Sunday, September 2, 2012

Small Ball Pays Off for Yankees

By Rich Mancuso
BRONX, NEW YORK, September 2- It was not the home run ball that helped the New York Yankees Saturday afternoon in their seventh inning comeback resulting in a 4-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium. An error and walk ruined a good start from Baltimore’s Wei-Yin Chen, though one of the Yankees runs was attributed to a home run from Robinson Cano in the fourth inning
The win enabled New York to once again have a three-game lead over the Orioles in the American League East. What once was a comfortable lead for the Yankees has become a tight race for the division lead.
With four weeks left in the season, the two teams have five games remaining with each other. Including a finale Sunday afternoon, the Yankees visit Camden Yards Thursday for what appears to be an important four-game series.
“Our guys just kept putting good at bats on people,” said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. His team for the first time this season won a game with four or fewer hits.
Chen retired the first 11 Yankees batters in order before Cano hit his 28th home run of the season.
The seventh inning appeared to be another Yankees loss, that is, until shortstop J.J. Hardy botched a ball with the bases loaded that scored Eduardo Nunez with the go-ahead run.
“J.J. I think he’s the best shortstop in the league,” commented Orioles’ manager Buck Showalter. “I don’t even think twice about it. That time of day, the infield is so chewed up, partly our fault because we had a whole bunch of base runners out there chewing it up.”
Nunez, the designated hitter was recalled last night from Triple-A Sranton Wilkes Barr, and made his first start since May 10th against Tampa Bay. He had an RBI single in that seventh inning that led to Chen (12-8) the losing pitcher to be removed which led to a Yankees run.
“In my third at bat, I talked to myself not to try too hard,” he said. How much playing time will depend on how Girardi goes with his lineup which has been struggling to score runs with runners in scoring position.
He said, “I almost cried, I was so excited,” regarding the hit. “I want to help this team win.”
The Yankees are concerned about club home run leader Curtis Granderson. He left the game with a tight right hamstring before the top of the third inning. MRI results revealed some tendonitis and Girardi said, “Everything’s good.”  
Granderson could sit out the series finale Sunday afternoon and resume play Monday down in Tampa Bay for another important three-game series.
David Phelps allowed the three Baltimore runs including a career high six walks in 4.21 innings. It was his seventh start of the season. Girardi used four pitchers out of the pen including Rafael Soriano who closed the game in the ninth inning and recorded his 35th save.
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