It doesn't show up as much of a spike in terms of WPA since it's in the first inning, but a run in the first inning is worth the same amount as one in the 8th, technically speaking, and it was a costly turn of events.
2. Robinson Cano singled to lead off the second inning and advanced to second on what was nearly another strike 'em out, throw 'em out DP and got to third on a Curtis Granderson grounder. Randy Winn then tapped one down the third base line that Sheets fielded cleanly and fired to first just in time to keep the Yanks off the board.
3. The Yanks finally broke through in the 4th inning with back-to-back(!!) triples by A-Rod and Cano. Ryan Sweeney misplayed A-Rod's ball and it rolled past him while Cano ripped a shot down the line that rolled around in the corner. It was the first time the Yanks have had consecutive three baggers since Melky and Damon did it in '07. Cano then scored on a ground out by Posada to put the Yanks up 2-0.
4. Through 7 innings, Phil Hughes had pitched masterfully. He took a no-hitter to the top of the 8th and had struck out every batter in the A's lineup except for Mark Sweeny. He'd struck out 9 batters and threw 63 of his 89 pitches for strikes, whiffing 9. Eric Chavez broke up the no hitter leading off the 8th with a liner back up the middle that deflected off Hughes' glove, arm and landed just in front of the mound. He probably still had time to turn the play but lost the ball once it hit him, but he couldn't locate it, and Chavez reached on an infield single. I think it's pretty much official that Phil Hughes has now had two no hitters broken up in the most fucking annoying ways possible, but at least he didn't get hurt this time.
After Chavez's cheapie, Hughes struck out Kevin Kouzmanoff for his 10th K of the night (a new career high) then walked Gabe Gross in a tough 9 pitch at bat. Girardi summoned Joba Chamberlain, who retired Adam Rosales on a fly ball to right field but blew the shutout by allowing an RBI single to Jake Fox. He escaped with the lead by retiring Cliff Pennington on a grounder to first. 2-1 Yankees.
5. The Yankees added an insurance run in the top of the ninth as Curtis Granderson scored on a single to left by Brett Gardner. 3-1 Yankees.
6. Mariano Rivera came in to close out the game but wasn't as effective as usual. Ryan Sweeney knocked a single to center field and Mo hit Kurt Suzuki with a pitch. With Marco Scutaro flashbacks raging, the AB ended in a strangely similar fashion to the ball he threw into the OF in Arizona in 2001 as Chavez chopped it back to Mo, but this time he converted the out. Continuing with the '01 WS theme, the game ended on a broken bat flare to center, but this time it landed in Curtis Granderson's glove.
IFs, ANDs & BUTs
We are getting westcoasted as tomorrow's game will be at 12:30 PM Pacific Time, 3:30 Eastern. CC Sabathia makes a start in his hometown against fellow lefty Dallas Braden.
- It's tough to understate how good Hughes looked tonight. Aside from the wacky hit and hard fought walk in the 8th, he really made it look easy. He commanded both his fastballs and pounded the strikezone relentlessly, throwing 40 of his 55 4-seamers and 22 of his 32 cutters for strikes. He spun off just 14 curves and no change ups and only one of his strike outs came on his hook (7 on the FB and 2 on the Cutter).
- Derek Jeter swung at the first pitch and put it in play three times tonight. In a related story, he worked his second walk of the year in the top of the ninth inning.
- Nick Johnson should get an endorsement from Johnnie Walker. Two BB's tonight, adding to his league-leading total.
- A's reliever Jerry Blevins walked off the mound in the 8th inning after striking out Nick the Stick on three straight fastballs. Tyson Ross, the right hander who replaced him, had an very odd motion, keeping his arm unnaturally close to his body and kinda slinging it in an exaggerated fashion. He could pitch, though, and struck out Mark Teixeira before getting out of the inning unscathed.
- If you didn't stay up until the end, you missed a really awesome game to watch. Of course, it doesn't hurt that it was the Yanks' sixth game in a row and locked up their 5th series victory as well, but there were a lot of enjoyable aspects of it. It wrapped up in a tidy 2:47 and even that was backloaded (generally speaking, I want the exciting part of the game to take a long time, not the early innings). There were the triples, and the no hitter chase and... well that's about it, but it was plenty. As far as early season tilts go, this one was the tits.