This is how you begin the last stretch to October — with a great (and much-needed) win. And with some really tight teams joining the Yankees in the Bronx (3rd place Baltimore this weekend, last place in AL Central White Sox next week, and then a 4-game weekend series versus the 1st place Red Sox next weekend), the more games the Yankees can surge forward with a win, the better their chances for the playoffs.
Starter CC Sabathia started the evening with 3 straight 1-2-3 innings. Then the Orioles began their play for the game in the middle 3 innings. A ground-rule double scores on a single in the 4th, a 2-run homer and RBI single in the 5th, and an RBI single in the 6th are all that the Yankees would allow the Birds to score — 5 runs to dent into the Yankees offense. Sabathia left the game after that RBI single, with a final line of 7 hits, 5 runs (1 homer), 1 walk, and 4 strikeouts over his 86 pitches.
Then the Yankees played mix and match with their bullpen for a bit. Kelley came on to get that final out of the 6th inning and the first one of the 7th; Logan grabbed the second out of the 7th; and Robertson the third out of the 7th and all 3 of the 8th inning.
Now before Rivera came on in the 9th for his 15 pitch save (39th of the season), the Yankees bats came alive and had some fun. Like their opponents’ offensive surge, the Yankees found life in the middle of the game as well. With two outs, Robinson Cano walked and scored on a great 2-run homer by Alfonso Soriano to (surprise!) the right field seats.
In the 5th inning, back-to-back doubles by Curtis Granderson and Mark Reynolds, scored a run as they switched places. Then Ichiro Suzuki hit a 2-run home run (also into the right field seats, almost in the exact spot at Soriano’s homer), also scoring Reynolds. With bases loaded with Romine’s double, Gardner’s single, and Jeter’s walk, Cano’s single scores both Romine and the speedy Gardner. And to cushion the Yankees’ lead, in the 7th inning, Cano scores on a single by Alex Rodriguez, planting the scoreboard at 8-5 Yankees.
Tonight was also “Yogi Berra Night“, celebrated by a little Yogi Berra bobble head figure to a few thousand lucky fans. Plus they were treated to a pre-game appearance of the man himself — 88 years old, escorted on his own golf cart, and still as spunky as ever. The great #8 and one of the Yankees best catchers ever loves to visit his old team and chat up with the current players. His “Yogi-isms” are some of the greatest quotes on baseball and on life that have ever come out of the game. He has 10 World Series rings as a Yankee (3 as a coach and manager), an 18 time All-Star, 3 times an AL MVP, his #8 retired at Monument Park, a proud member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, and one of my personal favorite all-time Yankees (heck, one of my favorite all-time baseball players). If you ever venture out to New Jersey, he has his own museum of memories, memorabilia, and baseball history, including some great Yankee history. (It’s on my to-do list the next time I’m in the neighborhood.)
What a great way to celebrate Yogi Berra Night with a win! I think this is a great way to start a home stand and push toward October. As much as sports analysts will try to say otherwise, the Yankees are still in the running for a spot in the postseason. And with some very big games against their divisional opponents, they have a huge opportunity to jump ahead and move further up the standings — an opportunity I know no one on this side of the Yankee fan base wants to see left in the dust. Tonight’s game is certainly a step in the right direction. A few more steps in that direction, and we’ll be singing our way through October in the Bronx.