By the time the players and fans had sat out the 2:43 minute rain delay last night, they could have watched a replay of Mark Buherle's perfect game in Chicago and still had 40 minutes to spare. It was almost 10:00PM at gametime, a brisk 66 degrees and windy with a slight drizzle still falling down. The weather system that had caused the delay had moved off the coast, leaving only scattered pockets of light rain behind.
Early on, Vin Mazzaro seemed poised to out-pitch CC Sabathia in front of a huge cheering section in the upper deck that was a mix of #54 Mazzaro jerseys, Oakland hoodies and Yankees logos.
He blazed through the first three innings, holding the Yanks scoreless and striking out six in the process, all the while be staked to a 3-0 lead. The runs came on a sac fly by Jack Cust and a single by Bobby Crosby in the second and a single by his battery mate Kurt Suzuki in the top of the 4th.However, not all went according to plan for the 22 year old righty from Rutherford. Mark Teixeira ripped a two run homer to right after being green-lighted on a 3-0 pitch in the 4th to get the Yanks off the schneid. A-Rod followed that with a walk, stole second and was rewarded for his timely thievery by being promptly doubled in by Jorge Posada. Eric Hinkse continued his Swisherific start as a Yankee by adding a two out single and putting the Yanks ahead for good.
Two more runs came to the plate against Mazzaro in the 5th inning, bringing his total to six and sending him to the showers. He pitched well in the early going, but once the Yanks woke up from their rain delay slumber, he couldn't hold on. The win last night brought the Bombers' record against rookie starters this year to 18-7, which is the best in the AL and second only to the Braves (10-4) in the Majors, according to the YES broadcast last night. You think we can put that myth to rest for a while?
Sabathia settled down after his rough 2nd and 4th innings and held the A's to three runs though seven. He gave up 9 hits but didn't walk a batter while striking out 4. Phil Hughes came on for the 8th inning and sat the A's down 1-2-3. To be honest, I thought Joe Girardi would probably bring on Rivera in the 9th to close it out but to my surprise (and delight) he gave the new found bullpen stud a shot at his first major league save. Hughes sat them down in order in the 9th and seized the opportunity.
The Yanks are making it look easy right now. This was their largest margin of victory since the All-Star Break, a whopping three runs, and they did it in comeback fashion. In those 7 games, the pitching staff has given up only 17 runs (2.4/game) while the offense has scored 29 (4.1 per). They haven't blown their opponents out of the water, but they've found ways to win close games, which might be even more satisfying. This victory, coupled with an off night for the Sox stretches their lead in the AL East to 2.5 games.