But then they woke up from their, as Michael Kay put it, “lumber slumber” (was this really the pun? Or did I mishear it? Or have a stroke when he said it that made me stop remembering things, like the guy in Memento?).
The sixth inning wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t one of those innings that you normally look back on and say “Hey, wasn’t this great? That was when things really got better.” But looking back on the game, it seemed like a turning point to me. Robinson Cano (finally playing like Robinson Cano) lead off with a double to center. Ho-hum. The Yankees have been doing that over and over again; no way they score here. Then, Nick Swisher dropped a single to right. Cano gets to third. Good little play there.
Then, Henderson Alvarez tossed a ball to the backstop, plating Cano. Good heads-up base running by both runners on the play, and the Yankees were back on the board.
It was a little thing, a silly inning. But it was interesting–and I’m mentioning it here–because there was a sense that the Yankees thought that they were going to score. Swisher and Cano are the offensive heart of this team right now, and there was a sense here that these two wouldn’t let it slip away from them.
Everything else flowed from that: Derek Lowe shut down the Jays with his sinker (he can really frustrate mediocre teams when he’s on). The Yankees came back up to bat down three. Eduardo Nunez, swinging a great bat right now, singled sharply to center. Jeter followed with a ground rule double. Ichiro lofted a long sacrifice to center. 3-5. A-Rod worked a walk. And up came Cano.
Robbie had a couple of fantastic at-bats in this game–he’s seeing the ball fantastically, so it makes sense–but this was the best of the night. He battled and battled, and finally, with runners on first and third, swatted a double to right, just out of reach of a diving Lind. 4-5.
Aaron Loup came in for the Jays–he’s a new pitcher, not too well known in the league. A-Rod knew just enough to run like mad when one of Loup’s breaking balls shot past J.P. Arencibia; the play looked like it would be close, as the ball caromed right back to the young catcher, but Arencibia slipped, and A-Rod slid. 5-5.
It never really felt like the Yankees would lose after that. It’s funny how momentum works: when, only a day ago, it felt like the Yankees would never score again, suddenly it felt inevitable.
And it was: now in the eighth, a Russell Martin sac bunt and an Eduardo Nunez sac fly allowed Curtis Granderson to score the winning run. A play later Derek Jeter would single home Brett Gardner (running for Ibanez), on a classic inside-out super-late Jeter-y swing. 7-5, and it was pretty much in the bag.
The Yankees tacked on a couple runs in the ninth to put the game out of reach for the Jays, and Rafael Soriano gave up a couple hits and a run to make things a little more exciting, but the Yankees managed to retain their tie for first place in the AL East.
And, in doing so, they restored a little bit of faith to the fans who were feeling like giving up yesterday.
And that, over the next few decisive games, might mean more than anything else.