The Yankees won one and lost one tonight. In the process of beating the Orioles 6-5 with a wild ninth-inning rally, the Yankees might have lost Brett Gardner for the rest of the season. On the game’s very first at-bat, Gardner strained his left oblique, apparently hurting himself on a check swing. With less than three weeks left, it’s worth wondering if Gardner will be able to play again this year.
Without him, the Yankees got some help in finishing off three straight wins at Camden Yards. The game was tied in the ninth Orioles reliever Jim Johnson – notorious for his struggles against the Yankees – made two mistakes. A throwing error let shortstop Brendan Ryan reach second base, and after a sacrifice bunt, a wild pitch let Ryan score the winning run. Despite the fact he’d pitched the past two days, and had thrown 74 pitches in the previous four days, Mariano Rivera came in to close and pitched a perfect bottom of the ninth.
The Yankees pitching staff had pieced together the first seven innings, and it was trusted setup man Dave Robertson who let the Orioles back in the game. With a 5-2 lead in the eighth, left fielder Alfonso Soriano robbed one home run before Robertson allowed three straight two-out hits, the last of which was a three-run, game-tying homer by Danny Valencia. It ultimately setup the wild ninth-inning that finished off the these three straight wins. Although Phil Hughes was the Yankees starter, he and David Huff basically shared the duty with Hughes pitching the first three innings (plus one batter) and Huff handling the next three (plus one batter). Both allowed one run. Mark Reynolds hit a two-run home run to give the Yankees a second-inning lead — against Reynolds’ old teammates — and Vernon Wells added some breathing room with a two-run, bases-loaded single in the third.
Associated Press photo