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In a 2-1 win, pitching almost steals the show on anniversary of Cone's perfect game

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Almost.

But on Valentine's day 5 years ago, the Yankees acquired Alex Rodriguez.

And today, he recorded his 18th long ball of the season to put a comforting digit up on a scoreboard that had spent 7 innings hosting fat zeros for both New York and the Tigers.

Which means that more than 75% of the dings he smashed this year have been during games with run differentials of 2 runs or less.

Looks like Harvard and MIT are gonna be working overtime tonight to splice up some new stats proving their treasured choker theories.

Justin Verlander and CC Sabathia honored the anticipated "rubber match" billing, with the former suffocating the Yankees' bats to 3 hits, and the latter being somewhat less graceful in his own blank-fest. Both aces left in the 7th, with CC nailing 4Ks and Verlander, 6. But the score only looks as tidy as it does because of CC's resolute grittiness in response to Detroit's effortlessly stifling pitching. It was like watching Jerry O'Connell and Corey Feldman get into a no-flinching staring contest in "Stand by Me."

"Fatso struggling," my buddy texts me. "Why the hell doesn't someone feed the hungry bastard?"

It stands to reason that someone in the dugout slipped our fiercely tubby southpaw a plate of wings, because the choppy battles of the first few innings morphed into dialed in, 1-2-3's at the tail end of his outing. Which was a perfect time to bring in Alfredo Aceves to bridge the gap to ol' faitfhful. Despite letting up a solo shot to Marcus Thames, Aceves worked 2Ks with a variety of pitches that danced around th plate and made it understandable why "starter" comes to mind. Understandable, but not recommended.

The offense was only marginally more productive than Detroit, but it was enough. As tough as CC demonstrated himself to be, the firecrackers in the lineup gutted it out in kind. Melky Cabrera's 2-out RBI was a hair from being the 3rd out, but beat out the throw (sort of) with the help of Nick "If I can't offer valuable baserunning to the team, then maybe I can offer value to another baserunner" Swisher, who did a a commendable  job creating a diversion.

This brought in the second run which would prove to be the game winner, and while the rest of the order was being carved up at the plate, Derek Jeter dunked in base hits at his first 2 at-bats.

After his game saving shot yesterday, Mark Teixeira went 0 for 3 ALL ON STRIKEOUTS, including one cut that launched the bat 5 rows into the stands. No one was hurt, and it brought back memories of little scrappy Brett Gardner before he knew how to grip a bat. (ARod had a little trouble with the wood, too, and inexplicably threw the bat in a bizarre burst of aggressive frustration over a strikeout. Cmon, Alex. You just went yard. Go a little easy on yourself, buddy.)

So the Yankees grab an important Game 2 of the series, and more importantly, they once again won with the least amount of faculties. No bullpen was depleted. No one got hurt. No one overdid it. People always are always lionizing the Tyler Hansbroughs of the world, glorifying people who give 110% etc.

But there's really something to be said for the opposite. The alpha dogs gunning at full speed every game have to hit a wall at some point. Just ask Bill Belichik. But the team that uses the least amount of resources to lock up success? Ask the Yankees.

(Or ask them after tomorrow's game. A matchup of Joba Chamberlain [4-2, 4.25] against Edwin Jackson [7-4, 2.52].may be the exact reason the Yanks have been more economical than a grandmother who scurries around after parties saving the wrapping paper.)