As the Yankees faced a three run deficit in the fifth inning, a friend texted me:
Him: Apparently we don't measure up to the world champions
Me: Meh. They'll put a few on the board.
Little did I know that in doing so the Yankees would have their fourth walk-off win in their last nine games, and their second courtesy of Melky Cabrera.
The Yankees fell behind 1-0 in the second on the second Raul Ibanez HR in as many days. The soon-to-be 37 year old is simply tearing the cover off the ball right now, with an MLB leading 17 HRs.
The Yankees used a Robinson Cano double and some small ball in the bottom of the inning to tie the score and it would remain that way until the top of the 5th. Shane Victorino led off with a single, followed by a free pass to Pedro Feliz. Then John Mayberry Jr, making his Major League debut, hit a three run homer to left to make it a 4-1 game. Mayberry joined Jayson Werth as sons of former Yankees to go deep against their pop's old team this weekend.
Despite the two long balls allowed, Andy Pettitte pitched well, scattering 5 hits and 2 walks over 7 innings while striking out 5. He wasn't dominant but he pitched well enough, and more importantly, he gave the team length on a day where the bullpen still was not at 100%. On the other side of the ball, J.A. Happ was very impressive in his first start of 2009.
Derek Jeter cut into the lead in the 6th with his second homerun in as many games. In the bottom of the eighth, the Yankees would threaten thanks to a pinch hit double from Brett Gardner. But Philly set-up man Ryan Madson worked around it in striking out the side, recording a scoreless inning for the second consecutive day.
Phil Coke made his first appearance since getting hit with a line drive Wednesday, and kept the score at 4-2 in pitching the eighth and the first two out of the ninth, before Jose Veras came on to record the final out.
In the ninth Philly turned to closer Brad Lidge. After being virtually untouchable last year, Lidge has been downright combustible this year, walking to the mound with a 7.85 ERA, a 1.91 WHIP, and two blown saves in ten opportunities. As much as I felt last night would be an uphill battle, I had a feeling the Yanks would get something going in the ninth.
Lidge went 3-0 on Johnny Damon to lead-off the inning, battled back to 3-2 thanks to a generous strike two call from home plate umpire Lance Barksdale, then walked Damon on the sixth pitch of the PA. After throwing all fastballs to Damon, Lidge went to all sliders to whiff Mark Teixeira on three pitches. Despite looking silly against Lidge, Teix continued his hot hitting turning in a 2 for 4 day and upping his batting average to .263.
A-Rod then tied the game with a dramatic two run homer to right field, his sixth in the last eight games. When Robinson Cano followed with a base hit, I thought it might be a good idea to try to swipe second, putting the tying run in scoring position with one out, negating the double play, and giving Melky Cabrera and Nick Swisher two shots at the win before the offensive black hole of Angel Berroa and Kevin Cash came to the plate.
The Yankees must have thought the same, as Cano easily stole second. Melky then dropped a 2-1 slider into right-center field to give the Yankees the win. It was the third walk-off hit delivered by Cabrera this season. Post game, A.J. Burnett made certain that both Cabrera and Cano caught some pie to the face as the pair was interviewed by Suzyn Waldman. Waldman got caught in the crossfire, and with any luck, the trauma will keep her out of the radio booth for a couple days.
It appears the Yankees have started over again, and for today at least, the breaks went their way once again.