Despite only scoring four runs in thirteen innings of play on Wednesday, the Yankees managed to walk away with two wins. Game 1 began in the top of the 6th inning of the suspended game from Tuesday. After a strikeout by Kevin Russo, Derek Jeter put the game’s first run on the board with a solo homer to center. That would be all the scoring that the Yankees would need, as the bullpen combined for four scoreless innings.
David Robertson “started” the game in the 6th inning, and was greeted by a stinging line drive off the bat of Joe Mauer. Mauer’s liner nailed Robertson in the back and somewhat improbably, bounced into the air, and was snagged on the fly by Alex Rodriguez for a painful first out. While D-Rob will likely have a nice baseball-sized bruise on his lower back, he was able to continue on and toss 1 2/3 scoreless innings. He gave way to Joba Chamberlain with 2 outs in the 7th, who got Orlando Hudson to ground out with a runner on first. Joba, whose fastball reached 95 in the 8th, gave up a hit and a walk but managed to avoid giving up the tying run.
Mariano Rivera had a somewhat exciting 9th inning to close the game out, beginning with a long fly ball off the bat of JJ Hardy that looked like a game-tying home run. Hardy’s shot was caught at the warning track by Kevin Russo, and Rivera, catching a break, was able to close the game out. After a walk to the still-dangerous Jim Thome, the speedy Denard Span grounded into a double play, giving the Yankees their first win of the day, with Jeter’s homer the only offense.
A few hours later, with a short bullpen (Robertson and Chamberlain were unlikely to be used again), the Yankees went back to work, with Andy Pettitte on the hill against Francisco Liriano. It was up to the old workhorse Pettitte to provide length and give the bullpen a breather. And that’s exactly what happened. Pettitte went toe-to-toe with the resurgent Liriano for 8 innings, giving up just 2 runs on 8 hits and striking out 4. He was also very efficient with his pitching, leaving with just 94 pitches on the night.
The Yankees fell behind in the first when Joe Mauer singled in Denard Span. With Liriano dealing and the Yankee offense looking lethargic, it was up to the bottom of the order to get the Yankees back in the game. After a leadoff single by Robinson Cano in the 4th and a popout by Marcus Thames, Francisco Cervelli made a big play by beating out a potential double play ball, keeping the inning alive. Kevin Russo rewarded Cervelli’s hustle by stroking an RBI double to left, plating Cervelli and tying the game. The bottom of the order struck again in the 6th with 2 outs, as a single by Russo was followed by a triple by Gardner, whose recent struggles have dropped his average below .300.
Pettitte took the hill in the 7th with a low pitch count and a slim 2-1 lead, but was unable to hold the lead. After retiring Morneau on a grounder to 2nd, Michael Cuddyer singled. Cuddyer was followed by Delmon Young, who boasts a career average over .500 against the veteran lefty. True to form, Young doubled in Cuddyer, tying the game. Pettitte was able to escape further trouble, catching Young too far off of 2nd base on a grounder to the mound, and then forcing Brendan Harris to ground out.
Pettitte once again was in trouble in the 8th inning. Drew Butera led off the inning with a fly ball that just eluded the reach of Brett Gardner, who almost made a phenomenal running catch. The ball bounced off of Gardner’s glove, and Butera was on with a leadoff double. Things got worse for Pettitte as Alex Rodriguez, charging Denard Span’s bunt, mishandled the ball. All hands were safe, and suddenly, the Twins had runners on first and third with no outs, with Hudson, Mauer, and Morneau coming up. Hudson smashed a liner up the middle that Pettitte was able to reach up and snare. This brought up reigning MVP and batting champion Joe Mauer. Pettitte fell behind Mauer 3-1, before Mauer smashed a hard grounder that was snared by Jeter, who turned a neat 6-4-3 double play to get out of the inning. After seeing Jeter field the ball, the 37 year-old lefty jumped with excitement and pumped his fist. With a little bit of luck, Pettitte got the job done.
Pettitte’s efforts were rewarded in the 9th inning, as Nick Swisher put the Yankees ahead 3-2 with a lined-shot homer to right field off closer Jon Rauch. I am sure Joe Girardi did not want to use Mariano twice tonight, but in a 1-run game, out trotted #42 to nail down the save. With 3 groundball outs, Rivera got the job done, and the Yankees went home with their second win of the day.
The pitching, both by the bullpen in game 1 and by Pettitte in game 2, kept the Yankees in both games despite the lack of offense. While A-Rod and Teixeira have continued to be non-factors in the offense, Teixeira did go 2 for 5 in the 2nd game, raising his average to a paltry .210. It’s only a matter of time before these two guys heat up, but currently, the lack of production from the 3-4 spots is killing the Yankees. When they get going, the offense will really take off. Kevin Russo came through in the clutch twice in game 2 with big 2-out hits, and could be earning himself a permanent spot on the 25-man roster at the expense of Pena or Thames.
The Yankees will face the Twins again on Thursday, as Javy Vazquez matches up with Nick Blackburn. I imagine Rivera will likely be unavailable after doing double-duty on Wednesday, so Joba Chamberlain could get the opportunity to close out the game.