That play would have been a lot more frustrating had the Yankees not won the game by seven runs. The 11-4 win over the Blue Jays on Friday guarantees the Bombers another day in first place, and that’s a pretty big deal when there are only five games left in the season. Let’s recap…
- Big Hits: They came at very different points of the game, but I thought the game’s two most notable hits were equally important. Nick Swisher opened the scoring with a big two-run, two-out double in the first inning to get his team off on the right foot, then Russell Martin gave the Yankees much-needed breathing room with an equally big two-strike, two-out, three-run homer in the sixth. Joe Girardi had 40-homer man Curtis Granderson try to bunt and left Raul Ibanez in against a lefty earlier in the inning, so Martin really bailed the skipper out. Those were two brutal decisions that resulted in outs after the first two batters of the frame reached base. Derek Jeter (RBI GIDP), Ichiro Suzuki (RBI single), Ibanez (RBI ground out), and Robinson Cano (RBI single) also plated runs, but Swisher and Martin clearly had the two biggest hits of the game.
- Ugly but Effective: It was not a pretty start by Hiroki Kuroda, who appears to be hitting a bit of a wall under a career-high workload. That said, he did what Ivan Nova couldn’t do on Thursday by limiting the damage. Kuroda did get a hand from some poor base-running — Brett Lawrie was caught too far off second in the first and Martin picked Yunel Escobar off third with a snap throw in the second — but he also wiggled out of some jams with well-timed strikeouts. Two runs on ten hits (five doubles and a homer) and two walks in 5.1 innings isn’t one for the highlight reel, but Hiroki deserves some credit for gutting it out and pitching as deep into the game as he did. Hopefully he’ll get a second wind soon.
- The Sievepen: It was a day of the week that ends in a -y, which means the bullpen had to allow a run. David Phelps did the honors by serving up a two-run homer to Adam Lind (while Boone Logan was warming, wtf?), but otherwise he retired the other five hitters he faced. David Robertson chipped in a scoreless eighth, then Cody Eppley and Rafael Soriano teamed up for a scoreless ninth. Soriano actually needed the work after a week off, but two outs in the ninth with a seven-run lead is a ridiculous time for a pitching change. I would have liked to see Phelps go a little further — he only threw 26 pitches — because I dig the idea of keeping him stretched out as a multi-inning guy. Nitpicking, whatever.
- Leftovers: Robinson Cano is heading for x-rays after getting hit by a pitch in the left hand in the sixth inning. He did remain in the game and the results will be available tomorrow … Eric Chavez hit a garbage time homer, his second dinger of the road trip. Maybe he’s heating back up … Jeter singled, extending his on-base streak to 29 games … Cano, Swisher, and Martin all had two hits while Chavez had two walks in addition to the homer … Martin’s homer was his 20th of the season, a new career-high … nine of the eleven runs scored with two outs, and the Yankees have now scored 10+ runs three times in the last nine games after scoring 10+ only nine times in the first 148 games.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the WPA Graph, and ESPN the updated standings. The Orioles one-hit the pathetic Red Sox, so they remain one back in the loss column. The magic number to clinch the division did drop to five, however. The magic number to clinch a postseason berth is down to
three two as well. Could happen tomorrow. Andy Pettitte and Ricky Romero are the scheduled starters for Saturday afternoon’s contest.