Saturday, September 18, 2010

Don't Spare The A-Rod

A week ago Wednesday the Yankees were on the verge of another embarrassing loss to the Baltimore Orioles. Not only a loss, but on the precipice of being swept in a three game series. Then Nick Swisher stepped up in the bottom of the 9th and smacked a game winning 2-run home run off of Koji Uehara to save the day.

It wasn't quite deja vu, but the Yankees were one strike away from losing the opening game of a three game set in Baltimore last night when Alex Rodriguez turned a 3-1 deficit into a 4-3 lead when he drove an Uehara meatball into the left field seats. Mariano Rivera closed things out, and coupled with Tampa Bay's 9th inning loss to Anaheim, the Yankees were back in first place in the AL East.

Much like the series finale (Phil Hughes start) in Tampa, the Yankees got a decent performance from their starter (A.J. Burnett), but home runs allowed had put them in a hole. Jorge Posada, who had entered the game in the 7th inning as a pinch-hitter for Francisco Cervelli, led off the 9th with a base hit. After Derek Jeter struck out looking, Curtis Granderson singled to put the tying runs on base.

Mark Teixeira, who has struggled since breaking a toe at the end of August, popped out for the second out of the inning. That left things up to Rodriguez, who earlier in the game had accounted for the Yankees sole run with a solo home run. The comeback was nearly not to be as the Yankees third baseman stared down a potential third strike that just missed inside. Then Uehara threw one right down the middle and Rodriguez slugged his 25th home run of the season and 608th of his career.

A-Rod knows he nearly got punched out on strikes

Burnett pitched one of his better games in a while, but allowed solo home runs to Adam Jones in the 4th and Robert Andino in the 7th. David Robertson tossed a scoreless 8th to earn the win and evened his record at 4-4 in the process. Rivera notched his 31st save with a 1-2-3 9th inning.

As has been the case for the past few weeks, the Yankees had the chance to bust the game open early and couldn't. After Rodriguez's solo home run in the 2nd, the Yankees loaded the bases with one out against O's starter Kevin Millwood. But Cervelli struck out swinging and Jeter lined out hard to third.

Millwood settled down after that and didn't run into any trouble again until the 7th when the Yankees put two aboard with two outs. But the veteran right-hander struck out Teixeira to end the threat.


Burnett was sporting a black eye when he came to the ball park, but refused to tell the cause. Joe Girardi would not comment either.

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