The Yankee offense put sixteen runners on base over the course of this afternoon. Yankee pitching allowed just two hits, two walks, and two hitbatsmen. Yet, today's game still managed to be a typical three plus hour Yankee-Red Sox nail biter.
The reason for that was that the Yankees left eleven runners on base and went 1 for 15 with runners in scoring position. That one hit didn't come until the bottom of the eighth, and it provided some needed insurance for what proved to be a tense ninth inning.
CC Sabathia was masterful on the hill: perfect through three and two thirds, a no hitter through four, and just four baserunners allowed while fanning eight through seven shutout innings on just 96 pitches. Yet he wasn't in position for the win until his final frame.
When Robinson Cano came to the plate leading off the sixth inning, it seemed as if his season long troubles with runners in scoring position had rubbed off on his teammates. Through five innings, the Yankees had put 10 runners on base and had left nine of them there, the tenth being erased on a batter's obstruction call against Alex Rodriguez. Of the nine men left on base, seven were left in scoring position. The inning before, the Yankees loaded the bases with no one out, then went down in order without striking out but without plating a run.
With the score still knotted at zero, Cano gave the Yanks the lead they had failed to grab so many times, as he put a 1-1 pitch over the left field wall for his 24th home run of the season.
After Phil Hughes worked a perfect eighth in relief of CC, with some help from a brilliant defensive play by Mark Teixeira, the Yankees added two insurance runs in the eighth using some daring base running from Brett Gardner, a lucky break on a run down, and a broken bat bloop two run single from Johnny Damon.
Mariano Rivera closed it out in the ninth, but not before Victor Martinez ran his hitting streak to 25 games and Kevin Youkilis became the fourth hit batsmen of the game, forcing Mo to face Mike Lowell as the potential tying run. Lowell fanned, giving the Yankees the series win and dropping the magic number to one.
We'll be back tomorrow afternoon as the Yankees go for the sweep, attempt to keep the Red Sox from clinching a post-season berth at Yankee Stadium, and attempt to clinch the AL East for themselves.