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There's a strange feeling of positivity surrounding the Yankees presently, at least for me. They're nowhere near putting everything together as they need to, but there are signs that they are starting to move back in the right direction as a team. Curtis Granderson has started to find his power, Alex Rodriguez has hit the ball well since coming off the DL, Joba Chamberlain looks much better, the offense has shown some ability to successfully execute and play small ball to score runs when they need to (like Jeter's late RBI single on Saturday), and Ivan Nova's strong return to the rotation was a shot in the arm for the pitching staff. A second straight win to take the series against Tampa would have been another positive step, and although it didn't turn into the blowout it could have, it was still a positive day for the Bombers.
- Both pitchers had their stuff working from the minute they left the bullpen. Hiroki Kuroda fanned the first 6 batters he got out in the game, and Matt Moore struck out the Yankee side of the 1st.
- Moore's command wasn't nearly as good as Kuroda's, and the Yankees used that to small ball their way onto the scoreboard in the 3rd. Eduardo Nunez worked a leadoff walk, stole second base, and scored on a Derek Jeter single to right.
- A-Rod kept the small ball going with an RBI single through a pulled-in infield and a steal of 3rd on a 3-0 pitch to Robinson Cano, and then Russell Martin kicked the power game back up with a 3-run shot to right to make it 5-0 Yanks.
- Kuroda gave a run back on a solo HR in the top of the 4th, likely a byproduct of his long stay on the bench, and then got himself in big trouble in the 6th after walking the #9 hitter to lead off the inning. Some fan interference and a freakish hop on a would-be double play ball contributed to a 3-run inning for the Rays and the end of Kuroda's day.
- I couldn't, for the life of me, explain why Joe used Boone Logan to start the top of the 7th against a righty, then removed him for David Phelps so that he didn't have him to pitch to Carlos Pena with 2 outs, but Phelps struck out Desmond Jennings to end the threat.
- It's worth noting that the offense did very little after the big 5-run 3rd. They scratched a run across in the 4th thanks to some Nunez SBs, but only put just 2 runners on base after that.
- I'm sure Joe didn't want to use D-Rob and Sour Puss yesterday, as 2 full days of rest would have done them good, but he had little choice with the game being as close as it was, and Robertson and Soriano turned in 2 clean innings to preserve the win.
- Martin: 1-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 3 RBI, 1 K, 2 LOB. Had the biggest blast from the biggest (and damn near only) scoring inning the Yankees had, and continued his late-season upward offensive trend. His average is up over .200, his OBP is over .300, and he's got his OPS at exactly .700.
- Kuroda: 6 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 10 K. It's really a shame that Kuroda ended up allowing 4 runs, because that's not a true reflection of how good Kuroda was yesterday. That long wait in the 3rd seemed to sap some of his early fastball command and bite to his offspeed stuff, because he breezed through the first 3 innings and really had to labor through the final 3. That being said, the 2 biggest blows against him were the infield hit and bad hop ball over A-Rod in the 6th.
- Andruw Jones: 0-2, 1 K. I'm still not quite sure what he's doing out there. If Jones were a horse, he'd be dangerously close to getting shipped to the glue factory right now.
A much needed off day for the bullpen and Derek Jeter's ankle. The Yanks have won 7 of 11 and can have another game hacked off their magic number with a Baltimore loss tonight. They'll get started again on Tuesday against Toronto.