Hello, 2nd place in the AL East! Boy, does that feel better than 4th…
Starter Andy Pettitte certainly didn’t start off so great, but thanks to the Yankees bats and some great defensive teamwork once again, he earned his 6th win of the season. Throwing exactly 100 pitches through 6.2 innings, Pettitte got off to a rough start — a 2-run home run in the 1st, an RBI double in the 2nd, and an RBI single in the 4th. But once he found his stride, the Orioles weren’t able to get past Pettitte or the excellent defense behind him. The bullpen provided excellent reinforcements due to Kelley, Robertson, and (who else) Rivera to keep the Birds away from tacking on any further runs. Rivera also earned his 29th save of the season.
Now, offensively, the Yankees found some holes in Baltimore’s defense once again. In the 2nd inning, a walk and 3 back-to-back singles (Hafner, Almonte, Overbay, Cruz) naturally scored a run (Hafner) thanks to new Yankee Luis Cruz, all with no outs. And that brought up a recently reactivated Eduardo Nunez (more in the injury update below) who proceeded to fly out into a sacrifice double play — ball out in left field, thrown to 3rd to get Overbay out there, but a run scores (Almonte) in the process. (I don’t think I’ve ever seen a sacrifice double play, so it’s rather interesting to see something you don’t see very often, if ever.)
Then in the 5th, Nunez and Stewart each single, Gardner sacrifice bunts them forward, so Ichiro Suzuki’s single easily scores Nunez. Next up, Robinson Cano singles home Stewart (thanks to a messy catch attempt from the Orioles’ left fielder) to tie up the game at 4-4. This allowed either team to step up and make their play for the win, but it was the Yankees in the next inning. Overbay singles, Cruz sacrifice bunts him to 2nd, and Nunez’s single had Overbay diving over the Orioles’ catcher to tag home and score (what would end up being) the winning run, pinning the score at 5-4 Yankees in the 6th inning.
Really, the heft of today’s offense came from the bottom half of the roster, with Lyle Overbay going 3-for-4, Nunez 2-for-3 with a walk and sacrifice fly, and Stewart with 1-for-2 with 2 walks. But really, with a rare exception from Gardner today, everyone on the starting roster got at least one hit, scored one run, and/or got an RBI.
And while there were quite a few fun defensive maneuvers by the Yankees today, my favorite one came from Ichiro Suzuki in the 5th inning. A short fly ball had him running and sliding in for the catch, which he always does and did today with such grace and dexterity. But when he got up, he realized his cleat pulled up a grass divot from the outfield, he walks to the divot, replaces it in its spot, and uses his cleat to push it back into the grass. That’s what I call taking care of your area. Something about this whole things just made me laugh.
Okay, (part of me really hates that this has become part of my daily blog) injury updates: David Phelps has been put on the 15-day DL with slight forearm strain; he won’t be throwing anything for 10 days (so until the All-Star Break). And they finally placed Mark Teixeira on the 60-day DL; Teixeira will be out for the rest of the season with a surgically repaired arm injury (tendon sheath tear). In that spot, they were able to activate Eduardo Nunez, who has been stalled in his return due to extended “stiffness in his rib cage”. Today, I’m guessing everyone is celebrating his return because he was on fire in his at-bats and really fluid at short stop.
In AAA Scranton, Derek Jeter will play his first rehab game tonight, something which helped sell-out the minor league stadium; he will play 5 innings at short stop and lead off the batting order, and he seems rather positive about tonight’s game. Personally, I think he’s just really glad to actually playing baseball again and will do anything to get back with the team as soon as humanly possible. Also, Michael Pineda is also scheduled to start tonight’s Scranton game as pitcher; he is still trying to find his way to his debut as a Yankee after surgery and a very long rehab since being acquired by the Yankees in January 2012. If you are interested in watching/following tonight’s game, you can find the link here. (Scroll down to the 7:05 Lehigh- Scranton game. The game starts and will available to watch online at 7:05 pm EST.)