During this stretch of 18 wins in 22 games, the Yankees have won shutouts and blowouts, they’ve beaten good teams and bad, but until this afternoon they hadn’t won a game quite like this one.
“A win is a win,” Mark Teixeira said. “But at the same time, when you’re fighting like that, scratching and clawing and not really getting anything — when hits are really hard to come by — that win feels really good.”
It was the first time since April 11 that the Yankees won a game in extra innings, and the first time all season that they won a game without hitting a home run. Before Jayson Nix led off the 14th inning with a single, the Yankees had gone seven straight innings without a hit. Before Teixeira’s game-winning double, the Yankees were 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position, and the only hit was Derek Jeter’s single earlier in the inning, which didn’t drive in a run.
“Both teams made good plays,” Eric Chavez said. “Usually, some of those (longer) games are not so clean, but they played well, we played well, and we just happened to come up with the big hit. … I think winning definitely helps. They’re probably going to be a little bit more exhausted than we are.”
Truth is, the Yankees are still waiting for this offense to truly spring to life and live up to expectation, but the pitching staff has been so good that the offense has been allowed to stumble from time to time. Andy Pettitte was terrific this afternoon, and after Cory Wade gave up the game-tying home run, five different relievers combined for 6.1 scoreless innings of relief. Every bench player was used, leaving the bench so depleted that CC Sabathia was told to get ready for a possible pinch hitting opportunity.
It’s a great win, if only because it would have been such an excruciating loss.
“It really would have,” Joe Girardi said. “You exhausted people today. You exhausted your bullpen, in a sense. There are a lot of exhausted players, and it’s really a tough one to lose. … Just find a way. Find a way to get it done. That’s what our guys did.”
• Two guys who started the game on the bench had two of the biggest plays of the day. Nix had his leadoff single in the 14th, and Dewayne Wise threw out the potential game-winning run to end the eighth. “The ball wasn’t hit hard,” Wise said. “I told myself, if I got a one-hopper or hard groundball, I was going home with it. That’s what I did. I heard it was — I don’t want to say it — but I made a good throw. Umpire said he was out.” (on replays it looked like the runner was actually safe on a very close play)
• The game might also have avoided extra innings if Cory Wade had gotten the final out of the eighth inning. “It was tough, because to that point, I kind of had him in my grip to get him out,” Wade said. “I missed and he did what he was supposed to do with it. The ball came back over the plate. The one thing he was trying to do was get something middle-in and hit it out of the ballpark. The fastball came back in and that’s exactly what he did with it.”
• Dave Robertson was available, but Girardi was hoping to avoid using him for a second day in a row. That’s why Wade pitched the eighth.
• Nick Swisher has bone bruise in his quad after a play at the plate in the sixth inning. He came out of the game. “We’ll see how he feels tomorrow,” Girardi said. “My guess is he’s going to be pretty sore. We’ll just have to go day by day.”
• Although he’s thrown more than 95 pitches in other starts this season, Pettitte seemed to agree with the decision to come out after seven innings. “I was pretty gassed,” he said. “I don’t know if it was from the heat, the day game, going up there (to bat) and having to do a little different routine. Maybe being 40, I don’t know. I feel like I could have gone back out there, but Joe said let’s go ahead and be done with that. I was going to go through the heart of the lineup again, and I felt like maybe the last couple hitters, my cutter got a little flat.”
• Pettitte on his approach to Bryce Harper: “He’s a real aggressive hitter. I had a good cutter going, and he was swinging and missing at them early. You try to throw some balls in to him in that first at bat, and after that, just tried to expand the zone off of him. And he was just really aggressive, and fortunately we were able to get him out.”
• The only runs Pettitte allowed came on a broken-bat double that got to the wall in left field. “That’s the first time,” Pettitte said. “When he hits that ball, you think it’s a routine fly ball because — even when I’m pitching — I’ve never seen a ball go that far (with a broken bat). Then you see the replay, and he hit the ball close to the label of his bat. That’s a strong kid to hit the ball that far, that’s for sure.”
• A lot of broken bats today, actually. “They got a few of their hits when the bats were flying,” Pettitte said. “That’s a good thing. You know that means your ball is moving a little bit. It’d be nice if those were outs. Usually the broken bats are outs, so that would have been a little bit better.”
• Teixeira on his game-winning double: “I knew it wasn’t going to be out. I just wanted it to stay fair. I was sitting on a slider the entire at-bat, and I got one to hit.”
• Pitching for only the second time in nearly four weeks, Freddy Garcia pitched two hitless innings and got his first win. “I feel good to be part of the game, you know,” Garcia said. “I’ve really been having a lot of patience being in the bullpen. … I feel good, you know, to feel part of something.”
• Garcia even got an at-bat in the game. “He throw a first-pitch fastball and I was like, I don’t even see that pitch,” Garcia said. “A couple of sliders and I was down.”
• Nix on Jeter hustling to score the second run in the 14th: “That’s what he always does. It’s not a surprise. He always plays this game right. He’s where he should be. It’s what I see every day.”
• Before today the Yankees were 0-for-12 in games when they didn’t hit a home run. “We hit a lot of home runs,” Teixeira said. “That’s our team. Our team is built like that. We don’t have a lot of speedy, slappy guys that try to get on base and steal a lot of bases. We have a lot of bug guys that hit home runs. Sometimes you live by it, sometimes you die by it, but we’re in first place right now. We could be playing better. We always can be playing better, but we’re going to take that positive and keep rolling with it.”
• Harper went 0-for-7 with five strikeouts. He came to the plate as the potential winning run in the 14th and wound up making the final out. “It’s like one of those storybook endings, you’re hoping it wasn’t going to be,” Teixeira said. “Give Sori credit, he made a good pitch and got him out. That would have been too good to be true for Harper to hit a walk-off right there. The place might have fallen down.”
• Girardi said he honestly didn’t remember that their hadn’t been a home run until someone mentioned it postgame. “We didn’t hit a home run!” he said. “I don’t even remember. I don’t have to hear about it any more. Thank goodness. See? There’s something really good about today.”
• Girardi said he’s not sure whether Russell Martin will play tomorrow after catching all 14 innings today. “Russell the muscle?” Girardi said. “We’ll see. He told me he was playing tomorrow already, but I’ll check with him when we get here.”
• Give Wise the almost final word, just for being pretty funny: “I thought we were going to go 25 innings. I was looking in the bullpen thinking I might have to come in and throw an inning or two.”
• Give Teixeira the actual final word: “That was exhausting. Give their pitchers a lot of credit. I can see why that team’s in first place. Zimmermann was impressive, first time I’ve ever seen him. Every reliever they brought in was as dirty as the next. Not a lot of hits out there to get. We kept fighting. Give our pitchers credit for holding their team down, then we got a couple hits in that last inning. It feels really good.”
Associated Press photos