It was looking like a dreadful day for the New York Yankees. While the Baltimore Orioles were taking care of business at Camden Yards against the Boston Red Sox, the Yankees were having a hard time mounting an offense and Phil Hughes was supplying the Toronto Blue Jays with a heavy dose of mediocrity. But, the Yankees staged an eight-run rally over the final four innings to beat the Jays 9-6, showing resiliency, heart and a don’t-give-up attitude which are all necessary for the next step in the road the World Series.
The Yankees’ gritty performance enabled them to maintain a tie with the Orioles in the race for the American League East crown. The Texas Rangers’ win over the Los Angeles Angels officially clinched a postseason berth for Yankees and the Orioles, who both sit atop the East with 92-67 records. The final three days of the regular season will provide loads of drama as seven teams remain mathematically eligible to reach the American League playoffs.
Hughes was being asked to right the Yankees’ ship after they lost two of the first three games to the injury-ravaged Blue Jays. Coming into the series, the Yankees must have had feelings that they would be able to roll through Toronto at least taking three of four. But, after getting shutout by Brandon Morrow on Thursday and suffering a gut-wrenching loss on Saturday, the Bombers found themselves in a hole bug by an inconsistent Hughes.
Hughes allowed two runs in the first inning and then settled in nicely over the next three frames giving the Yanks a chance to get back into the game. But Henderson Alvarez kept the Yankees off the board until an Eric Chavez home run in the third inning. Down 2-1 in the fifth, Hughes coughed up a two-run homer to Brett Lawrie. Hughes then recorded two outs before allowing three straight singles, the third giving the Blue Jays a 5-1 lead and ended his day after just 4 2/3 innings.
Down by four heading into the sixth, the Yankees began to chip away at Toronto’s lead. They did it with some shoddy play by the Jays and timely hits which evaded them for much of the rest of the series. By the end of the seventh inning, the Yanks had come all the way back to tie the game on two wild pitches both plating runs, a sacrifice fly by Ichiro Suzuki and a RBI-double from Robinson Cano.
In the eighth, the Yanks got two more runs to take a 7-5 lead on a sac fly from Eduardo Nunez and a RBI bloop single by Derek Jeter, his third hit of the game. In the ninth Curtis Granderson ripped a bases loaded single to right to score the Yankees final two runs.
While the Bombers started to turn it on with the bats the bullpen did its part to prevent the game from getting completely out of hand and then maintained the lead with 3 1/3 scoreless innings from Derek Lowe, Boone Logan and David Robertson.
Rafael Soriano, who has had very little work over the last week and a half came on in a non-save situation and quickly turned a four-run lead into drama allowing the first three runners to reach base. He buckled down and managed to get Yunel Escobar to ground into a double play, which brought the Jays within three. He then coaxed a harmless grounder from Adam Lind to second base to end the game.
The Yankees will now get their chance to face the last-place Boston Red Sox in the final regular season series in the Bronx. In the series opener the Yanks send CC Sabathia (14-6, 3.42 ERA) to the mound to face Clay Buchholz (11-7, 4.22 ERA). Sabathia is coming off of back-to-back double-digit strikeout performances, while Buchholz has not recorded a win since August 16.