- For a while it looked as though the Yankees were going to have another one of those games where they scored all of their runs in just one inning. That’s been a pretty annoying occurrence more often than I care to count this year, but I don’t think anyone would complain if all of those games included nine runs in a single inning like tonight’s did. The Yankees came just shy of putting double digits on the board in the second inning, doing so on the strength of four home runs. They knocked Clay Buchholz, Boston’s best starter of late, out of the game very early, and tied a team record with the four home runs in a single frame.
- One of those home runs went to Mark Teixeira, in just his second at bat. After missing 30 of the team’s last 31 games, Tex looked about as you could expect, playing the field well and going 1-3 at the plate. He also got a walk and did strike out once, but he looked very comfortable and was working the count well. Welcome back big guy!
- Robinson Cano, on the other hand, hasn’t gone anywhere, and he’s getting as hot as he could be at the absolute best time to do so. Robbie bashed a 446 home run off of the Mohegan Sun Sports Bar in his first at bat, just the second player to ever do that (the first being Russell Branyan, naturally), and he followed that up with a couple of doubles in his next two plate appearances. He finished the night 3-5 with three runs driven in and two runs scored.
- Curtis Granderson and Ruseel Martin joined the second inning tater fest in vastly different fashion. Grandy hit a moon shot into the second deck for a two run shot, and Martin immediately followed that up with a line drive shot to right center that appeared to be interfered with by a (Boston) fan. The umpires conferred and ruled it a home run, however, as I guess it wasn’t clear whether or not the ball was going to clear the wall before it hit the fan’s arm.
- Nick Swisher went 3-4, and is also beginning to hit pretty well these days. Swisher has not done well at all int he playoffs the past three seasons, so I’m sure the Yankees would like to see him turn that around as he plays for a new contract somewhere.
- For the third start in a row, C.C. Sabathia was, well, C.C. Sabathia. Obviously his offense spotted him to a big lead early, but the Yankees’ ace grabbed the game by the throat and cruised after that point all the same. He probably didn’t need to pitch as long as he did, but Joe Girardi gave him a chance to finish eight innings and reach the 200 IP mark for the season, and that’s exactly what the big guy did, needing just 103 pitches to get there while striking out seven and allowing just two runs on four hits and a walk. Again, they could have yanked him earlier to save some of those bullets, but Sabathia wasn’t really struggling at all and that pitch count is extremely manageable for him, so he should still be good to go inthe event they need to bring him back on short rest for a wild card game on Friday.
- The late innings were kind of a formality, but that doesn’t mean nothing happened. Brett Gardner made an appearance as a pinch hitter, his first at bat since going on the disabled list in April, and Melky Mesa drove in the team’s 10th run on his first major league hit. He pinch hit for Alex Rodriguez, so if nothing else he’ll always have that story to tell.
- Freddy Garcia retired the side on eight pitches in the ninth inning. That basically tells the whole story of this game, and the 2012 Red Sox season.
My initial reaction to this game is to dub it the most complete, most satisfying win of the season. Facing a must-win circumstance against a hated but wounded foe, the Yankees left no room for doubt by bludgeoning Buchholz and the Red Sox pitching staff early, in a fashion that will reverberate through the rest of the series. Even putting aside the possible psychological impact it could have on a Boston team that’s two days away from ending this nightmare of a season, the Red Sox had to go to their bullpen early, while the Yankees got thrugh the contestby using just Sabathia and Garcia. That means they should have a full bullpen for each of the next two days without needing to extend any of their top relievers, and that will be a particularly big help tomorrow when David Phelps starts on what will probably be a short leash.
Elsewhere, the Orioles saw a ninth inning rally come up just short in the face of Fernando Rodney, so the Yankees are back in sole possession of first place in the A.L. East, and could clinch the division title as early as tomorrow night with a win and a Baltimore loss. Either way, they just need to win the next two games to take care of the matter themselves.