(The Muscle. Courtesy of the AP)
I was dooming and glooming after Thursday night's game, obviously, but the good news was that the Yankees had plenty of chances to right those wrongs in the next 3 games of the series. They got started righting those wrongs almost immediately last night against Toronto rookie Chad Jenkins, jumping out to an early lead and then ramping the offense back up in the later innings after Toronto tried to climb back in the game. The pitching was a little spotty, but the offense stepped up and the carried the team, and the Yankees now find themselves right on the doorstep to the postseason with their playoff magic number down to 2.
- The offense did its 1st inning damage with 2 outs, a rare feat for them, thanks to a pair of singles and a 2-run double by Nick Swisher. Things could have been worse when Curtis Granderson lined one that took Jenkins' glove off his hand, but Jenkins caught the glove, and the ball, for the final out.
- Hiroki Kuroda wasn't all that sharp, but he did his best Houdini act to work out of trouble. He put the leadoff runner on in the 1st, loaded the bases with 2 outs in the 2nd, but worked out of each inning without allowing a run.
- Kuroda's problem seemed to be an inability to get his sinker to drop out of the zone. He's switched to throwing more sliders in place of the sinker this month, and I still say he's showing signs of being tired.
- Colby Ramus led off the 5th with a solo HR to get the Jays on the board, but the Yankees responded with 4 of their own in the top of the 6th. The big blow was Russell Martin's 3-run shot, but the bigger blow could be an injury to Robinson Cano, who took a ball off the hand and had to go for X-rays after the game.
- Kuroda exited after just 5.1 innings and 98 pitches, and David Phelps took the ball through the 7th. Little surprising to see Joe only use him for 26 pitches, but maybe not so much after Phelps gave up a 2-out, 2-run home run to Adam Lind to make it 8-4.
- To snuff out any chance of a comeback, the Yanks put 3 more on the board in the final 2 innings. Robinson Cano singled Ichiro home in the 8th, and Eric Chavez hit an opposite-field 2-run jack in the 9th.
- Cody Eppley got 2 outs in the 9th and wasn't in any kind of trouble, but the binder must have said Soriano because Joe brought him in for the final out. Whatever.
- 9 2-out runs for the offense last night. That's what I'm talking about, boys! More of that, please.
- Swish: 2-4, 1 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, LOB. Swish has been consistently good at the plate for close to 2 weeks now, which could be huge for the Yankees. They are going to need another productive bat in the middle of the lineup if Teix doesn't make it all the way back.
- Martin: 2-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 3 RBI, 1 BB, LOB. Ditto Martin, who's been valuable as the de facto #6/#7 hitter lately with Teix on the shelf. As bad as his slash line looks, 20 HR from the catcher spot is pretty damn good.
- Chavez: 1-3, 1 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2 BB, LOB. And here we have another guy who's come back around with the bat. Chavez didn't look like he swung hard and didn't look like he even made good contact on his 9th-inning HR, but he muscled it out.
- Derek Jeter: 1-6, 1 K, LOB. Only 18 pitches seen in 6 PA for The Captain last night. That's partially his MO, but you'd like to see a little more count working to create some on-base opportunities from the leadoff spot, especially with a hot Cano and Swish hitting behind him.
It's 1-1 now, with 2 games to go. Baltimore refuses to cooperate and lose when the Yankees win, but the magic number for the postseason and the division continues to shrink and can shrink some more today with another victory. A good lefty (Andy Pettitte) and a crappy one (Ricky Romero) square off this afternoon.