The Yankees won their fifth straight game last night, which moved them to only 3.5 games behind the first place Tampa Bay Rays, who lost to the Oakland A’s, 8-1, yesterday.
The Rays free fall continues, as they have only won 3 of their last 10 games; while the Yankees have won 7 of their last 10 games, gaining four games [and counting] on Tampa Bay. The Boston Red Sox [who won 4-0 last night vs. Seattle] remain in second place in the AL EAST, now only one game behind the Rays, and two games ahead of the Yankees.
The “Pennant Race” in the AL EAST is well underway, as the Yankees have 62 games remaining, and the Red Sox have 61 games left to play. This weekend the race heats up to a high intensity level of “playoff baseball” in July, as the Yankees travel to Boston for a three-game “Showdown” at Fenway Park, in a battle for first place in the AL EAST.
The Tampa Bay Rays (58-41), play a four-game series against the Royals (45-55) in Kansas City this weekend. So, it will be interesting to see how the standings look on Monday, July 28th. The Yankees are on a winning track right now, and riding the express that is scheduled to take them into First Place in the AL EAST – soon !!!
Yesterday’s Yankees victory started out as a pitching duel between Yanks starter, Darrell Rasner, and Twins starting pitcher, Kevin Slowey.
The Yankees scored first, with a run in the second inning, on a RBI single by “red-hot” Robinson Cano, that drove home Alex Rodriguez, who led off the inning with a double.
Cano’s (2-for-4), with two RBI’s in this game, was his fifth straight multi-hit game, and raised his batting average to .263. He is hitting .522 (12-for-23) since the All-Star break; and, has a .358 batting average in the month of July. As Robinson Cano continues to move his average to the .300 mark, his production will help the whole Yankees lineup hit and score more runs, which will help the Yankees win more ballgames.
Darrell Rasner was brilliant in the first five innings of this game, allowing only one hit and three walks, but finally had some trouble in the top of the 6th.
Gomez led off the 6th with a double, and scored the Twins first run on a slow hit ball to Cano at second, by Twins rightfielder, Span, that was scored a single; but, on the attempt by Cano to get the out at first, Giambi made an error by letting the ball get past him which allowed Gomez to score.
A single by Casilla, and a walk to Morneau, loaded the bases. Then, Span scored the second run of the inning on a force play with Kubel up at the plate. That was the final batter Darrell Rasner faced in this game. David Robertson replaced Rasner, and threw one pitch to Young, to record the last out of the 6th, on another force play.
Overall, Darrell Rasner pitched 5 2/3 solid innings, allowing only two runs, on four hits, two walks, and two strikeouts.
The Yankees came right back in the bottom of the 6th, scoring three runs, on a two-run homerun by Bobby Abreu, that also scored Johnny Damon who led off the inning with a single; and, another RBI single by Cano, that drove home A-Rod, who singled and advanced to second on a stolen base. The Yanks now had a 4-2 lead in the game.
Twins starter, Kevin Slowey (6-7) was knocked out of the game in the middle of all the damage the Yankee bats caused in the 5th. He ended up throwing 96 pitches in his 5 1/3 innings of work, allowing the Yankees four runs, on five hits, two walks, and three strikeouts.
The Yankee bats were not finished yet, as they exploded for four more runs in the bottom of the 7th off Twins reliever, Crain.
Gardner led off the 7th with a walk; Damon reached first base on an error; and, both scored on a two-strike, two-RBI double by Derek Jeter. Bobby Abreu followed with another double that plated Jeter. Then, Jason Giambi hit a RBI single that drove home the “Captain” which completed the Yankees scoring in this game.
The Yankees bullpen was lights-out once again, with scoreless relief performances by: Robertson [one pitch in the 6th]; Veras [one K in the 7th]; Farnsworth [three strikeouts and a walk in the 8th]; and, Giese closed out the game in the 9th, with one strikeout.
David Robertson (2-0) was the winning pitcher, and lowered his ERA to 1.59.