This is not the bullpen the Yankees meant to build. Boone Logan’s not supposed to be their top left-hander. Cory Wade’s not supposed to be pitching out of trouble in the sixth. Rafael Soriano is not supposed to be pitching the seventh, and Dave Roberton is not meant to be handling the eighth.
It’s not exactly how the Yankees drew it up this winter, but it might be just as good as they hoped.
“We have to do our job,” Mariano Rivera said. “We have enough people out there that can do the job.”
Tonight was really the first time we saw the Yankees full bullpen as it’s currently designed. It was the first time Soriano pitched in a significant spot since coming off the disable list, and having him in the seventh let everyone else fall into place. Five relievers were brought in for very specific jobs, and they all got it done. That’s why the Yankees are in first place.
Sure, the defense played pretty well tonight, and the lineup was able to scratch across some runs on Jon Lester, but this win rested on the pen. The Yankees relievers have allowed two earned runs on the road since July 15, a span of 26 innings with a 0.69 ERA. This was the second time in three games that the bullpen pitched four-plus innings.
“Our bullpen has been excellent, and we’ve had a lot of guys step up,” Joe Girardi said. “Booney, we go all the way back to Cincinnati, he’s been outstanding ever since Cincinnati. You get a big out from Cory Wade. Soriano, we get him back for his third appearance. Goes through a tough spot, does a good job, ends up getting Ellsbury out; this guy’s playing as good as anyone. Robby comes in and some guys that have had some success, he gets them out. And then Mo just does what he does. Our bullpen was outstanding.”
Given what was at stake. Given who was at the plate. Given the fact the Yankees hadn’t beaten the Red Sox since April. This game would have gotten out of hand had Gonzalez ripped a double into the corner, but Logan struck him out on three pitches.
“When he swung at that first slider I threw, I knew he had no chance,” Logan said. “If I just get this ball down in the dirt, he’s going to swing over it.”
Logan’s been much better since that first month and a half, and given all the lefties in this Boston lineup, he’s going to be crucial in the division race and possibly in the playoffs.
“He’s aggressive going after people,” Larry Rothschild said. “The velocity is up and when it’s there, he’s going at people aggressively.”
• Pretty good line from Derek Jeter about finally beating the Red Sox: “Percentages were probably on our side to win a game, right?” the captain said. “We can’t worry about how we played against them earlier in the season. We feel as if we’re playing well. We’re pitching well. It’s a big win, but you want to continue to play well. No one in here is talking about what happened earlier in the year.”
• An eight-game winning streak is the Yankees longest of the season.
• The Yankees struggled against Jon Lester, but in the sixth inning they scratched out three runs with timely hits and good at-bats. Even Robinson Cano’s double play came in a nine-pitch at-bat and resulted in the tying run. “Jon is a heck of a pitcher, there’s no doubt about it,” Nick Swisher said. “We had him on the ropes, and whenever you have a guy like that on the ropes, you have to put him down. You have to do your best to get that last run in.”
• Swisher on his go-ahead double past third base: “I thought Youkilis made a great play on it, because I lost it when it went by him. I was like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’ Then I saw it bouncing and I was like, ‘All right – yippee!’”
• Yes, Swisher actually said, “Yippee!”
• Jeter and Eduardo Nunez were both thrown out attempting to steal. The Yankees had been caught stealing only three times in their previous 51 attempts. The last time two Yankees were caught in the same game was way back on June 20 in Cincinnati.
• Bartolo Colon showed a lot of velocity and seemed to have good life on his fastball, but the Red Sox made him work. He was at 94 pitches after 4.2 innings, and after that infield single loaded the bases, Girardi didn’t want to take any chances with Colon against Gonzalez. “He had seen Bartolo a few times,” Girardi said. “I just thought, he’s getting a little tired, he’s thrown a lot of pitches this inning. I don’t want him to leave a ball up or a ball in the middle of the plate. I’m going to make a change.”
• Colon recorded his 100th strikeout of the season when Carl Crawford struck out in the fourth inning. It’s the first time Colon has struck out at least 100 batters in a season since 2005 when he had 157 Ks with the Angels.
• The home run Colon allowed to David Ortiz snapped his four-start homerless streak that dated back to July 14. Of the 12 home runs he’s allowed, 13 have been solo shots.
• Colon also walked a guy. The Yankees didn’t walk anyone during the White Sox series.
• Jeter’s run in the sixth inning was the 1,742nd of his career, passing Honus Wagner for 21st place on baseball’s all-time runs scored list… Rivera moved into a tie with Jose Mesa and Lee Smith for 10th on baseball’s all-time games pitched list. He’s pitched in 1,022 games.
• Last word goes to Swisher: “Right now, we feel pretty confident. It’s not a cocky confident, it’s a confidence on the inside that we know when we take that field, we’re going to give it all we got. We’ve been playing great baseball the past couple weeks, so we just want to continue it and keep it going.”
Associated Press photos