For much of last night's game, it appeared to be frustratingly similar to Thursday afternoon's loss. The Yankees, behind an excellent pitching performance, put runner after runner on base, but could not put a big inning together. Fortunately for them, Friday night's result was better than that of the day before.
As they often do against them, the Yankees hit Mark Buehrle hard. Derek Jeter led off the game by launching a home run just to the left of Monument Park. Johnny Damon followed with a line drive single to right. Mark Teixeira than lifted a moon shot to deep left field, but got under it a bit too much and the wind, blowing in from left most of the night, held it in the ball park. Alex Rodriguez followed with a hard hit fly out to deep left, then Hideki Matsui ripped a single to right. With two on and two out, Nick Swisher grounded out to end the inning.
The Yankees added their second run in the third on another leadoff home run, this time from Johnny Damon. Teixeira followed with a double, then A-Rod walked. But once again, the Yankees would strand the runners on base.
In the fifth, the Yankees would threaten, but come up empty again, leaving the bases loaded. Through five innings, the Yankees had left eight runners on base - five of them in scoring position. They were 0 for 6 with RISP, with Robinson Cano twice ending innings with two runners in scoring position. Thankfully, he would have more opportunity on the night.
Despite the offensive struggles, CC Sabathia was pitching so well that two runs appeared to be enough. He struck out two in a perfect first. He gave up a leadoff "double" in the second when Melky Cabrera lost a fly ball, then proceeded to strike out the side. After a two out single in the third, he set down six in a row. Through six, CC had allowed no runs, five hits, no walks, and had tied his season-high with 10 Ks.
In the seventh, the Big Guy finally hit a bump in the road, giving up a double, a walk, and another double to start the frame, cutting his lead to 2-1. After recording an out, Ramon Castro ripped one down the third baseline, ticketed for the leftfield corner and another double. But Alex Rodriguez had a diving stop and gunned down Carlos Quentin at the plate for the second out of the inning. An infield single loaded the bases, then likely Rookie of the Year Gordon Beckham tied the game with a base hit to right field. Castro attempted to score the go-ahead run from second, but Nick Swisher threw him out at the plate.
From there the game turned into a battle of the bullpens. Matt Thornton worked a perfect seventh and eight for the ChiSox. The Yanks called on long-lost Phil Hughes for the eighth and he struck out the side. Despite throwing just fourteen pitches in the eighth and just 3.1 innings over the last two weeks, Hughes was was lifted for Mariano Rivera with the score tied in the ninth. Mo worked a perfect frame like Hughes before him, and Brian Bruney followed with a perfect tenth.
In the bottom of the tenth, the White Sox turned to Randy Williams. The lefty entered the night having fanned 12 and walked 5 in 9.1 innings of work. He needed just four pitches to strike out leadoff man Mark Teixeira, and made him look bad in doing so. A-Rod then launched the first pitch he saw to deep center field, clearly thinking it was gone off the bat. But once again the wind held it up, and quickly there were two down.
Perhaps unnerved by the scare, Williams uncorked eight consecutive balls to Hideki Matsui and Nick Swisher. Robinson Cano then came to the plate, 0 for 4 on the night, 0 for 2 with RISP, and having left five runners on base in ending the third and fifth innings. With one swing though, Cano made up for it, blasting a 2-2 pitch into the Yankee bullpen to give the Yankees yet another walk off win.
East Notes: Marlins, K-Rod, Braves, Lee, Hamels
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