Girardi called on Boone Logan, and the lefty sidewinder obliged, getting Brantley to ground out to end the inning. In baseball terms, yanking your pitcher when he has a lead one out before he gets an official game could be taken badly; but Girardi clearly wanted a win today–which signifies a series victory over the Indians–and felt very strongly about it. After Logan ran into some trouble in the seventh, Girardi didn’t call on Joba Chamberlain or Cody Eppley–he immediately went to David Robertson, who neatly extricated the bombers from the jam.
And when David Robertson allowed a single with two outs in the eighth, Girardi didn’t think twice about going to closer Rafael Soriano for the last out. Admittedly, that move almost didn’t work out, as Matt LaPorta drove Soriano’s first pitch deep to left field; but Ichiro Suzuki (aren’t you glad he was out there and not Raul Ibanez?) ran down the blast, and made a leaping catch against the wall to rob LaPorta of an extra base hit–while saving Soriano and Girardi.
Joe’s bullpen management was Torre-esque: calling on his best relievers for slightly more than they normally would give in order to lock down an important win.
And the Yankees, in traditional bomber spirit, responded to last night’s RISP choke-a-thon with a strong small-ball performance of their own in the second inning: after an Eric Chavez single and a Raul Ibanez walk, Ichiro Suzuki lined a ball up the middle (off Ubaldo Jimenez’s glove?), scoring Chavez. Then, with Ibanez on third after a Chris Stewart sacrifice bunt, Derek Jeter rolled a ball towards the left side; Ibanez charged, and the Indians could only make the play at first. Nick Swisher ended the inning of good-RISP-ness by singling to center, scoring Ichiro.
Small steps, people. It was the kind of inning that teams love–where everything that needs to happen happens, and there’s no one big thing that does it.
Then, in the top of the sixth, after Cleveland had made it 3-2 on Santana’s single, Curtis Granderson unleashed one of his now-patented long, twisting drives, placing the ball delicately in the right field seats to tack on an insurance run. It was the Grandy Man’s 200th career home run, a fantastic milestone for Curtis…though somehow I assumed he had more. And I have no doubt that he’ll end his career with many more, especially if he stays in pinstripes.
Ultimately, though, this was an important game to win–if only to instill some calm in the fanbase. The sweep in Chicago did not sit well with most Yankee fans, and it was very important to get things back on the right track–and Joe Girardi did just that tonight.
- I can’t stress enough how happy I was when, after LaPorta laced his drive into the air, I remembered that Ichiro was playing left today. He’s such a good fielder, and I knew that if there was a play to be made on that ball, that he would make it. I’m 100% confident that Raul Ibanez would not have made that play. And that Andruw Jones would have trotted over to the ball, slowly picked it up, then fainted as he tried to throw it into the cutoff man.
- Chris Stewart: not as bad at hitting as we thought.
- There were chants of “Deeeerek Jeeeeter” in Cleveland in the top of the ninth. He promptly grounded into a double play, prompting more chants of “Deeeerek Jeeeeter,” but from a different group of fans.