Things were not looking good for the Yankees early on in this one. Phil Hughes left trailing 5-1 to the Blue Jays in the fifth inning while at the same time Baltimore was beating Boston 5-1. They managed to turn it around though as they tied the game at 5-5 in the seventh and eventually went on to beat the Jays 9-6 to maintain their first place tie in the AL East.
Hughes just did not have his good stuff today. He gave up two runs in the first inning, struggled through the second, appeared to rebound in the third and fourth, and then was victimized again in the fifth. Joe Girardi had no other choice but to pull him at that time as the Yankees were in danger of falling into second place for the first time in months.
Derek Lowe, of all people, came in and settled things down though getting the final out in the fifth and then pitching an easy sixth.
Robinson Cano, who had a big game with three hits, got the comeback started in the sixth when he doubled and came around to score on a wild pitch to make it 5-2. The Yankees then tied it in the seveth when Eduardo Nunez scored on a sac fly, Cano doubled in Derek Jeter, and finally Alex Rodriguez scored to tie it on another wild pitch.
The Yankees then put the bunt to good use as they proceeded to take the lead. With two on and no outs in the eighth, Russell Martin bunted the runners over as both eventually came around to score on a sac fly by Ichiro and a RBI-single by Jeter as they went ahead 7-5.
In the ninth inning the Yankees used the bunt again. This time it was with one man on and Cano up. The Blue Jays had the infield shifted and Cano laid down a beautiful bunt base hit to third base. Nick Swisher walked to load the bases and finally a Curtis Granderson two-RBI single gave the Yankees a 9-5 lead.
Rafael Soriano made things interesting in the bottom of the ninth inning as he loaded the bases with no outs. But he got a couple of groundballs, including a double play, to escape the inning having only allowed one run.
The Yankees are now tied with the Orioles for first place in the AL East. They can actually clinch a playoff spot tonight depending on the Rangers/Angels game. If the Rangers win, the Yankees clinch at least a wild card birth. If the Rangers lose, the Yankees will be in a three-way tie for the best record in the American League.
But the focus is obviously on winning the AL East. The Yankees and O’s are tied right now, but it is going to come down to the next three games and that’s where the Yankees have the edge. The Orioles have a tough three game stretch against the Rays while the Yankees get to face the Red Sox who have been playing terribly of late.