I had given up.
It was the seventh inning of Tuesday night's game between the Yankees and White Sox, and Alejandro De Aza had just hit a solo homer to give Chicago a 4-1 lead. Hiroki Kuroda's night was finished, and the same guy who was so dominant through all of July and half of August looked well on his way to losing his fourth game in as many starts. Even against the club that has scored fewer runs than any other American League team, he still couldn't figure it out, finishing with a line of four earned runs on seven hits over 7 2/3 innings. To make matters worse, the White Sox' Chris Sale was breezing through the game, allowing only one run and three hits in his first six innings of work. I couldn't believe it; the Yankees were going to lose the fourth game in their last five meetings against the American League's second worst team.
In fact, with Sale dominating in the fashion that he was and with the Yankees playing so lifelessly, I began to write my recap. I centered my lead around Kuroda just looking like a completely different pitcher than the one whom I considered a Cy Young candidate only a month ago. But then, suddenly, the bottom of the eighth happened. Derek Jeter hit a one out single to center field, and Robinson Cano followed it up with a double to left-center, moving Jeter to third as some degree of belief began to creep in that maybe--just maybe--New York could win this thing. After Sale was pulled from the game, Alfonso Soriano hit a two-run single to bring the Yankees to within one, Alex Rodriguez singled, Curtis Granderson tied the game with a single of his own, and Eduardo Nunez gave the Yankees a 6-4 lead with a two-out double that brought in Granderson and A-Rod.
At that point, I couldn't help but believe that fate was, in some way, on the side of the Yankees. The team had looked so dead in the water for nearly the entirety of the game, and then the explosion seemingly came out of nowhere. And, after Austin Romine struck out to end the eighth inning, Mariano Rivera quickly took care of business in the top of the ninth, recording a perfect 1-2-3 inning and striking out two of the three batters that he faced en route to his 40th save of the season.
If it wasn't the best win of the year, it was certainly close to it. The Yankees badly needed this game--they just couldn't afford to surrender more Wild Card ground by suffering yet another loss to a team as terrible as the White Sox. And, with their win and a Baltimore Orioles loss, the Yankees are now in sole possession of third place in those Wild Card standings, sitting a mere two games behind the Tampa Bay Rays for the final playoff spot. The Rays are currently in action against the Los Angeles Angels.
As far as the Bronx Bombers go, they will make an attempt at sweeping the White Sox tomorrow night, with the same 7:05 EDT start time. CC Sabathia takes the hill against Erik Johnson.
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- Phil Hughes has been moved to the bullpen, David Huff moves into the rotation
- Yankees' playoff chances: Handicapping AL wild card race based on remaining schedules
- Yankees' September call-ups: What to expect from Brett Marshall
- JR Murphy is our 52nd customer: Remembering the unmemorable Yankees roster
- Yankees' September call-ups: What to expect from lefty reliever Cesar Cabral