Sunday, September 17, 2006
Split Lowers Magic Number to 4
The Yankees moved one step closer to a ninth consecutive American League East title, giving them a chance to clinch the division crown on their own turf Sunday night.
New York took a 7-5 victory over Boston, earning a split in the day-night doubleheader at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees' magic number now stands at four, with the two rivals set to play another day-night twin bill on Sunday.
Jason Giambi's RBI double -- aided by one of three defensive miscues in left field by Wily Mo Pena -- snapped a 5-5 tie in the seventh inning, while Scott Proctor threw two innings of scoreless relief to pick up the victory.
The victory also lifted the Yankees (90-57) to a tie for the best record in baseball, pulling them even with the crosstown rival Mets. A sweep of Sunday's doubleheader combined with a loss by the Blue Jays would give the Yankees the AL East title.
Derek Jeter went 1-for-5, but his third-inning single extended his hitting streak to a career-high 25 games, marking the longest hitting streak by a Yankee since 1942, when Joe Gordon hit in 29 straight games.
Randy Johnson didn't factor into the decision, allowing five runs on eight hits and three walks over 5 2/3 innings.
Johnson retired the first six Boston batters he faced, but the Red Sox broke through with two runs in the third on RBI doubles by Alex Gonzalez and Kevin Youkilis, taking a 2-1 lead.
Gonzalez extended it to 3-1 with an RBI single in the fourth, but the Yankees tied it up in the bottom of the frame on Bernie Williams' two-run double against Julian Tavarez, a ball misplayed by Pena in left field.
Johnson sat the Sox down in order in the fifth, but Boston got to the left-hander in the sixth. Jason Varitek and Gabe Kapler each singled with one out, then Johnson walked Dustin Pedroia to load the bases.
The Big Unit struck out Gonzalez for the second out, but Coco Crisp -- who had struck out in each of his first three at-bats -- lined a double that stayed just fair insider the left-field line, scoring two runs to give Boston a 5-3 lead.
Tavarez walked Posada to start the bottom of the sixth, prompting Terry Francona to pull him for right-hander Craig Hansen. Williams was hit by a pitch, putting runners at first and second.
Aaron Guiel moved the runners over, then pinch-hitter Hideki Matsui hit a sacrifice fly to cut the lead to 5-4. Melky Cabrera followed with a single up the middle, tying the game at 5.
Boston threatened to take the lead in the seventh, putting runners at the corners with one out. But Scott Proctor struck out Varitek and pinch-hitter Trot Nixon, preserving the tie and giving his offense a chance to take the lead.
And that's exactly what the Yanks did, as Giambi doubled in Alex Rodriguez -- thanks to yet another terrible read on the ball by Pena, who was charged with an error on the play, allowing Giambi to advance to third base -- and Posada singled in pinch-runner Kevin Thompson, giving the Yankees a 7-5 lead.
Proctor threw a scoreless eighth, while Kyle Farnsworth closed out the win in the ninth to earn his fifth save.
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Posted by Steve Kenul at 12:23 AM