Good news and a victory for a change
Yankees fans needed some good news Sunday and they got it two-fold. Father’s Day for the Bombers began with the report from New York than an MRI on the tendon sheath of Mark Teixeira’s right wrist revealed inflammation, not a tear. Talk about a sigh of relief. Had there been a re-tear, the first baseman would have required surgery and been out for the remainder of the season. Tex received a cortisone injection and could be back in the lineup by Wednesday.
The second round of favorable news was the final score of the West Coast swing finale: Yanks 6, Angels 5. The Yankees needed that victory like, well, your father needs soft shoes. Of course, it was a victory that did not come easily. They had to sweat through a ninth inning where even the peerless Mariano Rivera was taxed.
Before Mo won a duel with Albert Pujols by striking out the three-time former Most Valuable Player with the bases loaded, the Yankees were on the verge of blowing all of a six-run lead that would have made the cross-country flight back to New York as bumpy a ride as most of the trip had been in which the Yankees were 4-6 and came perilously close to dropping into fourth place in the American League East.
CC Sabathia exhibited his ace credentials with eight scoreless innings. He achieved not only dominance over the Angels but also spared a weary bullpen. The lefthander was working on a four-hit shutout entering the ninth when he gave up a leadoff double to Mike Trout and walked Pujols.
David Robertson couldn’t put out the fire. He gave up a single to Mark Trumbo that ended the shutout and a one-out walk before Rivera was summoned to clean things up. In what likely was his last appearance at Angel Stadium, Mo was unfortunately off his game. He got a quick out on a grounder by Eric Aybar that scored LA’s second run, but Albert Callaspo singled in two runs, and Brad Hawpe and Peter Bourjos followed with singles that led to another run that shrunk the Yanks’ lead to merely one run. A walk to Trout filled the bases for Pujols.
Rivera went with some high octane gas (94 miles per hour) to strike out the guy who presented him with a portrait the day before on behalf of the Angels on three pitches. Mo’s 24th save in 25 opportunities was truly earned and avoided what would have been a disastrous loss.
After suffering through a five-game losing streak in which the Yankees scored only 12 runs in 54 innings, to have the bullpen fail on a day when the offense came alive would have been a wound too deep to heal. For the first time in four games, the Yankees scored in more than one inning.
They put up a five spot in the third against Jered Weaver with all the runs scoring after two were out. Travis Hafner snapped a trip-long slump (0-for-23) with a three-run home run to left center. The Yankees kept it up against Weaver on a single by Vernon Wells, a double by Lyle Overbay and a single by Jayson Nix for two more runs.
As it turned out, the run in the eighth on a sacrifice fly by Wells proved valuable insurance.