Yankees turn triple play in win over Orioles
After a day of non-stop rain in New York, the weather continued to create havoc with high winds and chilly temperatures by the time first pitch rolled around. However, one would never know it was cold by the continued hot play of the New York Yankees.
CC Sabathia was rolling from the first pitch. He threw whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted, against a lineup that was very familiar with facing him. Other than the first two innings of the season in which Sabathia gave up four earned runs, he has just rolled opponents. In fact, the run he allowed in the third inning snapped a 12.2 scoreless innings streak for the big lefty.
"I thought he was brilliant tonight," Joe Girardi said. "I thought he had a great sinker, a great changeup and a great slider tonight. I think that was probably the best stuff he's had all year and that's encouraging as we go on."
"Fastball command was there, and I just threw everything off of that," Sabathia said. "Changeup was working, cutter was too, so that's when I got in some good counts and able to put guys away."
Even though Sabathia gave up the first run of the game in the top of the third inning, the Yankees offense struck back immediately. Kevin Youkilis continues to ingratiate himself to a New York fan base that was skeptical of the offseason signing. He drove in Brett Gardner to tie things up, even though he got caught up in a rundown for the second out of the inning.
The Yankees got their first lead of the game off the hot bat of Robinson Cano in the fifth inning with an RBI single driving in his eighth run in the last three games.
The Orioles responded in the seventh to tie the game after a few Yankees errors. Youkilis botched a routine play at third off the bat of Matt Wieters to start the inning. With Wieters on first, Sabathia was called for a balk to move Wieters to second. Girardi argued the call to no avail, but Sabathia was adamant after the game that there was no balk committed.
After a Chris Davis strikeout, Sabathia tried to get out of the inning unscathed, but J.J. Hardy had other ideas and smacked a single to center to score Wieters and tie up the game at 2.
This is where the game got crazy.
In the bottom of the seventh, a walk by Francisco Cervelli loaded the bases. Pedro Strop, who has had his struggles with the Yankees, went up against Vernon Wells. Wells hit what looked to be a very routine fly out to Gold Glove centerfielder Adam Jones. But Jones dropped the ball, scoring all three runners on base.
Jones was blowing a bubble as the ball was coming down. This was very reminiscent of the ball he misplayed in game three of the American League Division Series, when he was blowing a bubble and misjudged a Derek Jeter line drive to tie the game at one.
"I thought he was going to be able to run it down," Girardi said. "The chances of that happening are slim, slim, slim, but we caught a break."
The Yankees and Sabathia were bailed out by some good fortune. Orioles Manager Buck Showalter refused to single out that play as the reason the Orioles lost the game.
"I don't dwell at all on Adam's play because he's spoiled us with such a high level of play in centerfield," Showalter said. "That's why it gets everybody's attention. He's special. I'm really glad he's on our side."
Sabathia then came back out for the eighth inning and looked as if he was starting to labor. The first two Orioles, Alexi Casilla and Nick Markakis, both reached on singles. Then the Yankees made history.
Manny Machado grounded to second, where Cano turned to shortstop Jayson Nix who stepped on second for the force. Nix, who would have normally thrown to first for the double play, threw to third, where Youkilis tagged out Casilla. Machado rounded first and headed toward second where he got caught in a rundown and was eventually tagged out for the 4-6-5-6-5-3-4 rare triple play. The Yankees, Youkilis and Cano in particular, were exuberant after the feat.
"That's like being a kid again," Youkilis said. "That's probably the coolest things I've ever had on a field. You never see one written up like that and it's special. It's a job and it's a grind at times, but stuff like that happens you feel like you're back playing little league again and that's the fun part about it."
The credit in the triple play really starts and ends with the heads up play of Nix, who was in the game because of the injury sustained to Eduardo Nunez. By going to third and trying to get the lead runner, it set the table for the history that was about to unfold.
"The conventional thing is to just go to first base, but we've seen [Nix] throw behind the runner before," Girardi said. "Last year he did it and it was a different type of play. I think it was a pretty heads up play. Runs are tough to come by and to keep the guys out of scoring position, it worked."
"I just wanted to get the lead runner," Nix said. "I figured we could get two outs there and have the one runner be at first as opposed to third."
The triple play was only the second for the Yankees since 1969. The last was in Oakland on April 22, 2010 when Kurt Suzuki smoked a ball to Alex Rodriguez who stepped on the bag at third, threw to Cano at second, who threw to Nick Johnson at first for the 5-4-3 triple play. Sabathia was also on the mound for that historic play.
"It was awesome," Sabathia said. "Anytime you get a triple play, you know you're fired up. These guys did a great job and Nixy turning to get the lead runner was awesome." Sabathia also fondly recalled that both triple plays he was a part of for having "bailed me out both times."
This triple play also marked the first time that the Yankees have done so at Yankee Stadium since June 3, 1968, against the Minnesota Twins. Johnny Roseboro hit into a Dooley Womack to Bobby Cox to Mickey Mantle, 1-5-3 triple play.
The night ended with Mariano Rivera saving the game and preserving the Yankees' wild 5-2 victory. Rivera record his 74th save against the Orioles, the most against any opponent by far.
The Yankees won their fourth straight game after starting the season 1-4 and moved to one game over .500 at 5-4.