YANKEES 4, BLUE JAYS 3
Carlos Beltran has 180 career postseason at-bats and 16 home runs. So he knows a lot about pressure situations. On Friday, he used that experience to hit what could be one of the most memorable home runs in New York Yankees’ history.
The 38-year-old outfielder came off the bench to deliver a mammoth three-run home run off right-hander Aaron Sanchez with one out in the top of the eighth inning to propel New York back into first place in the American League East with a victory over Toronto at Rogers Centre.
Beltran’s blast capped a clutch four-run rally to overcome a 3-0 deficit against left-hander David Price and also ended the Blue Jays’ 11-game winning streak.
Price held a 3-0 lead, having scattered eight hits with no walks and striking six batters, heading into the eighth.
Mark Teixiera singled to center with one out and Brian McCann followed with s single to left. Chase Headley then drove in the Yankees’ first run and chased Price with a ground-rule double into the gap in left-center.
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons replaced Price with the hard-throwing Sanchez and Yankees manager Joe Girardi countered that move by sending up the switch-hitting Beltran in place of Chris Young.
After swinging and missing two high fastballs, Beltran allowed a head-high fastball go to make the count 1-2. Sanchez then delivered a belt-high 97-mile-per-hour fastball that Beltran sent high up into the first deck of the bleachers in center-field to give the Yankees a dramatic come-from-behind victory.
Price was charged with three runs on 11 hits in 7 1/3 innings. Sanchez (6-5) was saddled with the loss.
Dellin Betances pitched a perfect eighth to protect the victory for right-hander Ivan Nova (5-4) but left-hander Andrew Miller had to withstand a nail-biting attempted rally by the Blue Jays in the bottom of the ninth to earn his 26th save in 27 tries.
Pinch-hitter Chris Colabello drew a one-out walk and Kevin Pillar followed with a single to left. On the first pitch to Ben Revere, Miller crossed up McCann and threw a wild pitch to allow pinch-runner Cliff Pennington and Pillar to move into scoring position.
Miller subsequently struck out Revere swinging, but he ended up locked into a dramatic 11-pitch showdown with newly purchased All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki in which Tulowitzki was able to foul off seven sliders from Miller – three in a row after the count reached 3-2.
But on the 12th pitch, Tulowitzki’s bat swung under Miller’s 86-mph slider for strike three. The normally stoic Yankees raced from the dugout onto the field to congratulate Miller as a sellout crowd of 46,689 at Rogers Centre saw their team get ambushed after they swept the Yankees last weekend at Yankee Stadium.
The Beltran home run and the Tulowitzki-Miller showdown overshadowed what was a very good outing from Nova, who Price had defeated 6-0 on Saturday.
Nova was charged with three runs on only five hits and one walk and three strikeouts. He also hit two batters and one of those ended up costing him in the third inning.
Nova hit Pillar on an 0-2 pitch to open the frame. Revere singled to left to advance Pillar to third. Tulowitzki then scored Pillar on what was an amazing recovery by shortstop Didi Gregorius to record a fielder’s choice.
Tulowitzki hit a hard come-backer to the mound that Nova attempted to grab with his bare right-hand. But the ball deflected behind him and Gregorius scooped it up between shortstop and second base and touched second with his glove to retire Revere.
Josh Donaldson singled to left and Jose Bautista scored Tulowitzki on a double to left and Edwin Encarnacion scored Donaldson on a sacrifice fly.
The victory gave the Yankees a season record of 63-51 and restored them to a half-game lead over the Blue Jays in the division. The stunned Blue Jays dropped to 64-53.
- There is no doubt that Beltran has been a bust as a free-agent signing since 2014. He was ineffective last season playing with bone chips in his right elbow and he got off to a terrible start this season in April. Since then he is 71-for-.239 (.297) with 10 homers and 32 RBIs. He also has been the Yankees’ hottest hitter in August with a .323 average and three homers and six RBIs. His big home run tonight was reminiscent of Raul Ibanez’s heroic home runs during the 2012 season. Perhaps this is why the eight-time All-Star is on the roster.
- Also lost in the drama was the clutch hitting of Headley on Friday. He was 3-for-4 with a single and two doubles and one huge RBI off Price. Headley, 31, turned his season around after the All-Star break by sacrificing power for contact. As a result, he is 31-for-91 (.341) with just one homer and 17 RBIs since the break and that has raised his season average to .274.
- Nova, 28, was valiant through seven innings on Friday. If you take away the three-run third inning, Nova shut out the powerful Blue Jays on just two hits and one walk over the other six innings. Of the 21 outs Nova recorded, 14 of them were on ground balls, which indicates that his sinking fastball and sharp-breaking curve had the Blue Jays off balance. Yankee fans may have forgotten than Nova was 16-4 with a 3.70 ERA in 2011. This was a great effort.
- Miller, 30, may have won the 12-pitch battle with Tulowitzki to earn the save but his recent outings continue to be very shaky. In his past three outings, Miller has given up three runs on six hits. He blew his first save on Tuesday and came close to blowing two others in the past two days. If it continues Girardi might have to consider switching to Betances to close out games.
The Yankees announced on Friday they will conduct a pregame ceremony to celebrate Alex Rodriguez’s 3,000th career hit on Sept. 13, against the Blue Jays. Rodriguez, 40, became the 29th player to reach the 3,000-hit plateau on June 19, hitting a first-inning home run off the Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers. Rodriguez and Derek Jeter are the only players to join the 3,000-hit club while wearing a Yankees uniform.
The Yankees will have another chance at blessed retribution against the cocky Blue Jays on Saturday in Game 2 of the weekend series.
Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka (8-5, 3.79 ERA) will pitch for the Yankees. Tanaka, 26, lost but gave up only two runs on three hits with five strikeouts against the Blue Jays on Sunday. He has seven consecutive starts in which he has pitched six innings or more.
Right-hander Marco Estrada (10-6, 3.21 ERA) will start for the Jays. Estrada shut out the Yankees on three hits and three walks with three strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings to defeat Tanaka on Sunday. His career ERA against the Yankees is 4.50.
Game-time will be 1:07 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast nationally by the MLB Network and locally by the YES Network.
“We have met the enemy and he is us.”
– cartoonist Walt Kelly, “The Pogo Papers,” published in 1953
YANKEES 10, ATHLETICS 9 (14 INNINGS)
If Martin Scorsee had submitted Saturday’s game to producers in Hollywood as a movie they would have thrown the script back at him and laughed him out of the office. After all, what team gets off the deck after trailing by four runs in the bottom of the 13th inning to tie it and go on and win it in the next frame on a bases-loaded error?
Well, obviously no other team but the New York Yankees, who did just that to the upstart Oakland Athletics.
Ichiro Suzuki scored the game-winning run at 6:51 EDT after five hours and 43 minutes of drama that turned – on all things – a bases-loaded error in the 14th inning by Brandon Moss on a ball off the bat of Eduardo Nunez. What was left of the paid crowd of 44,026 at Yankee Stadium erupted in delirium as much as disbelief as the Yankees managed to pull victory out of the jaws of defeat at the most opportune of times for themselves.
The Baltimore Orioles earlier in the day had defeated the Boston Red Sox 9-6 in 12 innings at Fenway Park and they no doubt saw the Yankees were down 9-5 heading into the bottom of the 13th inning, knowing a Yankee loss would mean a tie atop the American League East.
But the Yankees had an answer for both the O’s and the A’s in the bottom of the 13th.
Suzuki, who could not be any hotter than if he was Satan himself, opened the inning off left-hander Pedro Figueroa with a high-chopping single over Figueroa’s head that second baseman Cliff Pennington fielded but had no play on. Alex Rodriguez followed with a lined single up the middle and Robinson Cano then loaded the bases with an opposite-field single to left.
A’s manager Bob Melvin replaced Figueroa with right-hander Pat Neshek and Neshek promptly uncorked a wild pitch with Nunez at the plate to allow Suzuki to score and Rodriguez and Cano to advance into scoring position. Nunez then scored Rodriguez with a sacrifice fly to center.
Raul Ibanez then strolled to the plate having put the Yankees ahead 5-4 in the bottom of the fifth inning with a pinch-hit home run off reliever Jim Miller. It was his 16th home run of the season but it was his first since an Aug. 5 home game against the Seattle Mariners.
Ibanez again reached into the Yankees’ bag of improbable tricks by turning around a 3-1 Neshek pitch and depositing it into the second deck in right field to tie the score at 9-9. It was at this point that it began to dawn on the fans in the stands and those either watching or listening to the game they were now part of something very special. Perhaps a new Yankee Classic?
Cory Wade (1-1), the Yankees’ ninth pitcher of the afternoon, came in the top of the 14th and he retired the A’s in order to what later would be credited to him as his first victory of the season with the Yankees.
The A’s sent out tall, lanky right-hander Tyson Ross (2-10) to pitch the bottom of the inning.
Eric Chavez opened the inning with a single in the hole between first and second base into right-field. Manager Joe Girardi sent in rookie outfielder Melky Mesa in to pinch-run in what was his major-league debut.
Derek Jeter laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance Mesa to second and the A’s finally got smart enough to walk Suzuki intentionally considering he was 5-for-8 in the series so far.
Misfortune had followed the Yankees like a persistent cloud all day. They were just 3-for-16 with runners in scoring position, they had stranded 14 baserunners and left the bases loaded in the first and 12th innings.
Rodriguez did come through with another hard-hit single into center-field on which Mesa should have scored easily. But, alas, Mesa in his haste to tally the winning run slipped rounding third base and he had to go back to third with his embarrassment splashed all over his face.
And it looked like it just going to be one of those days when Cano rolled a tapper back to Ross and Ross threw wide at catcher Derek Norris but Norris kept a toe on the plate to force Mesa for the second out.
That left the bases loaded and two out for Nunez, who only just entered the game in the as a pinch-hitter in the 12th inning but he did deliver that key run-scoring fly ball in the 13th.
On the second pitch, Nunez shot a Neshek slider the opposite way inside the first-base line. Moss moved two steps over to field it, the ball clanked off the bottom of his mitt and rolled past him to allow Nunez to reach first as Suzuki crossed the plate with the winning run.
The A’s did not exactly put on a pitching and fielding clinic all day and it ultimately led to their downfall. They committed three fielding errors, a passed ball, a balk and three wild pitches to help the Yankees’ cause. So if they are looking for someone to blame for the loss they should start by looking in the clubhouse mirror.
For the Yankees, who had entered the series on Friday with only two walk-off victories all season, it was their second in two days against a very overconfident bunch of young Athletics who swept the Yankees in four one-run games in Oakland in July.
The victory was the Yankees’ seventh in a row and their ninth in their past 10 games. They now have a record of 88-63. For the A’s this second devastating one-run loss in extra innings dropped their record to 85-66. They are 4 1/2 games behind the Texas Rangers in the American League West, two games behind the Orioles for the first wild-card spot and three games ahead of the Angels for the second wild-card spot.
For the A’s this loss was by far one big dagger to the heart. For the Yankees it was one big tribute to their own heart in the face of major adversity.
- Suzuki has seemingly turned back the clock on his 38-year-old body to his magical 2001 season when he won Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player honors. In his last five games, Suzuki is 14-for-20 (.700) with two home runs, five RBIs, seven runs scored and four stolen bases. He opened the first inning with his ninth home run of the season off Oakland starter Travis Blackley. He added two singles, two walks and a sacrifice bunt as he debuted in the second spot in the order against a left-handed pitcher.
- Ibanez’s bat had to be colder than a polar bear’s hindquarters when he entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the fifth. After hitting .196 in August, Ibanez was hitting .042 in September. He had only one hit in his last 28 at-bats. But he delivered a huge solo home run in the fifth that put the Yankees ahead and then an even bigger two-run shot in the 13th that tied the game at 9-9. He now has 17 home runs and 56 RBIs despite hitting .228 on the season.
- Steve Pearce has never gotten much mention since he was acquired but he is going to get one here. Pearce entered the game in the 10th inning after Chris Dickerson was used to pinch-run for Nick Swisher. Pearce never got a chance to bat in the game because he was pinch-hit for by Nunez in the 12th. But on a day that the A’s were kicking the ball all over the yard he came up with a real gem in the 11th inning. The A’s had the bases loaded and two out with Josh Reddick facing Freddy Garcia. Reddick lined a hot smash that was headed into right-field and would have scored two runs except Pearce dove headlong to his right and caught the ball a foot off the ground. That was the key play in the victory.
- Ivan Nova proved his command issues this season are not quite behind him. After an impressive start coming off the disabled list he struggled in in his second outing. He gave up three runs on five hits and two walks and struck out two in just 2 1/3 innings. Fortunately for him, Blackley was just as bad, surrendering four runs (two earned) on four hits and three walks in two innings. Nova likely lost any chance he may have had to make the postseason rotation.
- Garcia had not pitched since he gave up three runs to the Orioles in 3 1/3 innings in what was his last start before being demoted to the bullpen. Though he pitched three scoreless innings from the 10th through the 12th, he stumbled badly in the 13th. He gave up a two-run home run to Jonny Gomes and a then solo shot to Yoenis Cespedes. Girardi replaced Garcia with rookie left-hander Justin Thomas, who then gave up a solo home run to Chris Carter, which dug the Yankees a huge 9-5 hole from which they escaped – luckily. Garcia may not make the postseason roster and his days with the Yankees are numbered.
- Cano was 2-for-8 in the game. But it does not really illustrate how bad he has been lately. He had an RBI single in the first inning and reached on an error in the second. But he flied out to end the fourth. He hit into an inning-ending double play in the sixth after Rodriguez was walked intentionally in front of him. He flied out to center to start the ninth. He grounded out to second to end the 11th. After singling and scoring in the 13th, he failed to deliver with bases loaded in the 13th with a tapper back the pitcher. In all, Cano stranded seven runners in the game.
Mark Teixeira jogged in the outfield, took some ground balls and some swings in the batting cage at Yankee Stadium before Saturday’s game and experienced no issues with strained left calf. Teixeira will travel to Tampa, FL, on Monday to accelerate his workouts in hopes of returning before the regular season ends. Teixeira was originally injured on Aug. 27 and missed 10 games. He came back and reinjured it in his first game back. He since has missed the last 12 games. . . . The Yankees’ bullpen was down two pitchers because of the recent use of closer Rafael Soriano and David Robertson. Soriano reported a dead arm in the wake of Friday’s blown save against the A’s. Robertson had pitched in each of the previous three games.
The Yankees stand just one game away of the final step in what can be called the “Pay Back To The Punks” weekend series against the A’s.
Veteran right-hander Hiroki Kuroda (14-10, 3.26 ERA) will start for the Yankees. Kuroda struck out the first six batters he faced and finished with 10 as he defeated the Tampa Bay Rays in his last start. Kuroda is 1-1 with a 3.21 ERA in his career against Oakland.
The A’s will start rookie right-hander A.J. Griffin (6-1, 2.45 ERA). Griffin allowed five runs on eight hits in 4 2/3 innings against the Detroit Tigers to take his first loss of the season. He was tagged for three home runs. He is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in his one start against the Yankees.
Game-time will be 1:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by TBS and locally by the YES Network.
YANKEES 22, ATHLETICS 9
Tick, tick, tick.
You could almost understand how badly Oakland manager Bob Melvin wanted to get his team to Boston on Thursday before the Yankees’ offense exploded.
Boom! Boom! Boom! Too late, Bob.
The Bronx Bombers, who lost the first two games of the series to the A’s and trailed 7-1 in the bottom of the fourth inning, lived up to their nickname by blasting a major-league record three grand slams in a game as they finally got tired of leaving runners on base and pounded Oakland in a wild and wacky game at Yankee Stadium.
After Russell Martin hit what seemed like a harmless solo home run in the fourth off A’s starter Rich Harden, Robinson Cano began the “slam-fest” by jerking a Harden 0-1 pitch into the bleachers in right-center in the fifth to bring the Yankees to within a run. After Nick Swisher doubled, Harden was removed after giving up six runs on 10 hits and a walk in 4 1/3 innings.
Taking advantage of the wildness of lefty Craig Breslow and righty Fautine De Los Santos in the sixth, the Yankees again loaded the bases. Martin hit a 1-1 De Los Santos fastball to the opposite field on a line into the first row in the bleachers in right-center. Just like that the Yankees had turned what was a 7-1 deficit into a 10-7 lead. It was Martin’s fourth two-homer game of the season and it was his third career grand slam home run.
Martin, who began the day hitting .232, ended up with a career-best six RBIs and was a perfect 5-for-5 to raise his average to .243. The five hits were also a career best.
The Yankees continued to pour on runs in the seventh, sending 12 men to the plate and scoring six runs to extend their lead to 16-7. A’s rookie pitchers Jordan Norberto and Bruce Billings combined to give up three hits and walk seven batters in the inning.
An inning later, the Yankees scored another six runs, highlighted by Curtis Granderson’s bases-loaded shot to right-center off Billings that made baseball slam history. It was Granderson’s 36th home run of the season and his five RBIs in the game allowed him to overtake Boston’s Adrian Gonzlaez for the major-league top spot in RBIs with 103.
To add insult to further insult to the A’s, the next batter, Andruw Jones, belted a tape-measure home run deep into the second deck in left off reliever Brian Fuentes to complete the scoring for the Yankees.
The Yankees had opened the first two games of the series against the A’s by going a horrendous 2-for-23 (.087) with runners in scoring position, leading to a 6-5 loss on Tuesday and a 6-4 loss in 10 innings on Wednesday.
They even began this game as they did the first two games by leaving the bases loaded with only one out in the second and the fifth inning. On both occasions, it was Brett Gardner and Derek Jeter who failed to get a ball out of the infield to end the threats.
However, the Yankees parlayed 21 hits, a season-high 13 walks and a hit batsman to actually have 17 plate appearances with the bases loaded. They ended the game 10-for-21 (.467) with runners in scoring position.
It is good thing, too.
The game did not start well for Yankees right-hander Phil Hughes. Hughes did not have command of his fastball and he was lit up for a run in the first, a run in the second and he had given up a pair of runs in the third before he was removed with two on and two out. However, Cliff Pennington greeted reliever Cory Wade with a first-pitch home run to right to extend the A’s lead to seven.
Hughes gave up six runs on seven hits and no walks and fanned five in 2 2/3 innings. But the Yankees’ offense and the A’s generous relievers took Hughes off the hook.
Reliever Boone Logan (4-2), who faced four batters and fanned all four, was credited with the victory. De Los Santos (2-1), who won in relief on Wednesday, was tagged with the loss.
The game, which was delayed at the start by rain for an hour and 29 minutes, took four hours and 31 minutes to play in front of a sellout crowd of 46,389.
With the dramatic victory, the Yankees remain a game back in the American League East to the Boston Red Sox. Their season record is now 78-50. The A’s dropped to 59-71.
- After hitting .292 the first month and slumping for three months partially due to a back injury, Martin is having an August to remember. He is hitting a robust .318 with seven home runs and 19 RBIs. In May, June and July, Martin hit four home runs and drove in 21 runs. With the day of his career on Thursday, Martin has 17 home runs and 59 RBIs on the season.
- Granderson is also having a mega-month in August. He is batting .321 with eight home runs and 25 RBIs. What’s more, Granderson scored four runs in Thursday’s game and he is laying waste to the field in the runs-scored category. Granderson now has scored major-league-best 119 runs. His next-closest competitor is Jose Bautista of Toronto with 93.
- If you think Martin and Granderson are hot, how about Cano? Cano now has a 16-game hitting steak in which he is 24-for-68 (.353) with four home runs and 18 RBIs. Cano has raised his average to .304 and he has 22 home runs and 93 RBIs on the season.
- With CC Sabathia and Bartolo Colon struggling, Freddy Garcia on the disabled list and A.J. Burnett getting lit up like the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, the last thing the Yankees needed was a poor start from Hughes. Hughes entered the game with a 3-0 record and a 1.37 ERA in his last three starts. But he regressed badly in this start. The Yankees desperately need Hughes to pitch well down the stretch to have any hope of competing in the playoffs.
- Jeter is having a great month. With his three hits on Thursday, he raised his season average to a more Jeter-like .299. However, Jeter had four at-bats with the bases loaded in the game and he failed to deliver a run in three of them. He hit a comebacker to Harden in the second for the third out. He grounded out to second in the fifth to end another inning. And in the eighth he struck out swinging for the second out just before Granderson’s record grand slam. Jeter left a total of nine men on base in the game. He did walk with bases loaded in the seventh.
- Mark Teixeira was the only Yankee starter who did not have a hit in the game. He was 0-for-4 with two walks, he scored a run and drove in a run in the first inning on a groundout. Teixeira’s season average dropped to .246 and he is hitting .233 for the month. Teixeira is a career .282 hitter but he is gong to fall well below that mark this season.
The Yankees are in Baltimore to begin a five-game series over the next four days with the Orioles. However, Hurricane Irene is expected to disrupt the series with a day-night doubleheader scheduled for Saturday.
The Yankees will open the series on Friday with the Yankees’ version of baseball pinball, A,J. Burnett (9-10, 4.96 ERA). Burnett has tilted to the tune of a 1-4 record and a 6.93 ERA since June 29. He only lasted 1 2/3 innings in last start against the Twins on Saturday and left the game with some angry words directed at manager Joe Girardi. He is 12-5 with a 4.93 ERA against the Orioles in his career.
The Orioles will counter with newly acquired right-hander Tommy Hunter (1-1, 6.20 ERA). Hunter allowed six runs on 10 hits in 8 1/3 innings in a no-decision the Orioles lost 9-8 in 12 innings. Hunter is 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA lifetime against the Yankees.
Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast by the YES Network.
YANKEES 7, ATHLETICS 5
A victory is a victory. But there are some victories that expose what a team is missing.
Though New York defeated Oakland on Sunday, the mood at Yankee Stadium was relief the pesky A’s were leaving town.
Bartolo Colon (7-6) pitched seven solid innings and Curtis Granderson, Andruw Jones and Eduardo Nunez drove in two runs apiece as the Yankees staked their vaunted bullpen to a 6-2 lead to start the eighth inning. However, the usually reliable David Robertson and Mariano Rivera were tagged for three runs on seven hits and a walk to barely hold on to defeat the Athletics.
Robertson was pressed into service despite the fact he threw 25 pitches in an inning of work on Saturday. Robertson has been filling in the eighth inning role since the Yankees lost Rafael Soriano on May 14 with right elbow inflammation and Joba Chamberlain on June 6 for the season with Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. On Sunday, the heavy workload on the All-Star reliever Robertson showed.
The A’s battered Robertson for two runs on three doubles and a walk in 30 more pitches over two-thirds of an inning, prompting manager Joe Girardi to summon Rivera from the bullpen for a very rare four-out save. Rivera escaped the two-out, two on jam by inducing Cliff Pennington to ground out on his second pitch.
However, the A’s — trailing 7-4 after Derek Jeter drove in an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth on an infield groundout — refused to go gently in the ninth.
With one out, the A’s strung together four straight singles — the last an RBI single by Josh Willingham — off Rivera to score a run to draw them within two runs with the bases loaded. Rivera and the Yankees escaped disaster when David DeJesus’ line drive headed into the right-field corner was stopped by first baseman Mark Teixeira, who trotted to first to double up Willingham for a game-ending unassisted double play.
What little was left of the crowd of 45,596 seemed to all exhale with a collective sigh of relief just before the P.A. system struck up Frank Sinatra singing his familiar “New York, New York.” Perhaps, in this case, it would have been more appropriate to play Sinatra’s “Luck Be A Lady Tonight.”
The Yankees had trailed 2-0 early to the A’s and their talented lefty starter Gio Gonzalez before the Yankees began chipping away in the bottom of the second inning. Jones followed a two-out single and a stolen base by Russell Martin with his first RBI single of the day to draw the Yankees to within a run.
Two innings later, Nunez laced a line-drive two-out double to the gap in left-center to score Martin and Jones, who Gonzalez had hit with a pitch and walked on four pitches, respectively. The Yankees took the lead at 3-2 and never did surrender it the rest of the way.
Granderson padded the lead to 5-2 in the fifth when he followed a leadoff walk to Derek Jeter with his 27th home run of the season and his 11th off a left-hander this season, which leads the major leagues. Later in the inning, Jones delivered a bases-loaded single to score Teixeira and chase Gonzalez (9-7) from the game. Gonzalez left having given up six runs on seven hits and three walks and struck out five in 4 2/3 innings of work.
Colon meanwhile, relied a bit more on his slider than his fastball in holding the A’s to just two runs on eight hits and a walk and he struck out four to win his first start since July 2 against the Mets. It also was his first post-All-Star break victory since the 2005 season.
Colon and the Yankees were able to hold on that victory for him despite the rocky eighth and ninth innings. Rivera got credit for his 25th save in 29 chances and extended his major-league record of consecutive seasons of 25 or more saves to 15.
With the victory the Yankees remain three games behind the Boston Red Sox in the American League East. The A’s dropped to 44-57 on the season.
- Colon was not as sharp as he has been, but he was good enough to limit the opposition to two earned runs or fewer for the ninth time in 15 starts. The A’s only got to Colon in the second inning. With two out, Kurt Suzuki stroked a double to left. Cliff Pennington followed with a single to right that scored Suzuki when Nick Swisher’s throw from right-field skipped past Martin at the plate. Rookie Eric Sogard then doubled to right-center to score Pennington to give the A’s a 2-0 lead. Colon shut out the A’s from there thanks to a great defensive play by Granderson and Robinson Cano.
- Granderson and Cano teamed up to deny the A’s what might have been a key run in the fifth. With Sogard at first and two out, Hideki Matsui, who was 5-for-5 in the game, stroked his first of two doubles on the day to center. Granderson retrieved the ball and, as Sogard headed for home, Cano relayed the ball high but right on the plate to Martin. Martin caught it over his head and brought his glove down to tag Sogard out as he blocked the plate. Despite an inconsequential error charged to Cano in the sixth, the Yankees played exceptional defense led by a spectacular play earlier by Cano, three excellent stops by Teixeira and Martin threw out a base-stealer in the seventh.
- Granderson’s great season continues despite the fact he has been slumping of late and he has been striking out at an alarming rate. Granderson’s blast to right reached the second deck and was the key blow of the game. Granderson now has has 27 home runs, 74 RBIs and is hitting .265. Of course, he also leads the team in strikeouts with 107 and he fanned three times on Sunday, all on breaking pitches in the dirt.
- Nunez filled in nicely for Jeter when he was on the disabled list and now he is doing the same with Alex Rodriguez on the DL. Nunez was 2-for-4 with a double and a single, he drove in two runs, stole a base and scored a run on Sunday. From June 14 through Sunday, Nunez is 31-for-105 (.295) with two home runs and 15 RBIs. He also has eight stolen bases.
- Robertson entered Sunday’s game with a 3-0 record and 1.14 ERA and he had only allowed one earned run since June 9, a stretch of 15 appearances. So it is hard to fault Robertson for his poor showing on Sunday. But in this instance you have to blame Girardi for choosing to use Robertson after he threw so many pitches on Saturday when he loaded the bases on walks and struck out the final batter to escape without a run scoring. In these situations Girardi will have to trust Cory Wade or Luis Ayala more. Of course, if the Yankees get a healthy Soriano back as expected this week, Robertson’s heavy workload can be lessened some.
- Swisher entered the game as the hottest hitter on the team. But on Sunday he was 0-for-4 with a strikeout. After pushing his average over .261 for the first time this season, Swisher’s average has dipped back to .258.
- When Rivera struggles to get outs it is news. Rivera escaped the eighth on two pitches but ran into trouble with out in the ninth. Jemile Weeks singled sharply to center. Coco Crisp then rolled a single just off Cano’s glove and Matsui lined a single to right to load the bases. Willingham singled to left to score Weeks and suddenly the Yankees were faced with the tying run at second, one out and the bases loaded. DeJesus’ line drive could have easily doomed the Yankees to either a tie or a one-run deficit in the bottom of the ninth. Luckily, Teixeira bailed out Rivera and the Yankees by being at the right place at the right time.
The Yankees held on to win the rubber game their three-game home series with the A’s. They now will open a three-game series with the Seattle Mariners, who have lost 14 games in a row.
The Yankees will start the series with veteran right-hander Freddy Garcia (8-7, 3.21 ERA). Garcia pitched 6 2/3 innings of shutout baseball against the Rays for his 12th quality start of the season. Garcia fanned seven and walked none and looked dominant with his off-speed assortment. He is 4-3 with a 5.46 ERA in his career against the Mariners.
Seattle will counter with left-hander Jason Vargas (6-8, 3.94 ERA). Vargas was blasted by the Blue Jays for five runs on six hits over just three innings. Vargas, 28, has given up 10 earned runs in his last two starts. He is 0-2 with a 7.66 ERA lifetime against the Yankees.
Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast by the YES Network.