I don’t know what else to call tonight’s short game but magic. Seriously, the pitchers were just amazing, but it was the most reliable pitchers that made tonight’s win possible. And while I must give credit where credit is due, the Angels’ starter went his full 8 innings, throwing just 101 pitches to Yankee batters, and really doing a rather outstanding job of keeping them from really jumping too far ahead of the visiting Angels.
But it was the Yankees’ starter Hiroki Kuroda that began the magic tonight. He went a full 8 innings, throwing 107 pitches, giving up just 3 hits and a walk, and striking out 7 batters. He kept the Angels completely scoreless. Seriously, they were not hitting much off the ever consistent Kuroda at all tonight. It’s really a shame that we don’t have a whole rotation of Kurodas.
Defensively, the Yankees helped Kuroda when he most needed them, like a sweet double play in the 7th inning.
Offensively, they were limited to just two runs. Eduardo Nunez singled in the 3rd inning and scored on a single by Brett Gardner (seriously, I can’t wait to see what’s next on his streak). Then in the 7th inning, with 2 outs, it’s Curtis Granderson that hits his 3rd home run of the season, very deep into the 2nd deck right field seats. So going into the 9th inning, the Yankees were up 2-0, with another win just within their reach.
Giving Rivera a much-needed night off tonight, Girardi summoned Boone Logan to face the first two batters, allowing a single and striking out the second batter. But to save the game, he turned to “Mr. Houdini” himself — David Robertson. But Robertson walked a batter, then allowed an RBI double. And the Angels were on the board, trailing the Yankees 2-1. Robertson then intentionally walked the next batter, loading the bases, with a single out. And the most tense moment of the evening had everyone on edge. But true to his nickname, Robertson proceeded to strike out the next two batters swinging (video: first, second). And all 30,000-ish fans in the stadium let out a collective sigh of relief.
I know that it’s said so much now that it’s about to cross that line into cliché, but it’s a really much-needed win for the Yankees once again. And really that it’s almost mid-August, every win matters. I used to just kind of keep an eye on where the other teams were, mainly to keep up with conversations with other friends and family who aren’t Yankee fans (yet). But now, as the season is entering it’s final third, every win/loss actually affects the Yankees in a new way. So I’m fully aware of what’s happening in not just the AL East, like I have been this whole season, but now I’m concerned with possible Wild Card competition.
It’s this last stretch where the good teams start hitting their stride and pushing themselves for that final finish line of the regular season (in baseball, that’s their division title), the bad teams almost seem to lose whatever steam they had now knowing there’s really no hope, the flash-in-the-pan teams to begin losing power and consistency, and the underdogs to begin their rise and sneak past their division leaders one by one to see if they can sneak in that photo finish. (And if you’re a horse racing fan like my mom, you’ll understand each of those metaphors with a deeper understanding.)
And (continuing my metaphor) I know all us Yankee fans are hoping that at the end of the race to the finish line, it’s the Yankees themselves that are standing in the Winner’s Circle, draped in roses… I mean, lifting their trophy. And not watching from their respective couches, hoping instead for 2014, like I’ll be doing come this October (unless a wonderful reader would like to gift me with postseason tickets, hint, hint).
But again, (back to the clichés), it’s a still a long season, and there’s still so many games to play. You just never know. And to borrow again from the great #8, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”