With their bullpen quickly running out of pitchers, the Yankees got two very different hits for a much-needed lead. Mark Teixeira dunked a two-out double into no-mans land in shallow left field — “The most beautiful double I’ve ever seen in my life,” Nick Swisher said — and Swisher followed with a massive home run to right-center. A series sweep was in the hands of the greatest closer in the history of the game, and Mariano Rivera closed out his second straight save on his third consecutive night of work.
“I can’t believe Swish’s ball went that far,” Teixeira said. “That shows you how hard he hit it. Swish’s ball might have gone 500 feet in the summertime. He crushed it.”
It was the big hit the Yankees had been waiting for. They’d settled for just one run after loading the bases with no outs in the fifth, and they’d left two runners stranded again in the seventh and eighth. On this night, the Yankees bullpen wasn’t equipped for a long, drawn-out game. The relievers had already given more than enough, and they were running out of innings.
“I couldn’t be more proud of those guys, man,” Swisher said. “Those guys pitched what, 7 1/3 last night, four-something tonight? What an amazing job, man. So excited to get out of here with that sweep. You win those first two games, you really want to come back and get that (third one).”
The Yankees only had Clay Rapada and Rivera left in the bullpen. They had Phil Hughes in an emergency, but the plan was to give Rapada the ball if the game stayed tied and go to Rivera if they had a lead. Swisher’s home run made the choice easy, and Rivera closed out a series in which the Yankees bullpen delivered 13.1 scoreless innings.
“Hopefully we can continue to do the same thing,” Rivera said.
• CC Sabathia’s pitch count reached 74 after just three innings, but he wound up giving the Yankees six innings on 112 pitches. Of course, Sabathia thought he could have gone longer. After the way he started, the Yankees were thrilled to get that much. “I was riding him out,” Girardi said. “Even when you look at CC’s struggles, he still only gave up four runs. He keeps you in the game. A lot of other guys when they struggle, you’re looking seven, eight, nine. That’s the amazing thing about CC.”
• Sabathia said the comeback chopper in the second inning hit off his middle two fingers. He was completely unaffected. “The ball was right there and I felt like I could catch it,” he said. “It just bounced off me.”
• Sabathia on his outing: “I was just trying to be too fine with my fastball. I had good command and my pitches were doing what they needed to, I was just trying to make too good a pitch. … My cutter was pretty good, I threw some changeups good late. I felt a lot better than I did in my first start.”
• Rafael Soriano said he put medicine, super glue and tape on his torn fingernail today. He’ll do the same tomorrow and Friday, but he has to take all of it off to pitch in a game. He said Larry Rothschild told him his slider was a little slower than usual, but he still used it effectively. “I don’t think about (the fingernail),” he said. “I think about making people out, and that’s it.”
• Soriano on the decision to walk the bases loaded to face Adam Jones in the ninth: “It’s better for me to face the right-handed hitter than the lefty, so I feel comfortable when the pitching coach tells me, you’re going to walk the guy and make a good pitch to Jones.” Soriano struck out Jones to end the inning and keep the game alive.
• Girardi on the decision to pitch to Jones with the bases loaded: “I’m sure I’m going to be asked about if it doesn’t work, but you’ve got to manage what you believe in your heart to win a game. That’s what you do. Sori is not a guy that traditionally walks a lot of people. He has more success off right-handers. He’s had success off Adam Jones. The one thing that beats you possible is a wild pitch, a walk or an infield hit. Any other base hit with two out and Reimold on, I believe he’s going to score. That’s why I took a shot.”
• Eduardo Nunez said he slipped on the wet dirt when he was trying to steal second base in the 10th inning. That’s why he retreated. “I think if he keeps going he’s out,” Girardi said. “I think he had a better chance of being safe going back to first.”
• Rivera said he was ready to pitch three games in a row and felt fine doing so. “I don’t like to, especially this early,” Girardi said. “But we were in a bind and he said he was OK. If he would have said he wasn’t OK I wouldn’t have pitched him.”
• Teixeira said his bloop double was exactly the kind of hit that didn’t fall in the Rays series. It was a nice gift on his 32nd birthday. “That was definitely a break that we got,” Teixeira said. “I didn’t get any breaks in Tampa, any of those lucky hits, but I got one tonight. It made up for a little bit of the frustration in Tampa.”
Associated Press photos