Monday, May 18, 2009

Yankees Bend, don't Break, win Sixth Straight and Sweep Twins (Postgame Notes 18 May 2009)

For a while, it seem scripted that the Yankees might have to settle for a fourth-straight walk off if they were going to win the game. Going into the ninth with a 7-5 lead and an unavailable Mariano Rivera, there was perhaps more tension here than in any of the walk off wins, as going to extras here would have meant blowing a one-time 6-2 lead.

Yet, with Carlos Gomez dancing off of first, Francisco Cervelli and Ramiro Peña--and not Derek Jeter--went out to the mound to calm the young Phil Coke, who like the rest of the pitching staff buckled, but never broke.

The Yankees were down 2-0 at the end of the first--Minnesota scored first every game of this series--but got to work quickly on Glen Perkins.

The first four batters all reached base and scored, thanks to home runs from Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez, and Perkins was knocked out of the game in the first.

The Twins' bullpen, was, however, very effective, and slowly the Twins began to chip away. A run here, a run there, and soon enough the score was 6-4, a two run lead and only a depleted Yankees' bullpen to protect it.

Teixeira added another home run to make it 7-4, and after Edwar Ramirez served up a home run to Michael Cuddyer Denard Span, it became very clear that the extra run was needed.

It's perhaps fairly surprising that the combination of Veras and Ramirez only gave up one run, but it was quite hairy. The Twins didn't have a 1-2-3 inning all game.

The Yankees were perhaps also helped by stellar defense from Ramiro Peña, Derek Jeter, Robinson Canó and Mark Teixeira. They were making plays that I doubt Jason Giambi or a still slightly gimpy Alex Rodriguez would have made, and they loom large now.

Still, despite the hairyness, the Yankees have won six straight to get to four games over .500 for the first time this season, and Brian Bruney should return tomorrow (and Mo should be available, of course).

Mo, Bruney, Coke and Aceves is not quite an imposing bullpen core, but the four have been steady all year when healthy (or in Mo's case, all career).

CC is on the mound for the Yanks tomorrow night; the last time he pitched Baltimore, it was crack. Hopefully he can emulate the performance.