Yankees News and Note: Beasts of the East

Mike Stobe - Getty Images

Russell Martin has been the toast of the town in September. For the second consecutive Friday, the catcher hit a big home run to help the Yankees maintain their hold on first place.

The Yankees held onto their slim one-game lead in the A.L. East by routing the Blue Jays 11-4. Although Hiroki Kuroda wasn't sharp for the sixth consecutive start, the right hander kept the Blue Jays at bay until after the Yankees blew the game open with a four-run sixth. The highlight of that inning was Russell Martin's 20th homer, a new career high for the catcher. The three run blast helped the Yankees open up what was then only a two-run lead, something Martin has become quite adept at doing. Of his 20 long balls, 15 have come while the score was within two runs.

The Yankees' rally in the sixth was ignited when Robinson Cano led off the inning by taking a pitch off his left hand. Although Cano remained in the game, the second baseman was eventually sent for X-rays, the results of which weren't revealed after the game. Needless to say, until definitive work on Cano's hand has been released, the Yankees will be holding their breath.

While the Yankees were having their way with the Blue Jays, the Orioles were manhandling the Red Sox, who have shown little inclination to play the role of spoiler. Baltimore's nine-run victory, coming on the heels of a 10-run rout of the Blue Jays on Thursday, helped push the Orioles' run differential into positive territory for the first time since June.

The Orioles have been the comeback kids, winning 16 of 17 extra inning games in addition to pulling out four victories when trailing in the ninth. The Yankees, on the other hand, have failed to win a single game when trailing in the ninth inning. What's behind the Yankees' inability to rally in the final frame? Whatever the reason, one well-timed comeback in October would more than make up for the regular season drought.

When the Yankees played the Twins earlier in the week, it was the first time the two teams had met since the middle of April. According to the always clever VORG blog, the time that elapsed between the series was one of the longest such spans between two teams in the same season.

We all know that pitchers gain a big advantage by throwing strike one. However, does it make a difference how they obtain that first strike? The Captain's Blog examines whether a foul ball, called strike, or swing and miss have an impact on an at bat's result.

Joe Torre was in his old haunts yesterday to take part in a promotional appearance as well as the unveiling of a Babe Ruth painting. During the visit, Torre took time to field questions about the state of umpiring and stated that Derek Jeter was the best player he has ever managed.

Twenty years ago this week, a little bar in Boston run by an ex-Red Sox relief pitcher first opened for business on NBC. In honor of that anniversary, GQ published an in-depth oral history about Cheers, the "best TV show that's ever been", including commentary from just about every major contributor to the show.

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