Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Yankees Walk To Win

Mark Teixeira snared the last out from the stands.

A.J. Burnett was going through one of those frustrating nights last night that has become the hallmark of his 2 1/2 years as a Yankee. He wasn't putting hitters away, he put his team in a 4-1 hole, and he got into a verbal disagreement with a Yankees fan sitting behind the visitors' dugout. But the Tampa Bay Rays had a bigger issue. They had used nine pitchers the night before- actually the same day, since the game ended after 1 a.m., in a 16-inning loss to the Red Sox. The result was a kid making his Major League pitching debut and a come-from-behind 5-4 win for the Yankees.

23-yr old Alex Torres was one out away from getting out of a 9th inning jam, but it was not meant to be. He gave up a lead off single to Curtis Granderson, but struck out Mark Teixeira for the first out. (Teixeira, like players and managers on both sides, had trouble with home plate umpire Ed Hickox' balls and strikes calls and it affected his final two at-bats, both of which were strikeouts.) Granderson swiped second with Robinson Cano up and moved to third when Cano grounded out to second.

Rays' manager Joe Maddon decided to intentionally walk Nick Swisher to set up a matchup with the less productive Andruw Jones. The move backfired though, when Torres unintentionally gave Jones a free pass to load the bases. Then, everything exploded in Maddon's face when Torres missed with a 3-2 pitch to Russell Martin to force in the go-ahead run. Mariano Rivera then pitched a 1-2-3 9th inning for his 24th save.

Trailing 1-0, the Rays came right back with a three spot in the bottom of the 1st inning. Burnett got off on the wrong foot by walking Johnny Damon and then allowed a single to Ben Zobrist. Evan Longoria brought both runners home with a double to left-center for a 2-1 Rays lead. Casey Kotchman singled to move Longoria up a base, but Teixeira's Gold Glove defense temporarily saved Burnett from further trouble.

Teixeira gloved B.J. Upton's grounder, froze Longoria at third and started a 3-6-3 double play. (It helped that Upton, as usual, didn't run hard to first). Burnett didn't take advantage of his good fortune though, when he fielded Sean Rodriguez' chopper and threw wildly to first for a run-scoring error.

Rookie starter Alex Cobb held the Yankees to three hits over six innings, but the Yankees chipped away at the lead in the 8th against Cesar Ramos and former Yankee reliever Kyle Farnsworth. Cano singled to start the frame and Swisher followed with a walk. Farnsworth retired Jones, but gave up back-to-back singles to Brett Gardner and Martin to produce a run, and another scored on Eduardo Nunez' fielder's choice.

David Robertson struck out two of the three batters he faced in the 8th inning to raise his record to 3-0. He now has 59 strikeouts in 37.1 innings.

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