Monday, September 18, 2006
Magic Number: 3
Derek Jeter furthered his case for the American League's MVP Award on Monday, coming through with a huge hit when the Yankees needed it most.
New York was seven outs away from dropping its fourth game in the last five when Jeter drilled a two-run home run off A.J. Burnett, lifting the Yankees to a 7-6 win over the Blue Jays.
Alex Rodriguez also had a two-run home run, helping the Yankees move one step closer to their ninth consecutive division title. New York's magic number now stands at 3.
Darrell Rasner, starting in place of Cory Lidle (tendinitis in his right index finger), allowed three runs in six innings. Rasner was pitching on three days' rest, having thrown four innings of relief on Thursday.
The Yankees survived a bullpen meltdown in the ninth, as the Blue Jays hit Ron Villone and Octavio Dotel for three runs -- all on Troy Glaus' 35th homer of the year -- to cut the lead from four to one. Mike Myers and Jose Veras each recorded an out to close out the game.
Burnett looked virtually unhittable in the first five innings, holding New York to a pair of singles -- both coming with two outs in the second inning -- while striking out five.
Rasner, meanwhile, needed 28 pitches to get through the first inning after loading the bases before recording an out. The right-hander managed to pull a Houdini act, getting Lyle Overbay and Troy Glaus to pop out before striking out Bengie Molina to end the inning.
Rasner wasn't as lucky in the second, as the Jays touched him for a run. Toronto added two more in the fourth on an RBI triple by John McDonald and an RBI double by Reed Johnson, giving the Blue Jays a 3-0 lead.
A-Rod cut the lead to one in the sixth with a two-run blast to center field, his 34th of the season. The homer was No. 463 of Rodriguez's career, moving him past Jose Canseco for sole possession of 29th place on the all-time list. He stands one homer behind Dave Winfield for 28th place.
The next inning, Burnett was one out away from completing the seventh, but Aaron Guiel -- who entered the game in the fifth after Johnny Damon was ejected for arguing with home plate umpire Bill Miller -- doubled to left, setting up Jeter's two-run homer to left-center. Jeter's 14th home run put the Yankees ahead, 4-3, giving him 95 RBIs for the year.
Brian Bruney pitched a scoreless seventh, while Scott Proctor did the same in the eighth. New York tacked on three insurance runs in the ninth, giving Villone a nice cushion to close out the game.
Villone gave up a pair of one-out singles, prompting manager Joe Torre to pull the left-hander in favor of Dotel, who threw three straight balls against Glaus. Dotel threw a strike to make the count 3-1, but Glaus blasted the next pitch over the wall in right-center, cutting the lead to make it a 7-6 game.
Myers took over for Dotel with one out, retiring John Hattig for the second out. Jason Phillips singled off Myers to put the tying run on base, as Torre called on Veras -- who got Aaron Hill for the final out, earning the first save of his career.
Posted by Steve Kenul at 10:46 PM