The Yankees had no business winning this game, and that’s not the first time I’ve written that this season. Maybe it’s just confirmation bias, but this team seems to have a knack for these dramatic, late-inning, come-from-behind wins. They looked helpless for the first eight frames before rallying late and walking away with their first series win in Tropicana Field since April 2010, nine series ago. Let’s recap…
- Shoot Dem Arrows: A first-inning Travis Hafner single produced the only run the Yankees scored against Matt Moore and various relievers until Fernando Rodney entered the game with a two-run lead in the eighth. He retired the first two men he faced before walking Lyle Overbay in a full count. After he took second on a
defensive indifferencebalk, Brennan Boesch poked a double into the left field corner on an emergency hack, plating one run and putting the tying run in scoring position. Brett Gardner singled him in one batter later. The bases were empty with two outs and two strikes, but the Yankees turned it into a game-tying two-run rally. Incredible.
- Numero Nuno: In his second big league start, Vidal Nuno held the high-powered Rays to two runs on five hits and one walk in six innings. He held them scoreless until the fifth, and frankly I didn’t think he should have started the seventh. Tampa seemed to have his stuff timed the third time through the order. James Loney led the inning off with a single before the bullpen coughed up two runs. Nuno wasn’t great but he was solid. Remember, we’re talking about the team’s seventh starter, maybe eighth depending on how your faith in Michael Pineda. Can’t ask for much more.
- Death, Then Life By Bullpen: Shawn Kelley and Boone Logan each allowed a hit to the only man they faced in the seventh, contributing to two runs that gave theRays a 3-1 lead. Preston Claiborne came in to bail them out before throwing another scoreless inning, then David Robertson and Ivan Nova first scoreless innings in the ninth and tenth, respectively. Nova made a big mess, loading the bases with one out before escaping the jam with a strikeout and a ground ball. It was an ugly outing, but give him credit for the zero in the run column.
- Loverbay: It seems like every time the Yankees have one of these big comeback wins, Overbay is in the middle of it. After drawing the two-out walk to spark the game-tying rally in the ninth, he hit the go-ahead solo homer off rapist Josh Lueke in the 11th inning. It was gone off the bat, a no-doubt blast to right. It probably would have landed in the second deck in Yankee Stadium, though I can’t be sure. Either way, it was a huge homer. Huge.
- Leftovers: Mariano Rivera struck out two for his 18th save (in 18 chances) in the 11th and looked especially nasty. Like four swings and misses out of nine total pitches nasty … underrated moment of the game: Ichiro Suzuki’s sliding catch of Yunel Escobar’s line drive with one out in the ninth. If the ball drops in, it’s game over since there was a man on second … Robinson Cano and Vernon Wells went 0-for-8 while the rest of the lineup went 9-for-32. Any time those two want to snap out of their slumps is cool with me … Gardner had two hits and a walk and is quietly on fire of late, though he did get thrown stealing second to end the ninth. He needs to stay put so Cano can hit with a man on in a tie game.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. Both the Red Sox and Orioles won, so they remain two and four back in the loss column, respectively. The Rays fall to six back. The Yankees will try to finish off their first series sweep at Tropicana Field since April 2008* on Sunday, when CC Sabathia gets the ball against Alex Cobb.
* That sweep in April 2008 was only a two-game series. Their last sweep of a three-game series at the Trop came in September 2005 (!).