The Yankees scored four runs early yesterday afternoon to overcome another less-than-crisp start from Chien-Ming Wang (6 IP, 9 H, 4 BB, 3 ER). They then scored six runs late to overcome more shoddy relief work from the bullpen (3 IP, 6 H, 3 R). Put it all together and the Yanks beat the Orioles 10-6 to salvage the final game of the weekend series and the glimmer of hope for their season.
The Yanks got all four of those early runs off Daniel Cabrera in the first two innings. They did this despite getting only one run out of a bases-loaded no-outs situation in the first and Derek Jeter being called out at the plate on an inning ending 3-4-2 double play off the bat of Alex Rodriguez in the second despite the fact that it appeared that catcher Paul Bako missed the tag.
Rodriguez, incidentally, is still hitless since he launched career homer number 499 in Kansas City. After last night’s game, Rodriguez said he was being pitched very carefully and that instead of pressing to make things happen he had to learn to take his base and keep the line moving. Yesterday, after striking out and grounding into the afore mentioned double play in his first two at-bats (both with the bases loaded), he took his own advice and took three walks (one intentional) in his three remaining trips. That’s further evidence of the increased maturity that Rodriguez has shown this season. In the 2005 Division Series against the Angels, Rodriguez was in a similar situation. The Angels gave him nothing to hit in that series, but he tried to force it and wound up going 2 for 15 with five Ks and just six walks in 21 plate appearances.
Cabrera largely settled down after the bad call on Jeter, while Wang coughed up those two runs in the bottom of the fourth, stranding two other runners on base thanks to a fantastic inning-ending catch by Johnny Damon heading back toward the wall in the gap in left field to snag a drive by Brian Roberts. Roberts got his revenge on Wang by driving in a run in the sixth to pull the O’s within 4-3. The Yanks got that one back in the seventh off John Parrish, but the O’s returned the volley in the bottom of the inning by plating Nick Markakis’s leadoff double off Luis Vizcaino.
That made it 5-4 Yanks with Vizcaino burned and Kyle Farnsworth warming in the pen. Watching the game, I was convinced Farnsworth would blow that one-run lead in the eighth. Fortunately, the Yanks exploded for five runs against Paul Shuey and Dany Baez in the top of the inning, which cushioned the blow of the two-run Brian Roberts home run Farnsworth eventually surrendered in the bottom half. Mariano Rivera struck out the side around a pair of singles and a wild pitch in the ninth to wrap things up.
The Yankees are now back home for a much needed rest today followed by six games against the White Sox and Royals. They really need to go 5-1 in that stretch. It’s a lot to ask, but times are tough in Yankeeland.