There are a few games every season that a good winning team can look back on and say "yep, that was a big one. That one really helped us get to where we wanted to be." Last night was one of those games for the Yankees. Coming off a beatdown against their former teammate on Friday night and starting the game in a quick 5-0 hole thanks to the rotting corpse of CC Sabathia, the Yankees stormed back late on the bat of Alex Rodriguez and his 3 home runs and stole a huge win to even this series.
Might as well get the bad CC stuff out of the way early. Brian Dozier singled to start the bottom of the 1st and Aaron Hicks hit a hanging changeup for a 2-run home run in the next at-bat. 2 batters, 5 pitches, 2-run deficit. Things got worse in the 3rd when the lineup turned over and Hicks started things off with a base hit. An out and another hit brought up Torii Hunter, who took a ball and fouled off a sinker for a strike. Sabathia tried to come back with the sinker on 1-1 (first mistake), left it belt high (second mistake) and over the plate (third mistake), and Hunter smashed it the opposite way over the right field wall for a 3-run home run. An hour into the game and it was looking like a repeat of Friday night.
To his credit, CC got it together and "limited" the damage to just those 5 runs. He pitched into the 6th inning before giving way to Adam Warren and at least kept the game close enough to allow the comeback that followed to happen. It wasn't a good start by any means, and there's still no reason for Sabathia to be in the rotation, but he didn't completely fall apart and let the game get out of hand.
That minor accomplishment started to pay off in the top of the 4th, when Alex Rodriguez came to the plate to face Minnesota starter Tommy Milone for a second time. Milone had a perfect game intact through 3.2 innings, but he got behind A-Rod 2-0 and had to throw him a fastball for a strike. That was exactly what A-Rod was looking for and he simply destroyed tet next pitch for a solo shot to put the Yanks on the board. The ball hit off the face of the upper deck in left field and was measured at 480 feet after the game. Comeback mode engaged.
A-Rod got to Milone again with a man on to start the 7th and it was a 5-3 game. A Mark Teixeira double ended Milone's day and a Chase Headley sac fly a few batters later put the final run on his line. The Yankees were right back in the game and it was Alex who put the finishing touches on the comeback with his THIRD homer of the game to lead off the 9th against Glen Perkins. First-pitch fastball right down the middle, A-Rod was ready for it, and he drove it out into center field. To quote Will Ferrell as Alex Trebek: simply stunning.
It didn't end there though. That homer rattled Perkins and he couldn't get it back together to hold the game at a tie. A pair of singles put runners on the corners for John Ryan Murphy, who picked a helluva time to hit his first home run of the season on a hanging 2-2 slider. The dugout went absolutely apepoop in celebration and justifiably so. It was a shocking comeback, punctuated by a shocking 3-run bomb from a guy without a home run. Andrew Miller came on for the save and got the top of the Minny order in order.
Best win of the year? If it wasn't, it was damn close. The Yanks will be in position to secure another series win today and they have A-Rod to thank for that.
- 3-4, 3 homers, 3 R, 4 RBI for A-Rod. It was his 5th 3-HR game of his career and first since 2010. He's hitting .277/.375/.539 with 23 HR and 58 RBI this season. S-T-U-D.
- If you haven't seen video of the first homer yet, stop what you're doing it and watch it. That was a BOMB! Had to be one of the longest homers of the MLB season.
- He'll got lost in the A-Rod hoopla, but give a call to Adam Warren for the work he did keeping the game close after he came in for CC. He escaped a bases loaded situation in the 6th and followed that up with 2 more scoreless innings through the 8th. A well-deserved win for Warren.
- Maybe the Yankees can resurrect the Hughes-Huff tandem starter idea from a few years ago and make Warren CC's caddy. We know they aren't going to take CC out of the rotation and we also know that CC can't get right-handed hitters out. If he can work as a 4-5-inning starter and then Warren comes in behind him, that might be enough to minimize the damage he causes.
- Another 2-hit game for Teix, his 6th in the last 7 games.