Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Magic Number: 10
The ball was hit hard into left field, but it looked like Fernando Tatis would be able to make the play to end the top half of the seventh inning. But instead, Tatis -- who was making just his third career start in the outfield -- misjudged and misplayed Robinson Cano's liner. Tatis leaped and missed the ball, allowing three runners to score, which gave the Yankees the lead.
"I just started running ... I didn't see what was happening in left field," said Cano, who had already hit the ball hard twice earlier in the game with nothing to show for it. "I was thinking, 'It's my time to get a hit right here.'"
It was, and Cano's two-out, bases-clearing double came in the midst of a six-run inning, which sealed the Yankees third straight victory and put the team 30 games over .500 for the first time this season. New York won, 9-6, Monday night on the five-year anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, finishing with a 5-2 mark on the team's seven-game road trip.
Eight of the first nine Yankees batters reached base in the seventh against 23-year-old reliever Jim Hoey, who hit two batters in the inning. Bobby Abreu drove home the first run with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly to center field. With two outs, Alex Rodriguez followed with an opposite-field single through the right side of the infield, and then Jorge Posada was hit by a pitch to set the stage for Cano's double.
"I thought it was a catchable ball," said Baltimore manager Sam Perlozzo. "[Tatis] looked like he got turned around in the opposite direction and couldn't get back in time. He was [right] there, but he got turned around and couldn't make the adjustment back."
All nine of New York's starters reached base, with seven collecting at least one base hit. The three RBIs for Cano gave him 32 in 33 games since returning from the disabled list on Aug. 8. Derek Jeter's first-inning single extended his hitting streak to a career-high 21 games, the longest by a Yankee since 1993.
Rodriguez added a solo homer over the right-field scoreboard in the ninth inning. Two of A-Rod's three hits were to the opposite field, something he said has been a sign throughout his career that he's hitting well.
The Yankees have scored at least eight runs in three of their last five games, and own the American League's best record (86-56). With Monday's win, the Yankees extended their division lead to a season-best 10 1/2 games over Boston, and reduced their magic number to clinch the AL East to 10.
"We stay at 30 over now, we have nowhere to go but the postseason," manager Joe Torre said.
The victory was number 1,068 for Torre as manager of the Yankees, which put him past Miller Huggins for third on New York's all-time list.
"Any time you're in the company of [Casey] Stengel, [Joe] McCarthy and Huggins, it's pretty special," Torre added.
The Yankees held an early two-run advantage, but Baltimore scored five times in the middle innings off starter Randy Johnson, collecting nine total hits off the former Cy Young Award winner. For the fourth time in his last five starts, Johnson gave up at least five runs, and he was unable to pitch more than six innings for the first time since Aug. 9.
"Velocity-wise, I think I had my best stuff today," Johnson said. "As the game progressed, I didn't have anything to go off of."
Johnson was the beneficiary of the seventh-inning outburst, which allowed him to pick up his third straight victory and improve to 17-10 on the season, tying him with teammate Chien-Ming Wang and Chicago's Jon Garland for the second-most wins in the league. Johnson has won 17 games in each of the last two seasons, and has a chance to pick up 20 victories for the fourth time in his career.
"I'm very fortunate the offense picked me up," Johnson said. "I got away with one today, and I'm grateful. ... I can't expect to win a postseason game giving up five runs."
Johnson has won seven straight decisions against Baltimore, and is 5-0 with a 3.48 ERA in eight starts versus the Orioles since joining the Yankees in 2005. New York's win clinched the season series over Baltimore, something the Yankees have done each year since 1998.
Posted by Steve Kenul at 7:06 AM
EC posted at 12:01 PM
Say it with me now...
Yankees Suck, Yankees Suck, Yankees suck!
*signed a very, even more so than ever, disgruntled Red Sox Fanatic :)