Just when you think the playoff door is just about to shut, the 2013 Yankees push it back open.
The first half depleted Yankees usually lost games like tonight. Leading 1-nothing early, the defense betrayed starter Ivan Nova in the 5th, allowing extra runners on, ending in a 4-run inning capped off by Chris Davis’ 49th homer of the year, 2-run shot. It was just the 7th homer Nova allowed in nearly 120 innings this season. But it gave the Orioles a 4-1 lead with notorius Yankee Killer Miguel Gonzalez cruising.
But this team has pop now, and that means runs come quick. And in the very next inning, Alfonso Soriano and Mark Reynolds both went deep to cut the lead to 4-3.
Joe Girardi decided to take Nova out after 6 innings, even though his starter had thrown just 79 pitches. He instead called upon Adam Warren, who rewarded his managers decision with a shutdown inning. We would hear after the game that Nova’s triceps tightened up, but Girardi didn’t seem too concerned, more of a precautionary move.
Fast-forward to the top of the 8th. Alex Rodriguez led off with a double. Robinson Cano then drove him in with a single, tying the score at 4. Rodriguez just slid into home ahead of the throw, but was seen grabbing his leg, and was taken out on defense in the bottom half of the inning. Turns out his left hamstring tightened up. With the score tied, and Cano on, Soriano stepped to the plate. And as he’s done time and again since returning to New York, he delivered. Soriano smacked his second homer of the game to give the Yankees a 2-run lead. It was the left-fielder’s 4th multi-homer game since coming back, his 7th overall. Reynolds added an RBI single to cap off the 4-run inning.
And because injuries have been then name of the game in 2013 for New York, Austin Romine, who came in after Chris Stewart was pinch hit for, left the game after taking a foul ball off the mask. He likely has a concussion.
After Shawn Kelley got the first two outs of the 8th, Girardi decided it was time to go to Mo. Rivera came in for the second time in 5 days to attempt a save of more than 3 outs. And the sandman put the O’s and the 7-5 win to bed.
It was of course a huge win in many ways for the Yankees. It closes the gap between them and Baltimore in the Wild Card race to back to a .5 game. But it also closed the gap between them and the Indians back to .5 and to 2 games behind the 2nd card holder in the Rays.
Now the bombers have a chance to leapfrog the O’s with a win in game 3 of the 4 game set. Andy Pettitte looks to continue his recent stretch of great pitching (5 straight quality starts). Baltimore hands the ball to Scott Feldman, who’s coming off a complete game shutout of Chicago.
Derek Jeter will be listed as day-to-day for the remainder of the season with his ever recurring ankle problem. Eduardo Nunez hasn’t been sharp at short in his place, so late tonight a deal was finalized to bring over Mariners sure-handed shortstop Brendan Ryan.