Yanks’ rotation becoming solidified
The fortification of the Yankees’ rotation continued Wednesday night in a 4-0 victory over the Rays with Freddy Garcia rebounding from a shaky previous outing by pitching 6 2/3 scoreless innings. Only an error by third baseman Eduardo Nunez prevented Garcia from going seven.
Nunez made up for his boot with a two-out, two-run single in the ninth inning that gave the Yankees some breathing room, even if it did take a save opportunity from Mariano Rivera, who pitched the bottom of the ninth to close out their fifth shutout of the season.
Also enjoying a moment of atonement was Boone Logan. The lefthander, who botched a potential double-play ball Tuesday night, came in with runners on first and third and two out in the seventh and ended the inning with a strikeout of Casey Kotchman, who had three hits and is batting .337.
Garcia scattered eight hits, did not walk a batter and struck out seven in following teammates Phil Hughes and Bartolo Colon with another quality start that seemed to solidify the rotation. The most accomplished of the Yankees’ starters, CC Sabathia, will take the mound Thursday night in the finale of the trip.
Derek Jeter was reunited with Rays lefthander David Price, the pitcher who gave up his 3,000th hit 11 days earlier. Three of the five hits Jeter had July 9 at Yankee Stadium were off Price, including the home run for career hit No. 3,000.
The Captain kept it up against Price with a leadoff single in the first inning. Jeter stole second, but it proved a waste of energy because Curtis Granderson clouted a home run, his 26th to take the team lead. It was the 10th homer Granderson has hit this year off left-handed pitching.
Price got revenge against Jeter in the second. With Brett Gardner on second base with two out, Jeter was called out on strikes. Gardner has been living on the bases throughout this trip.
Granderson had his adventures in center field. Tuesday night, he lost a fly ball in the lightly-colored roof of Tropicana Field for a costly hit in the seventh inning when the Rays grabbed the lead for good. Wednesday night, he appeared to lose sight of another fly ball that was caught by Gardner. Another time, Granderson caught a ball after calling off a charging Gardner from left field.
In the fifth inning, however, Granderson made a sensational catch to rob Evan Longoria of a potential extra-base hit that would have tied the score. Tampa Bay had runners on second and third with two out when Longoria hit a long drive to center. Granderson raced back, made the catch and then slammed into the wall without losing control of the ball.
Granderson was nearly knocked out of the game several times but ended up playing the full nine innings. He fouled a ball hard off his left foot in an at-bat in the sixth. Two innings later, Grandy was struck in the right shoulder blade by a 96-mph fastball from Price. Talk about a gamer!