The Bronx Bombers narrowed the gap on the sun-setting, yet league leading Rays to 4.5, and 3 games behind the Red Sox.....for now.
Washington DC - July 20th, 2008
54,366 fans crowded into The Stadium today to watch the top five in the line-up provide the bats in stark contrast to yesterday’s win, and gave a standing ovation to Andy Pettitte, after Jason Giambi broke out the lumber completing the sweep over the Oakland A’s.
With a more tolerable 92 degree Bronx-day, Pettitte was a breath of fresh air as he provided his type solution for an ailing bull pen by building his own bridge to Mariano Rivera while facing down 27 batters in 8 innings of work throwing 114 pitches with 77 of them being strikes.
Pettitte’s control was spot on mixing fastballs, cutters and curves while walking no one, striking out 9 batters, grounding-out 9 others, and popping up another 5 batters for outs. Andy only gave up 1 run today improving his ERA to 3.86, which is the third lowest on the team for starters, and got his 11th win of the season; one behind Mighty Mike Mussina, the Moose, who's at 12 wins.
Girardi told the team after the All Star break that it was "time to go on a roll of wins," and the Yanks answered the call like guard dogs answering its owner's command.
The 1st innings was high-lighted by two great defensive plays. In the top of the first with one out Ryan Sweeney (2 for 4) hit a sharp liner over the head of Derek Jeter, who extended in an upwards- jump snaring the 2nd out.
Then karma showed its face in the bottom of the 1st. With two outs A-Rod singled to left field, and was moved to second on a Giambi walk. Robbie Cano (2 for 4) then came up knocking one properly into right field, and A-Rod went from second to home only to be gunned down by Sweeney, settling the defensive duels.
There was no score at all until the 3rd inning when Derek Jeter (1 for 4) scorched a ball into center-field that hopped over the fence for a ground rule double. Bobby Abreu (1 for 4) followed the Captain’s effort up with a laser line drive to center moving Jeter to third, who scored on a Alex Rodriguez ( for 3) sacrifice fly. Mr. Jason Giambi (2 for 2) was then intentionally walked (one of two on the day) to get to Cano, who went down swinging.
IN the 6th inning Oakland tied the score 1 to 1 as Jack Hannahan (1 for 3) ripped a ground rule double into right field. Mark Ellis (1 for 3) then bunted Hannahan to third, and was followed up with a game tying single by Ryan Sweeney (2 for 4). Bobby Crosby (0 for 4) then grounded into a 6-4-3 double play ending the inning.
The 17mph wind didn’t seem to bother Jason Giambi who hit a towering shot over the right field wall off of A’s pitcher, Justin Duchscherer (L, 10-6)) giving the Yankees a 2 to 1 lead, and final score for a Yankee win over the A’s.
Robbie Cano and Jason Giambi each had 2 hits, and combined with the other 3 (Jeter, Abreu, A-Rod) in the top five of NY’s line-up totaling all 7 hits on the day for the Bronx Bombers.
The Yanks picked up another game on Tampa, whose sun is setting in the second-half and in typical Ray’s fashion. Tampa Bay lost to the 4th place Jays today 9 - 4, and the Red Sox lost to the Angels, who put up 4 runs against Wakefield, and 1 run against Delcarmen in a 5 to 3 win in their second straigh lost to LA.
NY has gone from 7.5 games back to 4.5 games out of first in seemingly no time at all (a week's time), and are now 3 games behind Boston – for now.
Brian Bruney, Phil Hughes and Jonathon Albaladejo are all slated to be back, and healthy soon. Joe Girardi might think about putting Hughes back into the rotation where he was intended for while moving the elusive Darrell Rasner back into an ailing bull-pen to help out Edwar Ramirez – who has earned a try out in the set up role by now.