Things got real interesting Wednesday night when Sean Rodriguez annihilated a 2-1 fastball from C.C. Sabathia off the left-field foul pole in the 7th inning, knotting the Rays and the Yankees up at two. But in the end, it was a very familiar face who found a way to get a big base knock for the home team.
Jorge Posada, a guy who couldn’t hit anything in the beginning of the year, stepped up to plate with the bases jammed in the eighth. Pinch-hitting for Jesus Montero, the Yankee veteran roped a single off of Brandon Gomes into right, scoring Greg Golson and Mark Teixeira, breaking the 2-2 tie.
The Yankees went on to win the game 4-2, and in doing so, locked up their 17th division crown.
It was a game where big-time players stepped up for both sides. For starters, Sabathia and AL rookie of the year candidate Jeremy Hellickson were both outstanding.
Sabathia went 7.1 innings, scattering seven hits and allowing only two runs. He retired six Rays via the strikeout.
Hellickson went seven innings, allowing two runs on only two hits.
Robinson Cano got the party started with a vintage Yankee Stadium home run, as he sent a 2-1 looper from Hellickson to right that just trickled into the first row behind the wall.
In the bottom half of the fourth, MVP candidate Curtis Granderson doubled to center. After Hellickson threw a wild-pitch that advanced Grandy to third, a Jesus Montero double-play grounder scored the Yankees center-fielder. But Hellickson regrouped, and allowed his teammates to get back into the game.
In the next inning with two down, Sabathia gave in on a 2-1 offering to Ray’s catcher Kelly Shoppach. Shoppach didn’t miss, and connected for a solo blast to left-center to bring the Rays within a run.
After Rodriguez tied things up in the seventh, the Rays had a golden opportunity to take the lead in the eighth. With one out, Desmond Jennings and B.J. Upton singled. Then Sabathia issued a walk to Evan Longoria to load the bases. But Joe Girardi called on David Robertson, who promptly induced an inning-ending double play off the bat of Ben Zobrist to end the threat.
The Rays tough day was made a little easier due to the fact that the Baltimore Orioles continue to succeed in the role of spoilers. The O’s gutted out a 6-4 victory over Boston, keeping the Rays 2.5 games out of the wild card spot with seven games left to play.