Thursday, August 20, 2009

Happily Heading East

It was going to be a long flight either way, but the Yankees just made the red eye to Boston a whole lot more tolerable. Even though they lost back to back games on Sunday and Monday, they won both series out West and during a stretch where the Red Sox went 4-2, they picked up a half game in the standings.

The top third of the order accounted for bascially all of the offense against Brett Anderson or otherwise last night. Derek Jeter, Johnny Damon and Mark Teixeira each scored a run and Teix drove in all three on a groundout in the first and a two run shot to left in the second. The only other Yankee hit was Nick Swisher's single in the fourth.

Chad Gaudin put together a start in place of Joba Chamberlain which resembled something Joba himself might have done. He didn't allow a run, the only hit Gaudin gave up was a single to Adam Kennedy to lead off the bottom of the first and he struck out 5 batters. However, the five walks he issued drove up his pitch count and kept him from getting the win. Two of the walks came in the 5th inning and after 90 pitches he was lifted with the bases loaded and one out in favor of Alfredo Aceves.

I prefer to think of Gaudin's start tonight as a great long relief appearance which just happened to occur at the beginning of the game. Which isn't really a bad thing when you have a bullpen that has been pitching as well as the Yankees'. With a projected pitch limit of ~85 and the tendency to walk a lot of batters, Gaudin wasn't expect to go very deep into the game. In fact, before the first pitch Mark Feinsand predicted that he'd go exactly 4 1/3 innings on Twitter.

Aceves needed only two pitches to induce an inning-ending double play from Yankee-killer Kurt Suzuki and get the Yankees out of trouble when he was summoned from the bullpen. It wasn't all smooth sailing for Alf, though. Jack Cust chipped in with this first home run since July 20th and his first RBI since 7/23 on a solo homer off of Aceves with two out in the 6th. The A's picked up another two out run in the 7th after Rajai Davis singled, stole second and scored on a single by Mark Ellis.

In all, Alf went 2 1/3 and gave up 4 of the 6 hits and the only two runs the A's scored in the game, but didn't relinquish the lead. Phil Coke came on for the final out of the 7th, Phil Hughes worked into and out of trouble in the 8th and Mo mowed them down in the 9th. It was Rivera's 32nd consecutive save converted, the longest such streak in his career.

It wasn't the crisp pitcher's duel that a final score of 3-2 sometimes indicates, but it wrapped up in just over two and a half hours nonetheless. Each of the games in the series finsihed in under three hours, a fact which wasn't that the A's are 15.5 games behind the Red Sox in the Wild Card standings. It was much appreciated by those of us who stayed up to watch the games on the East Coast.

And they ended on a high note.

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