Saturday, May 30, 2009

The View From On Top

For the first time since October 1st, 2006, the Yankees are in sole posession of first place in the American League East. It's the only time it has happened in the Joe Girardi Era. Chew on that for a moment.

For the fifth straight game, Derek Jeter led off the game with a hit, setting the tone for another comfortable victory. 

The margin of victory was only two runs, but the Indians never had the tying runner in scoring position. 

Andy Petttitte had held the Indians scoreless when he was lifted with runners on first and second in the fifth inning and had only tossed 84 pitches. The main reason for his early departure was an apparent back problem which surfaced in the fourth inning.

Pettite doubled over after delivering a 3-1 slider to Ben Francisco and was visited on the mound by Joe Girardi and Gene Monahan. He stayed in the game but retreated to the clubhouse for treatment during the top of the 5th. Andy allowed a lead off single to Asdrubal Cabrera to being the bottom half of the fifth inning, but then recorded three straight outs. After taking the hill for the sixth, Pettitte was yanked after giving up a single and a walk.

Alfredo Aceves allowed one of Pettite's baserunners to score on a sac fly by Shin-Soo Choo, but that was all the offense Cleveland could muster. Aceves, who is emerging as a versatile late inning bullpen option for the Yanks, surrendered only a walk and a single in three innings of work.  

In his first game back, Jorge Posada went 2-3 with a walk. He saw 17 of Cliff Lee's 112 pitches, a contribution which certainly helped send the Indians' starter to the showers in the 6th inning for only the second time in his last 8 starts. 

A-Rod picked up a single and a walk at the plate but the most encouraging signs of the night for him won't be found in the box score. 

In the top of the second, Ben Francisco tapped a nubber down the third baseline, and A-Rod made a great effort charging in on the play, although the out wasn't made at first. Then, during top of the fifth, Alex hit a weak grounder to third base and sensing the possibility of an infield hit, he busted ass down the line and made it a closer play than expected, but was out by a nose. Hustle has long been a trademark of A-Rod's game, and regardless of your feelings about him, it's encouraging to see that he is feeling comfortable and healthy enough to go all out. 

Mo gave up a hit to Choo, but otherwise it was an uneventful and non-threatening ninth inning. The save moved Pettitte and Mariano as the starter/closer tandem with the most wins/saves together (58), passing Dennis Eckersley and Bob Welch (57).

The Yanks are in first. I'm not sure if I remember what that was like. 

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