Once again, it was the two off-season acquisitions who came up with the big hits, powering the Yanks to their 12th come-from-behind victory of the season. Down 4-3 in the 9th, Hafner blasted a game-tying, opposite-field shot to left field, providing fodder for yet another Yankee-themed nightmare for Baltimore’s closer, Josh Johnson. After a scoreless 9th inning from David Robertson, Wells plated Ichiro Suzuki on a ground-rule double to left to give the Bombers a 5-4 edge in the 10th. Later in the inning Hafner drove in Wells on a single to right field to provide the final margin.
The Bombers got on the board in the opening frame against former Yankee Freddy Garcia when Robinson Cano sent his 13th home run of the season 390 feet into the left field stands. An inning later David Adams had a solo act of his own, sending his first Major League home run down the left field line to give the Yanks a 2-0 edge. The O’s struck back in the 2nd against CC Sabathia when the RBI-machine, Chris Davis, homered to right-center.
Both starters settled down to pitch scoreless ball in the 3rd and 4th innings, but the Yankees’ ace blinked in the 5th when an RBI single by Nick Markakis knotted the game at two. As night fell and a gauzy mist enveloped Camden Yards, the Yanks grabbed the lead back in the 7th when Lyle Overbay cracked the Bombers’ third solo blast of the evening to right field off of Troy Patton. The lead was short-lived; however, as the resilient O’s struck back against Sabathia, who had a 0.00 ERA after the 7th inning entering the game, with run scoring doubles from Markakis and J.J. Hardy, giving the O’s a 4-3 lead and chasing CC from the game.
From there the Yankees followed a script that has become all too familiar for their opponents this season: stem the tide and wait for the big hit. Shawn Kelley, Boone Logan, Robertson and the ageless Mariano Rivera responded with 3.2 innings of nearly perfect baseball, allowing just 2 hits while striking out 6. The effort allowed the Bombers to stay within striking distance which has proved fatal for the Birds in their recent encounters.
With the loss the O’s extend their winless streak to 6 games and fall 5 back of the first-place Yanks in the AL East race. Meanwhile, the Yanks improve to 10-3 in their last 13 games to move a season-high 12 games over .500. They remain dangerous in games in which they draw first blood, improving to 19-0 on the season.
Rivera continues to be one of the most compelling stories of the young season, earning his 17th straight save to start the season, his best mark since converting his first 28 chances of 2008. The 43-year-old righty, who has worn the pinstripes across three presidencies, simply defies logic and has single-handedly exhausted every possible superlative over the first quarter of this season. We are quite simply witnessing greatness every time his trots, pigeon-toed, through the bullpen doors. The way our fathers speak of Mickey Mantle in reverent tones is the same way we will speak about Mo to our wide-eyed sons.