After an hour rain delay, the Yankees got the game they expected in last night's matchup of premier groundballers Chien-Ming Wang and Brandon Webb. Actually, Wang didn't have his best worm-killing stuff last night (nine grounders, ten fly outs, and his first start of the season without a double play), but after pitching out of a jam in the first he kept the Diamondbacks at bay, limiting them to a Chad Tracy solo homer in the fourth, five singles, and a hit-by-pitch over seven innings and 95 pitches. Brandon Webb countered in kind with seven strong of his own (including 12 groundouts and two DPs against four fly outs and four Ks). The key difference was that the homer Webb allowed came at the tail end of his first inning jam.
Johnny Damon led off the game with a grounder to second base that drew a rare throwing error from Orlando Hudson. Joe Torre then put on the hit-and-run and, as shortstop Stephen Drew went to cover second, Derek Jeter singled through Drew's vacated position to put runners on the corners. The red-hot Bobby Abreu followed with a three run jack into the old Yankee bullpen.
That was all the Yanks would need. They added a fourth run off Webb in the seventh on a walk to Matsui, a Robby Cano double, and an unusual 4-3-6 double-play turned by Hudson on a Melky Cabrera grounder with the infield drawn in. Kyle Farnsworth made things interesting in the eighth, giving up a leadoff double to Drew and then walking Tracy with two outs after battling through a nine-pitch at-bat, but got out of the inning by getting Tony Clark to fly out to right. Mariano Rivera shut the door with 13 pitches (nine strikes) for a perfect ninth inning and his eighth save.
With the win the Yanks have extended their winning streak to seven games and reached .500 for the first time since May 9. With a win tonight, they can go over .500 for the first time since April 20, when they were 8-7.
Meanwhile, Doug Mientkiewicz had surgery on the broken bone in his wrist yesterday that involved a pin being put in the bone. He's expected to be out until August, which means the Yankees will have to either have to learn to love Josh Phelps or make a deadline deal for a first baseman. Miguel Cairo won't hit .348 as a first baseman all season and even now he has just one walk and one extra-base hit while playing the position. Then again, all of that was true when Minky was healthy as well.