The New York Yankees took a step in the right direction yesterday winning their second straight game, salvaging a split with the Detroit Tigers and ended a spell of eight consecutive losses in games decided by one run. They did it with an eighth inning rally which consisted of two pitches.
Down 3-2 with one out in the eighth, Mark Teixeira drilled his 21st homer of the year and on the very next pitch from Tigers reliever Joaquin Benoit, Eric Chavez unloaded a blast the opposite way to put the Yankees up by a run.
The Yankees had taken a 2-0 lead off Tigers starter Doug Fister in the second inning on an RBI-triple by Raul Ibanez and a run-scoring single from Ichiro Suzuki. But in the bottom of the fifth the Tigers finally got to Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda and an umpire got under the skin of manager Joe Girardi.
Jhonny Peralta doubled to lead off the inning and scored on Alex Avila‘s home run which tied the game. Ramon Santiago wedged a single around a ground out and a force out. Up came Andy Dirks who hit a fly ball down the left field line. The ball landed on the foul line, but third base umpire Tim Welke’s initial call was foul ball, raising his arms above his head as an indicator. He immediately changed his call by pointing repeatedly into fair territory signifying the ball was actually in play. The ball got by Ibanez and allowed Santiago to score from first.
Joe Girardi came out to argue the call, not because he thought the ball was foul (it was fair) but because Welke called it foul first and then changed course. Girardi’s argument was a slight hesitation by Ibanez seeing the Welke call could have caused the ball to get by him. Girardi went ballistic on the field providing animated replays of Welke’s indecisiveness and tossed his hat to the field. To his credit Welke gave Girardi lots of rope before ejecting him.
Also, while watching the replay it did not seem like Ibanez was looking at Welke, but rather misplayed the ball allowing it to spin by him. Ibanez admitted not seeing the ball, but did say he heard the fans react to it being called foul initially.
Regardless, the outcome became moot after the Yankees staged the rally in the eighth, but the team was happy that their manager had their back, right or wrong. Kuroda had this to say after the game.
“I think it’s a testament to how passionate we are in this game,” Kuroda said through an interpreter. “I wanted to say something, but I think Joe said everything I wanted to say.”
In the ninth inning Rafael Soriano made it interesting by allowing a leadoff double to Avila and a single by Omar Infante to put the winning run on with no outs. Soriano settled down and retired the final three batters in order and untucked for the 27th time this season.
The Yankees (65-46) increased their lead in the AL East to 5 1/2 games over the Baltimore Orioles while the Tigers (60-52) fell to one game back of the idle Chicago White Sox. The Yankees head to Toronto for a three-game series at Rogers Centre. Be sure to check out the Yanks Go Yard Series Preview Show later this morning for complete coverage.