In what was a clinic of how to blow four-run leads and influence pitching changes, the New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays put on a marathon slugfest that just didn't want to see the holiday weekend end. Manager Joe Girardi commented after the game that he thought the game would never make it to the 9th. And as yours truly can attest from attending my first game at the "New House," one will have to forgive me if Derek Jeter's go-ahead HR in the 5th felt more like the 8th instead.
It surely was "Nintendo baseball" at its best with both teams accounting for a combined 18 runs on 26 hits.
Starting the ball rolling was the captain Jeter with a lead-off single up against the rightfield wall in the 1st. After the first of three walks on the day to Mark Teixeira and a single by Jorge Posada, the Yankees got help from a botched play by Jays 1st baseman Lyle Overbay on a grounder hit by Hideki Matsui. That kept the inning alive for Nick Swisher to capitalize and Swish sunk one into right to stake the Bombers to an early 2-0 lead.
In the 2nd the Yanks bats were back at it again after Cody Ransom, Jeter and Teixeira all reached, it was Posada on a day with A-Rod out of the lineup, cleaning up both literally and figuratively, smacking a 2-run single to left off of Jays fill-in starter Brett Cecil and it was 4-0 Yankees after two.
Of course normally a four-run lead would seem safe enough except that this is the new Yankee Stadium and the only thing that the only one's who thought Joba "ruled" Sunday afternoon were the concession stand vendors. Chamberlain still winless in the new Yankee Stadium may want to thank Chien-Ming Wang for going on the DL given how sharp Alfredo "Alf the Ace" Aceves and Phil Hughes have looked out of the Yankee pen.
In the 3rd Toronto cut the lead down to 4-3 after an Aaron Hill single and Adam Lind HR brought the Jays back to life. But it was ultimately the heat put on in the 4th inning that made Chamberlain wilt. Though Joba wasn't exactly aided by his defense, he gave up five more runs, capped off by a 2-run shot by Hill, making it 8-4 Blue Jays. Perhaps overshadowed in the contest was the effort by Jonathan Albaledejo, just recalled from Triple-A to replace Wang, Albaledejo stopped the bleeding by stranding runners on the corners in the 4th and keeping the Jays at bay with Alex Rios on 3rd with one out in the 5th.
Oh but there was still much more, because like I said its Yankee Stadium where no four-run lead is safe. Just as quickly in the bottom half of the 4th frame, Teixeira drew his 3rd walk in as many plate apperances and Posada notched his 3rd single in as many trips to the dish as well. That set it up for the white-hot Hideki Matsui and Godzilla crushed a 3-run bomb to right, pulling the Yankees to within one, 8-7.
Then as I mentioned earlier, sometimes it gets late early in the Bronx, as shown in the bottom half of the 5th. After a killer lead-off walk to Melky Cabrera, who'd seen a ton of pitches the prior inning before Robinson Cano got thrown out stealing, it was time for the captain to continue his monster day of mashing at the plate. Jeter cracked his classic HR to right off reliver B.J. Ryan, the 2-run blast his 3rd hit of four on the day, resulted in the go-ahead run for the Yankees, 9-8.
Jorge Posada then capped off the inning with a ribbie-double, plating Johnny Damon and giving the Yankees some insurance with a 10-8 lead after five.
From there on a day where before the game a Pinstriped Ford Mustang was given away, the Yanks gave the ball to Alfredo "Alf the Ace" Aceves and he more than put the game in cruise control locking down the Blue Jay bats. Aceves was sharp in a game that lacked any kind of pitching stability, giving the Yanks four solid innings of one-hit ball while striking out five along the way for his first career save. The performance was enough to prompt some to speculate if it would be Aceves earning a Thursday start in Minnesota.
With the win the Yankees improved their mark to 48-33, 15 games over .500 for the 1st time all season, keeping pace in the AL East remaining only one game behind Boston while going seven games up on Toronto and five on Tampa. For the final game of the homestand before the All-Star break, the Yanks will send Andy Pettitte to the hill in an attempt to sweep the four game set against the Jays, whom they've now beaten five games in a row.
Speaking of All-Stars the Yankees now know they will be sending three to St. Loouie, with starting shortstop and overall leading vote getter Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira at 1st and closer Mariano Rivera once again ready to give the AL homefield advantage, hopefully in the New Yankee Stadium!