Bruney: It was evident right away that there is just something not right about Bruney these days. He faced off against Crawford to start the ninth and gave up a triple. Next, Bruney served up a 2-run bomb to Longoria, giving the Rays some life. His final line: .1 innings pitched, 3 hits, 2 earned runs, 1 homerun. His ERA is sitting at 6.16.
Damon: He went 0-4 and was the only Yankee who went without a hit tonight. He also stranded 3 runners in the process. Damon had some trouble seeing the ball against the Trop’s dome, but he still made the plays.
A-Rod: Alex went 1-5 and stranded 4 runners. He still scored a run and made some solid defensive plays, but in both the first and fifth he hit into inning ending plays when the Yankees were starting to rally.
Joba: In the spirit of full disclosure, I’ve always been in the Joba should start camp. Tonight was the kind of game that proved that line of thought. In his last three starts he has given up only 8 hits, 2 runs, 8 walks and struck out 19. Tonight, he had 8 innings of scoreless, dominant pitching. In the seventh inning, he was still hitting 95 mph. It is clear that whatever had him struggling in the first half is just a memory. Joba is not wasting time on the mound, seems to trust Jorge’s pitch selection and is going after batters like the kid we first saw when he first broke into the Majors.
Teixeira: Teix went 2-3 with 2 RBIs and took one for the team when Garza plunked him. On top of that he made some fantastic defensive plays, including stealing a hit away from Navarro by plucking the ball out of the air.
Melky: He went 2-4 and his homerun in the ninth was his ninth of the season, a career high. He is the strongest fielding outfielder the Yankees have right now and has his average up to .290.
Longoria: Joba, who had great control all night, threw a fastball that ‘slipped and buzzed Longoria in the fourth inning. The Rays infielder was clearly not happy, as this has been happening to him frequently. He was even more upset when he popped up the next pitch to end the inning. Longoria slammed the bat to the ground – perhaps he thought that he could at least outdo A-Rod in that? In the next inning, Garza retaliated by hitting Teixeira in the arm. These extra storylines can make a great game even more exciting, adding some extra suspense. Still, I don’t know why Garza would choose to put Teix on base in a 2-0 game when A-Rod is coming up. He could easily have been facing a 5-0 deficit.
The Boss: Love him or hate him, these days it’s always nice to see George Steinbrenner. He made a rare appearance, chatting with the players before the game, and had to be pleased as he observed a stellar performance from his team.
In the On Deck Circle:
Next up, the Yanks go north to U.S. Cellular, where they will face off against the White Sox. Andy Pettitte (8-6, 4.67) will take the mound against Clayton Richard (4-3, 4.65), in search of his first victory since July 1. Andy showed good signs in his last outing, when he threw six scoreless innings, but he gave up 4 runs in the seventh and picked up another loss. Richard steps up for Bartolo Colon who is headed back to the DL with a sore elbow. The young lefty has allowed only one earned run in each of his last starts, where he faced the Rays and the Tigers.
The Yankees have taken 9 of their last 10 series. Even more impressive is that they’ve won 23 series already this year, while they won 24 series last season. We are moving over a time zone, so first pitch is scheduled for 8:11.
Update: Gavin Floyd (8-6, 4.24) will actually be starting tonight and Clayton Richard will pitch tomorrow.