The two game sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays extended the Yankees winning streak to four games, and moved them to 6.5 games behind the first place Rays in the AL East. Tampa Bay is now 55-35; and, the Yankees, still in third, are 49-42. The Boston Red Sox, after sweeping a three-game series against the Minnesota Twins, remain in second place with a record of 55-39.
This four game winning streak by the Yankees is a statement to the rest of the AL East, that this is a long baseball season, there are still plenty of games remaining, and the Yankees will be in the race until the end, when hopefully, they will finish on top of the AL East.
On a day when the Yankees celebrated the great success Jason Giambi has been having since growing his mustache — by giving out 20,000 fake mustaches to the fans lucky enough to enter the Stadium first — Giambi gave the Yankee fans a gift back, by singling home Derek Jeter in the first inning, to give the Yanks a quick, 1-0 lead.
From that point on, it was an old-fashioned pitching duel between Yankees starter, Sidney Ponson; and, Rays starting pitcher, Edwin Jackson.
Ponson pitched shutout ball over the first five innings, until giving up a lead-off homerun to Carlos Pena in the top of the 6th, which tied the score at, 1-1. He finished the inning without allowing any more runs, and would be replaced by Veras in the 7th.
Sidney Ponson’s solid effort [again] for the Yanks produced a start in which he threw 87 pitches, over the 6 innings he pitched, allowing only the one run, on 5 hits, 2 walks, 2 HBP’s, while striking out four. In his four starts, so far, Ponson has given the Yankees way more than they could have ever expected, and are hopeful his excellent pitching will continue into the second half of the season.
Edwin Jackson, for the Rays, also pitched a good game today, throwing 100 pitches in 6 1/3 innings of work, giving up one run, on 6 hits, 2 walks, and 3 strikeouts.
Both pitchers left the game with the score tied, 1-1, and would not get a decision in this game.
The bullpens for both teams pitched scoreless baseball through the 9th inning, as the game headed into the 10th for extra innings. Mariano Rivera, [4-3], who entered the game in the 9th, pitched another scoreless inning in the top of the 10th, to keep the scored tied at, 1-1, as the Yankees when to plate in the bottom of this very exciting extra innings game.
The Rays reliever, Grant Balfour, [2-1], walked Derek Jeter, with one-out in the bottom of the 10th. Then, Bobby Abreu, on a 1-2 pitch, hit a line-drive double, in the gap in right-center, that scored Jeter all the way from first, for the winning run, in this, 2-1, Yankees victory.
As hard as it may be to believe, that was Bobby Abreu’s “first” walk-off hit as a Yankee. [Wow, that is a very surprising stat] … Maybe, this is what motivated, Robinson Cano and Melky Cabrera to sneak out of the dugout after the game, and dump a bucket of water over Abreu’s head, as he was being interviewed by YES reporter, Kim Jones. Will this [football type] celebration now be the new trend with the Yankees [and, other baseball teams] ???
So, on a day that started with the Yankees handing-out “fake mustaches”, and ending with Bobby Abreu getting a celebratory shower, after driving home, Captain Derek Jeter, [who scored both Yankee runs], in the bottom of the 10th, for the 2-1 Yankee win — the Yankees now head into Pittsburg, to play a one-game, make-up game, of their rain-out, against the Pirates.
Mike Mussina, who was not selected to the American League All-Star team, will start for the Yankees, and go for his 12th win of the year. In my view, I think it’s a shame that Mussina is not on the All-Star team. And, to take it one step further, I think he should be the starter for the American League. But, he is still on a path for his first 20-win season; and, hopefully, that will also be a path that will lead the Yankees right into the playoffs, and World Series !!!