It was an almost eerie sight for New York Yankees fans. In desperate need of a 5th starter they marched out a former Florida Marlin wearing number 45 who'd missed all of 2007 with Tommy John surgery. No it wasn't Pavano, but Sergio who did just enough to keep the Yanks in the game and help them vault into sole possession of 1st place in the East with the best record in the American League.
In what looked to be a rocky start for Sergio Mitre, the right-hander survived and advanced through 5 2/3 innings for his first win of the season and as a Yankee. The O's jumped on Mitre quickly in the 1st with Nick Markakis driving in Brian Roberts to give Baltimore the early advantage.
After the Yankees played manufacture a run with your host Alex Rodriguez scoring on a sac-fly off the bat of Nick Swisher to tie it at 1-1, the O's bounced back again in the 3rd.
Once again it was Roberts as the culprit/thorn in the Yankees side. After stealing 2nd, Mitre appeared to have Roberts picked off 2nd, but Robinson Cano couldn't fully glove the throw which went into center. Roberts then scored on a fielder's choice off the bat of Adam Jones, 2-1 the Orioles re-gained the edge.
But that wouldn't last long as the O's made some more mental errors in the bottom frame of the 3rd. After walking .176 hitting Cody Ransom, O's Shortstop Caesar Izturis broke toward 2nd as Ransom was running, allowing the Yanks righty Shortstop Derek Jeter to pull one through the hole to set up runners on the corners. Then it was A-Rod taking one pitch Rich Hill and his junk-balling change-up into left, scoring both Ransom and Jeter to make it 3-2 Yanks.
There would be no 2-1 victory on this night but there would be a homer that would account for two runs. That moment of atonement came in the bottom of the 4th as Cano drilled one into the rightfield bullpen, his 14th and amounted for the winning HR, extending the Yanks margin to 6-2.
The O's would strike back for a pair in the top half of the 6th on a Melvin Mora two-run single, cutting it to 6-4. But where conventional wisdom would tell you the O's would be in good shape getting into the "under-belly" of a team's bullpen, that isn't the case with the Yankees.
Al Aceves, Phil Coke and Mariano Rivera all made quick work of Baltimore, with Mo picking up his 27th on the season.
And by virtue of that win, the Yanks improve to a league best 56-37, 19 games over .500 for the 1st time all season and take sole possession of the AL East for the 1st time since June 8th.
So as fans pondered if the team would take another flier on El Duque, while dreading a possible apperance by Kei Igawa, their newest 5th starter Mitre was just good enough to get them their 5th win in a row, improving now to 5-0 after the break, at least for one day.