Drew at center of two huge late-inning rallies
Just a few days ago, it appeared that Stephen Drew was in the process of losing his job. He was benched for the last two games in Oakland only to resurface at second base Monday night in Seattle where he reached base twice with a walk and a single.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi has continued to be supportive of Drew, who has spent the past two years well below the Mendoza line with a sub-.200 batting average. Girardi’s patience paid off Tuesday night when Drew avoided another hitless game with a two-out double in the ninth inning off Fernando Rodney to tie the score.
Drew’s RBI hit followed a clutch, pinch-hit single by Brian McCann that sent Chase Headley, who led off the inning with a walk. Had a pinch runner been used for McCann the Yankees might have gotten a second run on Drew’s double, but McCann had to stay on the bases because he had batted for John Ryan Murphy and would have to stay in the game to catch, which he did.
How satisfying was it to watch the third blown save in 17 tries for Rodney, who is such a showoff on the mound whenever he gets a save? Very.
Even more satisfying was the Yankees pulling out a 5-3, 11-inning victory in dramatic fashion. A three-run home run by Garrett Jones broke a 2-2 score, but the Mariners rallied for a run in the bottom of the inning on a single by former Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano off Andrew Miller, who then faced major-league home run leader Nelson Cruz with two on and struck him out.
It Drew who re-started the Yanks’ 11th-inning rally following a double play with a single to right. After Brett Gardner doubled, Jones went deep on a 2-0 pitch from lefthander Joe Beimel into the right-center field bleachers.
Much was made entering this series about the offensive struggles of Cano, who nearly a third of the way through the season is hitting below .250 with only two home runs. The same could have been said about another Mariners player with ties to the Yankees, but Austin Jackson looked like anything but a struggling player by reaching base six times on two doubles, two singles, a walk and a hit by pitch.
Three of Jackson’s hits came off Yankees starter CC Sabathia, who was nearly tagged with the losing decision that would have sunk his record to 2-8. To avoid having Sabathia face Jackson a fourth time, manager Joe Girardi took out the lefthander with two out and two on in the sixth inning.
Jackson handled reliever David Carpenter the same way he had Sabathia and doubled to center to score what looked for a while as if it would be the deciding run.
Jackson reached base a fifth time when he walked to lead off the ninth against Dellin Betances and quickly stole second. Cano had a chance to be the hero for the Mariners, but Betances blew him away with 98-mph petrol and kept Jackson at second base as the game went into extras.
The ninth-inning Yankees rally took Sabathia off the hook. He dealt with base runners throughout his 5 2/3 innings (nine hits, two walks) but let in only two runs as the Mariners stranded seven over the first five innings. It also spoiled Mike Montgomery’s shot at a victory in his major-league debut. The Seattle lefthander allowed one run and four hits in six innings, and that run was somewhat tainted. It was scored by Gardner, who had walked on a disputed fourth ball that replays showed he had actually gone too far around on a checked swing. Manager Lloyd McClendon and catcher Mike Zunino were ejected later in the inning for arguing a similar call in Alex Rodriguez’s favor.
CC got annoyed with Kyle Seager for trying to bunt a runner home from third for the third out of the fifth, but frankly I thought it was a smart play on Seager’s part. Sabathia may not like it, but his poor mobility should be tested more often by opponents. CC is lucky most major leaguers do not know how to bunt.