These two games have been battles, haven't they? Great baseball, a playoff atmosphere, and it looks like the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry may have, well, a rival. The Yankees battled back several times to beat the Rays 5-4 in game two of this three game set last night in Tampa. At various points of the game, the Yankees were down 1-0, 3-1, and 4-3, but each time someone stepped up with a big hit and the Yanks were able to even up the series.
Javier Vazquez got the start for the Yankees, and was OK. In 6.1 innings, he allowed four runs on eight hits and a walk, while striking out three. As you can tell by the high hit total, there were men on base all night and he was probably lucky just giving up the four.
Rays starter, Matt Garza, followed up his no-hitter with a slightly better performance than Vazquez, but still pretty mediocre. He allowed four runs on five hits and a walk, and struck out nine over seven innings.
Down 1-0 in the second, Robinson Cano, who had another huge night, followed an Alex Rodriguez walk with a double to put runners on the 2nd and 3rd. Two batters later, Curtis Granderson tied the game with a sac fly.
After Tampa built up a 3-1 lead, Mark Teixeira tied the game with a two-run homer in the sixth off Garza.
The Rays would once again regain the lead in the bottom half, on another sixth inning home run by Matt Joyce making is 4-3. But Nick Swisher responded by sending a Matt Garza hanging curve deep to right. Tie game. Again.
It was one of those see-saw games, a game you might expect to see in a Yankees-Red Sox series. Then, once the relievers came in, the scoring stopped, at least for the Rays.
Boone Logan replaced Vazquez with a runner on and one out in the 7th, and retired the only two men he faced. David Robertson followed that up with a scoreless eighth that included two strikeouts.
For the Rays, Joaquin Benoit was dominating in his inning of work. His changeup was especially nasty, and he used it to strike out both Lance Berkman (went 0-for-4 in his Yankee debut) and Mark Teixeira.
Rafael Soriano came in for the top half of the ninth. In his last chance for 600, Alex Rodriguez led off the inning, but popped out weakly to short.
Over the first two games of this series, Soriano has been jamming everyone. Robinson Cano must have taken notice. Because he took a 1-0 fastball on the inside corner and absolutely destroyed it, launching off the back wall (of the stadium) in right field for his 21st homer of the season, and the Yanks finally had a lead.
He may not be the MVP of the league (I put Miguel Cabrera and Josh Hamilton ahead of him for now), but he's been the MVP of this team, which is enough for me.
Mariano Rivera came in to close it out, and besides a two-out broken bat single by Willy Aybar, had a very easy ninth for his 22nd save of the season.
I don't care that it's only July 31st, that was a big win for this team. You don't want to go into Tampa and get swept, so by winning tonight they not only guarantee that, but they will go home with a lead in the division. Hopefully, CC Sabathia, who takes the mound in tomorrow's rubber game, can make it a three-game lead. James Shields will get the start for Tampa. First pitch is 1:40 pm, and the game is on YES.