Neither Joba Chamberlain nor Brandon Morrow was particularly impressive Tuesday night, though neither got hit particularly hard either. Morrow gave up a pair of runs in the second, thanks in part to an error by replacement third baseman Chris Woodward, then allowed another run in the process of wiggling out of a bases-loaded jam in the fourth. Chamberlain gave up a solo homer to light-hitting replacement shortstop Ronny Cedeño in the third, then in the fifth gave up a run to Ichiro Suzuki (who reached on an infield hit, stole second and third, and scored on a Russell Branyan single), and another when Jose Lopez (who replaced Branyan via fielder’s choice) stole second and scored on another single.
Morrow loaded the bases again in the fifth and was pulled with two outs having thrown 98 pitches. Chris Jakubauskas came on to get Hideki Matsui to ground out to end the threat. Joba was pulled with one out and a man on second after throwing 96 pitches through 5 1/3. Phil Coke came on to retire Ichiro and Branyan to strand the runner.
With both starters out, the game held at 3-3 until the bottom of the seventh. With Jakubauskas still on the hill, Johnny Damon led off by lacing a ground-rule double down the left field line, and Alex Rodriguez cashed him in with a no-doubter two-run jack into the 200 level in left field.
Phil Hughes had used just nine pitches in working a 1-2-3 seventh inning before the Rodriguez homer, but Joe Girardi, determined to restablish Brian Bruney as the eighth-inning guy, went to Bruney in the eighth to protect the two-run lead against the bottom of the Mariners’ weak-hitting order.
Here’s how that went: single, single, single (run scores), runners bunted up to second and third, intentional walk to Ichiro, sac fly (run scored game tied), groundout.
With the game tied 5-5 and Sean White on in place of Jakubauskas, Hideki Matsui, who had his family in the house, led off the bottom of the eighth with a double to the wall in the right-center-field gap. Nick Swisher then laid down a perfect bunt down the third base line and beat it out to put runners on the corners, and Melky Cabrera put the Yankees back out front with a double. Derek Jeter then cashed in both Swisher and Cabrera with a single, and Mariano Rivera got save number 501 with 11 pitches in the ninth. Yankees win, 8-5.
Mo also threw out the ceremonial first pitch in recognition of his 500th save on Sunday. He’s the baddest man alive, don’tcha know (and one cool customer).
Bruney, meanwhile, had the worst night of the 15 Yankees to get into the game, but came away with the win, again underlining the absurdity of that statistic.