It’s becoming a regular event in the Bronx, and once again it worked out to the Yankees’ advantage, but the win being decided in a single big inning is often the most exciting thing about a game. Tonight’s game against the White Sox was no exception.
Starter Hiroki Kuroda seems to continue in his struggles, allowing 7 hits, 4 runs, and 2 walks, striking out 7 batters in his 6.1 innings and 95 pitches. The runs allowed came as an RBI single in the 1st inning, a 2-RBI triple in the 5th, and a solo homer in the 7th. Actually, in light of recent rotation slumps, tonight’s damage was relatively minimal.
On the offensive side, the Yankees took advantage of Chicago’s two major problems (something that certainly isn’t their best starting pitcher, who threw a pretty good game all the way into the 8th inning tonight) — their really sloppy defense and their weak bullpen. In the 1st inning, Vernon Wells singles but lands at 2nd due to a throwing error, then Eduardo Nunez reaches on another fielding error and moves Wells to 3rd. Then the Yankees got creative. While Stewart was batting, Nunez tries to steal 2nd so they try to throw him out, he stops as Wells heads for home, but the throw there is too late — Nunez is at 2nd and Wells scores the 1st Yankees run.
So going into the bottom of the 8th, the score is 4-1 White Sox. Their starter is still on the mound, hoping for a complete game and a win. But the Yankees aren’t going to give up easily. Gardner goes down on strikes, Derek Jeter singles, and Robinson Cano’s double moves Jeter to 3rd. They bring in a reliever. Alfonso Soriano singles, scoring both Jeter and Cano (4-3), and Alex Rodriguez’s single moves Soriano to 3rd. Another reliever, still just 1 out. Pinch hitter Curtis Granderson singles, scoring the tying run in Soriano (4-4), and Reynolds strikes out. Another reliever, 2 outs. Nunez doubles deep into the left field corner and scores Rodriguez and Granderson (6-4 Yankees), before Romine strikes out for the final out.
One inning, 9 batters, 6 hits, 5 runs, 3 strikeouts.
Before Rivera comes in to grab his 40th save of the season, Claiborne finished Kuroda’s 7th inning and Logan’s quick 11 pitch 8th inning and earned the win due to the offensive charge in the bottom of that inning. So the Yankees earn their second win over the White Sox in this series, and settle in at 3rd place in the AL East and 2 games out of 2nd place and the 2nd Wild Card possibility.
Also, Jeter’s 2 hits in the 3rd and 8th innings tonight earned him a new position on the All-Time Hits Leader Board. He is now solely in 9th place, passing Eddie Collins, with 3,315 hits. Four more to 8th place (expect this post within a week, at this rate), and about 100 to 7th (that would be next year). He is currently the only active player with over 3000 hits, the next active players in hits are his teammates Rodriguez with 2,925 and Ichiro with 2,729.
Tonight’s game certainly gives the Yankees and their fans something to cheer about and hope for. And I love that tonight proved the old Yogi-ism true — “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.” I think of all the fans who departed the game early when the Yankees were down 4-1. They missed all the fun, and they missed Mo.
Much like you never leave a good movie before the end credits because they often have bonus scenes (like The Avengers), you should never leave a ball game before the final out. You just never know…
And that’s what makes baseball so much fun.