(GAH!! What the fu-, oh. It's just Raul celebrating. Courtesy of Getty Images)
Last night was a night of opportunities in Yankeeland. The Yankees had an opportunity to clinch the AL East and move closer to securing the #1 seed in the AL with a win and some help from the Orioles and Rangers. David Phelps had an opportunity to help them get that win and continue to strengthen his case for 2013 rotation consideration with a good outing in place of Ivan Nova. The Fraud Sawx, after rolling out one of the lamest lineups known to man the night before, attempted to thwart those opportunities by re-inserting Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroyyyyaaahhhhh into their lineup against Phelps. That shouldn't have been enough to tip the scales, but the Yanks still ended up going longer than they probably wanted to get the win.
- Phelps made me look bad for writing another post singing his praises in the 1st when he got beat by Ellsbury and Pedroyaaahh for 2 runs in the top of the 1st.
- The Yankees scrapped a run together in the bottom of the 2nd on a pair of infield singles by Curtis Granderson and Eduardo Nunez, with an error and a stolen base thrown in. It wasn't a 9-run barrage, but it was something.
- Unfortunately, they couldn't take advantage of a shaky Jon Lester thanks to 2 Mark Teixeira inning-ending GIDPs. Joe made the brilliant call to bat Robinson Cano, the hottest hitter in baseball, 5th behind A-Rod and Teix, and through 3 innings that strategy failed miserably.
- There's no shame in giving up a couple hits and runs to a former AL MVP and a recent MVP candidate, and Phelps rebounded nicely from his tough 1st inning. He used his 4-seamer and 2-seamer generously and only gave up 1 more hit before getting lifted after 5.1 innings and 86 pitches.
- As has been the case many times this season, the Yankees weren't short on opportunities last night. They had 10 hits and a walk through 6 innings, but only 1 run to show for it. Teix's double plays hurt, but so did a 3-10 RISP effort that produced only 1 run-scoring hit (Nunez's in the 2nd).
- The bullpen did the job in relief of Phelps, tossing 3.2 innings of scoreless ball to keep the comeback in play. Joba Chamberlain and D-Rob were stand-out effective, working 2 near-perfect innings with 3 Ks to keep the game tied into the 9th.
- It was looking like another textbook Yankee blown-opportunity loss after Rafael Soriano gave up a solo HR in the top of the 9th until Raul Ibanez got the pinch hit call in the bottom half. Joe hasn't been pushing a lot of right buttons lately, but he did this time and Ibanez hit a clutch 2-run HR to tie the game at 3 and send it into extras.
- Soriano got used far more than Joe probably wanted to, Derek Lowe probably secured his postseason roster spot with 2 solid innings after, and it all led to fan favorite Francisco Cervelli drawing a 2-out walk and Ibanez coming up with the game-winning hit in the bottom of the 12th.
- Ibanez: 2-3, 1 HR, 1 R, 3 RBI. Nobody did more to contribute to this win that Ibanez last night, and nobody deserves the lion's share of the credit more than him.
- Lowe: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K, W. He got himself into trouble in the top of the 12th, and then immediately worked out with a double play off the bat of Daniel Nava. A job well done for the wily vet.
- Teix: 0-6, 9 LOB. Joe got a little excited after Teix's comeback HR and put him ahead of Cano, and that turned out to be a terrible move. Teix went 0-4 with RISP, grounded into 2 inning-ending DPs, and generally looked like a bag of hot garbage at the plate. I expect to see him hitting 5th again today.
The control they re-assumed on Monday night puts the Yankees in a pretty simple position tonight. Win and they win the AL East and avoid the 1-game Wild Card. Lose and they'll have to depend on help. Hiroki Kuroda gets the ball against Daisuke Matsuzaka, and I get to watch the game on ESPN and sweat it out.