[Ed. Note: Photos from here again. Believe it or not, the wireless
connection at the Econo Lodge can't really handle MLB.tv]
Behind CC Sabathia, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, the winning streak hit seven games last night. While lucky number seven lacked the walk-off drama of the three weekend contests, or the late inning nail-biting of Monday night's game, the contest was far closer than the 9-1 final tally indicates.
The good news started before the first pitch was even thrown. Brian Bruney was activated from the DL, and in the first bullpen move to make sense since Melancon and Robertson were recalled last month, Edwar Ramirez was optioned to Scranton.
Ramirez was effective in 2008, but right now his BB rate has nearly doubled from last year, his HR rate has nearly tripled, his Ks are down, his ERA is over 5 and his WHIP is approaching 2. In short, he stinks. He may well be able to turn it around, and I hope he does. But Scranton is the place to work out his issues, not the Yankee bullpen. In typical Joe Girardi Kremlin fashion, the move wasn't announced until shortly before first pitch.
On to the game. The Orioles plated a run in the top of the first, using a Brian Roberts base hit, an Adam Jones infield single, a Roberts stolen base, and a groundout from Jay's favorite Oriole to get their only run of the night. It marked the second time in as many nights that the Yankees would trail before picking up a bat.
The Yankees countered in their half of the first, the second time in as many nights they would take the lead in the first frame and not look back. Damon registered a bloop single, and scored on a monster shot from A-Rod - one that sailed over the visitor's bullpen and into the left field bleachers. Given the newness of the park, it's a little early to tell just what will qualify as a jaw-dropping HR here (e.g. into the black or the upper deck in RF at the old joint), but I imagine blasts like this one will be rare.
From there, both starters settled down. Sabathia dominated the O's for the second time in 12 days, throwing six more innings, striking out 7, surrending no further runs, allowing only two other runners to reach base, and turning in perfect frames in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th, and 7th innings.
Meanwhile, rookie Brad Bergesen baffled the Bombers' bats. He cruised through innings 2 through 5, sitting down 13 in a row at one point. He allowed 3 baserunners in the 6th, but one (the continually impressive Frankie Cervelli) was erased on a caught stealing, and Bergesen escaped still trailing by a single run. Bergesen finished the 6th with 94 pitches, and despite not having surpassed 6 IP or 96 pitches in any of his five career starts, Dave Trembley sent him out to start the 7th. Bergesen would retire Matsui leading off the inning, before walking Swisher and Cano. That would end Bergesen's night, but his line wouldn't close until he was betrayed by his bullpen (sound familiar?) and two costly errors. He deserved better.
Things got ugly from there. Teixiera deposited one deep in to the mezzanine in right, making it three out of four games in which both he and A-Rod have gone deep (Rodriguez has homered in all four). By the time the seventh was over, the 2-1 pitcher's duel had become a 9-1 blowout.
Despite having pitched masterfully once again, Sabathia's night was over, done in by the 8 run margin and the long bottom of the seventh. Brian Bruney reminded us all why we missed him so much by turning in a perfect 8th. And as an indication of just how good things are in Yankeeland right now, the ninth inning saw Angel Berroa enter a game for just the second time in two weeks, and Brett Tomko touch 94 on the gun in pitching a flawless inning.