer half — out to right for a three-run homer. They took the lead with the small ball approach and extended it with the long ball, so that inning had something for everyone. The dinger gave the Yankees a nice five-run lead and by the time Moore escaped the inning, he’d thrown 45 pitches and allowed the Bombers to bat around.

Better Than The Box Score

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Hiroki Kuroda‘s pitching line — 6 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 10 K — looks a lot worse than how he actually pitched. He allowed just a solo homer through the first five innings, striking out seven of the first nine men he faced and nine batters through the first five innings overall. The three-run sixth inning rally by the Rays was a classic Murphy’s Law inning, highlighted by a bad bounce and a poor play by a fan.

Kuroda started the inning by walking Jose Lobaton — there goes that leadoff walk to the nine hitter again — which is obviously 100% on him. Jennings followed up with an infield single, then instead of popping out to foul territory, Ben Zobrist loaded the bases on a walk (again, on Kuroda). He’d popped a pitch up to the first base side earlier in the at-bat, and a fan in the front row reached for the ball and basically screened Steve Pearce from making the play for the first out. Instead of first and second with one out, it was bases loaded with no outs.

Evan Longoria plated two when a potential double play ground ball to third took a funny hop and bounced over A-Rod, continuing the Murphy’s Law theme. The first two outs of the inning came on a Matt Joyce double play, which scored Zobrist from third. Just like that, the 6-1 lead was 6-4. Kuroda definitely deserves the blame for the two walks, but otherwise the hardest hit ball of the inning was a foul ball down the line by Joyce. The Rays scored three runs on an infield single and two routine ground balls. Hiroki deserved better.

(Alex Trautwig/Getty)

Uncomfortably Close

A two-run lead with nine outs to go used to be pretty automatic, but the primary late-inning relievers have been overworked of late and their performances haven’t been completely dominant. Boone Logan got the first out of the seventh by retiring pinch-hitter Ryan Roberts (he was originally brought in to face Luke Scott), then new middle man David Phelps took over to complete the inning. Ben Francisco hit a two-run ground rule double with two outs and pinch-hitter Carlos Pena was given the unintentional intentional walk, but Phelps escaped the jam by striking Jennings out looking with a fastball on the down-and-outside corner. T’was a gorgeous pitch.

David Robertson did his three-up, three-down thing in the eighth before giving way to Rafael Soriano, who recorded his 40th save of the season. The tying run did come to the plate following an A-Rod error at third, but Soriano got the game-ending double play from Keppinger a pitch or two later. He’s the first non-Mariano Rivera reliever with 40+ saves in pinstripes since (duh) John Wetteland in 1996 and the fourth player in franchise history to save that many games in a single season. Mo’s done it seven times, Wetteland did it once, and Dave Righetti did it once. That’s it.


(Alex Trautwig/Getty)

Nunez was all over the place in this game. He walked and stole second to start the third inning rally, then singled (it was ruled an error but that was a bad call, in my opinion) and stole both second and third to create another run in the fourth. Nunez became the first Yankee to steal three bases in one game since Brett Gardner in the second to last game of the 2010 season. Overall, he went 4-for-13 (.308) with a double, a homer, and three steals in the four games at short while filling in for the hobbled Jeter.

Speaking of the Cap’n, his ankle injury cost the Yankees a run in the fourth inning, as he wasn’t able to run full speed from first when Desmond Jennings lost Cano’s fly ball in the sun with two outs. He would have scored easily at full strength, but what can you do. Just an unfortunate break. On the bright side, Derek’s third inning single was his 199th hit of the season. He’s one away from his eighth career 200-hit season and ten away from passing 1979 Pete Rose for the most hits by the 38-year-old in baseball history. Crazy.

The Yankees only had five hits as a team, but three of them came with runners in scoring position (out of eight at-bats in those situations) plus they drew six walks and Andruw Jones got hit by a pitch. Hooray for timely hits. No one had more than one knock, though Jeter (single, walk), Cano (double, walk), Curtis Granderson (single, walk), and Nunez (walk, error) all reached base twice. They also stole the four total bases to create some more offense. Nice to see a well-rounded attack.

Granderson nearly took a fastball to the head from Moore in that third inning, which I didn’t think was intentional at all. Home plate ump Paul Emmel disagreed and immediately warned both benches, which I thought was rather ridiculous. Joe Maddon kept yelled “you’re wrong” from the bench and got tossed. Emmel later ejected Joyce after jawing with him following a called strike three in the eighth, so that was two really quick hooks in the span of five innings. Really hate to see umps do that stuff, just let the players play and stop becoming part of the show.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings has the box score and video highlights while ESPN has the updated standings. The Orioles beat the Athletics, so they remain one back in the loss column in the AL East race. The Rays are a five back and a distant third. The magic number to clinch the division is down to 16.

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next

The Yankees are off on Monday, the final scheduled off-day of the regular season. They’ll welcome the Blue Jays to the Bronx for a three-game set starting Tuesday night, when Andy Pettitte makes his (hopefully) triumphant return to the rotation against Ricky Romero. If you want to catch the game, check out RAB Tickets.

Sunday Night Open Thread
Fan Confidence Poll: September 17th, 2012
  • Nice Scheister

    Before the game I was thinking…Martin is batting WHAT?!? He’s been on a hot streak yes, but he’s been much colder than hot this year, kudos to Girardi for playing the hot hand. Martins playing for a contract, so is Swisher. Talk about clutch, clutch is playing out of your mind before you become a free agent ala Upton (just not in the field) hopefully Swish rewards Joey G’s patience with a big series againist Toronto!

  • Robinson Tilapia

    Who’s that guy with the BA suddenly around .210 behind the plate?

    Team did what it needed to do against its closest competition. Now it’s time to utilize lesser competition in order to gain ground and avoid the Jays playing spoilers.

    • Rocky Road Redemption

      It’s sad that we’re proud that Martin’s been playing hot enough to get “all the way” to 210.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        Slight bit of sarcasm on my part, but you’re absolutely right.

      • RetroRob

        When a player’s hitting .170 late in the year, getting all the way up to .210 is no small task. It’s odd that in the worst hitting season of his career, Martin is also showing as much power (HR wise) as he has during his career.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          …and you’re right as well.

          • gc

            He has really taken advantage of that short right field porch. It’s almost “Jeterian.”

  • dkidd

    is it just me, or is nunez always a factor, one way or another, whenever he plays? he always happens to be wherever an important play is occurring

    he’s the forrest gump of baseball

    • Knoxvillain

      Just be thankful that this time he was on the positive end and not making an error as usual.

      • dkidd


        today, he gaveth

    • FIPster Doofus

      “he’s the forrest gump of baseball”


  • Tom Q

    So, they lose the season series to the Rays, thanks to 2-7 in Tampa (as opposed to 6-3 in NY). The aggravating thing is how many Games They Should Have Won go on the losing side of the ledger vs. the Rays — Mo’s blown save on opening day, Robertson’s failed attempt at closer-dom in early summer, CC losing the lead Friday night. The Yanks have had far too many such games this year; between that and the injury plague, we probably ought to be more appreciative that the team is still in first place regardless.

    I know this makes me a slacker in this regard, but I only just took a look at the remaining schedules for the team’s major rivals. It’s hard to see much difference between what the Orioles and Yanks face…but, holy hell, did the A’s draw badly. If Detroit had only won one more game against Chicago last week, almost Oakland’s entire shedule would be against first place teams. If they hold on through that, they’ll have earned their spot.

    And, I’d thought Texas’ hold on best AL record was pretty rock-solid, but their remaining schedule isn’t soft, either. The way it worked out, the Yanks and O’s are mostly facing the weaker teams from their division, but Texas has a ton of games with their strongest competitors, Oakland and Anaheim. Those teams could knock one another down a peg, and enable the AL East champion to slip through to a better final record.

    • Get Phelps Up

      “Those teams could knock one another down a peg, and enable the AL East champion to slip through to a better final record.”

      I actually want the Yankees to get the #2 seed so they know who they’re playing (AL Central winner) and won’t have to deal with the West Coast.

      • Tom Q

        That’s certainly a defensible take — I think most of us would consider playing (at this point) the White Sox an easier task than Oakland, given the recent results there.

        But I was thinking ahead to round two, where having home field advantage over (you’d have to bet) Texas could very well mean the difference in whether the team advances to the Series.

    • bobby two knives

      Texas vs Oakland in 7 of their last 10 games.
      Texas vs LA 6 more times this season.
      Looks like a shootout to me. Hold onto your seats in AL East.

      • bobby two knives

        er…that’s AL West. apologies

  • Rich in NJ

    A-Rod is such a complete player, even now.

  • RetroRob

    This probably belongs in Saturday’s game thread. Another run scored in the restroom of Yankee Stadium. Que Paradise by the Dashboard Light, with commentary by the Scooter. (NSFW)

    • RetroRob


      Then again, lowbrow postings don’t really need correct spelling!

    • MannyGeee

      OK, I’ll say it… disguisting, classless, yet another reason the rest of the world absolutely hates us (alongside All-You-Can-Eat Everythings, Miley Cyrus and Jersey Shore)…

      but still… kinda hot?

      • MannyGeee

        And also, I think we classify this as a RISP-WIN??

      • RetroRob

        There was a “related link” with a threesome at Fenway back in the mid-90s that I thought was hotter, or at least totally worth the watch.

        What is it with people? How much alcohol (or other substance) does it take to reach that level?


    Two big reasons for winning 4 out of 5-

    1. Starting pitching – We’re no longer getting poor outings out of anyone except CC. Dave Phelps W 5-4, Phil Hughes W 2-0, Ivan Nova W 5-3, and Hiroki Kuroda W 6-4. Andy is back Tuesday and should give us another lift. It’s all about starting pitching.

    2. Eduardo Nunez – He’s a difference maker with his bat and on the base. Defensively, he gets to balls Jeter cannot get to at his advanced age. 3 SBs, 1 HR, we don’t have anyone else like him on the active roster. Nunez should continue to DH and play the field for Alex and Jeter, not Nix.

    • jesse

      Don’t think he’ll be subbing for Alex since the Yankees only want him to play SS and 2B.

      • Brian S.

        They don’t even want him paying second base.

  • Brian S.


  • Mick taylor

    As I said two weeks ago, Nunez should be playing, but it took girardi this long to figure that out. Also , if we let choke swisherand granderson go, that is 25 million off the books. Why can’t we replace them with Josh Hamilton and Gardner for about that money.alsoas isaid a month ago idiots crashman and girardi should not have banished Nunez to the minors in may because he made a few errors. He gives this team speed and clutch. Hitting . As opposed to andruw jones who is the anti Paul o ‘Neil. I luv when Michael Kay says girardi has him in the lineup because he hopes he will run into a fastball . This is not the type of player the great mortised teams were about.

    • Kosmo

      Jones 9 for his last 67. Terrible.

    • Evan3457

      Nunez had a busted thumb and was out nearly three months until he came back. But, whatever.

      • Mick taylor

        Nunez broke his thumb after girardi sent him down . After that he. Was healthy enough to come back up in august

    • jjyank

      I have a feeling if the Yankees sign Hamilton and he breaks down 3 years into the contract, you’ll be on here bitching about choke Hamilton who can never stay on the field and is terrible defensively. Just a hunch.

      • MannyGeee

        story checks out…

        Signing Josh Hamilton is a George Steinbrenner move. All the way until it blows up in your face in 2015. BAD IDEA.

        • Robinson Tilapia


          Pre-suspension Steinbrenner would have acquired Hamilton in 2015.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    Because of Eduardo Nunez, I’m now able to do everything in life twice as better as I could before!

    • MannyGeee

      Zoolander? trying to place the reference..

      • Robinson Tilapia

        No reference. Just echoing that, clearly, Eduardo Nunez is the reason for everything suddenly good in the world.

  • Jose M. Vazquez

    I agree with you Mike that Kuroda pitched better than his numbers show. However, for my eyes only, during his last two starts, at least, he has shown some fatigue either during or after the 6th inning. During this time the opposition has shown the ability to get close or catch up to him.