[WE data via FanGraphs]
The last two games that the Yankees played collectively form a great example of why it's better to avoid letting yourself take every up and down of the baseball season. Watching a loss causes you to project it forward so that every downturn seems like an impending freefall and every triumph makes the game seem easier than it really is. Clearly, Monday night was the former and last night's victory was the latter.
If you weren't looking at the Win Expectancy chart, I'd be obligated to inform you that the final score wasn't a good indication of how close the game actually was. But you can see for yourself that the Diamondbacks had a nearly 50% chance of winning the game as late as the sixth inning.
The Yankees jumped out quickly, though. Derek Jeter led off the game with a single and after two flyouts, was still standing on first when Alex Rodriguez came to the plate. A-Rod looked at two curveballs from Dan Haren, one for a ball and one for a strike, before ripping a fat two-seam fastball over the wall in left-center field to put the Yankees up 2-0.
Haren would get his revenge, although not against A-Rod, specifically. Andy Pettitte gave up a single to Justin Upton to lead off the bottom of the second but looked to be out of trouble when he struck out Chris Young on a cutter at the knees, caught Upton going on first motion and picked him off trying to steal second.
However, after throwing a first pitch strike, he tossed four straight balls to Adam LaRoche, gave up a double to Mark Reynolds and walked Chris Snyder after a grueling 12 pitch at bat to load the bases. That brought up the pitcher's slot which, when Haren is in the game, has not been a soft spot this year (he came into the game hitting .425/.425/.575 in 41 PA's). Haren took an awkward, reaching cut and slashed a ball down the right field line, driving in two runs to tie the game up.
Rodriguez would have an answer for that at well. After Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira singled in front of him in the top of the fourth, Alex added a base knock of his own, scoring Swisher and giving the Yankees the lead 3-2.
The score remained the same until the eighth inning when Dan Haren had exited the game, having thrown 109 pitches. Lo and behold, once the Yanks got into the bullpen, they blew the game wide open. I think that means I actually made a decent prediction in the preview. That's a first.
Against Esmerling Vasquez, the top of the Yanks order went single-double-single-walk, scoring a run and loading the bases for Robinson Cano. Chad Qualls came out of the 'pen next, allowed a single to Cano, a sac fly to Jorge Posada and before it was all over, an RBI single to Curtis Granderson and a two run double to ASU alum Colin Curtis. The good news for Qualls is that it only raised his ERA from 8.87 to 8.88 (not kidding). When the dust settled, the score was 9-3 and the Yanks were all but home free.
Thankfully, last night's game gave us a reason to stay up past the first inning. Heck, watching the first inning made me want to stay up for the whole game. Even if you didn't make it the full three hours, you still had something nice to wake up to this morning, right?
It's another 9:40 start tonight as the Yankees look for a series victory. Javier Vazquez faces his old team (he had two good outings against them last year) and squares off against Dontrelle Willis.