"I feel like we're the team, you know?" Pettitte said Sunday. "It doesn't surprise me. I'd be extremely disappointed if this team didn't get to the playoffs. That's just kind of the way I feel." (Tyler Kepner, N.Y. Times)
I was flipping around the channels one night last week when I landed on a dicey situation. The Mets had a one-run lead against the Braves, who had loaded the bases in the top of the ninth inning against New York's closer, Billy Wagner. There was nobody out and I thought, "Man, am I lucky this isn't a Yankee game. I'd be so stressed, I would't know what I'd do with myself." As fate would have it, Wagner got two ground balls to get out of the inning, earn the save, and save Met fans everywhere from a sleepless night.
The Yanks held a 5-2 on Sunday afternoon when Mariano Rivera was called into the game with two runners on base and two men out in the eighth inning. First thing Mo does? He hits a guy on the elbow to load the bases. But Jhonny Peralta grounded into a 4-6 force to end the inning. The drama was not over, however, as Rivera allowed back-to-back singles and then a double to start the ninth. Cleveland's offense had been D.O.A. all weekend long, but suddenly, they were back in the game, down 5-3, with the tying runs in scoring position and nobody out.
The number nine hitter, Asdurbal Cabrera, who, thanks to a misplay by Johnny Damon the night before, had his first career hit, struck out. Back to the top-of-the-order where Grady Sizemore got the Good Morning-Good Afternoon-and-Goodnight (called strike three on the outside corner) strikeout experience. Two out, and Rivera gets Casey Blake to loft an easy fly ball to right for Abreu to end the game.
It wasn't easy, but it was an enormous win for the Yanks, who keep pace with the Mariners in the wildcard, and gain a game on Boston, who lost in extra innings to the Orioles. Bombers are now just four behind the Red Sox. (Shhhhhh.)
Jason Giambi hit a two-run, line drive home run off Cleveland starter Jake Westbrook, and once again it was most entertaining watching Shelley D wait his turn to bash forearms with Giambi in the dugout. Robby Cano had three more hits (his average is up to .315) and a RBI, DJ had a RBI single, and Melky Cabrera extended his hitting streak to 17-games with a solo homer.
Andy Pettitte pitched a good game. His only real trouble came late, when, in the seventh inning he allowed a couple of singles before walking Peralta to load the bases. The Yanks were leading 4-0 at this point. And before you knew it, Pettitte picked Peralta off first. My initial reaction was that the Indians were putting on that old Billy Martin play when the runner on first acts a decoy while the runner on third scoots home. No such luck, if you are an Indians fan. Peralta simply fell asleep. The Indians did score a run on a sacrifice fly, but that was it, just one run and Pettitte escaped his biggest jam of the afternoon.
Yanks come home and begin a three-game set vs. the Birds tonight, followed by four against the Tigers. Keep grinding boys, the next couple of weeks could make or break the season.