The Yankees scored two runs in the second and one in the third and managed to squeak out a 3-1 victory over the Cleveland Indians and earn first place in the AL East for the first time since the end of the 2006 season.
After loading the bases in the first inning, Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada struck out to end the inning, seemingly leaving the Bombers hungry for runs in the second.
Derek Jeter hit a single to left, scoring Nick Swisher for the first run of the game. Johnny Damon followed up with a single, loading the bases for Mark Teixeira. Teix grounded out to first, but Brett Gardner scored from third. Alex Rodriguez ended the inning with a strikeout, leaving two men on base.
The third and final run for the Yankees came in the next inning on a sacrifice fly to deep center by Nick Swisher, scoring Robinson Cano.
Andy Pettitte (5-1) earned his 220th career victory, pitching 5 innings, allowing six hits and one earned run. His control seemed to be off all evening. Pettitte only managed one strikeout and walked six throughout the game. He constantly got himself into jams, but always managed to get out of them.
In the bottom of the sixth, Pettite allowed two runners to get on base with no outs. Skipper Joe Girardi decided he had seen enough and pulled Pettitte. After Alfredo Aceves loaded the bases, he managed to get out of the inning only allowing one run on a sacrifice fly. The run was counted to Pettitte since he was responsible for the runner.
We have to give Pettitte a lot of credit tonight for a couple of reasons. First, he is 5-1 for the first time since 1997, a year in which he went 18-7 with a career-low 2.88 ERA. Also, history was made tonight as Pettitte and Rivera teamed up for a win-save combination record – it was the 58 time that they have combined for a win and a save. It broke a record held by Bob Welsh and Denis Eckersley.
The Yankees also extended their franchise record error-less streak to 15 games; Derek Jeter extended his hitting streak to 12 games and Mark Teixeira extended his to 11 games. It was unlucky 13 for Robinson Cano, who had gone his last 13 games without a strikeout before tonight’s game.
Jorge Posada returned to the line-up for the first time since May 4th and was 2-3 at the plate. Unfortunately, his worst at bat was a strikeout in the first with the bases loaded. His other two hits came with no one in scoring position. Posada looked comfortable at the plate and behind the plate. “I did a lot of work to get back and my body feels real good,” Posada said after the game.
CC Sabathia (4-3) pitches Saturday in Cleveland for the first time since being traded last summer to Milwaukee.