But if they subtly undermined that narrative all season long, as night they chewed it up, spit it out, and stomped on the tattered remains literally from the beginning of the game. After Derek Jeter singled, he took off for second on a 3-2 pitch to Ichiro Suzuki, allowing him to score from first with ease when Ichiro lined a double into the left-center field gap. The again in the fourth, Alex Rodriguez was running on an 0-2 pitch to Robinson Cano, a fact that allowed him to avoid the double play when Mark Reynolds smothered Cano’s liner at first base. That proved crucial when, two batters later, A-Rod scored from second on Mark Teixeira‘s long single to tie the game at 2-2 just an inning after the Orioles had taken the lead.
All of that was a mere tune up for the ninth inning, however. Sure, the big hit was a lead off long ball by Russell Martin, who crushed a 2-0 pitch high into the Baltimore night for a no-doubt go ahead homer, but that merely allowed the Yankees to go nuts with the running, highlighted by nothing so much as Joe Girardi calling for a hit-and-run with Raul Ibanez on first base and no outs two batters later. Jeter placed the ball perfectly through the vacated infield hole, and then Girardi really went for broke by pinch running Eduardo Nunez for Ibanez. Nunez would break on contact with Ichiro’s 30 foot single, giving the Yankees a big insurance run.The game was still in reach at that point for Baltimore, but not after Robinson Cano dropped a double inside the line in deep left field. Again, good base running came into play, as both Jeter and Ichiro were able to score with one out, and Cano was able to make it to third base when the throw came home. That directly led to another run when Nick Swisher lifted a sacrifice fly into center field, making the game 7-2.
Of course, it wasn’t all positive on the base paths, and the Yankees’ aggressiveness worked against them in two big spots. First was when Ichiro tried to steal third base in the fist inning on the first pitch to A-Rod, getting thrown out by Matt Wieters despite a good jump. That was just an indefensible mistake given the circumstances and the guy behind the plate. The other came when Tex got thrown out going for second base on his shot off of the wall, and this one was equal parts over aggressiveness and a good play on the carom by makeshift outfielder Chris Davis. On balance, however, the Yankees definitely benefited from their work on the bases much more than they suffered, and created over half of their runs in no small part because of the running game.
I’d definitely take a few more home runs in Game 2, though.