How best to follow-up Saturday’s disastrous loss? How about having a guy who hasn’t won a game since last August stick it up your ass? Well, that’s just what happened today, an otherwise gorgeous day in the Bronx. Justin Masterson, last seen around these parts working out of the Red Sox bullpen, is a big, broad-shouldered guy who throws a good sinker. He’s had some rough luck but was in good form today–struck out eight, got plenty of ground balls and made short work of the Yankees for six innings.
The Bombers didn’t have many chances. They put runners on second and third with one out in the fourth and didn’t do dick with it (Nick Swisher and Juan Miranda stuck out to end the inning). Meanwhile, AJ Burnett cruised, until two outs in the seventh when he hit a batter, Jeter made a throwing error, and a fly ball sailed over Nick Swisher’s glove in right for a triple. Swisher, who made a good catch and ran into the wall earlier in the game, came up slowly.
The Indians had a 3-0 lead and the Stadium was silent. But the Yanks rallied in the bottom of the inning. Swisher led-off with a single to center and moved to second on a force out by Miranda. Brett Gardner was next and he slapped a grounder past Masterson for base hit. Masterson didn’t miss fielding it by much, bad luck. Runners on first and third, one out. Francisco Cervelli pinch-hit for Chad Moeller in the nine hole and whiffed on a good sinker, down-and-in. Then Masterson got two strikes on Jeter and tried to bury a sinker in on his hands just like he did to Cervelli but the pitch didn’t snap and Jeter jumped all over it and banged a single to center. Everything happened fast. The line drive, the throw home, Gardner’s slide, the umpire’s call–safe!
That was it for Masterson, who was replaced by the lefty Tony Sipp. Curtis Granderson doubled to right, Jeter moved to third, and then Teixeira, batting right-handed, quickly fell behind 0-2. He took a couple of balls, fouled pitch off and then hit a bomb into the left field bleachers.
Exhale and cheer!
Burnett came back out and pitched a scoreless eighth, striking out the final two batters.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Insurance Truck showed up: Cano, single, Swisher, single, Miranda, double. Swisher dangled his right arm as he ran the bases like he was doing his best Jeffrey Leonard. Gardner flied out to shallow right, not deep enough to score Swisher but Cervelli drove a ball far enough to bring Swisher home (Swish has been incredibly hot, let’s hope he’s not too hurt).
Our man Mariano pitched the ninth. Struck out the first two batters and then broke a bat on a dribbler to mound. Mo jumped up with both feet like a frog, avoided the bat, landed, fielded the ball, smiled and then threw to first for the out.
Ball game, smiles: Relief.
[Photo Credit: AP Photo/Kathy Willens]