(Photos come from here)
This marks the fourth consecutive recap I've authored this week, and as the winning streak rolls on they're starting to feel a little formulaic.
For the fourth consecutive night, the Yankees took a first inning lead and never looked back. Wednesday's game saw the Yankees start the the second inning with three consecutive HRs. Thursday, it was three consecutive doubles to start the first. Mark Teixeira continued his hot hitting, with a first inning RBI double for the second night in a row.
For the second consecutive night, Robinson Cano homered to
Nick Swisher was once again decked out in high socks and a pink wrist band, the latter supporting breast cancer research. He once again went 1 for 2 with 2 BB. Continuing the theme of charitable efforts by the Yankees, we learned during the game that Francisco Cervelli visted Columbia-Presbyterian today. He wouldn't get the same-day good fortune of Gardner or Swisher, as he went 0 for 4. But life has been good for Frankie of late, and the rewards aren't always instantaneous.
And, once again Alfredo Aceves turned in an impressive and effective multi-inning performance: 3.1 scoreless innings pitched with just four baserunners allowed.
And that brings us to the real story of the game. Aceves was needed for so long because Joba Chamberlain took a liner off the leg while facing the second batter of the night. Chamberlain recovered to retire the perpetrator, Adam Jones, walked it off, and stuck around to face two more batters. But both Nick Markakis and Aubrey Huff knocked base hits, and that would be it for Joba. Fortunately the x-rays revealed no structural damage and he was diagnosed with just a bruise.
Faced with having to finish off the final 8.1 innings, the beleaguered Yankee bullpen rose to the occasion. Jonathan Albaladejo followed Aceves. He surrendered 4 runs in his 2.1 IP. It's not the prettiest line, but I prefer to think he pitched to the scoreboard. Spotted to a big lead and knowing his team needed innings, Albaladejo stayed around the plate (yielding 2 HRs), threw 66% of his pitches for strikes, and surrendered no free passes despite averaging 4.8 BB/9 entering the night. It was an unusual set of circumstances for the big righty and he gave his team what they needed. Jose Veras followed Albaladejo and turned in 1.2 innings of scoreless, walkless work.
Joe Girardi once again chose to pitch Mariano Rivera in the ninth, despite holding a three run lead. I can understand wanting to secure the victory after all the bullpen had done, especially with the 2 through 4 spots due. But if former starter Brett Tomko couldn't go multiple innings because he's been used as a short stint reliever this year, and he couldn't be trusted to close out a 3 run game, why exactly is he on the roster? Still, it's a minor point. Consecutive victory number nine is one to be proud of, as the team rallied together against a bad break. The dice keep tumbling the Yankees' way.
Speaking of the roster, expect a move before tomorrow's game. The bullpen will be short: Albaladejo and Aceves are done for a couple days, Veras is likely unavailable tomorrow, and perhaps Mo as well after going two days in a row. Phil Coke may also still be dinged up after taking a liner off the arm Wednesday. Both Mark Melancon and David Robertson have been down long enough to be eligible for recall. Anthony Claggett is the other possibility. While this will mean a temporary return to the absurd eight man bullpen, it's necessary in the short term. The silver lining is it should spell the end for the Angel Berroa era.
The streak stands at nine. They've swept the last two series. The defending World Champions come to town tomorrow as interleague play begins.