At this point, the Yankees control their own destiny. They’ve jumped ahead of the Orioles and Indians, and they’re within one game — two losses — of the Rays for the second wild card spot. With three games against Tampa Bay still on the schedule, the Yankees could take care of this playoff chase all by themselves.
Amazing the difference two wins can make this time of the year.
“We played really good against Boston (over the weekend),” Robinson Cano said. “Just a couple more (runs) and we win those games, but like I said, sometimes things happen for a reason.”
The Red Sox helped the Yankees tonight with their late win against the Rays. And the Yankees helped themselves with their come-from-behind win against the Orioles. It’s been said several times in the past month or so, but this was exactly the kind of game the Yankees might not have won back in June. They couldn’t string together many hits, but they could drive the ball, and three home runs made the difference.
“It’s a big difference now because you’ve got three guys who weren’t there in the beginning in Soriano, Alex, and Granderson,” Cano said. “Now you have to face those guys.”
And of course Granderson driving the ball for a triple in the ninth ultimately led to the insurance run that made the difference when Mariano Rivera faltered a little bit in the bottom of the ninth.
“I’ve said it all along, this group fights,” Joe Girardi said. “They’re continuing to fight. We get down tonight and come back again. We’re able to take the lead in the ninth. We get a huge homer by Robbie and a huge hit by Lyle which ends up being a lot bigger as the night went on. … (Controlling your own destiny) is what you hope. That’s what you ask for. We have to continue to play well. Tomorrow is another tough game. We play this team so even, it’s unbelievable.”
• Somewhat surprising news postgame: Girardi announced that Phil Hughes, not David Huff, will start tomorrow’s series finale. “Just a little bit more experience,” Girardi said. “And we liked what Huff did out of the bullpen, so we’re going to put him back there.”
• Girardi had previously indicated that it was Huff’s start if neither Hughes nor Huff was used out of the bullpen this week. That opinion seems to have changed late, because Hughes said he didn’t find out until today. “I was going to get a little work in today, but then I kind of find out I was starting tomorrow, so I couldn’t do that,” Hughes said. “… I’ll give it everything I’ve got and see where we are at the end. I’m excited for the opportunity.”
• Cano’s home run gave him 100 RBI for the year. It’s the third time in his career that Cano’s reached 100, and considering the offense he was working with most of the year, it’s fairly stunning he’s had that many guys available to drive in. “He’s been a constant in our lineup the whole year,” Girardi said. “We’ve added some guys around him which has probably helped everyone in our lineup. It just makes it deeper. We didn’t have a whole lot of hits tonight but we made the most of them.”
• Cano on reaching 100 RBI: “Everything means a lot. The way you go home, prepare yourself to play this game, and to be successful the whole season. Not only about home runs and RBI, but things like when you win the game with a home run. We’re on top of the game right now, and it definitely meant a lot to win this game.”
• Andy Pettitte is undefeated in his past 13 starts against Baltimore dating back to 2007. Pettitte did not get a decision tonight, but he has the second-most career wins (28) against the Orioles since their move to Baltimore, trailing only Whitey Ford (30).
• Throwing 109 pitches was a season-high for Pettitte, but Girardi said he had no hesitation about sending him back into the game for the seventh. “I figured if I made a change that we might see Markakis,” Girardi said. “I asked him how he was, and he said he’s OK. He has an extra day this time so I left him out there.”
• Pettitte on his start: “My two-seamer abandoned me tonight, and I think three of their big hits were on two-seamers. I knew it wasn’t sinking like I wanted it too. It burned me too many times. Other than that, everything was working pretty good. After the fourth inning, I pretty much had to stay away from the two-seam fastball. Thank goodness I was able to make some big pitches when I needed to to get of some jams. It was a great game for us.”
• Granderson’s home run made it to Eutaw Street beyond the right-field seats. It was the 76th homer to land out there, the ninth ever hit by a Yankees player, and the second hit by Granderson.
• Girardi moved into sixth place on the Yankees all-time managerial wins list, passing Billy Martin.
• Pettitte on Jeter: “It’s been a bad year for him. You feel horrible for him. You know how bad he wants to be out there. For him to come out of a game, he was hurt, so it wasn’t surprising. I hate it. I hate it for him. He’s a close friend of mine and you want to see him out there. I know that he wouldn’t want anything more than going through this grind and going through this time of year. This is the best time of the year. This is what it’s all about right here. I know he loves it as much as I love being out there. You hate it. You just wish he could be part of the team right now, on the field competing with us.”
• Rodriguez on Jeter: “Obviously it is a huge loss for us. The fact that he has been hanging around with the team (is great), and we have been benefiting from his leadership. But the more he is around the better for us. Tough blow though.”
• Cano on Jeter: “It’s bad news for all of us. We all know what kind of player he is, what kind of guy, what energy he brings in the dugout. It’s not the same thing to have him just sitting in the dugout than to have him on the field. A guy who, especially in the playoffs, has been so successful and has big numbers. That’s the guy we’re going to miss on the field.”
• Final word goes to Pettitte: “It’s just battle. Figure out a way. We’ve been doing it all year. We’re going to continue to do it. We’re going o continue to push through this and no matter how you lose a game here or there, it’s not over until we’re eliminated as far as I’m concerned. The schedule says that we don’t have enough games to catch anybody. You keep grinding this out and playing hard. A lot of guys in this room have been there and done it. They know how to do it. We’re hoping we can use that to our advantage.”
Associated Press photos