Mark Buehlre and CC Sabathia entered last night’s game having had very different Augusts. Buehrle had posted a 6.21 ERA in six starts since his perfect game, while Sabathia had a 1.78 ERA over his previous four starts. In ten previous head-to-head meetings, Buehrle had never beaten Sabathia, who was 6-0 in those matchups. Early on it seemed those trends would continue. After CC worked a 1-2-3 first, Derek Jeter connected for a leadoff home run off Buehlre, who then gave up a pair of singles before getting Nick Swisher to ground out to strand both runners. CC then stranded a leadoff double in the second by striking out the side.
Johnny Damon doubled the Yankee lead by leading off the third with a solo shot, but for the second straight night, the Yankees couldn’t get the job done with runners on base, stranding two in the first, one in the second, two in scoring position in the third, erasing a lead-off single with a double play in a three-batter fourth. Robinson Cano ground out with two outs and the bases loaded in the fifth, then Buehrle worked his first legitimate 1-2-3 inning in the sixth.
CC Sabathia had struck out ten and still thrown just 88 pitches heading into the seventh, but was greeted by a Jermaine Dye double. He then issued his first walk of the game, a five-pitch pass to Carlos Quentin that drew Dave Eiland to the mound. Two pitches later, Alex Rios doubled home Dye to cut the Yankee lead in half and push the tying run to third. Alexei Ramirez got a hold of an 0-1 pitch, but put just enough of a hump in it to allow Cano to hop backwards and make the catch for the first out. Ramon Castro then hit a chopper toward third that Alex Rodriguez gloved and fired to Jose Molina, who tagged Quentin out at home. Jason Nix followed by hitting a hard hopper that stayed just fair over the bag and seemed headed for the left-field corner, but Rodriguez made a full-out stretch and gloved it, holding Nix to an infield single and lead-runner Rios at third. That loaded the bases for rookie Gordon Beckham. CC fell behind 3-1 before getting strike two with Beckham taking all the way. On the full count, Beckham laced a game-tying single to right, but with Castro running from second, Nick Swisher fired a strike to home in time for Molina to tag out his opposite number, ending the inning and keeping the score tied. (Tyler Kepner tweeted after the game that Swisher said he had been getting throwing tips from Dave Eiland and Phil Coke.)
That inning pushed CC to 113 pitches and ended his night. Buehrle was at 99, but Ozzie Guillen quit while he was ahead and went to the majors best set-up man in Matt Thornton in the seventh. Thornton set the top six men in the Yankee lineup down in order in the seventh and eighth, while Phil Hughes struck out Dye, Paul Konerko, and Jim Thome in between. Mariano Rivera then pitched in a perfect ninth, and Scott Linebrink worked around a one-out Jose Molina single in the bottom of the ninth to force extra innings.
Though I would have preferred to have seen Hughes work an extra frame and Mo pitch the tenth, Joe Girardi kept the line moving, getting a 1-2-3 inning from Brian Bruney in the top of the tenth, after which, with Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez due up, Guillen turned to . . . minor league journeyman lefty Randy Williams?
To Williams’ credit, he struck out Tex, but Alex Rodriguez crushed the first pitch he saw to left center for . . . the first out.
It rained throughout the game, and the swirling winds stopped several would-be home runs short of the left field wall. Rodriguez absolutely crushed Williams’ pitch, but he hit it into the wind in death valley and it fell a step shy of the warning track to Alex’s obvious disbelief. Given a reprieve, Williams walked the next two hitters on eight pitches, bringing lefty Robinson Cano to the plate with two out and two on in the bottom of the tenth with the game tied 2-2. Fittingly, Cano ran the count to 2-2, then launched a no-doubter into the Yankee bullpen to win the game. Cano styled on the homer like fellow number-24 Manny Ramirez, watching it from home while Alfredo Aceves ran out into the rain to gather the ball like a kid in the empty wings of the old Stadium in the ’80s.
Helmet toss. Pie. Yankees win 5-2.