It was a back and forth affair for the first half of the game and then it was pretty much all Yankees after that. David Phelps was shaky, giving up eight hits and a walk, but he managed to only give up two runs and collected four strikeouts in 5.2 innings. The true highlight of the game was Zoilo Almonte, who went 3–4 and hit his first major league home run. That alone made it a good night.
In the first inning Brett Gardner hit a bunt single and eventually came around to score on a Robinson Cano sacrifice fly. The Rays scored in the third after Yunel Escobar singled, moved over on two ground outs and scored on a Ben Zobrist single. The Yankees answered right back when Austin Romine, of all people, belted a double off the outfield wall, Gardner bunted him over and Ichiro Suzuki scored him on a swinging bunt. James Loney then got a hit, advanced after Romine couldn't handle a ball in the dirt, and then scored on a Luke Scott single through the shift and just out of Robinson Cano's reach.
Going into the bottom of the fourth the game was tied 2–2, but then the Yankees took the lead for good. Travis Hafner and Lyle Overbay hit back to back singles up the middle, then Zoilo Almonte singled to load the bases. Jayson Nix (of course) came up and proceeded to ground into a double play and scored a run.
For those out there thinking Nix was being productive with his outs:
Credit: Tanya Bondurant
The strategy in baseball is to score as many runs as possible while making as little outs as possible. Outs are precious because you only get so many. If you give them up you're closer to the end of the game and have less time to win the game. Jayson Nix's double play got a run in, sure, but it also cost the team two outs and, with the Yankees' offense right now, a 3-2 lead is not safe. He brought the inning closer to the end and the game closer to the end, giving the Yankees less chances to score runs. Not to mention that he also completely killed the rally. When dealing in Win Probability Added, that would amount to a lower probability of winning, even with the run scoring. There's a reason you don't get an RBI when you ground into a double play; it's not a good thing.
Anyway, the Yankees scored again when David Adams hit a slow roller and Evan Longoria rushed the throw to first and threw the ball away. The game stayed 4–2, Yankees, until Zoilo Almonte hit his home run and received his amazing curtain call. Prospects are exciting, and I hope he does well, if only to keep Vernon Wells out of the lineup, but let's be realistic; he isn't going to be Yasiel Puig. We've already been burned by Adams and Romine, let's be excited for him, but don't build expectations that can't be met. We'll see what happens. That being said, he was pretty awesome tonight.
The Yankees scored again in the eight inning after Cano singled, stole a base, and Overbay knocked him in to keep New York on top, 6–2.
The bullpen was solid, as Boone Logan struck out the one batter he faced and Shawn Kelley struck out two in his inning. David Robertson gave up a hit, but collected a strike out in the eighth inning and Mariano Rivera came in to get the save in the ninth.
The Yankees picked up 11 hits, but managed to collect no walks. Still, it was a good night for once.
Tomorrow CC Sabathia faces Alex Colome in the third game of this four game series. Let's at least ensure that we can't lose the series.