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Archive for October 5th, 2010

Even though the baseball season is a marathon, every game can prove to be vital. Just ask the San Diego Padres, or any member of the Yankees who was actually interested in winning the division. Thanks to the wild card, however, the Yankees still have October baseball in their future. But, before looking forward to the post season, let’s take one last look back at the 10 best victories of the regular season.

10. September 8: Yankees 3 Orioles 2 at Yankee Stadium
WP: Joba Chamberlain; LP: Koji Uehara

The Yankees entered the game with a three-game losing streak and a season long nine-game road trip on the horizon. Trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the ninth, Alex Rodriguez led off with a single to right and one batter later Nick Swisher sent a 2-0 changeup from Koji Uehara over the wall in left, giving the Yankees a walk off and helping to avert a home sweep at the hands of the Orioles for the first time since 1986.

For a full Captain’s Blog recap, click here.

9. June 23: Yankees 8 Diamondback 6 (10 innings) at Chase Field
WP: Mariano Rivera; LP: Carlos Rosa

If it wasn’t played so poorly by both teams, this game would rank higher on the list, but the dramatic ending, which included a Houdini act by Mariano Rivera, still makes it standout as a highlight from the regular season. In the game, Dontrelle Willis walked seven batters over 2 1/3 innings, but the Yankees only managed to score two runs. Meanwhile, Javier Vazquez, who seemed to have turned his season around, reverted back to his early season form, surrendering four runs in five innings. Faced with an embarrassing defeat and series loss at the hands of the lowly DBacks, the Yankees rallied to tie the game on an Arod sacrifice fly in the ninth and then took the lead in the bottom of the tenth on a Curtis Granderson home run. The tenth inning ended with Mariano Rivera at the plate, much to the amusement of his teammates on the bench. No one was laughing, however, when the Dbacks loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning, but Rivera managed to pitch out of the jam and preserve the victory.

For a full Captain’s Blog recap, click here.

8. September 17: Yankees 4 Orioles 3 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards
WP: David Robertson; LP: Koji Uehara; Save: Mariano Rivera

For the second time in two weeks, the Yankees beat Orioles closer Koji Uehara with a ninth inning homerun. This time, it was Alex Rodriguez’ three run blast in the top of the ninth inning that helped erase a potential defeat, which would have been the Yankees ninth in their last 11 games. In the fateful at bat, which took place with two outs, Arod worked the count to 3-2 and took a pitch close enough to be called a game-ending strike three. After receiving the favorable call, Arod flashed a sly smile toward the Orioles dugout and then proceeded to hit the next pitch deep into the left field stands.

For a full Captain’s Blog recap, click here.

7. April 7: Yankees 3 Red Sox 1 (10 innings) at Fenway Park
WP: Chan Ho Park; LP: Jonathan Papelbon; Save: Mariano Rivera

The rubber game of the opening series of the season was a pitchers’ duel as John Lackey and Andy Pettitte each pitched six strong innings. After falling behind 1-0 in the third, the Yankees finally knotted the score in the seventh when Nick Swisher singled in a run off Daniel Bard, but the score remained tied until the tenth inning. In one of his rare effective appearances with the Yankees, Chan Ho Park turned in three innings scoreless innings of relief, setting the stage for a lead off homerun by Curtis Granderson in the tenth inning. The Yankees eventually tacked on another run against Jonathan Papelbon in a game that foreshadowed the Boston closer’s season long struggles against the Yankees. Papelbon would end the season at 0-3 with an ERA of 6.97 and OPS against of 1.020 OPS in 10 games versus the Bronx Bombers.

For a full Captain’s Blog recap, click here.

6. May 17: Yankees 11 Red Sox 9 at Yankee Stadium
WP: Javier Vazquez; LP: Jonathan Papelbon

After jumping out to a 5-0 lead in the first inning by battering Daisuke Matsuzaka, Phil Hughes had his first real hiccup of the season and the Red Sox eventually rallied to take the lead by scoring three runs off Chan Ho Park. Now trailing 9-7 in the bottom of the ninth, the Yankees renewed acquaintances with Jonathan Papelbon and picked up where they had left off in their last meeting. The Yankees immediately jumped on Papelbon with a double by Brett Gardner. Then, after a deep fly out by Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez tied the game with another long drive that went even further. In what started to resemble batting practice, Robinson Cano flew out to deep center just before Francisco Cervelli was hit by a pitch. The errant toss brought Marcus Thames to the plate, and he sent a liner into the left field stands for a dramatic walk off victory, marking the first time Papelbon surrendered two home runs in the same inning. The victory also made a winner out of Javier Vazquez, who pitched one-third inning in relief after being sent to the bullpen because of his early season struggles.

For a full Captain’s Blog recap, click here.

5. September 14: Yankees 8 Rays 7 at Tropicana Field
WP: David Robertson; LP: Dan Wheeler; Save: Mariano Rivera

One day after surrendering first place for the first time since June 13, the Yankees jumped out to a 6-0 lead against the Rays, but then saw it all disappear when rookie Ivan Nova folded and the Rays scored seven runs in the fifth. The Yankees immediately tied the game in sixth, but couldn’t pull ahead until the tenth inning when Jorge Posada hit a mammoth solo homerun to break the deadlock. The previous day, the Yankees had lost an extra inning affair to the Rays with most of their better relievers left in the bullpen, so securing the victory became of paramount importance. Normally, such situations call for the golden right arm of Mariano Rivera, but this time, it was Greg Golson’s fastball that saved the day. With Carl Crawford on second and one out in the bottom of the tenth, Matt Joyce lofted a fly ball to medium right. As Golson awkwardly approached the ball, Crawford tagged up at second and made his way to third. The only problem was Golson fired a one hop laser to the waiting glove of Arod, who slapped the tag on Crawford for a game ending 9-5 double play.

For a full Captain’s Blog recap, click here.

4. September 26: Yankees 4 Red Sox 3 at Yankee Stadium
WP: Boone Logan; LP: Hideki Okajima

The Yankees entered the final home game of the 2010 season in the midst of a four game losing streak. Because of the skid, the Yankees’ chances of winning the division seemed to be slipping away, and even worse, the possibility of the Red Sox making a race of the wild card started to look like a real possibility. Faced with the importance of the game, the Yankees scrapped earlier plans to have Dustin Moseley make the start and instead opted to go with Phil Hughes. The young right hander rewarded the decision by only allowing one run over six innings, but Daisuke Matsuzaka was even better, holding the Yankees to no runs and two hits over the same span. In the seventh, however, the Yankees took a 2-1 lead when Alex Rodriguez belted yet another clutch homerun. The Yankees called on Mariano Rivera to slam the door in the ninth, but the Red Sox exploited Jorge Posada’s throwing arm by stealing four bases, which helped to build two runs and retake the lead. In the bottom of the inning, the Yankees once again rallied to tie the game off Jonathan Papelbon, but squandered a chance to win the game by leaving the bases loaded. In the bottom of the tenth, the Yankees loaded the bases once again, and this time a walk-off walk by Juan Miranda brought the game to dramatic, albeit anticlimactic victory. Although the Yankees would not wind up winning the division, they could still point to the victory as the one that ensured they would make the playoffs.

3. June 27: Yankees 8 Dodgers 6 at Dodger Stadium
WP: Mariano Rivera LP: Ramon Troncoso

The Yankees interleague series against the Dodgers was dominated by tabloid story lines concerning Joe Torre and his relationship with the Yankees organization. Amidst all the hoopla, however, were some very interesting games. The rubber match was a Sunday night affair, and the early indications suggested a long flight back to New York for the Yankees. Down 5-0 early and facing lefty wunderkind Clayton Kershaw, the Yankees chipped away with two runs in the seventh, but still found themselves trailing 6-2 in the ninth. Demonstrating the importance of the game, Torre summoned Jonathan Broxton despite the lack of a save situation. Unfortunately for Torre, Broxton couldn’t protect the inflated lead as the Yankees rallied to tie the game at 6-6. The Yankees made good on the comeback in the tenth inning when Robinson Cano belted a two run homer off Ramon Troncoso. The victory was an important one for the Yankees, but to many, it also marked a negative turning point in the Dodgers’ season. Before the two parties’ eventual détente during the unveiling of George Steinbrenner’s monument on September 20, you couldn’t blame some in the Yankees organization if they regarded the victory as a form of karmic payback.

2. August 11: Yankees 7 Rangers 6 at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington
WP: Kerry Wood; LP: Neftali Feliz; Save: Mariano Rivera

After losing a tough extra inning game to the Rangers on the previous night, the Yankees now had to face Cliff Lee for the first time since the Mariners spurned Brian Cashman’s efforts to obtain him and instead dealt the ace lefty to Texas. In other words, it was the perfect opportunity for the Rangers to send an October calling card with a mini-sweep of the Yankees. By building a 6-1 lead, the Rangers seemed poised to deliver the message they wanted, but the Yankees returned it to sender and made a statement of their own. Up until the sixth, Lee  had been cruising with the lead, but the Yankees eventually knocked him out of the game with three runs scored over the sixth and seventh. The Yankees then inched closer with a run in the eighth before finally tying and taking the lead on singles by Derek Jeter and Marcus Thames in the ninth. In the bottom of the inning, Elvis Andrus tripled on Mariano Rivera’s first pitch of the ninth, but the Yankees magical closer stranded him there and slammed the door on a thrilling victory. Unfortunately, the Rangers would end up delivering a much bigger message to the Yankees by sweeping a three game series in September.

For a full Captain’s Blog recap, click here.

1. July 16: Yankees 5 Rays 4 at Yankee Stadium
WP:  Mariano Rivera; LP: Randy Choate

The Yankees opened the second half of the season against the team closely chasing them in the standing, but that’s the not the reason the game was so important. Just four days earlier, the Yankees legendary principal owner George M. Steinbrenner passed away, and the Friday night contest against the Rays was the first opportunity for the organization and its fans to pay tribute. After emotional pre-game ceremonies, a sluggish beginning to the game evolved into a seesaw battle in the middle innings. The Yankees tied the score in the sixth on back-to-back homers by Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada, but in the seventh, the Rays jumped back out ahead 4-3. Once again, the Yankees tied the score in the eighth, this time on a Nick Swisher homerun. Swisher would play the role of hero once again in the bottom of the ninth, when his two out single plated Curtis Granderson with the winning run in what turned out to be a most fitting tribute to the dearly departed Boss.

For a full Captain’s Blog recap, click here.

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