The Yankees were down to their last strike, and the Orioles thought they’d just seen it. It was a 1-2 fastball, and Alex Rodriguez watched it go inside.
“I’m just looking at their whole dugout, and their whole dugout literally jumped out of the dugout, hoping for a strike three,” Rodriguez said. “They started laughing at me, and I started laughing at them a little bit, just having a little bit of fun.”
The real fun, of course, came on the next pitch, a 2-2 fastball that Rodriguez cranked to deep left field. The Yankees haven’t had much fun these past two weeks, but they’ve hit three huge home runs: First Nick Swisher, then Jorge Posada and now Rodriguez. Seven of their past eight games have been decided by one run.
“This is the one that maybe gets us going,” Girardi said. “We’ve been in a tough stretch here, losing some really tough games, but we found a way to get it done.”
Here’s Rodriguez speaking after the game.
• Rodriguez accounted for all four Yankees runs on two home runs, his 24th and 25th of the season.
• Give a lot of credit to Jorge Posada for opening that ninth inning with a single after an 11-pitch at-bat. “Just keep looking for the next pitch,” he said. “Sometimes you foul your pitch. I fouled a split that stayed up in the zone, I pulled it, and I went out there and tried to look for another pitch up in the zone and I got it.”
• A.J. Burnett gave up the two home runs. He also hit a guy with a curveball, which eventually led to run. But there can be no doubt that he’s pitching better and better. “It’s getting there,” he said. “This is probably the best I’ve thrown in a long time as far as overall, everything. Every time out, not giant steps but they’re steps forward.”
• The difference tonight? “I think I attacked,” Burnett said. “I came out and established both pitches. I only threw one changeup, but I think I stayed on the attack. He gave up the 2-0 homer to Adam (Jones). That last one (the home run to Robert Andino), that ball leaked way over. With two outs you’ve got to get that guy out. I did what I could to keep us in the game.”
• Dave Robertson had a hitless eighth inning for his fourth win of the season. His ERA is down to 3.62. Amazing considering those crazy innings he had earlier in the season, inflating his ERA to 14.21 in May and as high as 6.15 on July 2. Since then, Robertson has pitched 28.1 innings and allowed four earned runs. He’s struck out 35.
• Mariano Rivera. Save No. 31.
• Koji Uehara gave up the Swisher game-winner last week in New York, and gave up the Rodriguez game-winner tonight.
• Speaking of Swisher, he said today was a big one for him. “Confidence-wise, it made you feel a lot better,” he said. He wasn’t quite 100 percent, but after getting the cortisone shot Tuesday and taking Wednesday and Thursday completely off, the difference was huge. He’s thinking one or two more days, and he should be good to go the rest of the year. “We gave it two days, and look how much better it got,” he said.
• Robinson Cano singled twice and has a hit in his past 10 games against the Orioles. He’s hitting .438 with three doubles, four home runs and nine RBI in 16 games against Baltimore this season.
• Rodriguez has 607 career home runs, one behind Sammy Sosa for sixth all-time.
Associated Press photos of Rodriguez and Derek Jeter