With the Yankees Magic Number for a postseason berth down to just 1, the Yankees rallied to win 4-2 in the first of two games today with the Tampa Bay Rays and ensure that they will be playing baseball postseason baseball.
In the first game of the doubleheader with the Tampa Bay Rays, the Yankees faced James Shields. He has had a notable season for going deep into games (11 complete games) and would prove a tremendous test for the Yankees. The Yankees managed to start the game with a lead thanks to Alex Rodriguez’s two-out run scoring double. The Rays starter would settle down and silenced attempts at scoring until the 8th inning. Eduardo Nunez eliminated Shields’ chance at a win with a leadoff home run to tie the game at 2. A Brett Gardner single and Derek Jeter walk signaled the end of James Shields day. The Rays turned to a lefty to pitch to Robinson Cano and Robinson Cano answered with a two-run double to put a total of 3 runs on the scoreboard in the 8th, with enough time to hand the lead over to the all-time saves leader, Mariano Rivera.
Yankees had spot starter Hector Noesi pitch in place of Phil Hughes, still dealing with back spasms that he experienced during a Friday bullpen session. Noesi had not started at the major league-level yet and was limited to a 60-pitch outing but he served up a two-run home run to Desmond Jennings and lasted just 2.2 innings into this afternoon game. However, 7 relievers continued to show why the Yankees bullpen may be the best bullpen in the league with 6.1 scoreless innings to give the Yankees offense the opportunity to take the lead.
In the first game of the doubleheader, the Yankees did not require work from key relievers David Robertson or Rafael Soriano, which should make them available for the second game later tonight. Today’s victory speaks a lot to the mindset of the Yankees as the relievers are confident in themselves and show they are fully capable of holding an offense silent long enough for the Yankees offense to make the most of such an effort. A late-game rally also shows that the Yankees offense does not get discouraged by a dominant starter and knows that if they can learn from each at-bat, they will eventually get to even the best in their league. All of these qualities will go a long way into their potential success in October as now they know they have earned a spot and can continue their pursuit for the 28th championship.