It is the Summer of Alex Rodriguez and we are all witnesses. The Yankees' DH put the offense on his back after CC Sabathia struggled, homering three times on the way to a fantastic comeback win that may be the best we've seen this season. John Ryan Murphy chipped in a little late game magic himself, and the Yankees managed to tie the series after what looked like certain defeat in the middle innings. This team is so much fun. It's been hard to say that about them the last two years, but winning has a way of changing everything. Games like this do a lot to remind you how dangerous this team is, and how tremendously fun they very well could be to watch in the playoffs.
Like last night against Michael Pineda, the Twins jumped all over the Yankee starter early. Sabathia gave up a two-run home run to Aaron Hicks in the first inning and a three-run homer to Torii Hunter in the third. It was another deep hole for the offense to climb out of, but this time they were up to the task. Giving up five runs in less than six innings isn't going to cut it, particularly when your ERA is hovering around 6.00 on the year as it is. The Yankees will probably defend Sabathia and remain too stubborn to move him to the bullpen, but that means we'll continue to be subjected to his assault by right-handed batters every fifth day. The answer almost certainly isn't to give up one of the top prospects for Johnny Cueto or anything, but it will be interesting to see if a starter is brought in at the deadline in case they decide they've finally seen enough.
Rodriguez's first home run was his 21st of the year to get the Yankees on the board. It was measured at an impressive 452 feet. His two-run shot in the seventh inning, his 22nd, gave the Yankees a fighting chance against the Twins bullpen. Rodriguez stepped to the plate to lead off the ninth and promptly sent the first pitch from Glen Perkins over the wall to tie the game. The Yankees also got important contributions from Mark Teixeira and Chase Headley to tie the game. Teixeira advanced on a fly ball to make it to third with less than two outs, allowing Headley to drive him home with a sac fly to pull the Yankees to within a run. Considering that Rodriguez came to the plate first in the ninth inning, that was an important run. John Ryan Murphy would be the hero of the game if it weren't for Rodriguez's feats of strength. Murphy doesn't get much playing time while serving as the team's backup catcher, often leading to some struggles at the plate, but his three-run home run in the ninth inning put the Yankees on top for good and gave closer Andrew Miller more than enough breathing room.
Perkins' blown save was the second of the year for him. Miller's save represented his 23rd, keeping him perfect so far in 2015. The bullpen, as it has done so many times this year, did a fantastic job in relief of Sabathia. Adam Warren came on to clean up a mess and managed to hold the Twins to just one hit in 2.1 innings of work. Miller came on after the ninth inning heroics to shut the door, and the Yankees can feel great about tying up the series in a game that looked far from winnable nearly throughout.
It is impossible to say enough about what Rodriguez has meant to this team this year. He's said all the right things off the field and done all the right things on it. Would they be in first place without him? Almost certainly not. For a guy that so many people had given up on as a productive player it's amazing to see him succeed to this degree. He looks like he's having the time of his life out there, and that just makes his success even more fun to watch. Politics will probably ensure that he won't receive awards for his triumphant return, but at least everyone knows, even if they refuse to admit it, who the rightful Comeback Player of the Year should be.
Was this the best win of the year? It's impossible to say. There have been so many good ones. This win felt very important, though. The Yankees haven't been very good on the road this year and they are right at the beginning of a tough stretch of road games. Their closest AL East competition won already tonight, and a win ensured that they would lose no ground. Wins count just as much in July as they do in September, and it's difficult to feel like any lead is super safe. It was such a fun game that it almost made me forget Stephen Drew botching an easy double play in the field and continuing to hit like a pitcher. Almost.