Whew. The Yankees got out to an early lead, scoring three runs for Andy Pettitte in the first inning on hits by Ichiro Suzuki, Nick Swisher, and Robinson Cano. For a while, it seemed like that was all they would need, which was convenient enough considering that was all they got until the bottom of the eighth inning. Pettitte was strong in his return to the mound since missing time recovering from a broken leg. He pitched five shutout innings, striking out three, and allowing four hits and two walks on 74 pitches. It didn't end up being quite that easy, though.
Six relievers were charged with pitching the remaining four innings. Clay Rapada, Derek Lowe, Joba Chamberlain, and Boone Logan all managed to make it through with the shutout preserved...but then came David Robertson. In 2/3rds of an inning, D-Rob allowed four hits and two earned runs. The Blue Jays lineup is obviously depleted, but not so much that they couldn't realize that he was throwing them the same pitch over and over and over. Where are the curveballs?
Rafael Soriano was called on for another four out save to work out of Robertson's mess with runners on second and third and two away. He walked the first batter and needed a scary sliding catch in the outfield by Ichiro to keep Rajai Davis from putting the Jays on top late. It's a little terrifying when the good part of the bullpen falters like that, and everyone's blood pressure is a little worse for having witnessed it. The ninth inning was better for Soriano, as the Jays were sat down in order. There was untucking and a huge sigh of relief, because these are the games you just can't afford to give away.
In addition to preserving the lead with his catch in the 8th inning, Ichiro was also the star of the day on offense. He led off the game with a single and chipped in two more hits, one of which may have been an inside-the-park home run instead of a ground rule double with a luckier bounce. Nick Swisher snapped an 0-10 slump with his single in the first inning, and provided some much needed insurance by driving in Ichiro in the eighth. Unfortunately, Swisher's day also came with two errors in the field on the same play. You don't see that one every day.
The Yankees will be back in action tonight at 7:05 p.m. when David Phelps matches up with Ricky Romero in the nightcap of today's doubleheader.