It wasn't perfect, but the Yankees took care of business tonight. Like they did against Tampa, they continued to leave runners on base and suffered yet another injury, but wriggled out of the 9th inning with a narrow victory over the Mets.
They squandered an excellent chance to score in the third. Francisco Cervelli worked a walk to lead off the inning and then advanced third base when Kevin Russo lifted a soft single off the end of the bat to left field. Javy Vazquez bunted Russo over to second, setting up Derek Jeter for an RBI opportunity, but he struck out on three fastballs, all called strikes. Brett Gardner followed with a slap towards third that David Wright fielded and put out easily to end the inning.
A similar situation arose in the fourth when Alex Rodriguez knocked a one out base hit and Robinson Cano slashed double off the wall in left field, putting runners on second and third. This gave Nick Swisher an easy chance for at least one RBI but Hisanori Takahasi threw him five straight balls away and out of the zone and Swish swung and missed at three of them. Cervelli followed with deep fly to center which would have been good for a sacrifice, but by then there were already two outs.
The third time was a charm as the Yanks finally broke through in the seventh. This time Swisher began the rally with a single to center. Cervelli then grounded a ball to Alex Cora at second base which should have been good for at least a force out, but Cora fired it into center field which was scored an error and allowed the runners to advance to second and third. Kevin Russo paired his second Major League hit with his first two runs driven in when he sliced a hanging 0-1 slider into the right field corner. He might have been able to stretch it into a triple but instead left he ended up standing on second base, having just given the Yankees a 2-0 lead.
Had he gone for third, whether reaching safely or not, Javier Vazquez probably wouldn't have been bunting and the biggest and most unfortunate story of the game for the Yanks might have never have been. Instead, in the process of bunting a first pitch changeup off the plate, Javy let his right index finger creep around to the front of the bat. The ball hit hit his digit squarely and he responded with a noticable wince. He stayed in for another pitch and completed a successful sacrifice, but he was pulled from the game immediately after running to first base. Thankfully X-rays were negative, but his finger is bruised above the nail and it seems a safe bet that he's going to miss at least some time as a result of it.
It's too bad because Vazquez was pitching beautifully. He needed only 70 pitches to complete six shutout innings and strike out six. Along the way he allowed just one hit and two walks and neither of those batters reached second base (thanks in part to Cervelli, who gunned down Alex Cora trying to steal to end the fourth inning). It took Vazquez a while to find his velocity and command, throwing a few fading 85mph fastballs in the early going and walking the second batter he faced, but found his grove as the innings wore on.
After Vazquez was pulled, Joe Girardi treated this game like one he was desperate to win. He brought in David Robertson to being the 7th. Alex Cora led off the inning with a single and D-Rob retired Jason Bay but Girardi called on Damaso Marte so he could match up with Ike Davis. The much-hyped rookie hit a swinging bunt up the right foul line that Marte probably could have fielded, but he pulled up on it too early, forcing Cervelli to scramble to make the throw. Frankie rushed it, hit Davis in the back and allowed him to reach. Girardi promptly made yet another change and brought in Joba Chamberlain. Joba stepped it up and struck out David Wright and Angel Pagan to end the inning. He threw a perfect frame in the eighth and passed the baton to Mariano Rivera.
Rivera retired Jose Reyes and Alex Cora with ease to begin the home half of the ninth. He ran into some trouble with the middle of the lineup, however. Jason Bay ripped a ball that hit the top of the 16' wall in left field and went for a double. Ike Davis then pulled a cutter inside into the gap in right center that scored Bay easily and left him - the tying run - on second. Wright then swung at the first pitch and grounded out to Cano, wh0 made a three quarter spin and fired to first to end the game.
The Yanks won 2-1 and snapped their three game losing streak, but amazingly, the game still took 3:19.
Tomorrow's game won't be on until 7:00pm so enjoy your Saturday.