YANKEES 5, RAYS 4
The New York Yankees paid tribute to their longtme public address announcer Bob Sheppard and their iconic owner of 37 years George Steinbrenner on Friday night.
The somber Yankee Stadium ceremony with roses, videos and speeches then gave way to a game that echoed a game played 31 years ago after Thurman Munson had died.
The Yankees, who never led the game until the end, received a game-tying solo home run from Nick Swisher in the eighth inning. Then Swisher won the game in walk-off fashion in the ninth inning with a single to right to score Curtis Granderson from second as the Yankees honored two legendary greats with a 5-4 victory over the second-place Tampa Bay Rays.
Much like Friday, the game on Aug. 6, 1979 against the Baltimore Orioles the score ended up 5-4 on a two-run single by Bobby Murcer, who also homered earlier in that game.
Swisher, like his other Yankee teammates, stepped to the plate with two out and two on in the ninth inning sporting a simple GMS patch for Steinbrenner over the interlocking NY over his heart and a microphone patch on his left sleeve to honor Bob Sheppard.
Granderson had led off the ninth with a single to right off Rays reliever Randy Choate and he advanced to second on pinch-hitter Ramiro Pena’s sacrifice bunt. Choate walked Brett Gardner and Rays manager replaced Choate with Dan Wheeler.
Wheeler struck out Derek Jeter and Maddon then replaced Wheeler with right-hander Lance Cormier. Swisher worked the count to 2-1 before lacing a single to right. Right-fielder Gabe Kapler’s throw home actually beat Granderson but the ball skipped past catcher Kelly Shoppach and Granderson slid into home with the winning run, much to the delight of the 47,524 fans in attendance.
Mariano Rivera (3-1) pitched a scoreless ninth to pick up the win.
The victory extended the Yankees’ lead on the Rays to three games in the American League East. The Red Sox, by virtue of their second straight loss to the Texas Rangers, fell 6 1/2 games back.
- Swisher’s night was magical. He singled to drive in the Yankees’ first run in the third inning. His 16th home run of the season in the eighth inning off Joaquin Benoit tied the game 4-4 and then his game-winner capped off a 3-for-5 night with three RBIs. Swisher raised his average to .303 on the season.
- Robinson Cano brought the Yankees to within one run in the sixth inning with a solo home run off Rays starter James Shields for his 17th home run of the season.
- Jorge Posada followed Cano with a solo shot of his own to tie the score at 3-3. It was the 10th home run of the season for Posada and his first since June 16 against the Philadelphia Phillies.
- David Robertson started his second half off with a bang. He came on in the eighth inning and faced three batters and struck out all three. Robertson entered the second half with a 5.46 ERA but he has had 19 scoreless outings in his last 22 appearances dating back to May 7 when his ERA was 13.50.
- This was not a good night for CC Sabathia. Struggling most of the night with command of his fastball, Sabathia gave up eights hits and four walks in seven innings. But he did limit the damage to four runs (three earned) and the Rays scored only two runs off Sabathia when they loaded the bases with no outs in both the fifth and seventh innings.
- It was an emotional night for Jeter, who delivered a moving speech about Sheppard and Steinbrenner before the game. It showed at the plate, too. Jeter was 0-for-5 and his slump in July continues. He is hitting .178 for the month and his season average fell to .270. That is the lowest his average has been since May 22.
- Swisher had a great night at the plate but in the field it was not so stellar. He overran and then dropped a fly ball off the bat of Kelly Shoppach for a two-base error to begin the sixth inning. He also threw a ball badly off-line attempting to nail B.J. Upton taking third on a single by Carl Crawford in the seventh inning.
The Yankees recalled first baseman/DH Juan Miranda from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Friday and optioned infielder Kevin Russo back to Scranton. Miranda was the DH in Friday’s game and was 0-for-3. This is Miranda’s second promotion to the club. In18 games, Miranda hit .217 with two home runs and seven RBIs. Russo hit .188 with four RBIs in 29 games with the Yankees.
THE NEXT GAME
The Yankees will have another emotional day on Saturday as they conduct their annual Old-Timers Day at the stadium.
They will go for the series win of the three-game weekend series with A.J. Burnett (7-7, 4.75 E
RA) on the mound. Burnett is coming off two starts in which he is 1-0 with a 1.32 ERA after suffering through a winless June. In his only start against the Rays this season he lost on May 19, giving up six runs in 6 2/3 innings. In his career against the Rays Burnett is 12-5 with a 2.98 ERA.
Burnett will be opposed by fellow right-hander Jeff Niemann (7-2, 2.77 ERA). Niemann is 1-0 with a 3.06 ERA in his last three starts. He is 1-0 with a 2.93 ERA against the Yankees. He has not faced the Yankees this season.
Game-time will be 4:10 p.m. EDT and the game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports.